Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

America has in the past enjoyed the presence of great chess players. Two native born players were in a class by themselves. They were Paul Morphy of New Orleans (1837-84), probably the greatest player of his time but denied the right to a match with the unofficial world champion, Howard Staunton. Of course, Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) was also the greatest player of his time and earned the world championship title after a long period of public agony over his participation. Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900), born in Austria, became world champion while residing in the US. He later became a US citizen.

At present, America has a claim to three great grandmasters. They are Hikaru Nakamura, born in Japan but moved to the US at the age of 2; Fabiano Caruana, born in Miami, who has dual Italian and American citizenship; and Gata Kamsky, who moved to the US from Russia at 15. None of them, however, will be in the Candidates’ tournament in March to choose the challenger to world champion Viswanathan Anand of India.

Kamsky, who has twice been the challenger for the world championship, has been known for his stamina, the ability to get through the openings and to wear his opponents down, but he has run into trouble recently. Playing in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in a star-studded field of a dozen players in which the lowest player was rated 2696, Kamsky had one of the worst experiences in his career. He suffered five defeats in the 11-player round robin, and ended in last place.


Nakamura, sometimes risk prone and carefree, is a flash of lightning that so far has barely missed his mark. He is one of the great speed players of the world, and has thrived on bullet chess on ICC. He did annex a win in the Wijk aan Zee 2011 tournament, but he has by and large taken a back seat to Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik, neither of whom he has ever defeated. He is presently rated ninth in the world and acquitted himself well in the London Classic, with a third place tie with Michael Adams. In that event, he defeated Levon Aronian and drew with Carlsen and Kramnik. He is a potential American hero, and will certainly keep trying. Recently, he played in the SportAccord World Mind Games in Beijing and won silver medals in the Blitz, Blindfold, and Rapid sections.

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Lastly, there is Caruana, an expatriate who has spent much of his time in Europe, a steady and intelligent player, who has wonderful potential. He is currently rated No.5 in the world. In Tashkent, he ended a half point behind the final leaders Alexander Morozevich, Hao Wang, and Sergey Karjakin. Caruana is said to be considering entry into the 2013 American Championship, in a sense coming home.

Brevity: E. Tegshuren v. Y. Shulman (2000) 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5 a6 8.a4 e6 9.Qd2 exd5 10.cxd5 Re8 11.Be2 h5 12.Bd1 Qa5 13.Ra3 Nbd7 14.Nge2 Ne5 15.b3 b5 16.Nc1 Qb4 17.Ra1 Nh7 18.N1a2 Qd4 19.Bf4 Nd3+; 0-1

Winners: Boylston Dec. $10 Open, 1st-2d Marc Esserman and Chris Williams, 3-1, 3d-4th, Eric Godin and Luke Lung, 2.5-1.5; Boylston Legends of Chess, 1st, Chris Chase, 4-0, 2d Eric Godin 3-1, 3d-4th, Bowen Wang and Luke Lung, 2.5-1.5.

Coming Events: Boylston Thurs. Night Swiss, Jan. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and BCC Swiss #31, Jan. 12, 240B Elm Street, Somerville; www.boylston; 3d MACA Scholastic Qualifier, Jan.5, BB&N Upper School, 80 Gerry’s Landing Road, Cambridge;