2021 U.S. Senior Championship Playoff Recap

GM Gregory Kaidanov won the 2021 U.S. Senior Championship title after defeating GM Larry Christiansen in an exciting playoff tiebreak, scoring 1.5 - 0.5 in the two-game rapid match. After a draw in game one, Kaidanov seized his chance in game two, finding a brilliant resource to win an exchange and convert his advantage in the ensuing complications.

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The format for the playoff was a match consisting of two 10+2 (delay) games, followed by an Armageddon Game (5 minutes for White vs. 4 minutes + draw odds for Black) in case of a tie.

Game 1: Kaidanov - Christiansen ½-½, 34 moves

The first game saw Kaidanov miss a golden opportunity out of the opening as Christiansen fell into trouble early on in a Bogo-Indian Defense. Despite winning a clear extra pawn, Kaidanov was not able to consolidate his advantage, as Christiansen created enough counterplay to win the pawn back and equalize the game. After more trades the players ended up in an equal rook endgame, agreeing to a draw soon thereafter.

14.Qe3! would have won by force for White, as 14...cxb5 15.d5! opens up a winning double attack against Black’s rook and knight. | ½-½, 34 moves

Kaidanov showed some fantastic opening preparation in Game 1, but couldn’t capitalize. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Game 2: Christiansen - Kaidanov 0-1, 33 moves

In the second game Christiansen essayed the London System, to which Kaidanov responded to in an aggressive manner, playing an early Qxb2 to isolate White’s queenside pawns. Christiansen in turn continued to play for the initiative, sacrificing a pawn for development. While under pressure, Kaidanov found an incredible resource to refute White’s attack, temporarily sacrificing a piece but leaving White with multiple pieces hanging. After the dust cleared, Kaidanov was left with an extra exchange, which he duly converted into the full point, winning the tiebreak and the national title.

19...Rc8!! was a brilliant find, leaving several of White’s pieces hanging and securing Black a decisive advantage. | 0-1, 33 moves

This is the first national title victory for GM Gregory Kaidanov. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Coming up next month will be the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz, taking place August 9 - 16, followed by the Sinquefield Cup, which runs August 16 – 28. Check out more info for both events on grandchesstour.org