Sunday, May 20, 2012
Nakamura wins U.S. Championship
Nakamura, after winning (as Black) against Kamsky, had a half-point lead over Kamsky going into the last round. Naka had White against Seirawan, who was having a horrible tournament, while Kamsky was Black against Robert Hess. The safe, "professional" thing to do would be to play solidly against Seirawan and keep an eye on Kamsky's game. If it looked like Kamsky was going to draw or lose, Naka could draw and clinch the win; if it looked like Kamsky would win, Naka could press for the win against Seirawan. Instead, Naka trotted out a "Brand X" line against Seirawan's French (1.e4 e6 2.f4?!), which is almost never seen (less than a third of a percent of the games with the French Defense) and gives Black a plus score! The critics (including me) would have said "What was he thinking!" if Naka had lost. But no, it worked like a charm - Naka crushed Seirawan, while Kamsky drew. This gave Naka the championship by a full point, undefeated, 8.5/11 (6 wins, 5 draws). This is comparable to Fischer's typical score in U.S. Championships. Congratulations to Hikaru Nakamura on his gutsy play and incredible performance!