2021 U.S. & U.S. Women's Chess Championships: Day 8 Recap

With all six games drawn in the U.S. Championship there was no change to the standings as GM Wesley So, GM Sam Sevian, and GM Alex Lenderman continue to lead the event with 5.0/8 heading into the final rest day. Meanwhile in the U.S. Women’s Championship, IM Carissa Yip won her third straight game to start separating from the rest of the field with a score of 6.0/8. Keeping pace was WGM Katerina Nemcova, who defeated WIM Megan Lee to stay within a half-point while GM Irina Krush is only a point behind Yip on 5.0/8 with just three rounds left to play.

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an additional 30 second increment per move starting from move one.

U.S. Championship - Standings after Round 8

U.S. Women’s Championship - Standings after Round 8

2021 U.S. Championship

Despite the slew of peaceful results there was potential for decisiveness as top seed GM Fabiano Caruana took some serious risk out of the opening (Ragozin Defense) against GM Jeffery Xiong. While Xiong had the early initiative, he wasn’t able to pose the biggest problems for Black and eventually Caruana managed to equalize.

Fabi’s 13...g6!? left commentators concerned, as White’s dark-squared bishop became a powerful piece. But after 14.e4 Re8 15.Bd3 Nxe4! 16.Bxe4 Bf5, Black was soon completely fine. | ½-½, 41 moves

After two straight losses Caruana has stabilized with 1.5/2 in his last two games. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

The player in most danger of losing was co-leader GM Alex Lenderman, who fell worse in an endgame against GM Dariusz Swiercz, and was on the verge of losing in a rook endgame where he was a pawn down. Instead Lenderman saved the game and retained his spot among the leaders.

48...h5! was an accurate way to hold the game, giving Black just enough counterplay on the kingside. | ½-½, 69 moves

Sevian & Lenderman wait for their opponents to move. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

The other two leaders, GM Wesley So and GM Sam Sevian, both drew their games against GM Sam Shankland and GM Leinier Dominguez respectively. So had relatively few difficulties holding against Shankland in a Berlin Endgame while Sevian could not achieve much out of the opening against Dominguez. Meanwhile Naroditsky-Burke and Robson-Bruzon saw both Naroditsky and Robson with small advantages before the games eventually petered out into draws. 

2021 U.S. Women’s Championship

IM Carissa Yip continued her dominant performance with a convincing win over 2017 U.S. Women’s Champion, WGM Sabina Foisor. Yip gained a serious edge out of the opening after her opponent gave up her dark-squared bishop in exchange for a knight. With superior pieces and a healthier structure, Yip slowly increased her advantage until the position became simply overwhelming.

43...Rxe1+! was the final blow to quickly end the game. After 44.Kxe1 Qc1+! is the most stylish way to win. | 0-1 45 moves

With her “hat-trick” third win in a row Yip looks unstoppable in this year’s championship. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

While GM Irina Krush was unable to create any chances against IM Nazi Paikidze, eventually drawing, WGM Katerina Nemcova managed to outplay WIM Megan Lee, reaching and converting an extremely favorable endgame with rooks and opposite colored bishops:

After Nemcova’s 41.Kc2, Black was completely stuck and had no response to the plan of Kb3-a4-a5-xa6, winning. Lee decided to sacrifice the exchange with 41...Rxe7 but it wasn’t nearly enough to save the game. | 1-0, 52 moves

After a big win in Round 8 Nemcova remains a half-point behind Yip. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The other match-ups saw WGM Begim Tokhirjonova defeating WIM Ashritha Eswaran after a marathon 148-move game, and four-time champion IM Anna Zatonskih prevailing over WGM Anna Sharevich.

Round 9 of the 2021 U.S. & U.S. Women's Chess Championships will take place Saturday, October 16 starting at 12:50 PM CT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and Cristian Chirila on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.