2023 U.S. Chess Championships - Day 5 Recap

by IM Kostya Kavutskiy

It was a wild day with plenty of decisive action as top seed GM Fabiano Caruana won his third straight game, defeating GM Andrew Tang to maintain his lead in the U.S. Championship. Meanwhile GM Hans Niemann scored the full point against GM Levon Aronian, placing him in sole second. In the U.S. Women’s Championship, IM Carissa Yip and WGM Begim Tokhirjonova both won to continue leading the field with 4.0/5, while 8-time champion GM Irina Krush defeated IM Anna Zatonskih to remain just a half-point behind.

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

Facing the Jobava London from Tang, Caruana played quite creatively in the opening to seize the initiative as Black, boldly taking the b2-pawn with his queen and undermining all of White’s dark-squares. Tang tried to find solace in the endgame, but Caruana’s pieces were simply too active, as his passed a-pawn decided the game.

Tang-Caruana: After 10…Qb6!, White's position was already collapsing.

Hat-trick for the reigning U.S. Champion | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Keeping pace was Niemann, who opted for the Alapin (c3) Variation against Aronian’s Sicilian and quickly got a very pleasant position thanks to his powerful light-squared bishop. With kings castled on opposite sides, Niemann’s attack arrived first, forcing Aronian to give up a piece in order to complicate matters. But a practical exchange sacrifice from Niemann left him in a winning endgame with two minor pieces against a rook, which he was able to convert with precision.

Niemann-Aronian: After 30.Rxe3!, White had two pieces for the rook and a dominant position.

A second straight win and clear second place for Niemann. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Other results saw So and Dominguez both winning their first games, as they each converted positions with an extra exchange against Mishra and Shankland, respectively. But the game of the day and possibly the tournament went to Robson, who sacrificed a rook against Xiong to force a king hunt, and soon won after a series of brilliant moves:

Robson-Xiong: 27.Ne4+!! was a beautiful knockout, with idea 27...dxe4 28.Rf5+! Bxf5 29.Qc3+ and mate to follow

The four-time Puzzle Rush World Champion showed his mettle today. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

U.S. Championship - Round 6 Pairings

2023 U.S. Women’s Championship

Co-leaders Yip and Tokhirjonova both won excellent games to continue leading the field. After a surprise 1.d4 from Abrahamyan, Yip stuck to her King’s Indian Defense and managed to create serious queenside counterplay against White’s aggressive setup. Tatev then went all-in with a sacrificial attack, but Yip spotted a nice defensive refutation to collect the full point:

Abrahamyan-Yip: 23…Bg4! rebuffed White's attack, leaving Black with a winning material advantage.

Yip continues to shine. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Meanwhile Begim essayed the Maroczy Bind against Cervantes’ Accelerated Dragon, and played a model positional game where she made the most out of her space advantage. Facing material losses, Cervantes was forced to sacrifice her queen, but failed to put up the stiffest resistance as Begim converted her advantage:

Tokhirjonova-Cervantes: 32.c5! forced Black to give up the queen, as 32...Qxc5 33.Nf6+ wins on the spot.

Picking up her first win was reigning champion Jennifer Yu, who defeated Paikidze thanks to her powerful play in the center and kingside. Also winning to stay close to the lead was Krush, who bested long-time rival Zatonskih with clean technical play:

Krush-Zatonskih: After 23.Bg5! White won the exchange and soon the game.

Still in the hunt -- 8-time U.S. Women's Champion GM Irina Krush | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

U.S. Women's Championship - Round 6 Pairings

The 2023 U.S. Chess Championships continue tomorrow, October 11th, 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.