Nakamura, Kamsky, Onischuk and Shulman

The leading quartet now qualify for a mini round-robin to determine the first four places, a system unique to the US Championships.
The others will continue the swiss event to determine the minor placings, with Irina Krush on 4/7 also thinking about (and closing in on!) her second GM norm.

On the top three boards there were 'almost' some surprises, with the top two seeds being in some danger. Kamsky went astray in some complications and had to fight like a dog to keep himself afloat.

Nakamura was worse and even had to defend an endgame a pawn down.

1GM Yuri Shulman (4.5)26130.5-0.5GM Alexander Onischuk (4.5)2699
2GM Larry Christiansen (4)25780.5-0.5GM Hikaru Nakamura (4.5)2733
3GM Gata Kamsky (4.5)27020.5-0.5GM Alexander Shabalov (3.5)2585
4GM Jesse Kraai (3.5)24920-1GM Alexander Stripunsky (3.5)2570
5GM Alex Yermolinsky (3.5)25280.5-0.5GM Ben Finegold (3.5)2539
6GM Robert Hess (3)25901-0GM Varuzhan Akobian (3.5)2599
7IM Irina Krush (3)24551-0GM Aleksandr Lenderman (2.5)2598
8GM Jaan Ehlvest (2.5)25911-0GM Vinay Bhat (2.5)2547
9GM Gregory Kaidanov (2.5)25770.5-0.5GM Ray Robson (2.5)2569
10GM Melikset Khachiyan (2)25391-0GM Joel Benjamin (2.5)2565
11GM Sergey Kudrin (1.5)25710.5-0.5GM Dmitry Gurevich (1.5)2488
12IM Samuel Shankland (1.5)25070-1IM Levon Altounian (1.5)2454

So after seven rounds the rankings were as follows:

Five points:

GM Hikaru Nakamura 2733
GM Gata Kamsky 2702
GM Alexander Onischuk 2699
GM Yury Shulman 2613

Four-and-a-half points:

GM Alexander Stripunsky 2570
GM Larry Christiansen 2578

Four points:

GM Robert Hess2590
GM Alexander Shabalov2585
GM Ben Finegold2539
GM Alex Yermolinsky2528
IM Irina Krush2455

Three-and-a-half points:

GM Varuzhan Akobian2599
GM Jaan Ehlvest2591
GM Jesse Kraai2492

Three points:

GM Gregory Kaidanov2577
GM Ray Robson 2569
GM Melikset Khachiyan2539

Two-and-a-half points:

GM Aleksandr Lenderman2598
GM Joel Benjamin 2565
GM Vinay Bhat2547
IM Levon Altounian2454

Two points:

GM Sergey Kudrin 2571
GM Dmitry Gurevich 2488

One-and-a-half points:

IM Samuel Shankland2507

So in the next round (eighth for the swiss) the pairings will be as follows:

'Quad finals' = Title group (for places 1-4)

1GM Hikaru Nakamura2733GM Gata Kamsky2702
2GM Alexander Onischuk2699GM Yury Shulman2613

Swiss event (for places 5-24)

3GM Alexander Stripunsky2570GM Larry Christiansen2578
4GM Ben Finegold2539GM Robert Hess2590
5GM Alexander Shabalov2585IM Irina Krush2455
6GM Jesse Kraai2492GM Alex Yermolinsky2528
7GM Varuzhan Akobian2599GM Jaan Ehlvest2591
8GM Ray Robson2569GM Melikset Khachiyan2539
9GM Vinay Bhat2547GM Gregory Kaidanov2577
10GM Joel Benjamin2565IM Levon Altounian2454
11GM Dmitry Gurevich2488GM Aleksandr Lenderman2598
12GM Sergey Kudrin2571IM Samuel Shankland2507

Naturally the top group of four will be playing amongst themselves, that is against opponents they have already met in the earlier phase.

However for the lower twenty participants, normal swiss rules apply and they won't be paired against the same players as earlier.

I must admit I was caught by surprise by this system, but have noticed that the Americans like to experiment with different formula for important events.

Presumably, in the 'quad' event those players who receive two whites out of three have the best chance?

Today is a rest day and the next games will take place on Saturday the 22nd of May.

Everything will be decided over the next few days.

St.Louis seems to be investing heavily in chess and their efforts will be boosted by the fact that Nakamura has just moved to the city. The new centre of chess in the USA?

At the moment, chess in the US means St. Louis.

You can watch the games live and can find more information on the official tournament site.

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