Wild day 4 shakes up the leaderboard


Another round that kept us on the edge of our seats. The players have definitely came here to play, and once again the spectacle on the chess board was one not to be missed. Despite seeing only one decisive result, the open section kept our attention throughout the round, culminating with the incredible showdown between Caruana and Dominguez. In the women’s section the games couldn’t be more combative, as the ladies are willing to embrace a riskier strategy in the hunt for those elusive victories.

Let’s look at the most impactful games of the round!

Caruana vs Dominguez ½ - ½

Caruana has been struggling to find his rhythm since last year’s Olympiad, and despite having some serious chances throughout those months, that elusive victory has escaped the young Challenger.

Today’s game was no different, as Fabiano smartly prepared a new idea in the Catalan and surprised Dominguez. This led to a serious time difference, with Caruana having almost an hour more on the clock at move 24. Dominguez calmly defended his position, but failed to spot a beautiful tactic right before the time control when he played 27...Ra3? This allowed Caruana to obtain a commanding advantage; nevertheless, the ensuing final stage remained hectic due to both kings being severely exposed. With players reaching the time trouble zone once again, the pieces started flying and the winning moves started to be missed. Dominguez managed to find his way to equality and the players agreed to a draw at move 85.

Xiong vs Robson 0-1

Xiong was coming into this round as the sole leader of the event, but the U.S. Championship is where rankings don’t matter when entering a new match. Everybody can beat everybody, and today was a clear statement of that. Robson chose the Berlin as his option, and Xiong responded with the less principled 6.dxe5/7.a4. This allows White to gain some speed, but gives away the bishop pair which is surely a compensating concession. Let’s see what happened next!


[Event "US Chess Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.03.23"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Black "Robson, Ray"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2663"]
[BlackElo "2667"]
[Annotator "Cristian Chirila"]
[PlyCount "89"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. dxe5 (6. Bxc6 dxc6 7.
dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 {leads to the Berlin endgame, which is something Xiong
seems to be avoiding whenever possible.}) 6... Nxb5 7. a4 Nbd4 8. Nxd4 Nxd4 9.
Qxd4 d5 10. Qd3 (10. exd6 Qxd6 11. Qe4+ Qe6 12. Qd4 Qc6 $11 {was actually a
game between Hansen and Xiong from the recently finished Spring Classic.})
10... g6 (10... c6 {is the main line, and likely what Xiong was best prepared
against} 11. a5 Be6 12. Nc3 Qd7 13. Ne2 Bf5 14. Qc3 Be7 15. Bh6 $1 $14 {
1-0 (30) Vitiugov,N (2726)-Harikrishna,P (2730) Prague 2019 Might have been
the stem game Xiong had in mind during his preparation}) 11. Nc3 c6 12. Be3 Bf5
13. Qd2 Qa5 {Now it seems like Black will have a harmonious piece play and the
two bishops, without giving away much compensation for it} 14. Rfe1 (14. Rad1
O-O-O 15. Ne2 Qxd2 16. Rxd2 {But who wants to accept a worse endgame as White
this early in the game?}) 14... O-O-O 15. e6 $6 {The first bluff, once again a
choice had to be made between adopting a passive or an active approach.} Bxe6
16. Bg5 Rd7 17. Bf6 Rg8 18. Qe3 Bb4 19. Red1 Bf5 20. Nb5 $5 {I like this
decision, the alternative was a slow and painful death.} Bxc2 $2 (20... cxb5 {
the sacrifice had to be accepted} 21. axb5 Qxb5 22. Rxa7 Kc7 {and the
compensation is simply not there} 23. b3 Rd6 24. Be7 Re8 25. Rda1 Kd7 $19) 21.
Rdc1 Bf5 22. Nxa7+ Kb8 23. Nb5 Ka8 24. Bc3 Bxc3 25. bxc3 Be6 26. Re1 (26. Nd4
$5 Re8 27. Nb3 Qa7 28. Nc5 Rde7 29. a5 Bg4 30. Qd4 $13) 26... Re8 27. h3 h5 28.
Kh2 $2 {The K is not safer on this square, as he will always be under the
threat of various checks on the diagonal} Rde7 29. Qc5 Kb8 30. Qd6+ Kc8 31. Qc5
$2 (31. Kg1 $1 {this was the saving move} h4 (31... cxb5 $4 32. axb5 Rd7 33.
Qf4 Qc7 34. Ra8+ $18) 32. Nd4 $11) 31... Kd8 32. g3 (32. c4 {the only saving
move, but with less than 2 minutes on the clock Jeffery was unable to find it}
cxb5 33. cxd5 Qc7+ 34. Qxc7+ Kxc7 35. Rec1+ Kb6 (35... Kd6 36. dxe6) 36. dxe6
Rxe6 37. Rab1 Re5 $17) 32... cxb5 {now it's all a matter of bringing it home
for Black} 33. axb5 Qc7 34. Qd4 Kd7 35. Ra4 Rc8 36. c4 Qc5 37. cxd5 Bf5 38.
Rxe7+ Kxe7 39. Qe5+ Kd7 40. Rf4 Qd6 41. Qxd6+ Kxd6 42. g4 Ke5 43. Rf3 hxg4 44.
hxg4 Bxg4 45. Rxf7 0-1



U.S. Women’s Championship

Zatonskih vs Carissa Yip 1-0

As the four-time champion, Zatonskih surely came into this event with a chip on her shoulders. Yip is also one that has to prove herself, as she has been in the event’s spotlight for a few years now.

The game started with a Fianchetto Grunfeld, and it seemed as if Zatonskih was surprised by her opponent’s 7…Nc6 (instead of the main 7…c3) setup. Despite that, Zatonskih’s brand of technical chess was once again on display, as she methodically harvested advantage after advantage. First, it was the bishop pair, and soon after it was time to convert the strategic advantage into material ones. Zatonskih’s endgame technique could have been better, nevertheless her handling was enough for victory.

Yu vs Nguyen 1-0

This was a game without much history, as Nguyen collapsed early on in the opening and allowed the leader Yu to deliver a kingside attack clinic. GM Denes Boros once again delivers his trademark analysis.


[Event "U.S. Womens Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.03.24"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Yu, Jennifer"]
[Black "Nguyen, Emily"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C54"]
[Annotator "GM Denes Boros"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[SourceDate "2019.03.24"]

1. e4 $1 {Surprise on move 1! Even though it's not a totally foreign idea from
Jennifer, as she famously played the Orangutan (1.b4) at the U.S. Championship
before.} e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nf3 {Transposing back to the Italian
Variation.} Bc5 (4... Be7 {is a more conservative way of playing, but Emily
Nguyen chooses the more active approach.}) 5. O-O d6 6. c3 O-O 7. Bg5 Be6 (7...
h6 {was a must, as} 8. Bh4 g5 $1 {leads to complicated positions.}) 8. Nbd2 a5
9. a4 Re8 (9... h6 10. Bh4 g5 {now runs into a typical sacrifice known since
the Topalov-Leko game from 1999.} 11. Nxg5 $1 hxg5 12. Bxg5 Kg7 13. Qf3 $1 Qe7
14. h4 $1 Kg6 15. Bd5 $1 {and Black is defenseless against the slow knight
manouvre of c4-e3-f5!}) 10. Re1 d5 {, but this is desperation, and after} 11.
Bxf6 gxf6 12. exd5 Bxd5 13. Bxd5 Qxd5 14. Ne4 Be7 15. Nh4 {White is winning!}
Qe6 16. Qh5 Bf8 17. Nf5 Ne7 18. Nxe7+ Bxe7 19. Ng3 Kh8 20. Re4 f5 21. Nxf5 Qg6
22. Qxg6 hxg6 23. Nxe7 Rxe7 24. d4 Rd8 25. f4 f6 26. fxe5 fxe5 27. Rae1 c5 28.
Rxe5 Rxe5 29. dxe5 Kg7 30. e6 Kf6 31. e7 Re8 32. Kf2 {A quick win by Jennifer
Yu, which propels her to 4/4, and she is still in clear first place a half
point ahead of Anna Zatonskih.} 1-0


While there were five decisive results in the women’ section, the two leaders have continued to impress as Yu and Zatonskih flawlessly punished their opponent’s early opening mistakes. Other important results where the victories of Abrahamyan, Foisor, and Eswaran who dominated their respective opponents in what was another explosive round at the U.S. Women’s Championship!

The games are heating up, and the crowded leaderboards will surely keep us on the edge of our seats for the rounds to come.