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TOP 3 SEEDS, RISING STAR, SIT ATOP U.S. CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
St. Louis, Mo., 14 May, 2009 -- The leaderboard flipped Thursday in the seventh of nine rounds of the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. At the end of the day, the three top seeds coming into the tournament, and a 17-year-old rising star, shared first place.
No. 1 seed Gata Kamsky, of Brooklyn, N.Y., No. 2 Hikaru Nakamura, of White Plains, N.Y., No. 3 Alexander Onsichuk, of Baltimore, and Robert Hess, 17, of Brooklyn, N.Y., have 5 points apiece. There is $135,000 in prize money at stake.
Defending champion Yury Shulman, of Barrington, Ill., and Varuzhan Akobian, of North Hollywood, Calif., who shared the lead after the sixth routh, fell into second place with 4.5 points after losing to Onischuk and Nakamura, respectively.
Kamsky defeated three-time U.S. champion Joel Benjamin, of New Jersey, and Hess defeated Josh Friedel, of New York.
Michael Brooks, of Kansas City, Mo., had a dramatic turnaround in his game, putting him closer to earning grandmaster status. Brooks, 47, beat the youngest player in the field, 14-year-old phenom Ray Robson, of Largo, Fla., to end the day with 4 points. Not only will his above-par performance raise his chess rating, but if he manages to score 1.5 points over his final two games, he will be on course for a grandmaster norm. No Missourian has become a grandmaster.
Friday is a rest day. Round eight of the nine-round championship will be on Saturday. The tournament 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.