2021 U.S. & U.S. Women's Chess Championships: Day 7 Recap

Today’s round was quite dramatic with several decisive games between the two sections. In the U.S. Championship, reigning champion GM Wesley So and GM Sam Sevian both won their games to catch GM Alex Lenderman in the lead with 4.5/7. Meanwhile, previous co-leader GM Ray Robson lost a long game to GM Fabiano Caruana, who is now just a point out of first with 3.5/7. 

In the U.S. Women’s Championship IM Carissa Yip jumped out into the lead with 5.0/7 after winning an excellent game against IM Anna Zatonskih. Just a half-point behind are WGM Katerina Nemcova and GM Irina Krush, who defeated WIM Ashritha Eswaran to overtake her spot in the standings.

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an additional 30 second increment per move starting from move one.

U.S. Championship - Standings after Round 7

U.S. Women’s Championship - Standings after Round 7

2021 U.S. Championship

The first decisive game of the round came as a shock, as GM Sam Sevian managed to defeat GM Lazaro Bruzon in under 25 moves. Bruzon, who so far had drawn all his games, made a blunder in the middlegame to allow Sevian’s pieces to take over:

After White’s last move 19.Kg2?, Sevian played 19...Nd7!, giving Black a crushing position after an incoming Ne5. | 0-1, 22 moves

After the brutal 140-move loss in Round 5 Sevian has since won back-to-back games. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The win gave Sevian a moment with the sole lead, but he was eventually caught by Lenderman, who drew with Xiong, and So, who took advantage of Burke’s risky play to win an exchange and convert the full point:

21...e3! hampered White’s structure before Black picked up the exchange with Bxf1 next. | 0-1, 34 moves

While both Dominguez and Swiercz were pressing in the endgame against Naroditsky and Shankland, neither of them could gain a decisive advantage. But Caruana, coming off of two losses, managed to grind out an endgame win against Robson, sacrificing a piece for just one pawn and an incredibly active king:

71.Bxg5! was an excellent practical decision--after 71...Nxg5 72.Kc5 White’s king invades on the queenside. Although Black could have held the draw with perfect play, the defense was very difficult to find in Robson’s time-trouble. | 1-0, 90 moves

The game ended with a little joke as Caruana promoted to a bishop to force resignation. “I’ve never promoted to a bishop before”, explained Fabi in the post-game interview.

2021 U.S. Women’s Championship

After her loss in Round 5 IM Carissa Yip has since bounced back with two straight wins, defeating Zatonskih today in a sharp attacking game. On the White side of an Advanced French, Yip sacrificed a pawn out of the opening for superior development. Zatonskih was never able to connect rooks and it was only a matter of time before White broke through:

28.b4! was the final shot, winning a piece after 28...Bxb4 29.Rxd4. | 1-0, 29 moves

A second straight win for Carissa, who is now the sole leader of the field. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Previous co-leaders WGM Katerina Nemcova and WIM Ashritha Eswaran couldn’t keep up, as Nemcova saved a worse position against WGM Tatev Abrahamyan, and Eswaran lost a difficult game to GM Irina Krush, who applied nice positional pressure for the entire game: 

33.f4! gave White a decisive advantage, as White’s queen and knights soon took over the position. | 1-0, 38 moves


The eight-time U.S. Women’s Champion is just a half-point behind with four rounds to go. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

Closing out the round, in what was a completely winning position for WIM Megan Lee against IM Nazi Paikidze, both players overlooked an incredible stalemate trick that would have saved the game on the spot for Paikidze:

After White’s last move 56.Rxe5??, Black could have saved the game with the brilliant 56...Rxb2+!!, with a forced stalemate after 57.Kxb2 Qxc3+!. Instead, Black played 56...Qa4+ and quickly ran out of checks. | 1-0, 65 moves

Round 8 of the 2021 U.S. & U.S. Women's Chess Championships will take place Thursday, October 14 starting at 12:50 PM CT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and Cristian Chirila on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.