2021 U.S. & U.S. Women's Chess Championships: Day 9 Recap

Top seed GM Fabiano Caruana closed the distance to the leaders after winning today’s game against GM Dariusz Swiercz, leaving himself just a half-point behind GM Wesley So, GM Sam Sevian, and GM Alex Lenderman with two rounds left to play in the U.S. Championship. Also in contention are GM Leinier Dominguez and GM Ray Robson, who are tied with Caruana with 5.0/9 after drawing their individual encounter today.

Meanwhile IM Carissa Yip won her fourth straight game in the U.S. Women’s Championship, defeating WIM Ashritha Eswaran to reach a score of 7.0/9. Staying within striking distance was GM Irina Krush, who prevailed over WGM Katerina Nemcova to jump into clear second place and remain a full point behind Yip.

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 9 (quick correction: Naroditsky currently has 4.0 points while Swiercz has 3.5)

U.S. Women’s Championship - Standings after Round 9

2021 U.S. Championship

While the three leaders (So, Sevian, and Lenderman) all had chances today, only GM Wesley So came within reach of winning his game, after an energetic piece sacrifice by his opponent, GM Daniel Naroditsky, ended up falling short. However So wasn’t able to find the most precise continuation, and ended up settling for a draw by repetition.

Both Lenderman and Sevian missed brief chances against Shankland and Burke, but neither was able to capitalize on their opportunities, keeping the gridlock at the top of the standings.

Naroditsky’s 14...0-0-0! was a bold sacrifice, leaving the knight on f4 hanging in exchange for a strong attack in the center. So later accepted the piece but was never able to neutralize Black’s initiative. | ½-½, 31 moves

After surviving a scare, So missed a golden opportunity to take the clear lead. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

Dominguez was also close to winning at one point against Robson, but complications during time-trouble allowed Robson back in to save the game. The draws at the top allowed Caruana to bridge the gap, as he outplayed Swiercz in an English Opening to score his second game in the last three rounds.

After Swiercz’s 41...f5 Caruana uncorked the killer 42.Nxf5!, with unstoppable mating threats after 42...gxf5 43.Qxf5+- | 1-0, 44 moves

Also winning his game was GM Jeffery Xiong, who defeated GM Lazaro Bruzon thanks to a fantastic find in a complex heavy-piece endgame:

Here Xiong found the excellent 48...Qh8!, with devastating threats along the h-file, as 49.Rxg5+ Kf8 leaves White without any further play. | 0-1, 52 moves


After a wild game that ended in a draw both Dominguez & Robson are still just a half-point out of first. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

2021 U.S. Women’s Championship

IM Carissa Yip continued her dominant performance with a fourth straight win, today outplaying WIM Ashritha Eswaran in a Caro-Kann with opposite sides castling. The key moment came in the middlegame when Yip found a brilliant central break (22.d5!) that opened up the position in her favor:

22.d5! was simply crushing for White, as 22...cxd5 is met with 23.Nd4, while 22...Bxd5 23.Nc3! Qa6 24.Nxd5 leaves Black’s position crumbling on the light-squares. | 1-0, 40 moves

Another day, another win for IM Carissa Yip. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller

Keeping pace was GM Irina Krush, who defeated WGM Katerina Nemcova to leapfrog her spot in the standings, remaining a full point behind Yip with two rounds to go. Although Nemcova surprised Krush with a Leningrad Dutch, the eight-time champion was able to get a clear positional edge based on playing against Black’s weaknesses. Facing heavy time-trouble, Nemcova wasn’t able to defend in the most precise way and ended up in a hopeless endgame after the first time control:

38.Rxd5! was a game winning shot, as Black could not recapture twice in view of White’s passed a-pawn. | 1-0, 68 moves

WGM Begim Tokhirjonova also managed to win, defeating IM Nazi Paikidze on the White side of a Fianchetto King’s Indian, leaving Tokhirjonova tied for 3rd place along with Nemcova.

It was an absolute ‘must-win’ game for Krush to remain in contention for the title. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller

Round 10 of the 2021 U.S. & U.S. Women's Chess Championships will take place Sunday, October 17 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.