US Championship 2015 – Wild, Wild, West

From the moment it started I felt a certain spirit of recklessness at this year’s US Chess Championship. It was mainly because I had the impression that Nakamura came to the tournament with a feeling of contempt for almost everybody, but especially the younger guys. As if he came there just to show his superiority, which was somewhat questioned with the rise of Wesley So, and he wanted to set things straight with a vengeance, showing everybody who the real boss is and ask how they even dared to doubt him.

Playing extremely risky chess (the Benoni against Troff and the Dragon against Naroditsky especially) Nakamura managed to do what he set out to achieve. Even though the tournament is still ongoing, today is round 9, the question of the winner is decided. Nakamura was losing on a few occasions and he was making blunders, a far cry from his usual elite tournaments where he learned to play solid chess, with the QGD and the Berlin in addition to the steady supply of high-level moves. Here he risked losses, but with the self-confidence that his elite status gives him he managed to frighten the younger (and the other) guys and beat them. But they will learn.

The young guys certainly came to fight and bite. Sevian (14) and Troff (16), the future of American chess had some remarkable results recently, but especially notable is Sevian’s win against So, a Top 10 player, an amazing feat, especially taking into account that he was caught in a sharp prepared line, an improvement over the famous game Aronian-Anand, Wijk 2013, went through a losing position and still managed to take advantage of So’s blunder.

I will not comment on So’s default today, as it would imply discussing the existing rules, and that is a topic for a tome, not a blog post.

The impressive fighting, quite in accordance with the good old American way, makes this tournament one of the gems in the recent tournament circuit and a pleasure to follow.
Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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