2020 U.S. Senior Championship - Day 1 Recap

The 2020 U.S. Senior Championship kicked off today with a field packed full of legends that includes five former U.S. Champions with a combined total of 13 national titles. Leading the field at the end of the first day is GM Igor Novikov and GM Joel Benjamin, who both finished the day on 2.5/3 points. GM Gregory Kaidanov and GM Patrick Wolff are a half-point behind with 2.0/3, while the rest of the players are surprisingly all tied with 1.0/3!

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 1

 Round 1

The first round started with an immediate brilliancy as GM Gregory Kaidanov sacrificed two pieces in order to open up GM Patrick Wolff’s king, who quickly had to give up his queen just to avoid mate. Given that he always had a draw in the position, Kaidanov was not too worried about the risk of sacrificing, and decided to go for the kill once he saw that his attack was too strong:

After 21.Nf5!, which led to a powerful attack for White after 21...gxf5 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.Qg5+

GM Joel Benjamin also won his first game, building up a lot of space against GM Alexander Shabalov before the four-time U.S. Champion capitulated in time trouble. 

Round 2

The second round of the day was by far the most hectic with four decisive games. GM Joel Benjamin continued to play solid chess, slowly outplaying GM Alexander Goldin to notch his second win, while GM Alexander Shabalov bounced back from his first round loss to defeat GM Alex Yermolinsky.

Three-time U.S. Champion GM Joel Benjamin got off to a strong 2-0 start

At the same time Kaidanov drew a relatively quiet game against GM Dmitry Gurevich, giving Benjamin the sole lead after two rounds.

Round 3

In the final round of the day Benjamin and Kaidanov drew after an interesting theoretical dispute in the Open Spanish, giving the chance to Novikov to catch up by winning a very sharp encounter against Shabalov.

After Shabalov’s 20...g5, which was met with the cool 21.Qc1!, keeping an eye on the g5 pawn.

But the game of the round was undoubtedly GM Patrick Wolff’s win over Gurevich, where Wolff sacrificed a rook to go all-in on a checkmating attack on the kingside, which was ultimately successful:

After 22...g4!, leaving the rook hanging on a5. The game continued 23.fxg4 hxg4 24.Qxa5 Qxh3+ 25.Kg1 Be5!, and Black was completely winning.

Rounds 4-6 of the 2020 U.S. Senior Championship will take place tomorrow, October 18, 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.