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He has held the world championship for six years, beating off challenges from GMs Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and, just two years ago, Boris Gelfand. He has far more match experience and will have the considerable advantage of defending his crown for the fourth time in his hometown of Chennai, India, before a rabid fan base that will be strongly pulling for him.
The vagaries of the Swiss system pairings used in U.S. tournaments often mean that the "critical" games of the event come well before the final round.
Breaking news — It came down to a single "armageddon" playoff game, but top-seeded GM Gata Kamsky claimed the 2013 U.S. championship in a thrilling finish Monday at the Chess Club Scholastic Center of St. Louis. He defeated Texas GM Alejandro Ramirez in a rapid playoff after the two finished atop the 24-player field with 6½-2½ scores.
Top seeds GM Gata Kamsky and IM Irina Krush are setting the early pace at the U.S. men's and women's championships that got underway Friday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, with each posting three wins in their first three games.
The 2012 class for the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis is small but select: Alex Yermolinsky, the St. Petersburg-born grandmaster now living in South Dakota, will become the 48th member of the Hall of Fame in a ceremony Tuesday, joining champions of the American game including Paul Morphy, Bobby Fischer and Benjamin Franklin.
Mexican national champion Manuel Leon Hoyos can add a major north-of-the-border title to his resume after winning the 113th U.S. Open Sunday in Vancouver, Wash., in a playoff over veteran Illinois GM Dmitry Gurevich and surprising California FM John Daniel Bryant. All three finished at 8-1, with Bryant reeling off five straight wins to close out the tournament and claim a share of first.
The inaugural Washington International produced a worthy winner as former U.S. national champion Gata Kamsky triumphed over a strong field in the ambitious nine-round open event sponsored by the Maryland Chess Federation. Kamsky, a onetime candidate in the world championship cycle, was undefeated at 7-2 and won $5,000 for his efforts.
There's no thrill quite like beating your first grandmaster. So I'm told. Virginia expert Eric Most can offer a firsthand account of the experience in the wake of his stunning shared first place in last month's 43rd annual Atlantic Open downtown.