Akobian and Caruana offer masterclass performances, Foisor catches Paikidze at the top
The 2017 U.S. Championships are heading into their last rounds, and the battle for top position is heating up more each day. In the open division, Wesley So is still leading, but another competitor has emerged on the horizon. Var Akobian dropped the hammer on yesterday’s hero, Yaro Zherebukh, and leap frogged him after a sound strategic victory. He is now joint leader alongside So and will go into the championship rounds as one of the favorites to win it all. Caruana was quick to recover after his painful loss and blew Daniel Naroditsky off the board after a powerful show of dynamic chess. In the women’s section, Nazi drew the wildcard Maggie Feng and allowed Sabina Foisor to catch her at the top of the table. Let’s get into the recap!
Caruana vs Naroditsky was one of those games which remind you just how strong the number three (4 in the live rating list) is. Fabiano opened with 1.e4 and the players followed one of the most topical lines of the French. Unfortunately for Daniel, he seemed to have forgotten the theory as early as move nine when his 9…b6 can be considered at least a bit suspicious.
White immediately blasted open the center with 10.c4! and black soon found himself under heavy dynamic pressure. Daniel could have defended better, however, Fabiano’s victory never seemed to be in danger.
He is now back within striking distance of the leader and will face Akobian in tomorrow’s clash of the day.
Zherebukh vs Akobian was an example of how difficult some strategical concepts are, even for top level players such as Yaroslav. The players entered a rare variation of the French Tarrasch and there was never a doubt on who knew it better. Akobian was a man with a plan and his enticing 14…0-0! was the one temptation Yaro couldn’t refuse.
15.Bxf6? was a serious misjudgment which allowed black to gain complete control over the game due to his bishop pair and better placed pieces. Akobian increased his advantage with masterful precision and forced Yaro’s capitulation after the killer 28.Rd2! It was an impressive win for Akobian who is now in a good spot heading into the final decisive rounds!
[White "Zherebukh, Yaroslav"]
[Black "Akobian, Varuzhan"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. dxc5 Nf6 6. Ngf3 Qxc5 7. Bd3 Nbd7
8. O-O Qc7 9. Qe2 Nc5 10. Bc4 Bd6 11. b3 a6 12. a4 b6 13. Bb2 Bb7 14. Rfd1 O-O
15. Bxf6 gxf6 16. Qe3 Bf4 17. Qc3 f5 18. Bf1 Rac8 19. b4 Ne4 20. Qxc7 Rxc7 21.
Nc4 Rb8 22. Nxb6 Rxc2 23. Nd7 Rbc8 24. Bd3 Rb2 25. Bxe4 fxe4 26. Rd4 f5 27.
Rad1 exf3 28. Rxf4 Rd2 0-1
U.S. Women’s Championship
Krush vs Virkud signaled Irina’s comeback!
The 7 time champion came very well prepared and quickly imposed her dominant style. But the nature of the position was quite volatile, and white’s imprecise moves allowed black to find equality. There were still plenty of pieces on the board and Irina’s versatility aided her in making better moves and slowly outplayed her opponent. Virkud’s 32…Qh4? was the icing on the cake as Irina swiftly punished her opponent’s reckless play.
With this win, the seven time U.S. Women’s champion cuts into Nazi’s lead and stands only half a point behind her. She will face Yip tomorrow in what will surely be a fierce battle between the most and least experienced players in the field.
Foisor vs Nguyen was a show of force by Foisor, who seems to be working extremely hard during her pre-game preparation, as she always has magnificent positions after the theoretical battle ends. By move 17, Sabina was in full control and was heading toward another crushing defeat; unfortunately for her, she made the wrong choice with 20.d6?! when she should have ended the game with 20.f4!, a move that would have been much more devastating than the game continuation.
Emily proved to be extremely resilient and at one point it seemed that the outcome of the game was not set in stone. Despite her missteps, Sabina kept her cool and managed to convert her advantage. With this win, Sabina joins Nazi in the lead and will face her tomorrow in what will surely be the clash of the day in the women’s division.
[White "Foisor , Sabina"]
[Black "Nguyen, Emily"]
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nbd2 e6 5. g3 Nbd7 6. Bg2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. Qc2
b6 9. e4 dxe4 10. Nxe4 Bb7 11. Rd1 Rc8 12. Nc3 c5 13. d5 exd5 14. cxd5 Bd6 15.
Nh4 Ne5 16. Bg5 h6 17. Bxf6 Qxf6 18. Ne4 Qd8 19. Nf5 Be7 20. d6 Bxe4 21. Nxe7+
Qxe7 22. dxe7 Bxc2 23. exf8=Q+ Kxf8 24. Rd2 Bg6 25. f4 Nc4 26. Rf2 Bf5 27. Bf3
Ne3 28. Rc1 Be6 29. Rd2 Nf5 30. Bg4 Re8 31. Kf2 Nd6 32. Rxd6 Bxg4 33. Rc2 Be6
34. b3 Ke7 35. Rcd2 Rc8 36. R6d3 h5 37. Re3 Kf6 38. Kg2 g6 39. h3 Re8 40. g4
hxg4 41. hxg4 Rc8 42. Kg3 Rc6 43. Rd8 b5 44. Rb8 a6 45. g5+ Ke7 46. Rd3 c4 47.
Rb7+ Ke8 48. bxc4 Bxc4 49. Re3+ Kd8 50. a3 Be6 51. Ra7 Kc8 52. Kf2 Kb8 53. Re7
Bc4 54. R3e5 Rc7 55. Ke3 Kb7 56. Kd4 Rxe7 57. Rxe7+ Kb6 58. Rd7 Kc6 59. Rd8 Be6
60. Kc3 a5 61. Ra8 Kb6 62. Kd4 Bb3 63. Ke5 b4 64. Kd4 Be6 65. axb4 axb4 66.
Rb8+ Kc7 67. Rxb4 Kd6 68. Rb6+ Ke7 69. Ke5 Bc4 70. Rb7+ Kf8 71. Kf6 Ke8 72.
Rb8+ Kd7 73. Rf8 1-0