2023 American Cup - Day 8 Recap

The 2023 American Cup Finals kicked off in exciting fashion with the first games between Hikaru Nakamura vs. Wesley So and Irina Krush vs. Alice Lee. In the Open, Nakamura sacrificed his queen for two rooks in a roller-coaster game that would ultimately end in a draw. Meanwhile Krush took a 1-0 lead after winning a very sharp first game as White.

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes plus 30 seconds increment for all games in the Champions Bracket, with a rapid time control of 25+10 for the Elimination Bracket and a 10+5 time control for all playoff matches.

In this unique double-elimination format, the losers of each match will get relegated to the Elimination Bracket, where they will get a second chance to continue the tournament.


NAKAMURA - SO | ½-½, 49 moves

What started out as a relatively quiet English Opening heated up rather quickly, as Nakamura blasted things open with multiple pawn breaks in the center. A few moves later Hikaru decided to sacrifice his queen, leaving himself two rooks and a bishop against So’s queen and knight. With several possible mating nets and a strong passed pawn, Nakamura then sacrificed his bishop as well, leaving Black’s king and knight paralyzed, but it wasn’t winning on the spot as So could still defend.

31.h4!! was an incredible shot from Nakamura, with idea 31…Nxf1 32.Rg5!+- (and Bg7 mate next).

A tremendously complicated position arose, where Wesley then missed a chance to consolidate his material advantage and possibly win the game, instead letting Nakamura off the hook with a draw and ending with an unexpected stalemate.

48…Qxh4+! forced a fantastic stalemate on the board, as So realized he had no more chances to win.

One of the wildest games of the tournament. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Wesley had a golden chance to win today, but will at least get White in tomorrow's game. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes


KRUSH - LEE | 1-0, 48 moves

In a rematch of last year’s final, Krush started with 1.c4 against which Lee chose a very modern pawn sacrifice, leading to a chaotic middlegame with opposite sides castling. But Lee then made a critical mistake in trading off her light-squared bishop, giving Krush total control over the light squares. From there Irina nicely side-stepped Black’s attack while advancing her own initiative. As White’s attack was breaking through Lee was forced to give up material, and Krush navigated the complications well to emerge with an extra piece.

After 33.b5, Krush’s attack was simply decisive, with Black having no threats against White’s king.

Krush is a draw away from her second straight American Cup title. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller

Alice’s risk today didn’t pay off, but she’ll have a chance to strike back tomorrow. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The 2023 American Cup continues Saturday, March 25 with tournament action live starting at 1:20PM CT with Grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Cristian Chirila, and IM Jovanka Houska on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.