2020 U.S. Championship - Day 4 Recap

With an incredible run, GM Wesley So became the 2020 U.S. Chess Champion, scoring a fantastic 9.0/11 after finishing the day with two draws to win his second national title. Displaying an amazing performance as well, GM Jeffery Xiong finished in clear 2nd with 8.5/11, while GM Ray Robson took 3rd with 7.5/11.

“Winning a second title is really big to me. I’m really happy to have won it, this title is really prestigious.” said winner Wesley So.

Make sure to tune in to USChessChamps.com at 5 PM CDT for the combined U.S. Championship Closing Ceremony, featuring all 40+ participants from Championship October!

Check out all the games from the final day of action here, and you can watch a video replay of the event’s live coverage featuring WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Maurice Ashley here.

Standings after Day 4

Round 10

The penultimate round saw the tournament leader, Wesley So, paired Black against Ray Robson, one of his main challengers. A theoretical Berlin led to Robson looking for a small edge in the endgame, but solid preparation by So forced his opponent to acquiesce to a draw by repetition by move 30. 

“It’s tough against Wesley, he’s playing the most sound opening in chess history and he knows every single line”, said Robson, who simply couldn’t generate any winning chances.

Robson tried but couldn’t make anything stick against the ultra-solid Berlin Defense. | ½-½, 30 moves

Meanwhile Xiong, the only other player still in contention for first, was met with stiff resistance by GM Alex Lenderman, who found a fantastic combination to equalize the game and hold a draw. This meant that Wesley would retain his full point lead over Xiong and Robson heading into the final round.

After the brilliant 19...Bg5, with idea 20.hxg4 Rxd4 21.exd4 Bxc1 22.Rxc1 Bd5! (followed by b6 next, winning back the piece). | ½-½, 36 moves

Round 11

Despite the extra point, nothing was yet decided as Wesley was paired with GM Hikaru Nakamura, one of the pre-tournament favorites. But the drama was soon over as the players traded everything off and quickly agreed to a draw, allowing Wesley to clinch the 2020 title.

Nakamura did not make Wesley work hard for the final draw. | ½-½, 30 moves

With Wesley securing first, this meant that the fight was now for second place, with both Xiong and Robson tied going into the last round with 7.5 points. Playing spoiler again, Lenderman played one of his best games of the event and managed to defeat Robson in an Exchange King’s Indian endgame.

Xiong was also in trouble against GM Alejandro Ramirez, but was able to equalize and eventually capitalize on a late game blunder:

After 38...g5!, winning a piece and clinching the silver medal for Jeffery Xiong. | 0-1, 38 moves

Happy Birthday to the 2020 U.S. Championship runner-up, who will turn 20 years old tomorrow!

Daily round recaps and results from the 2020 U.S. Chess Championships can be found online at uschesschamps.com.  All the video highlights including the combined Opening & Closing Ceremonies as well as the full commentary can be watched on the Saint Louis Chess Club's YouTube, and Twitch.

The 2020 U.S. Championships features a series of five national title events, all taking place online from Oct 8-29, starting with the 2020 U.S. Girls Junior Championship. For full details, pairings, and results of the events, make sure to check out USChessChamps.com.