Sunday, 23 May 2010

2010 US Championship

I'm pretty sure the 2010 US Championship is nearing an end, but I am not totally sure due to a new format this year. As far as I can tell the first 7 rounds were a normal 24 player swiss. Then the top 4 players qualified for a Round Robin (Quad) Final, with the remaining players continuing in the siwss, both for norm purposes and to decide the minor placings.
The top 4 finishers after 7 rounds were GM's Nakamura, Kamsky, Onischuk and Shulman, each scoring 5/7. As the Final is considered a new tournament, the players can play each other again, as Nakamura and Kamsky did in the first playoff game.
Now it isn't clear to me whether such a format actually works in either determining a winner, or even providing more exciting chess. In fact it reminds me a little of professional poker, in that when players are close to being 'in the money' they become conservative, hoping that other players get knocked out before they do. Certainly this seems to be the case so far, with the top 4 making the finals by drawing in round 7, and then drawing again in round 8.
Full coverage of the event (last 2 rounds + playoffs if necessary) are here at the official site.

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