2020 U.S. Championship - Day 2 Recap

GM Wesley So continued his excellent form at the 2020 U.S. Championship, scoring 2.5/3 today to end with 5.5/6 after the second day of play. GM’s Jeffery Xiong and Ray Robson have also been in excellent shape so far as they are tied for second with 5.0/6, a full two points ahead of the rest of the field.

Check out all the games from the first day of action here, and you can watch a video replay of the event’s live coverage featuring WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Maurice Ashley here.

Standings after Day 2

Round 4

The first round of the second day started with five-time champion GM Hikaru Nakamura scoring his first win of the event, using a tricky opening sideline to get a serious edge right out of the gate against GM Alejandro Ramirez:

Nakamura used his healthier pawn structure to earn his first win of the event. | 1-0, 39 moves

Meanwhile GM Wesley So continued his perfect run by defeating GM Sam Shankland on the Black side of a sharp f3-Nimzo. What started off as good opening preparation led to a powerful attack for So, who sacrificed a full rook in order to keep White’s king in the center.

Sole leader GM Wesley So produced a fantastic attacking game against fellow Olympic teammate GM Sam Shankland. | 0-1, 34 moves

Keeping pace were Xiong and Robson, who both won their Round 4 games in great fashion. Xiong managed to outplay GM Leinier Dominguez, fending off his opponent’s attack before launching a decisive counterattack of his own. Robson played a fairly solid game, finishing with a nice tactic to win against first-time participant and Saint Louis local, GM Darius Swiercz:

After the cute back-rank trick 35...Qf2!, with idea 36.Rg1 Re1-+ | 0-1, 42 moves.

Round 5

In the second round of the day So played one of his best games of the event, defeating Swiercz in a model Grunfeld to reach an incredible 5/5. The last time a player started 4-0 in an invitational U.S. Championship? Bobby Fischer’s historic 11-0 run in the 1963/64 U.S. Championship.

So played a flawless game to reach an impressive 5-0 start. | 1-0, 35 moves

With Xiong, Robson, and Nakamura all drawing their games, Wesley So increased his lead to a full-point over the field heading into Round 6. At the same time, Shankland won an excellent game against GM Alex Lenderman, thanks to his powerful kingside attack:

After 22...Nef3! in Lenderman - Shankland, leading to a win for the 2018 U.S. Champion. | 0-1, 45 moves

Round 6

In the final round of the day So was finally slowed down, being held to a draw by Dominguez in a relatively calm Berlin. This gave Xiong and Robson an opportunity to catch up within a half point. Xiong was worse for much of his game against another championship newcomer, GM Elshan Moradiabadi, but managed to swindle his way to a win in mutual time trouble.

In one of the sharpest games of the event, Robson got the better of GM Sam Sevian in a King’s Indian, ending in a fantastic queen sacrifice and king hunt in mutual time trouble. But the biggest surprise of the round was GM Awonder Liang’s stunning upset over Nakamura, where the three-time junior champion took advantage of his opponent’s overextended position. 

Despite his 0-3 start, GM Awonder Liang bounced back brilliantly on Day 2 with 2.5/3 | 0-1, 57 moves

Said Awonder, “Whatever way you slice it, it's probably one of the best games I've ever played!”

Rounds 7-9 of the 2020 U.S. Championship will take place tomorrow, October 28, with live coverage from WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Maurice Ashley starting at 12:50 PM CDT on USChessChamps.com, YouTube, and Twitch.

The 2020 U.S. Championships features a series of five national title events, all taking place online from Oct 8-29, starting with the 2020 U.S. Girls Junior Championship. For full details, pairings, and results of the events, make sure to check out USChessChamps.com.