|Sprinting Toward the Inside Lane in Vancouver|
|By Al Lawrence|
|August 11, 2012|
As the clocks started Friday night in round seven of the U.S. Open Championship in Vancouver, Washington, 517 players from three different schedules finally merged into one huge series of face-offs. Seeing the top boards take their places behind the ropes was a bit like watching runners leave their lanes and head for the inside of the track in the 400-meter sprint—you could finally tell who was in the lead. At the head of the pack is GM Manuel Leon Hoyos, champion of Mexico, who just defeated GM Alejandro Ramirez.
His perfect 7-0 score puts him a half point up on Seirawan, Yaacov Norowitz and IM Salvijus Bercys.
Seven GMs stood out in the trio of schedule choices. GM Yasser Seirawan—local favorite and winner of the Open held 25 years ago and eight miles distant across the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon—sat on board one every evening for the first six rounds. The other GM in the nine-day schedule, Dmitry Gurevich, fell back after drawing in rounds three and five.
The six-day schedule brought in GMs Ramirez and Alexander Shabolov of Pennsylvania. And the four-day schedule unveiled three boards of the championship Texas Tech University team, newly transferred to Webster University near St. Louis: GMs Hoyos, Anatoly Bykhovsky of Israel, and Andre Diamant, Brazilian champ. The latter two had slipped, both by losing to teammate Hoyos.
Round seven pairings tonight saw Seirawan defeating Atulya Arya Shetty of Michigan, and Yaacov Norowitz of New Jersey winning against Steven Breckenridge of Oregon.
The tournament, held at the Hilton Convention Center, is among the 15 or so best-attended U.S. Opens in history. It will conclude on Sunday, after a total of nine rounds.