2018 U.S. Championships - Round 7

 The U.S. Championships deliver once again. As expected, the players returned to the board after the rest day with renewed energy and acute desire for winning. We are entering the last stretch and the games have been explosive; let’s get into the recap and see what happened in today’s crucial round!

U.S. Championship

Caruana vs Akobian

Everything went well for Caruana in this game. His preparation was impeccable, as the novelty 10.0-0-0 completely threw off Akobian, who was unable to find his way out of the maze. The game took an ugly turn after Caruana’s aggressive pawn sacrifice with 13.f6!

Akobian’s position didn’t withstand the pressure, and with great precision Caruana hunted down his opponent’s king. It was all over at move 30, and Caruana catches Shankland at the top of the table with 4 rounds to go.

Izoria vs Nakamura

Izoria once again delivers a huge shocker! After his win against Caruana, he now takes down another titan in a game that will surely enter the annals of history.


[Event "US Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.04.25"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Izoria, Zviad"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2599"]
[BlackElo "2787"]
[PlyCount "183"]
[EventDate "2018.04.25"]

1. Nf3 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. d4 d6 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. Qe2 O-O 6. O-O Nc6 $6 {An already
extremely dubious move. Black will now be on the backfoot for the rest of the
game. A much better alternative would have been} (6... Bg4 7. h3 Bxf3 8. Qxf3
Nc6 9. Rd1 e5 10. c3 Nd7 $13) 7. e5 (7. Rd1 d5 8. exd5 Nxd5 9. h3 Re8 10. Bb3
Na5 11. Ba4 c6 12. c3 Bf5 13. Na3 b5 14. Bc2 Bxc2 15. Nxc2 Qc7 16. Ne3 e6 17.
Ng4 f6 18. Ne3 Rad8 19. Bd2 Nb7 20. Be1 Nd6 21. a4 a6 22. axb5 axb5 23. b3 Nf5
24. Nxf5 exf5 25. Qf1 Nf4 26. Bd2 Bf8 27. Bxf4 Qxf4 28. Re1 Qd6 29. Rxe8 Rxe8
30. Re1 Re4 31. Qd3 Qe6 32. Rb1 Bd6 33. Kf1 Bf4 34. c4 bxc4 35. bxc4 Qe8 36. c5
Qd7 {Grischuk,A (2750)-Vachier Lagrave,M (2795) chess.com INT 2017 1-0}) 7...
Ng4 8. h3 Nh6 9. Nc3 Kh8 $146 (9... Nf5 {has to be played, despite the already
obvious difficulties Black is facing.} 10. Rd1 dxe5 11. dxe5 Ncd4 12. Nxd4 Nxd4
13. Qe4 c5 14. Bg5 h6 15. Be3 (15. Bh4 g5 16. Bg3 Bf5 17. Qxb7 $13 {0-1 (31)
De la Villa Garcia,J (2452)-Narciso Dublan,M (2467) Barcelona 2006}) 15... Bf5
16. Qxb7 Qb8 17. Qxb8 Raxb8 18. Nd5 $14) 10. Rd1 a6 11. a3 b5 12. Bd5 Bb7 13.
Bf4 (13. Qe4 $1 Qe8 (13... e6 14. Bxc6 d5 15. Bxd5 exd5 16. Qd3 $16) 14. Bxh6
Bxh6 15. Qh4 Bg7 16. Ng5 h6 17. e6 f5 18. Nf7+ Kh7 19. g4 $18 {The attack will
be decisive, there is simply no way Black can escape this position. Nakamura
dodges the bullet, as Izoria does not go for this option.}) 13... Qc8 14. Be4
Rb8 15. Re1 dxe5 16. dxe5 Nd8 17. Rad1 Ne6 18. Bc1 Ng8 19. Bxb7 Rxb7 20. Qe4 c5
21. Nd5 c4 22. Ng5 Nxg5 23. Bxg5 Qf5 (23... Rd8 {was a better defense for Black
} 24. Qe2 h6 25. Be3 (25. Bh4 $6 g5 26. Bg3 e6 27. Nc3 Rxd1 28. Qxd1 Ne7 29. h4
gxh4 30. Bxh4 Nf5 $13) 25... e6 26. Nb6 Qc7 27. Rxd8 Qxd8 28. Rd1 Qe8 29. f4
$14 {[%csl Rb6][%cal Re2f2,Re3b6]}) 24. Nc3 Rfb8 25. Bc1 a5 26. g4 Qc8 (26...
Qxe4 27. Nxe4 e6 28. Nd6 Rd7 29. f4 f5 30. gxf5 gxf5 31. Kf2 $16 {This endgame
promises Nakamura a long and tedious suffering.}) 27. Qf3 e6 28. Bf4 Ne7 29.
Ne4 Rc7 30. Bg3 Qf8 31. Nf6 Rbc8 32. Rd6 g5 33. Nd7 Qe8 34. Nf6 Qf8 35. Red1 h6
36. Nd7 Qe8 37. Nf6 {Izoria shows his experience, as he repeats the position
twice in order to gain more time and get closer to the first time control} Bxf6
$6 {Nakamura loses his patience} 38. exf6 Ng6 39. Qe4 $16 c3 40. b3 a4 41. bxa4
bxa4 42. Ra6 e5 43. Qxa4 Qxa4 44. Rxa4 Rc6 45. Ra5 Re8 46. Rdd5 Rxf6 47. Rxe5
Nxe5 48. Bxe5 Rxe5 49. Rxe5 Ra6 50. Rc5 Rxa3 51. Kf1 Kg7 52. Ke2 Kf6 53. Kd3
Ra6 54. Rxc3 {The endgame is probably holdable, but with only 1 minute and 30
seconds left on the clock, Nakamura is not able to defend.} Ke6 (54... Kg6 55.
Rc8 Kg7 56. Rc5 Kg6 57. Kd4 Ra2 58. f3 h5 59. Rc6+ f6 60. c4 Rd2+ 61. Ke4 h4
62. c5 Kf7 63. Rb6 Rd1 64. c6 Re1+ 65. Kd5 $18) 55. Ke4 Ra4+ 56. Ke3 f6 (56...
f5 57. Kf3 (57. f3 f4+ 58. Kd3 Ra1 {Going for counterplay might have been
Nakamura's only shot at equality} 59. Rb3 Rd1+ 60. Ke2 Rc1 61. Kd2 Rh1 62. Rb6+
Ke5 63. Rxh6 Rh2+ 64. Kd3 Rf2 $11) 57... h5 58. gxh5 Rh4 59. Kg3 f4+ 60. Kg2
Rxh5 61. Rc5 $16) 57. f3 Ra1 (57... h5 $1 {Best chance at equality} 58. Rc6+
Ke5 59. Rc5+ Ke6 60. c4 h4 61. Ke4 Ra3 {And Black has a clear shot at a
succesful defense. His rook's activity is key}) 58. f4 gxf4+ 59. Kxf4 Ra4+ 60.
Kg3 $16 Kf7 61. Rc5 Ra3+ 62. c3 Ra1 63. Kf4 (63. Kh4 Kg6 64. Rc8 Rc1 65. c4 Rc3
66. c5 Kh7 67. c6 Kg7 68. c7 Kh7 69. Rf8 Rxc7 70. Rxf6 Rc3 $11) 63... Rh1 64.
Kg3 (64. Kf5 Rxh3 65. Rc7+ Ke8 66. Kxf6 Rg3 67. Kf5 Kd8 68. Rc6 Rf3+ 69. Ke4
Rg3 70. Kf4 Rh3 71. c4 $16) 64... Rg1+ 65. Kf2 Rh1 66. Kg2 Rc1 67. h4 Ke6 68.
h5 Kd6 $2 {The final mistake. Once White activated his rook on the side of the
pawn, the endgame should be lost for Black} 69. Rf5 Ke6 70. Rf3 Ke5 71. Kf2
Rc2+ 72. Kg3 Ke6 73. Kf4 Kf7 74. Ke4 Rd2 75. c4 Ke6 76. Rc3 Rg2 77. Kf3 Rg1 78.
c5 Kd7 79. c6+ Kc7 80. Kf4 Rf1+ 81. Ke4 Rf2 82. Rf3 (82. Rc1 $18) 82... Re2+
83. Kf5 {The rest is just a formality} Re5+ 84. Kxf6 Rg5 85. Kf7 Rxg4 86. Rf6
Rg5 87. Rxh6 Rc5 88. Rh8 Rxc6 89. Kg7 Rc1 90. h6 Rg1+ 91. Kh7 Kd7 92. Rg8 1-0


Lenderman vs Onischuk

The last decisive result in the open section was the positional masterclass presented by Lenderman, who overpowered his good friend in a completely equal endgame. As the players exchanged the queens, it seemed as if the game would be over in no time.

Lenderman persevered and slowly started pushing Onischuk’s pieces backward. Black’s timid play was punished, as Lenderman started placing his pieces on their ideas squares, leaving Black no choice but to accept capitulation immediately after the first time control.

Liang vs Robson

The young newcomer had plenty of opportunities to finish his more experienced rival. Unfortunately for him, the lack of experience at this level once again had its say. The biggest chance Liang had came early on, when Robson allowed 17.Nxc7! which would have finished the game on the spot, as Robson would lose material and fall under an utterly destructive attack.

Liang continued to press even after the game’s continuation, but the magnitude of that chance was never presented again. Robson’s tenacity paid off in the end, as he held the difficult endgame to a draw.

Shankland vs So

A game without much history. So tried to play active, choosing the Grunfeld as his weapon of choice, but was stopped early by Shankland’s unapologetic defensive strategy. Despite losing a pawn in the process, Shankland forced the exchange of almost all pieces and forced the draw without many problems.

Xiong vs Zherebukh

A very balanced game, in which Xiong looked primed to get an advantage at one juncture in the game. After playing a good Catalan and obtaining a minimal advantage, Xiong had the choice of going with the active 28.Ne4! or the less active 28.Ne2?!.

Unfortunately for him, he chose the latter and his advantage evaporated in the next couple of moves. An unfortunate outcome for Xiong, who is still searching for his first victory in this year’s championship.

U.S. Women’s Championship

Sharevich vs Wang

The most important game of the round, and GM Denes Boros once again provides the full annotation!


[Event "US Womens Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.04.25"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Sharevich, Anna"]
[Black "Wang, Annie"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D58"]
[PlyCount "166"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2018.04.26"]

1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 b6 8. g4 $5
{Anna Sharevich comes well prepared, here she plays a critical line, that was
already contested in a top event between Grischuk and Leko.} Ne4 $1 {
Conservative play by Annie Wang. She hopes to avoid complications that could
turn out to be in favor for Sharevich.} 9. Bxe7 Qxe7 10. Rg1 (10. h4 $5 {was
an option.}) 10... Bb7 11. g5 $1 {Principled play. White must rush with the
attack before Black's pieces are developed.} hxg5 12. Nxe4 dxe4 13. Nxg5 f6 $1
14. Nh3 e5 15. c5 $1 Bd5 16. dxe5 Qxe5 17. Nf4 Bf7 18. Ng6 Qxb2 $1 {
Well-calculated. Annie Wang correctly goes for complications, and objectively
she is better now.} 19. Ne7+ Kh8 20. Be2 Qc3+ (20... Qe5 $1 {would have been
better, with an advantage; for example} 21. Ng6+ Bxg6 22. Rxg6 Nc6 $1 {
finishes Black's development, and after} 23. Rg3 g5 $1 {gives enough space for
the Black king.}) 21. Kf1 Qxc5 {winning a pawn, but falling behind in
development, now White's attack picks up steam!} 22. Ng6+ Bxg6 23. Rxg6 Qf5 24.
Rg4 {Sharevich already has compensation, but Black still needs to find a way
to develop her pieces!} g6 25. Rc1 c5 26. Qd6 $1 Kg7 27. Rd1 (27. Rh4 $1 {
would have been very strong, as Black is stalemated.} Nd7 28. Bg4 {is just
winning for White}) 27... Rf7 28. Rf4 Qh3+ 29. Kg1 {White's position is
objectively winning, but here Annie Wang comes up with a daring gambit} Na6 $5
30. Bxa6 {Anna doesn't believe her, but this is not the refutation!} (30. Bf1
Qc8 31. Bc4 $1 {would have been the thematic way of winning.}) 30... Rh8 31.
Rxe4 Rh5 $1 32. Rd5 f5 $1 {Brilliant moves, and suddenly it's Annie Wang who
has the better chances!} 33. Qe5+ Kh7 34. Be2 (34. Qf4 {would have been better,
but Anna Sharevich was already under severe pressure.}) 34... Rg5+ 35. Rg4
Rxg4+ 36. Bxg4 Qxg4+ 37. Kf1 Qh4 38. Qe6 Qe7 {and Black is winning.} 39. Qxe7
Rxe7 40. Ke2 Kh6 41. f3 Kg5 42. Rd6 f4 43. e4 Rh7 44. Rd5+ Kf6 45. Rd6+ Ke5 46.
Rxg6 Rxh2+ 47. Kd3 Rf2 48. Rg5+ Ke6 49. Rg6+ Kf7 50. Rh6 Rxf3+ 51. Kc4 Ra3 52.
Kd5 Rxa2 53. e5 f3 54. Rf6+ Ke7 55. Rxf3 Rd2+ 56. Ke4 b5 57. Rh3 a5 58. Rh7+
Ke6 59. Rh6+ Kf7 60. Rh7+ Kg6 61. Rb7 Rd4+ 62. Ke3 Rb4 63. e6 Kf6 64. e7 Kf7
65. Rc7 Rc4 66. Rb7 b4 67. Kd3 Rd4+ 68. Kc2 a4 69. Ra7 Ke8 70. Rxa4 Kxe7 71.
Kb3 Kd6 72. Ra8 Rd3+ 73. Kc2 Rc3+ 74. Kb2 Kd5 75. Rh8 Re3 76. Kc2 Kc4 77. Rh4+
Kb5 78. Rh5 b3+ 79. Kb2 Kb4 80. Rh4+ c4 81. Rg4 Re2+ 82. Kc1 Rh2 83. Rf4 Ka3 {
and White resigned. A topsy-turvy game that was eventually won by Annie Wang,
because of her staunch defense. She is now leading the US Women's Championship
with a full point lead!} 0-1


Paikidze vs Zatonskih

Paikidze’s opening completely backfired when she mis-played her knights on the side early on. This allowed Zatonskih to pressure her pieces and send them back to their own base, at a loss of tempo.

Zatonskih skillfully opened the position, and it seemed as if Paikidze’s king would not see the end of the tunnel. Fortunately for her, Zatonskih’s time trouble addiction once again kicked in and she failed to convert her advantage. A huge draw for Paikidze, who remains in close contention for first place despite her horrible start to today’s game.

Krush vs Foisor

Despite its long duration, this game didn’t provide much excitement for the audience. Krush’s exchange slav attempt never took off, as the reigning champion neutralized her offensive ideas with ease. The two players exchanged piece after piece and agreed to a draw at move 58.

Yu vs Feng

A fun game for sure! Yu opened with 1.b4 and soon was facing a difficult position. That’s when the fun began, as Yu boldly sacrificed a piece for two pawns and an impressive center. Despite the sacrifice’s dubious feel, Feng was unable to deal with the complications and ended up being much worse in no time.

Yu’s pawn avalanche in the center was decisive, and the youngster wins consecutive game, placing her at a respectable 50% score.

Derakhshani vs Abrahamyan

Derakhshani got an almost decisive advantage very early on, as Abrahamyan did not know how to react to her opponent’s early theoretical ideas. In the ensuing endgame, White’s bishop pair coupled with the passed “h” pawn should have been decisive. Unfortunately for Derakhshani, her lack of form once again proved decisive as she allowed Abrahamyan back into the game through a series of inaccuracies.

Once Black regained control, the draw agreement was reached.

Gorti vs Goletiani

Goletiani’s bad form was once again the culprit, as she failed to tame a fairly simple position and blundered the game with the inexplicable 31...Rc6?? This huge mistake was swiftly punished by the young Gorti, and the game ended just a few moves later.