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SHULMAN AND AKOBIAN HOLD LEAD AT U.S. CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP
St. Louis, Mo., May 13, 2009 -- Defending champion Yury Shulman, of Barrington, Ill., and Varuzhan Akobian, of North Hollywood, Calif., continue to hold the lead of the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
As overnight leaders, the two were matched up Wednesday in round six of the $135,000 championship. A win would have given the victor sole possession of first place, but Shulman and Akobian played to a draw. They share the top of the leader board with 4.5 points.
A pack of six players is a half-point back, including the top three ranked U.S. players coming into the tournament: New Yorkers Gata Kamsky and Hikaru Nakamura, and Alexander Onischuk, of Baltimore. Also in the group is 17-year-old Robert Hess, of New York, who played to a draw Wednesday in his match with Kamsky.
The youngest player in the field, 14-year-old Ray Robson, of Largo, Fla., beat three-time U.S. champion Larry Christiansen, of Cambridge, Mass., as the young phenom took a big step in his quest to becoming the country's youngest chess grandmaster.
Also breaking down the barriers in the game was another outstanding performance from Irina Krush, of Brooklyn, N.Y., the sole woman player in the championship after the illness-related withdrawal of Anna Zatonskih of Long Island, N.Y. Krush turned in the best performance of the day by beating Julio Becerra, a grandmaster from Miami, Fl.
The nine-round championship concludes Sunday.
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.