Hikaru Tops Congress
By Jennifer Shahade   
November 27, 2006

by Jennifer Shahade
Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura is back with a vengeance. His first outing since enrolling at Dickinson College was the National Chess Congress (Philadelphia, November 24-26) He started the top heavy event with a 5-0 sweep, ceding a draw to Zviad Izoria in the final round to win clear first in a field of 11 Grandmasters. "Not a bad start" admitted Hikaru, who will annotate one of his games in Philly for Chess Life Online. (Check back for that!)
In the following victory over King's Island winner Justin Sarkar in Round 3, Hikaru shows the long term value of extracting kingside weaknesses.


And here Hikaru tries a somewhat offbeat line in the French against Ivanov, throwing him off balance and extracting the full point.

As usual, many young talents on school breaks visited the National Chess Congress. Here's a fascinating face off between U.S. Junior runner-up Jake Kleiman and Pan-American silver medalist Ray Robson.


Ray Robson

Sergey Kudrin's solid style and consistent, well analyzed opening repertoire makes him a kind of "professor" for up and coming masters. The following win over Ray Robson is a case in point.


Tying for second were GMs Alexander Shabalov and Jaan Ehvlest and IM Justin Sarkar. Sarkar is obviously still buzzing from his King Island victory last week. He won all his games save his loss against Hikaru, including a last round win against Leonid Yudasin.


Normally only first would please Shabalov or Elvhest in a weekend Swiss, but in such a strong field, tying for second must also be considered as an excellent result: In the last round, Shabalov defeated Ildar Ibragimov while Jaan Ehlvest beat Alexander Ivanov.

Final National Chess Congress Premier Section Standings

Photo Gallery

Most of the GMs in Philly didn't even make it to the three board stage! Pictured here sitting are GMs Ildar Ibragimov, Zviad Izoria and Jaan Ehvlest. Meanwhile, IM Anna Zatonskih gets some clock assistance from TD Michael Atkins.

U.S. Chess League commissioner Greg Shahade, WFM Elizabeth Vicary and GM Alexander Shabalov in an impromptu monopoly game between rounds.

IM Justin Sarkar

The tournament was held in downtown Philadelphia, right near City Hall. Photo Jacob Okada.  

Read and play through the entire contents of the November Chess Life  Magazine online, including  bonus material from the U.S. Open.