2023 U.S. Chess Championships - Day 9 Recap

by IM Kostya Kavutskiy

Reigning U.S. Champion GM Fabiano Caruana took one step closer to a second consecutive title as he defeated GM Hans Niemann in a crucial game for the standings. But keeping up were GMs Leinier Dominguez, Wesley So, and U.S. Junior Champion Abhimanyu Mishra, who each won their games to stay within a point of the leader. Meanwhile in the U.S. Women's Championship, WGM Begim Tokhirjonova took the sole lead after her fifth straight victory, as key rival IM Carissa Yip was held to a draw.

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

Trailing Caruana by a full-point, Niemann was in a must-win situation with the White pieces against the tournament leader. Facing a topical line in the Italian Game, Hans had a bit of an edge in the middlegame but soon went wrong, allowing Caruana serious counterplay on the kingside. Another misstep allowed Caruana to completely take over, eventually converting a sharp heavy-piece middlegame:

Niemann-Caruana: After 25...g5!, Black's counterplay on the kingside was very difficult to deal with.

Caruana is now two rounds away from his third national championship. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

Staying in contention with two rounds to play were So and Dominguez, who each won with White to keep their title chances alive. So had to swindle Robson from a nearly lost position, while Dominguez scored an impressive technical effort to defeat Tang:

Dominguez-Tang: After 33.Rxd6!, White won a pawn and had a decisive advantage due to dual threats of promoting the a-pawn and going after Black's king.

One of the few players without a loss, Dominguez still has a chance to catch Caruana. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

So-Robson: After 42.Qb8!, Black's king was caught in a mating net, with resignation soon to come.

So was in trouble, but managed to turn things around during time pressure. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

Also winning late in the day was Mishra, who took advantage of an endgame blunder by Shankland to earn his second full point in a row:

Shankland-Mishra: 63.Bxf7 was a huge error as Black responded with 63...Nf3+ and 64...Ng5!, winning material.

A fantastic performance from Mishra, who is tied for second place with two rounds to go. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

U.S. Championship - Round 10 Pairings

2023 U.S. Women’s Championship

The tie at the top was finally broken as Yip spoiled a winning advantage and was held to a draw by Paikidze, allowing Tokhirjonova to pull ahead after exploiting an early opening blunder by FM Ruiyang Yan:

Tokhirjonova-Yan: 9.c5! was a powerful move, winning material as 9...Bxc5 loses to 10.Bxc6+ and Qxc6 next.

Five straight wins for Begim, who's now the clear leader for the first time in the event. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Yip was also doing extremely well out of an Advance Caro-Kann against IM Nazi Paikidze, but through imprecise play allowed her opponent back into the game and eventually had to settle for a draw by repetition. 

Yip-Paikidze: 33…Nxe5! gave Black just enough play to equalize the position.

Yip was close to her fifth straight win as well, but let her opponent off the hook. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

With just two rounds remaining, only Yip and Tokhirjonova are left in contention for the title, with Yip a half-point behind as both players face former champions in the penultimate Round 10:

U.S. Women's Championship - Round 10 Pairings

The 2023 U.S. Chess Championships continue tomorrow, October 16th, 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.