2020 U.S. Championship - Day 3 Recap
Three players remained dominant today at the 2020 U.S. Championship as GM Wesley So continues to lead with 8/9 going into the final day tomorrow. Keeping pace with incredible form are GM’s Jeffery Xiong and Ray Robson, who both ended with 7/9 to stay within striking distance of the leader. Tomorrow Wesley will have his toughest day yet as he faces Robson and Nakamura in the final two rounds!
Check out all the games from the third 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 3
The first round of the day saw Wesley So make a relatively quick draw against GM Sam Sevian, trading off all the pieces before agreeing to a draw in an endgame with opposite colored bishops. This gave Xiong and Robson a chance to catch up with victories over their opponents.
Robson played an exceptional game against GM Elshan Moradiabadi, sacrificing a piece in a French Defense to force his opponent’s king to live in the center. Black tried to defend but Robson’s attack was just too strong, eventually finishing in a forced mate.
Here Robson broke through with 33.f5!, preparing to sacrifice a piece on f5 next. | 1-0, 37 moves
Meanwhile Xiong was facing Nakamura, who according to the tournament situation would need to unbalance the position in order to play for a win at all costs. But Xiong kept control, and managed to slowly build on his positional edge out of the opening, eventually leading to a decisive endgame advantage.
Xiong played one of his best games of the event to defeat one of the pre-tourney favorites. | 1-0, 33 moves
These wins meant both Xiong and Robson would catch up to Wesley, all on a fantastic 6/7 heading into Round 8.
In the next round two of the leaders faced off, as Xiong was paired with White against Robson. A small edge out of the Scotch Game quickly grew into more as Robson fell into heavy time-trouble, and Xiong was able to capitalize to win a critical game.
The U.S. #5 continued his excellent play with a second straight win over a key rival. | 1-0, 47 moves.
In the meantime, So got back to his winning ways, defeating Moradiabadi thanks to some accurate defense against his opponent’s exchange sacrifice. This put both So and Xiong on 7/8, with the stage set for their pairing in the very next round.
The final round of the day featured another crucial match-up of the leaders as So and Xiong faced off in a sharp battle in the Sveshnikov Sicilian. Xiong showed no fear, sacrificing his knight on the queenside to open up Wesley’s king, and even had a chance to launch a devastating attack. But So survived into the endgame, and was then able to use his advantage on the clock to pose some practical problems for Xiong, who eventually blundered in a complex ending.
Wesley So was under huge pressure but managed to turn things around in the endgame. | 1-0, 52 moves
This win gave Wesley the clear lead with an astronomical 8/9, but the day didn’t finish there as Robson was able to bounce back from his loss to Xiong to stun Nakamura, effectively shutting the door on everyone else in the tournament field.
A complicated ‘rook vs. two pieces’ imbalance arose in Robson - Nakamura, where Robson managed to get the better of the 5-time U.S. Champion. | 1-0, 63 moves
The final two rounds of the 2020 U.S. Championship will take place tomorrow, October 29, 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.