St. Louisan Dominates World's Best at International Chess Tourney
January 31, 2011
Nakamura at the Tata Steel Chess post-game press conference. Photo Cathy Rogers
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St. Louisan Dominates World's Best at International Chess Tourney

The No. 1-ranked player in the U.S. took first against the reigning world champ and others in the Netherlands

ST. LOUIS, January 31, 2010 -- Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, the highest rated player in the U.S., delivered the most impressive chess tournament victory by an American since Bobby Fischer won the World Championship in 1972. Nakamura finished in first place at the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, which culminated on Sunday, January 30, and featured one of the strongest fields ever put together.

The Tata Steel Chess Tournament (formerly Corus) gathers the strongest chess players each year to put on the most challenging tournament in the world. Sometimes referred to as the Super Bowl of Chess, this year's field was comprised of reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand, former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, 19-year-old Norwegian wunderkind Magnus Carlsen and a host of other elite grandmasters that make up the world's best.

Nakamura, who entered the tournament ranked number 10 in the world, was still only the sixth highest-rated player out of the field of 14 at the start of the round-robin tournament. Nakamura, whose only loss of the tournament came at the hands of Carlsen in round 8, managed to strategically draw Anand and Kramnik in rounds 9 and 12, respectively, and delivered victories in rounds 1, 3, 6, 7, 10 and 11. In chess, a draw, or tie, gives each of the contestants a half point and a victory gives the winner a full point. Nakamura finished with nine out of 13 points to edge Anand, who finished the tournament with 8.5/13.

"It's not about me, it's about history," Nakamura said.

After his performance in Wijk aan Zee, Nakamura has climbed to the number seven spot on the world ranking list and, at only 23 years old, he is a viable contender to one day challenge for the World Title.

Nakamura moved to St. Louis in late April of 2010 as a response to the burgeoning chess culture that was being fostered by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL). He said he hoped to use St. Louis as a base of operations to help spread the benefits of chess and further popularize the game.

"It feels like what's happening in St. Louis, both at the top level and the scholastic, grassroots level, is something I want to be a part of, and I fell like this is the one area of the country where things are really happening," he said.

He is a two-time U.S. Champion, and will be looking to capture his third title when the 2011 U.S. Championships, scheduled April 13-28, are held in St. Louis for the third year in a row.