This weekend's NYT has a story about about last weekend's Philadelphia Open, and about Gata Kamsky, one of the top chess players in the United States. When I was paying a lot of attention to chess back in the early 1990's, Gata Kamsky was all the rage: a 17 year old phenom who looked like he was unstoppable.
Well, fast-forward 18 years:
Most of the top players are European, and most of the top tournaments are in Europe. So it is not surprising that there are few spots in those competitions for non-Europeans.
For many years, if an American player was included in an elite event, the invitation went to Gata Kamsky. But Kamsky's world ranking has slipped to No. 34, while Hikaru Nakamura, the reigning United States champion, has risen to No. 17. Nakamura, at age 22, is 13 years younger than Kamsky, and he plays an exciting chess that is popular with fans. So Nakamura now seems to be claiming most of the choice tournament spots.
But, as the article goes on to discuss, Kamsky ain't done for yet, and his strong showing in the Philadelphia Open, which is one of the strongest tournaments held in this country, is a promising one:
In the Philadelphia Open last weekend, he tied for first with three other grandmasters, and he took the title on a tie-breaker.
The column goes on to dissect an exciting 7th round match between Kamsky and Vladimir Romanenko of Belarus. Plenty of errors on both sides, but somehow Kamsky hung on and found a way to win.
OK, I've got a few years on Kamsky, but still, let's celebrate: way to go, old guys!