2022 U.S. Chess & Women’s Chess Championship - Day 12 Recap


by NM Vanessa West

A broken king? A blundered bishop? A scrambled leaderboard in the U.S. Women’s Championship with one round to go? Chaos has erupted at the U.S. Championships. 

Fabiano Caruana and his closest competitor Ray Robson each drew, staying in first and second. Wild card GM Awonder Liang fought for 105 moves for the win to join Leiner Dominguez in a tie for third. 

In the U.S. Women’s Championship, there were decisive results on all the leading boards. Irina Krush defeated Jennifer Yu to leapfrog into first. Thalia Cervantes won yet again, reaching a five-game winning streak. She and Yu are now tied for second, trailing Krush by half a point, and facing each other for a climatic last round. 

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game; with a 30-second increment starting from move 1.

U.S. Championship - Standings after Round 12

U.S. Women’s Championship - Standings after Round 12

2022 U.S. Championship

GM Awonder Liang vs. GM Dariusz Swiercz 1-0

GM Awonder Liang was the last game to finish. In this marathon game vs. GM Dariusz Swiercz, Liang gained one extra pawn after 50 moves, a second one on move 60, and finally converted in the rook ending after 105 moves. Liang has performed vastly above his rating, gaining 20 FIDE rating points from the event so far.

Liang gained the first extra pawn with 45.Nh5+ Kg6 46.Rfg1 Kxh5 47.Rxg5+ Kh6 48.Rxf5 and converted his advantage after a hard-fought 50+ more moves. | 1-0, 105 moves

With a 2700+ performance rating, Liang is proving to be a well-chosen wild card entry. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

GM Sam Sevian vs. GM Hans Niemann 0-1

Sam Sevian vs. Hans Niemann featured not just dynamic fighting play between these resilient grandmasters but also a unique over-the-board incident. On move 45, as Niemann considered his next move, Sevian absentmindedly picked up his opponent’s king―the way one might fiddle with a piece from off the board―and broke the top cross off. 

This leads to a moment of sheer confusion between the players, the arbiter, and the commentators before the game continues. Catch the video of this bewildering moment on our Twitter

Despite his broken king, Niemann managed to score his third victory in a row. 

Back to the chess itself: Earlier in the game, Sevian tried the bold sacrifice of 20.Rd1!? to enhance his activity. Although 20…Bxd1 21.Ne6+ Ke7 22.Nxc5 looks promising, Niemann found 22…Bg4, which prevents all of White’s major threats, giving Black an edge. | 0-1, 78 moves

The players explain Sevian’s unique king incident to the arbiter. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

GM Aleksandr Lenderman vs. GM Wesley So 0-1

Aleksandr Lenderman vs. Wesley So was close for much of the game until So doubled on the open h-file, aiming down at White’s open king. 

So played 38…Rh1+ when Lenderman’s king has no cover. After 39.Ke2 Qh5+ 40.Kd3 Rh3 Black resigned. | 0-1, 40 moves

Wesley So has gained his third victory. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

GM Levon Aronian vs. GM Elshan Moradiabadi 1-0

Levon Aronian scored a positional victory vs. Elshan Moradiabadi.

Aronian played 20.a4! to create pressure on the queenside. The game continued: 20…O-O 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.a5 when Aronian’s rook broke through 22…Nc4 23.Rb7, winning a pawn due to the double attack on a7 and e7. | 1-0, 42 moves

Aronian will face the tournament leader, Caruana, in the final round. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The remaining three games ended in draws. 

2022 U.S. Women’s Championship

WGM Jennifer Yu vs. GM Irina Krush 0-1

Krush gained an edge out of the opening with black, but Yu gradually fought back to equality. Yu soon built up attacking chances against her opponent’s king but then tried an inaccurate tactical idea, losing a bishop. 

With 31.Ba4?, Yu deflects the black queen from the defense of f7, but after 31…Qxa4 32.Qf7+ Kh8, everything around the black king is guarded. White tried 33.h5, but after 33…gxh5 34.Rf5 Bd4 35.Rg5 Qc2+, Krush’s king attack proved more dangerous. | 0-1, 38 moves

Krush and Yu now switch places on the scoreboard. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

WGM Begim Tokhirjonova vs. WGM Thalia Cervantes 0-1

Thalia Cervantes won a tactical battle vs. Begim Tokhirjonova to reach a fifth victory in a row. 

After 28…Rxd8 although Cervantes is down an exchange, she is soon winning it back due to the dual threats of …Bd4 and …Bxa1. The game continued: 29.Kh1 Bxa1 30.Rxa1 when Cervantes gained powerful activity with 30…Rd2 31.Bg2 Qf6 32.Re1 Qb2  | 0-1, 50 moves

The smile of a player on an impressive winning streak. Can Cervantes win one more to be in contention for the title? | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan vs. FM Rochelle Wu 1-0

In a Siclian with the kings castled to opposite sides, Abrahamyan’s effective attacking play won material. 

Abrahamyan played 22.Rf1 when after 22…Nxd3 23.cxd3, Black’s bishop has nowhere to go. Wu attempted to drum up a counter attack with 23…Rac8 24.Rxf6 Rxc1+ 25.Kxc1 Qxa2 26.Rf2 Qa1+ 27.Kc2 Rc8 28.Rc4 White’s king was safe and she soon converted her extra material. | 1-0, 38 moves

In her classic attacking style, Abrahamyan scores her third victory of the tournament. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

WIM Megan Lee vs. WIM Sophie Morris-Suzuki 0-1

Sophie Morris-Suzuki defeated Megan Lee in an open position where her long-range pieces sliced into her opponent’s position. 

Morris-Suzuki played 37…Rad8 when her long-range pieces create a great amount of pressure in the center, especially her bishops cutting through from both sides. Black threatens 38…Rd3, overwhelming the pinned bishop on e3. The game continued: 38.Bxg5 Qxe2 39.Bxd8 Qxc2 40.Bb6 Qxb2 41.Bf2 Qxa3, gaining a powerful passed a-pawn. | 0-1, 60 moves

FM Ashritha Eswaran vs. FM Ruiyang Yan 0-1

Ruiyang Yan’s powerful bishop pair aided in creating threats against her opponent’s king, winning material. 

It was yet another round of five decisive games and only two draws.

The players often partake in friendly post-game analysis inside the club. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

The last round of the 2022 U.S. & U.S. Women's Chess Championships will take place on Wednesday, October 19. Watch the action live at 1:20pm CT with commentators GM Yasser Seirawan, WGM Anastasiya Karlovich, and GM Cristian Chirila on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.