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Almost perfect

In On Chess

3:05 pm on Tue, 09.20.11

The Kings vs. Queens tournament ended in a victory for the guys, mainly due the Herculean effort of St. Louis resident Hikaru Nakamura, who scored an almost perfect 9.5 points out of 10 games.

The event pitted top female players against strong male competition in an interesting format. Unfortunately for the Queens, female world No. 1 Judit Polgar was forced to withdraw from the tournament just days before the first round, and her absence paved the way for Hikaru to rack up some serious points.

Nakamura300hikaru91611
Photo from the Chess Club

Judit was busy beating the world's best men in Khanty-Mansisk, Russia, at the World Cup. The World Cup is a knockout event with many of the world's top players. Judit's American fans were torn, since they wanted her to win the World Cup, but this meant she would not be available to play in K v Q! Judit beat four strong players, including the overall No. 1-seed Sergey Karjakin, before she was defeated in the quarterfinals.

Judit's good fortune (actually good play, since there is little to no luck in chess) meant her understudy, International Master Martha Fierro from Ecuador, would play for the Queens. This was Martha's first time playing chess in St. Louis, and she acquitted herself well, scoring 2.5 points against a tough field.

Organizers were determined to keep the average rating of the teams as close as possible, and Judit's absence significantly lowered the average rating of the Queens' team. To compensate, the Kings added a local player, 14-year-old National Master Kevin Cao, to the field. Although he was lower rated than his opponent in every round, Kevin still managed to score 2.5 points, which was good enough for a three-way tie for 7th place overall.

The event was a great success as thousands of people logged into the Internet Chess Club and the Chess Club website (www.saintlouischessclub.org) to watch the action live. In addition to the live games and commentary with Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan and Woman Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade each day, the Chess Club's website also featured pictures, videos, analysis and more.

The amazing event coincided with the opening of the Hall of Fame, which is directly across the street from the Chess Club. Chess lovers from all over the world now have even more reason to come to St. Louis, and if Hikaru keeps scoring 9.5 out of 10, maybe he will be the biggest chess attraction of them all!

Final standings can be found by visiting www.saintlouischessclub.org/kings-vs-queens-tournament.{jcomments on}

To reach Ben Finegold, the GM in residence at the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

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