2023 U.S. Chess Championships - Day 2 Recap

by IM Kostya Kavutskiy

Day 2 of the 2023 U.S. Championship saw a shake-up at the top as GM Hans Niemann defeated yesterday’s leader, GM Sam Sevian in a wild game, while GM Abhimanyu Mishra scored a nice victory against GM Andrew Tang to join Niemann in the lead with 1.5/2.

In the U.S. Women’s Championship, Day 1 leader IM Nazi Paikidze drew against IM Anna Zatonskih, allowing IM Carissa Yip to catch up after defeating 2022 champion WGM Jennifer Yu. Also winning were WGM Tatev Abrahamyan and WGM Begim Tokhirjonova, who joined the shared lead after two rounds as well.

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. Both events feature a 12-player round-robin format, with a time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes with a 30-second increment starting from move one.

2023 U.S. Championship

After winning the only game in yesterday’s round Sevian looked poised to win his second straight game, as he had Niemann on the ropes in a Catalan gone wrong for Black. Unable to find the knockout, Sevian ended up overpressing, sacrificing a piece but failing to follow up correctly. Niemann grabbed the material and survived the attack, eventually winning thanks to his passed b-pawn.

Sevian-Niemann: With seconds left on his clock, Niemann nearly played 39…Ng4??, which would lose instantly to 40.Rxf5! – instead he played 39…Ng6 at the last second, continuing the game.

A sporting Sevian allowed mate on the board. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Also winning was 2023 U.S. Junior Champion GM Abhimanyu Mishra, who found a nice trick in the endgame to activate his rook with decisive effect, soon forcing resignation from Tang:

Mishra-Tang: 26.Rf3! took advantage of Black’s vulnerable back rank, forcing 26…Rg8 after which 27.Rxd8 Rxd8 28.Rf5 gave White a winning position.

A strong start for the current U.S. Junior Champion. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

Other results saw draws in Caruana-Dominguez, Aronian-Xiong, Swiercz-So, and Shankland-Robson, with Shankland and Caruana holding advantages in their game but unable to fully capitalize.

2023 U.S. Women’s Championship

After essaying the Catalan, Paikidze got into huge trouble early on against Zatonskih, as she was down a pawn with the worse position to boot. But sturdy defense allowed Paikidze to trade down into a drawn queen ending, with Zatonskih unable to make any progress and eventually allowing a draw by repetition.

Paikidze-Zatonskih: 38…Qd2! could have decided matters, as White loses a second pawn and isn't saved by 39.Qd6+.

Four-time U.S. Women's Champion & 2023 Cairns Cup winner IM Anna Zatonskih. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The draw allowed Yip and Abrahamyan to catch up thanks to wins over two key rivals–defending champion WGM Jennifer Yu and second-seeded IM-elect Alice Lee. Yip made use of two pawn breaks (10.f4, 15.c4) to break down Yu’s Caro-Kann Defense, while Abrahamyan scored a nice positional effort, converting an endgame thanks to a much healthier pawn structure.

Yip-Yu: 16.Na5! left Black with a strategically lost position, as the knight heads to c4 and d6.

Abrahamyan-Lee: 21.c5! ensured White a long-term positional advantage.

A big win for IM Carissa Yip. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan also showed excellent technique today. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Another endgame win was scored by Tokhirjonova, who inflicted a second defeat on FM Ashritha Eswaran after outplaying the latter in an Exchange Ruy. In the meantime, top seed GM Irina Krush once again achieved a winning position, this time against FM Thalia Cervantes, but failed to exploit her advantage.

1.5/2 as well for WGM Begim Tokhirjonova. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The 2023 U.S. Chess Championships continue tomorrow, October 7th, starting at 1:20 PM CDT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Cristian Chirila, and Katerina Nemcova on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.