2018 U.S. Championships - Round 9


Another exciting round in Saint Louis, as the favorites to win the event have once again showed their good form and continued their respective streaks. The most important change after today is at the top of the open championship table, where Shankland is now the sole-leader. Let’s get right into the recap and see what happened in today’s critical round!

U.S. Championship

Caruana vs Nakamura

A dramatic game ensued between these two titans of the chess world. Nakamura came extremely well prepared, and his theoretical knowledge allowed him to gain a serious advantage on the clock, as well as a more pleasant position on the board.

Caruana was on the back foot the entire game and could have been severely punished if Nakamura would have played the piece sacrifice he intended to. Instead, Nakamura hesitated to deliver the blow and Caruana was able to harmonize his defensive forces. The game ended in a draw when Caruana found a nice repetition.

Shankland vs Zherebukh

The most important game of the round was the tenacious fight between the leader, Sam Shankland, and the young Zherebukh. Let’s take a closer look at this one.


[Event "US Championship "]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.04.27"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Shankland, Samuel L"]
[Black "Zherebukh, Yaroslav"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2671"]
[BlackElo "2640"]
[PlyCount "141"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 Nbd7 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 h6 7. Bh4 O-O 8. Rc1
c6 9. a3 a6 10. c5 ({Relevant:} 10. cxd5 cxd5 11. Bd3 b5 12. O-O Bb7 13. Ne5
Nxe5 14. dxe5 Ne4 15. Bxe4 dxe4 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 17. Qg4 b4 {1/2-1/2 (17)
Gabrielian,A (2579)-Zvjaginsev,V (2658) Moscow 2013}) 10... e5 11. Nxe5 $146 ({
Predecessor:} 11. Be2 e4 12. Nd2 Nh7 13. Bg3 f5 14. h4 g5 15. hxg5 hxg5 16. f4
exf3 17. Nxf3 Bf6 18. Kd2 Re8 19. Qg1 g4 20. Qh2 Qe7 21. Ne5 Nxe5 22. Bxe5 Bxe5
23. dxe5 Be6 24. Bd3 Rf8 25. Ne2 Rf7 26. Nd4 Raf8 27. b4 Bc8 28. Rcf1 Kh8 29.
e6 Bxe6 30. Qe5+ Rf6 31. Rxf5 Kg8 32. Rxh7 Qxh7 33. Rxf6 {1-0 (33) Akobian,V
(2612)-Shulman,Y (2632) Upper Lake 2009}) 11... Nxe5 12. dxe5 Nd7 13. Bxe7 Qxe7
14. Qd4 Nxe5 15. Be2 Qg5 16. g3 Qe7 17. O-O Bh3 {Due to the weakness of the
light squares around the king, Black is currently to be preffered.} 18. Rfe1 f5
(18... Nd7 {redirecting the knight to a better square should have been
preferred} 19. b4 Rae8 20. Rcd1 Qe6 21. Nb1 f5 22. Nd2 Nf6 $15) 19. f3 Rae8 20.
Nd1 {Now the black B is starting to feel slightly uncomfortable} Qf7 $2 (20...
f4 21. Nf2 (21. exf4 $4 Nxf3+ $19) 21... fxg3 22. Nxh3 Nxf3+ 23. Bxf3 Rxf3 24.
Kg2 Rxe3 $11) 21. Nf2 $16 Qh5 22. Qh4 Qxf3 23. Qxh3 Qxe3 24. Bh5 Nf3+ 25. Bxf3
Qxf3 26. Qg2 {White is simply a piece up. Black's compensation is present but
nowhere close to enough.} Qb3 27. Nh3 Re4 28. Qd2 b6 29. Nf2 Rxe1+ 30. Qxe1
bxc5 31. Rxc5 Qxb2 32. Qc3 $6 (32. Rxc6 f4 33. gxf4 Rxf4 (33... Qxa3 34. Qe5
Qf3 35. Rg6 Rf7 36. Qe8+ Rf8 37. Qe6+ Rf7 38. Ng4 $18) 34. Qe6+ Kh8 35. Qe8+
Kh7 36. Qg6+ Kh8 37. Rc8+ $18) 32... Qb8 33. Nd3 Qb1+ 34. Kg2 f4 35. Nxf4 Qe4+
36. Kg1 g5 37. Ng2 Qf5 38. Qe1 Qf6 39. Rc1 d4 40. Qe2 c5 41. Ne1 Rc8 42. Nd3 c4
43. Qe4 Qd6 44. Ne5 (44. Nb4 $18 d3 (44... Kg7 45. Nd5 Rd8 46. Qxd4+ Kg6 47.
Rd1 $18) (44... c3 45. Nd5 Rb8 46. Rf1 c2 47. Kg2 Rf8 48. Ne7+ Qxe7 49. Qxe7
Rxf1 50. Qe8+ Kg7 51. Qd7+ Kg8 52. Qc8+ Kg7 53. Qxc2 $18) 45. Nxd3) 44... c3
45. Nd3 Kg7 46. Kg2 Rc7 47. Re1 c2 48. h4 Qc6 $14 {Now suddently the win is
far from reach} 49. Qxc6 Rxc6 50. Kf3 gxh4 51. gxh4 Rc3 52. Ke4 Rxa3 53. Rc1
Rc3 (53... Ra2 54. Kxd4 Kg6 55. Kc3 Kh5 56. Kb3 Ra5 57. Rh1 c1=Q 58. Nxc1 Ra1
59. Kb2 Ra4 $13) 54. Kxd4 Rc8 55. Nc5 Kg6 56. Rxc2 Kh5 57. Rh2 Rg8 $2 (57... a5
{Would have still kept the game close to equal.} 58. Ne4 a4 59. Nf6+ Kg6 60.
Ke5 Rc5+ 61. Nd5 a3 62. Ke4 Rc4+ 63. Kf3 Ra4 64. Rg2+ Kf7 65. Ra2 Kg6 $11) 58.
Ne4 Rg1 (58... Rc8 {was probably Black's chance at obtaining a draw.} 59. Ke5
Kg4 60. Nf6+ Kg3 61. Rh1 a5 62. h5 a4 63. Rg1+ Kh3 64. Ng4 $16) 59. Nf6+ Kg6
60. Ke5 Re1+ 61. Ne4 Kh5 62. Kf4 Rf1+ 63. Kg3 Re1 64. Nf6+ Kg6 65. Nd5 Rd1 66.
Nf4+ Kf5 67. Ra2 Rg1+ 68. Ng2 Rb1 69. Rxa6 Rb3+ 70. Kh2 Kg4 71. Rxh6 1-0


Akobian vs So

This was not the most exciting game of the round. Akobian was obviously not in the mood to take any unnecessary risks after losing three games in a row. His cautious play determined the outcome of the game, with Wesley not looking to destabilize the position in dramatic fashion. The players agreed to a draw at move 35.

Lenderman vs Robson

This was a much more interesting draw. Lenderman showed impeccable opening preparation and was looking like he might be able to pull yet another victory, which would have been his third in a row. Robson defended tenaciously, but even so, Lenderman should have capitalized on his magnificent advantage with the move 21.Qa4! which would have secured the victory.

After missing the easy tactic, Robson was able to regroup his pieces, finish his development, and fully equalize the game. It ended in a draw at move 71.

Izoria vs Onischuk

A game without much history. The players quickly swapped most pieces off the board, and despite having a minimal advantage throughout the game, Izoria was unable to break through his opponent’s defensive construction.

Xiong vs Liang

The battle between the two young stars was quite a dull affair, as neither of the players really engaged in any risk-taking activities. After massive simplifications, the game quietly ended in a draw at move 30.

U.S. Women’s Championship

Paikidze vs Wang

The game that held the most weight this round was the clash between the leader, Wang, and the runner up, Paikidze.

Despite playing a rather sharp opening, Paikidze’s opposite castling did not intimidate Wang, who immediately activated her pieces and started creating problems for the former champ. The tension could be felt, as none of the players were willing to take unnecessary risks. Wang had everything to lose, while Paikidze feels like she could catch up with the youngster in the remaining games. A draw was agreed via repetition at move 30.

Zatonskih vs Foisor

This was a game without much weight. None of the players really have a sensible chance at reaching the top of the table, and the energy levels are also seemingly depleted as the two players played a dull game. After exchanging every single piece except one Knight, the players agreed to the natural outcome, the draw.

Krush vs Abrahamyan

A very good performance by the 7-time U.S. Champion, Irina Krush. The experienced Grandmaster stirred the game into the direction she wanted, an easy to press position with a stable, long-term advantage.

Krush dented into her opponent’s structure, created the isolated pawn, and used her great technique to secure an important victory.

Derakhshani vs Yu

An interesting game that will be covered by GM Boros in more detail.


[Event "U.S. Womens Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.04.27"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Derakhshani, Dorsa"]
[Black "Yu , Jennifer"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B06"]
[PlyCount "56"]
[SourceDate "2018.04.28"]

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d5 $5 {a rare, but interesting concept played by
Jennifer Yu!} 4. exd5 Nf6 5. Bc4 Nbd7 6. Nf3 (6. Bb3 Nb6 7. Qf3 {is another
way to defend the d5 pawn}) 6... O-O 7. O-O Nb6 8. Bb3 a5 9. a4 Nbxd5 10. Nxd5
Nxd5 11. Re1 e6 12. Ne5 $1 {after this move Derakhshani is better, because her
pieces are well coordinated, while Yu's pieces are a little bit restricted.} c6
13. c3 Qc7 $1 {trying to untangle with b6.} 14. Qf3 b6 15. h4 $1 {A good move
in the spirit of Alexander Alekhine. White is trying to open up a second front,
where she could attack Black's cramped, but solid position.} Bb7 16. h5 c5 17.
h6 (17. Qh3 $1 {would have been better with good attacking chances on the
kingside.}) 17... Bh8 18. Ng4 c4 19. Bc2 f5 $1 {A bolt from the blue, now all
of a sudden Black is better!} 20. Ne5 Nb4 21. Qe2 Bxe5 $1 {A great move by
Jennifer Yu. Black is aiming for an opposite-colored bishop middlegame which
favors the attacking side.} 22. dxe5 Nxc2 23. Qxc2 f4 $1 24. Qd1 Rf5 25. Qg4
Raf8 26. Bd2 Qe7 $1 {the last finesse, Black brings her last piece into the
attack, Black is winning.} 27. g3 Rh5 28. f3 Rg5 {and White resigned. A very
nice attacking game by Jennifer Yu, which is her fourth(!) consecutive victory
in the U.S. Womens Championship!} 0-1


Gorti vs Feng

This combative game between the two youngsters was the last game to finish. The players entered an equal endgame, but Feng immediately erred with the overly ambitious 30…e4? This allowed white to corral the advanced pawn and secure the victory with ease after obtaining the material advantage. Feng played all the way until checkmate but could have resigned much earlier.

Sharevich vs Goletiani

Goletiani seems to have found a new wave of enthusiasm and motivation after being interviewed by Maurice. While Sharevich might not have played her most precise game, it is important to give praise to Goletiani’s spotless game. Black checked all the important points: she equalized, created a weakness in her opponent’s camp, and capitalized on it with great precision. Sharevich was forced to concede when her opponent’s forces invaded her camp.