Seven up!

The top two boards were drawn and three other hopefuls caught up by winning with Black, giving a leading group of seven players.
Akobian (see the photo) drew with Kamsky and Onischuk kept Nakamura at bay, whereas Shulman, Stripunsky and Christiansen all won. These seven have 3/4.

Hikaru Nakamura has already played both of his closest rivals (on rating), so is in practical terms the best placed as he can expect realtively easier pairings from now on.

1GM Hikaru Nakamura (2.5)27330.5-0.5GM Alexander Onischuk (2.5)2699
2GM Varuzhan Akobian (2.5)25990.5-0.5GM Gata Kamsky (2.5)2702
3GM Robert Hess(2)25900-1GM Yury Shulman (2)2613
4GM Jaan Ehlvest (2)25910-1GM Alexander Stripunsky (2)2570
5GM Alexander Shabalov(1.5)25850-1GM Larry Christiansen (2)2578
6GM Alex Yermolinsky(1.5)25281-0GM Sergey Kudrin (1.5)2571
7GM Jesse Kraai(1.5)24921-0GM Joel Benjamin (1.5)2565
8GM Ray Robson (1)25690.5-0.5IM Irina Krush (1.5)2455
9GM Aleksandr Lenderman(1)25980.5-0.5GM Ben Finegold (1)2539
10GM Gregory Kaidanov(1)25770.5-0.5GM Melikset Khachiyan (1)2539
11IM Levon Altounian(1)24540.5-0.5GM Vinay Bhat(0.5)2547
12IM Samuel Shankland(0.5)25070.5-0.5GM Dmitry Gurevich(0)2488

The fifth round pairings are as follows. Five of the 24 players are called Alex or Alexander, so not surprisingly there will be a number of meetings between them, for example on board four with Stripunsky playing Yermolinsky later today.

1GM Yuri Shulman (3)2613GM Hikaru Nakamura (3)2733
2GM Gata Kamsky (3)2702GM Larry Christiansen (3)2578
3GM Alexander Onischuk (3)2699GM Varuzhan Akobian (3)2599
4GM Alexander Stripunsky (3)2570GM Alex Yermolinsky (2.5)2528
5GM Jaan Ehlvest (2)2591GM Jesse Kraai (2.5)2492
6IM Irina Krush (2)2455GM Robert Hess (2)2590
7GM Joel Benjamin (1.5)2565GM Aleksandr Lenderman (1.5)2598
8GM Melikset Khachiyan (1.5)2539GM Alexander Shabalov (1.5)2585
9GM Sergey Kudrin (1.5)2571GM Gregory Kaidanov (1.5)2577
10GM Ben Finegold (1.5)2539IM Levon Altounian (1.5)2454
11IM Samuel Shankland (1)2507GM Ray Robson (1.5)2569
12GM Vinay Bhat (1)2547GM Dmitry Gurevich (0.5)2488

The winners on boards 3-5, Shulman, Stripunsky and Christiansen (all with the black pieces), join the leading group.

Tha majority of the participants were not born in the USA (14 out of 24?), demonstrating that it is still a country welcoming people from all over the world. Veteran campaigner Larry Christiansen was however home born and bred but has a tough pairing with Black against Gata Kamsky.

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

Yuri Shulman, 2008 US Champion. @ official site

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