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HIKARU NAKAMURA WINS 2009 US CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP
Saint Louis, May 17 -- Hikaru Nakamura, 21, of White Plains, N.Y., won the the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship after winning in the ninth and final round at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Second-seeded Nakamura, who also won the title in 2004, when he was just 16, won the venerable 164-year-old title and first prize of $40,000 ($35,000, plus a $5,000 outright winner's bonus) after beating Josh Friedel, of New York. Nakamura finished with seven points over nine games, and never lost a game.
He was assured the title after 17-year-old Robert Hess, of New York, managed only a draw in his last round game with Varuzhan Akobian, of North Hollywood, Calif. Hess and Nakamura entered the final round tied with six points.
Nakamura, who as a junior broke every age-group record set by Bobby Fischer, except that of youngest U.S. champion (Fischer did this at age 14), played confident and assured over the 10 days of tense competition.
"I was very happy with my play throughout and relieved to have won the title again," said Nakamura moments after being confirmed champion. "This is a title that means so much to me and the U.S. chess community -- and I have to thank the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis for putting on such a memorable championship. Winning the second title feels better to me than the first."
Nakamura will officially be crowned the 2009 U.S. chess champion Sunday evening by championship sponsor Rex Sinquefield -- founder of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center -- during a closing ceremony at the Zodiac Room of the Chase Park Hotel in St. Louis' trendy Central West End.
The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis opened in July 2008, and has more than 500 members. The club also will host the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship from October 2-12.