Dominguez catches Nakamura at the top, Yu continues to fly


by Cristian Chirila

In yet another unpredictable day at the U.S. Championships, we saw an eclectic mix of games and outcomes. In the open section, the event’s newcomer Leinier Dominguez played a technical masterpiece and won his game against Sam Sevian. All the other games were drawn, which means that he is now in joint lead with Nakamura while a pack of chasers are following closely.

In the Women’s section, we had three decisive results, but only one which was relevant for the leaderboard. Jennifer Yu scored another massive victory in her game against Akshita Gorti, while Anna Zatonskih missed an important opportunity against Nguyen. Another big clash was the game between Abrahamyan and Wang, which started off promising but ended suddenly when the players reached a standstill. Irina Krush and Maggie Feng also score important victories. They will continue to pose problems for the leaders and try to play the spoiler role in the final rounds.

Let’s take a closer look at the action games of the round!

U.S. Chess Championship

Sevian vs Dominguez

Without a doubt the game of the round. This was a complete masterpiece by Dominguez, as he played a proper game from the beginning to the end. The opening was well played, with both competitors knowing the ins and outs of the solid Semi-Tarrasch variation of the QGD. The middle-game was a rather balanced affair, but the ensuing endgame had only one protagonist, Leinier Dominguez. Let’s check the game further!


[Event "US Chess Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.03.28"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Sevian, Samuel"]
[Black "Dominguez, Lenier"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2642"]
[BlackElo "2739"]
[Annotator "Cristian Chirila"]
[PlyCount "124"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 c5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 cxd4 8.
cxd4 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 O-O 11. Bc4 Nd7 12. O-O b6 13. Rad1 Bb7 14.
Rfe1 Rc8 15. Bb3 Re8 16. d5 (16. h3 {Is the main line} Nf6 17. Qf4 Nh5 18. Qh2
h6 19. h4 a5 20. g4 Nf6 21. Qf4 b5 22. Ne5 Rc7 23. a4 bxa4 24. Bxa4 Rf8 25. f3
Qd6 26. Ng6 Qxf4 27. Nxf4 Rc4 $11 {1/2-1/2 (45)}) 16... exd5 17. exd5 Nc5 18.
d6 (18. Rxe8+ Qxe8 19. d6 Bxf3 20. gxf3 {transposes to the game}) 18... Bxf3
19. Rxe8+ Qxe8 20. gxf3 Qc6 $146 {Beautiful preparation by Dominguez, as he
deviates from the only other game in this position and comes with a strong
novelty} (20... Qd7 $6 21. Re1 Ne6 22. f4 Rc5 23. Ba4 b5 24. Bc2 $36 {White
has the advantage, as Black was unable to consolidate and find the proper
piece placement}) 21. Bd5 Qd7 {With the B on d5 White now has to lose a tempo
with the defense of the d pawn} 22. Qf4 Rd8 23. Be4 g6 24. h4 Qe6 25. h5 Nd7
26. Bd5 Qf6 {While the game is balanced, I much prefer Black's superior pawn
structure and blockade on the d file} 27. Qe3 Nc5 28. Rd4 gxh5 29. Rf4 Qg6+ 30.
Kh1 Ne6 31. Rc4 (31. Bxe6 Qxe6 32. Rg4+ {was one forced way to finish the game}
hxg4 33. Qg5+ Kf8 34. Qxd8+ Kg7 35. Qg5+ Kf8 36. Qd8+ $11) 31... h6 32. Bxe6
Qxe6 33. Qxe6 fxe6 34. Rc7 a5 35. Rc6 b5 36. Rb6 a4 37. Kg2 (37. Rxb5 {was the
simplest way to equality} Rxd6 38. Rxh5 Rd2 39. Rxh6 Kf7 40. Rh7+ Kf6 41. Ra7
Rxa2 42. Kg2 $11) 37... Kf7 38. a3 $6 {Now this is a serious mistake, as it
allows Black to start hoping for more. This psychological shift should never
be allowed.} Rg8+ 39. Kf1 Rg5 40. d7 $2 {And the blunder follows immediately} (
40. Rb7+ Kf6 41. Rh7 Rf5 (41... Rd5 42. Rxh6+ Kf7 43. d7 Rxd7 44. Rh7+ Ke8 45.
Rxh5 Rd1+ 46. Ke2 Rb1 $15 {Black will hope for more but should not be enough})
42. Rxh6+ $11) 40... Ke7 41. Rxe6+ (41. Rd6 Kd8 42. Rxe6 Kxd7 {transposes})
41... Kxd7 42. Rxh6 Rc5 43. f4 Kc7 44. f5 $4 {Sevian collapses under pressure,
there was no reason to give up this pawn} (44. Ke2 Kb7 45. Kd3 b4 46. axb4 Rf5
47. Ke4 a3 48. Rh7+ Kb6 49. Rh6+ Kb5 50. Rh7 Rf8 51. Ra7 Kxb4 52. f5 Kb3 53.
Rb7+ $11) 44... Rxf5 45. Ke2 Kb7 46. f3 b4 $1 47. axb4 a3 48. Rd6 Rf8 $1 {
The rook goes behind the pawn} 49. Kf2 Ra8 50. Rd1 Kb6 51. Kg3 Kb5 52. Kh4 Rf8
53. Rf1 Rf5 54. f4 Kxb4 55. Rf2 Ra5 56. Ra2 Kb3 57. Ra1 a2 58. Rf1 a1=Q 59.
Rxa1 Rxa1 60. Kxh5 Rf1 61. Kg5 Kc4 62. f5 Kd5 0-1


Caruana vs So

The highest rated encounter of the round, and surely a match a lot of people were interested in checking was the big clash between the number one and number two American players.

Unfortunately for the fans, the game did not produce the level of excitement people expected. Caruana decided to test So in his pet opening, the Catalan. Wesley has been a staple of authority in this opening with both colors. I analyzed his games often while he was on his meteoric 2650-2800 rise and the one opening in which he was scoring win after win was the Catalan. The guy simply has an incredible feel for the opening’s structures, as well as for the small details that make a difference at the top level. Today was one of those cases, as So made an inspired decision when he chose the principled, yet off trend, 9…Nd5-e7 maneuver instead of the recently played and analyzed 9…Be7.

Caruana wasn’t able to find anything more than enough compensation for equality, and the players soon entered an endgame in which only Black could have been better. Unfortunately for So, he did not find the right way to press for an advantage and the game quickly petered out into a draw.

U.S. Women’s Championship

Gorti vs Yu

This was undoubtedly the game of the round in the Women’s section. Jennifer has been having an incredible run, winning 69 (!!) rating points.

This type of performance simply changes you as a player. The confidence boost and the wind under your sails that comes with it is unparalleled. Let’s see how the game transpired as we are delving into GM Boros’ match analysis.


[Event "U.S.Womens Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.03.29"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Gorti, Akshita"]
[Black "Yu, Jennifer"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D03"]
[PlyCount "84"]
[SourceDate "2019.03.29"]

1. d4 d5 2. Bg5 $5 {An interesting sideline famously championed by the British
Grandmaster Julian Hodgson.} Nf6 3. e3 g6 $5 {A counter surprise, Jennifer Yu
decides to revert to classical Torre structures.} 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Nbd2 O-O 6. Bd3
Nbd7 7. O-O b6 8. c4 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Bb7 10. Qe2 c5 11. Rfd1 (11. dxc5 {would
have been more accurate, as after} Nxc5 12. Rfd1 {white would be a little
better, as the "d8" Queen would struggle to find a save place.}) 11... Rc8 12.
Rac1 cxd4 13. Nxd4 Rc5 $1 {Jennifer Yu finds a way to evacuate her Queen!} 14.
N2f3 Qa8 $1 15. b4 Rcc8 16. Bb5 Rfd8 17. Rxc8 Qxc8 {a little inaccurate,} (
17... Rxc8 {would have been comfortable for black.}) 18. Qe1 $1 {a nice little
move by Gorti, and now Rc1 is a big threat.} Nb8 19. h3 {, but Gorti missed
her golden chance,} ({as} 19. Rc1 $1 Qg4 20. Rc7 {would have forced Yu on the
defensive.}) 19... Be4 $1 {a great move by Jennifer, creating an escape
square on "b7".} 20. Ne5 a6 21. Ba4 b5 22. Bb3 Bd5 23. Rc1 Qb7 24. Bxd5 Qxd5
25. Nec6 Nxc6 26. Nxc6 Rd7 {and suddenly the table has turned, now it's
Akshita Gorti who is forced on the defensive!} 27. Bf4 Qxa2 28. Nb8 Rd8 29. Nc6
Re8 $1 {Avoiding repetition.} 30. Ra1 Qe6 31. Rxa6 Nd5 32. Bg3 {a blunder,
which gets swiftly punished by Jennifer.} Qc8 $1 {and surprisingly there is no
defense, white will lose material.} 33. Qd2 Qxa6 34. Qxd5 Bf6 35. Be5 Bxe5 36.
Nxe5 Rf8 37. h4 Qd6 38. Qe4 Rc8 39. g3 Rc1+ 40. Kh2 Kg7 41. h5 f5 42. Qf4 Qd1 {
and White resigned. A very good fighting game by Jennifer Yu, which propels
her to 7,5 out of 8!} 0-1


Abrahamyan vs Wang

A match with everything on the line was the one between Abrahamyan and Wang, as they were both on the same score and trailing the leader by a point and a half.

Both players came to the board well prepared, as they quickly entered a topical line of the Najdorf. I would typically always give Abrahamyan the edge when she gets to play her brand of tactical game, but Wang is an absolute pro when it comes to concrete, sharp play. Abrahamyan’s time management was subpar, as she allowed herself to get into huge time trouble and miss several opportunities for an advantage along the way. Wang also had her chances, as she could have opened another avenue for her pieces with the powerful, yet counterintuitive, 27…gxh6!

This would have allowed her to build an advantage despite the “g” file opening. Wang’s 27…g6 closed the game and soon forced the repetition, as neither player was willing to take any more risks in their bid to win the match.

A very critical, yet not decisive round. The games are heating up and the players will do everything in their powers to outclass their opposition and make their bid for the coveted titles!