2018 U.S. Championships - Round 4


The fourth round couldn’t get any more shocking. Caruana lost after over pressing against the tenacious Izoria, while in the U.S. Women’s Championship the ladies were out for blood as they entertained the fans with six decisive results. Clearly this was the bloodiest round of the tournament. Let’s get right into the recap!

U.S. Championship

Caruana vs Izoria

Definitely the shocker of the tournament so far. Caruana chose a Giuoco Piano and seemed to have things under control, but Izoria’s tenacity threw the young champion off, as he over pressed in an equal endgame and lost the game in dramatic fashion.

Let’s take a closer look at this one.


[Event "US Championship "]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.04.21"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Izoria, Zviad"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2804"]
[BlackElo "2599"]
[PlyCount "163"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. O-O h6 {An inviting move,
hoping for white's h3?!} 7. Re1 (7. h3 a6 8. Bb3 Ba7 9. Re1 g5 $40 {Would lead
to a very difficult game for White, as black looks primed to open the position
with g4 at any moment.}) 7... O-O 8. h3 a5 9. Nbd2 a4 10. Nf1 Bd7 11. d4 Bb6
12. Ng3 Re8 13. Bf1 Qb8 14. d5 Ne7 {White has a nice space advantage,
nevertheless Black's position remains extremely solid.} 15. Nh4 Kh7 16. Qf3 Qd8
17. Bd2 (17. c4 {Could be an idea, but leaves behind the important dark
squares in the center} c6 18. Rb1 Bd4 19. Bd3 Qb6 $13) 17... Neg8 18. Nhf5 g6
19. Ne3 Kg7 20. Nc4 (20. b4 Nh7 21. c4 Bd4 22. Rac1 Qh4 {It is important for
Black to try and create some counterplay on the kingside, as white's expansion
on the queenside gains more steam.} 23. Nc2 Ng5 24. Bxg5 hxg5 25. Nxd4 exd4 26.
Qd3 $14) 20... Ba7 21. Be3 Bxe3 22. Qxe3 Nh7 23. f4 {Despite this being a
typical way of destabilizing the position, in this instance it seems as if
White simply doesn't have enough pressure on the "F" file to justify the
weakened squares in the center. Black will now have full control over e5.} b5
24. Nd2 exf4 25. Qxf4 Qf6 26. Qe3 Ne7 27. Qf3 Rab8 28. a3 c5 29. Rad1 Nc8 30.
Qe3 Nb6 31. Nf3 Ng5 32. Nh2 Nh7 33. Be2 Qg5 34. Qf2 Qf6 35. Qe3 Qg5 36. Qf3 Qf6
37. Bd3 Qxf3 38. Nxf3 f6 39. h4 h5 40. Kf2 Nf8 41. Nd2 Nc8 (41... c4 {looked
really good for Black, closing any potential counterplay on the queenside for
White, and looking to break with f5 at any moment.} 42. Bc2 Bg4 43. Nf3 Nbd7
44. Nf1 Ne5 45. Ne3 Nfd7 46. Nxg4 Nxg4+ $15) 42. Rb1 Ne7 43. Ngf1 Ng8 44. Ne3
Nh6 45. Be2 f5 46. b3 $1 {a well time counter} axb3 47. Rxb3 c4 48. Rb4 fxe4
49. Reb1 Ra8 50. a4 Rxa4 51. Rxa4 bxa4 52. Ndxc4 Nf7 53. Rb7 Kf6 54. Bd1 Ra8
55. Nb6 Rd8 56. Nec4 Bb5 57. Nd2 Bd3 58. Ke3 Ne5 59. Bxa4 g5 60. hxg5+ Kxg5 61.
Nxe4+ Bxe4 62. Kxe4 Nfg6 63. Nd7 Rc8 $11 {Black will regain his pawn and the
position is simply equal.} 64. Bc6 Nxc6 65. dxc6 Rxc6 {This is the moment
Izoria offered a draw. With only 1 minute left on the clock, Fabiano loses
objectivity} 66. Kd4 Nf4 67. c4 Nxg2 68. Kd5 Rc8 {Now Black already has a very
slight pull. Coupled with Fabiano's deep time trouble, this will be enough to
convert it into a full point.} 69. Nb6 $2 {Missing Black's clever point} Ne3+
70. Ke6 Rc6 71. Kd7 Nxc4 $3 {The rook is indirectly protected, now the "h"
pawn is decisive} 72. Kxc6 Na5+ 73. Kxd6 (73. Kc7 Nxb7 74. Kxb7 h4 $19 {
there's no stopping the pawn}) 73... Nxb7+ 74. Kd5 Kf4 75. Nc4 h4 76. Nd2 h3
77. Nf1 Nd8 78. Kd4 Nf7 79. Kd5 Ne5 80. Kd4 Ng4 81. Kd3 Kf3 82. Kd4 0-1


So vs Lenderman

A very tense game in which Wesley certainly looked as if he could tip the scales in his favor. Lenderman defended with pinpoint accuracy though, and in the end,  it was So who had to agree to a draw.

Given Fabiano’s loss, So is now tied at the top of the table with Akobian and Shankland.

Akobian vs Xiong

Akobian came very well prepared for Xiong’s Grunfeld and it seemed as if he would be the victor of the round. Once again, the level of defense in this championship proved to be extremely high, as Xiong found all the necessary resources and managed to get the desired draw.

Zherebukh vs Onischuk

A game without much history, the players exchanged almost all pieces with lighting speed and agreed to an uneventful draw at move 30.

Robson vs Shankland

Robson’s preparation clearly backfired in this one, as he allowed Shankland to get a better structure early on. White failed to complicate matters in a timely fashion, and slowly but surely Shankland made swift use of his better pieces to infiltrate Robson’s position and force resignation.

Shankland scored his second consecutive victory, while Robson lost his second in a row.

Nakamura vs Liang

Nakamura once again took unnecessary risks out of the opening, playing a double edge kingside attack. Liang patiently defended his king, while at the same time building his own dynamic play on the queenside. In the end, it was Nakamura who had to find equality which, given Liang’s riskless play, was not a very difficult task.

Nakamura remains winless, while Liang has held his own again the big three and will look to get some important victories in the upcoming rounds.

U.S. Women’s Championship

Paikidze vs Sharevich

Paikidze continues her amazing championship run, as she completely steamrolls Sharevich.

More on this important game from GM Denes, who once again provides insightful annotations below.


[Event "US Womens Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.04.21"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Paikidze, Nazi"]
[Black "Sharevich, Anna"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B11"]
[PlyCount "53"]
[SourceDate "2018.04.22"]

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 {Nazi Paikidze came into the round with a shared
lead with Annie Wang, so she goes into a complicated variation, that was a
favorite of none other than, Bobby Fischer!} Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 d4 {too
ambitious.} (5... e6 {should have been preferred with a complex position.}) 6.
Ne2 e6 7. d3 {a normal developing move, but} (7. Qb3 $1 {would have
immediately questioned Black's concept.}) 7... Nf6 8. g4 $1 {Typical, but very
strong. White aims to open up the position for the bishop-pair} Na6 9. Bg2 Qa5+
(9... Be7 {would have been better.}) 10. c3 $1 Rd8 11. O-O dxc3 12. bxc3 Nc5
13. d4 $1 {Energetic play by Nazi Paikidze, and her bishops will prove very
effective as the position opens up.} Ncxe4 14. c4 Nd2 {dangerously neglecting
development.} 15. Bxd2 Qxd2 16. Rfd1 Qg5 17. Qb3 {immediately taking action
before Sharevich could castle.} Rd7 18. d5 $1 cxd5 19. cxd5 e5 20. Rac1 Be7 21.
Rc8+ Bd8 22. Qa3 $1 h5 23. f4 exf4 24. Nd4 {and now Black is totally paralyzed.
} Qe5 {a mistake, but honestly,} (24... Ng8 {doesn't look much better either.})
25. Nf5 Nxd5 {and now Paikidze finishes the game in style with} 26. Bxd5 $1
Rxd5 27. Qa4+ {and Black resigned. An inspired effort by Nazi Paikidze, and
with this win she is still leading the Women's Championship!} (27. Qa4+ b5 28.
Qxb5+ Rxb5 29. Rcxd8# {was mating.}) 1-0


Wang vs Yu

The longest game of the tournament so far, as Wang needed 106 moves to finish her peer, Yu. Wang obtained a solid advantage out of the opening and transitioned into a better endgame with ease. The conversion was far from trivial, as Yu was always looking to compensate her loss of material with her active pieces. Wang accurately defended her king and transitioned into a winning rook endgame at the right moment.

Wang is now tied with Paikidze at the top, as she presents her own bid for a national title run.

Feng vs Krush

Krush has been playing shakey chess, but her experience always plays a huge role into the final outcome of the game. Once again, despite getting a worse position out of the opening, she slowly outplayed her younger opponent in a slow strategical game, focusing on Feng’s overly expanded center.

In the end, Feng did not manage to outlast Krush’s pressure as she blundered a mating net into an already difficult position.

Zatonskih vs Derakhshani

Derakhshani is struggling in this tournament, and her previous losses were clearly weighing heavy on her shoulders.

Zatonskih played a very good game and accurately took advantage of her opponent’s mistakes. It was only a matter of time until Zatonskih’s extra pawns forced Derakhshani into resignation. A good game for the 4-time U.S. Women’s Champion, and a difficult start for the young newcomer.

Foisor vs Gorti

The reigning champion needed this win. Foisor was already experiencing huge difficulties in the tournament, as her winless performance up to this moment was leaving her trailing heavy behind the leaders. And she understood that, as she took necessary risks to destabilize the position and paint the premises for a decisive attack against Gorti’s king.

Foisor’s pressure was too much to handle for the Junior champion, as she allowed an aesthetics final checkmate. Foisor get’s back to 50%, still trailing by one point and a half behind the leaders.

Abrahamyan vs Goletiani

A match without much history. Goletiani completely misplayed the opening, allowing the aggressive Abrahamyan to get her type of position, in which she rarely fails to hunt your king down. The scenario was written early, as Abrahamyan utterly destroyed her opponent’s position and finished the job at move 30. A much needed victory for Abrahamyan, who is now back to 50%.