U.S. Champ R1: Comedy of Errors

by Alejandro Ramirez
4/2/2015 – At least you can say the games were exciting! Many of the games, in both sections, were decided by blunders or big mistakes. Nakamura won thanks to a blunder by Holt, So because of a blunder by Naroditsky, Onischuk blundered a pawn but managed to hold a draw, Robson beat Troff also because of a blunder. In the Women's section, something very similar happened.

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The 2015 U.S. Championship is an elite national championship event, featuring 12 of the strongest chess players in America. Over the course of eleven rounds, these competitors will battle for $175,000 in prize money, qualification into the World Championship cycle, and the coveted title of 2015 U.S. Champion.

U.S. Chess Championship - Round One

Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
1 GM Robson, Ray 0.0 2656 GM Troff, Kayden W 0.0 2532 1-0
2 GM Onischuk, Alexander 0.0 2665 GM Gareev, Timur 0.0 2604 ½-½
3 GM Holt, Conrad 0.0 2530 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 0.0 2798 0-1
4 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 0.0 2622 GM Sevian, Samuel 0.0 2531 1-0
5 GM Kamsky, Gata 0.0 2683 GM Shankland, Samuel L 0.0 2661 ½-½
6 GM So, Wesley 0.0 2788 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 0.0 2633 1-0

Holt, Conrad 0-1 Nakamura, Hikaru
Things opened up with a very strange game. Nakamura was much worse at some point, but as he pointed out once... when you need to play for a win you play the King's Indian, and sometimes your position is just bad, but you try to win anyway.

[Event "U.S. Championship 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.04.01"] [Round "1"] [White "Holt, Conrad"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E90"] [WhiteElo "2525"] [BlackElo "2798"] [Annotator "Friedel"] [PlyCount "54"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [TimeControl "40/5400+30:1800+30"] 1. d4 {0} Nf6 {0} 2. c4 {0} g6 {0} 3. Nc3 {0} Bg7 {0 Naka goes for one of his favorites, the King's Indian.} 4. e4 {0} d6 {0} 5. Nf3 {0} O-O {2} 6. h3 {3 This line has been topical recently, but Conrad has always favored it.} e5 {4} 7. d5 {6} Nh5 {4} 8. g3 {8 There have been a lot of top level games in this line as of late, so you can be sure Hikaru has looked at it quite a bit.} Na6 { 5} 9. Nd2 {14 This move has only been played a handful of times.} (9. Be3 {was played against Naka by Karjakin.} f5 10. exf5 gxf5 11. Ng5 Qe8 12. Be2 Nf6 13. Qd2 Qg6 14. O-O-O Bd7 15. h4 Ng4 16. h5 Qe8 17. Bxg4 fxg4 18. Qe2 h6 19. Nge4 Qf7 20. a3 Bf5 21. Rh4 Qd7 22. Qd2 Kh7 23. Qc2 Kh8 24. Qd2 Kh7 25. Qc2 Kh8 26. Qd2 {1/2-1/2 (26) Karjakin,S (2767)-Nakamura,H (2764) Tashkent 2014}) 9... Qe8 {274} 10. Be2 {42} Nf6 {1} 11. h4 {147 This is a thematic idea in this line. The idea is to loosen the pawn cover in front of Black's king.} Nd7 {1332} 12. h5 {211} f5 {68} 13. hxg6 {459} hxg6 {513} 14. exf5 {2142} Nf6 {13 It is necessary to sacrifice a pawn.} (14... gxf5 15. Bh5 Qe7 16. Bg6 {is already quite scary for Black.}) (14... Ndc5 {was another option worth considering.}) 15. fxg6 {976} Qxg6 $6 {82 According to Hikaru, he miscalculated here.} (15... e4 {should be played, although after} 16. Nf1 $1 Qxg6 17. Ne3 {I'd prefer White, although the position is still very messy.}) 16. Nf3 {8} Nb4 {195} 17. Nh4 $1 {216 This is what Hikaru missed.} (17. Kf1 {is what Hikaru expected, but after} Ng4 $132 {and Black gets great counterplay.}) 17... Qh7 {136 a sad necessity. Now Black is in trouble.} 18. Kf1 {102} Bf5 {693} 19. Kg1 {174} Bc2 {249 Naka finds the best chance.} 20. Qd2 {103} (20. Qf1 {looks tempting, with ideas of Qh3. What was played in the game was also good, but it is more complex.}) 20... Ne4 {563} 21. Nxe4 {7} Qxe4 {11 Conrad has played extremely well until this point, putting his elite opponent under serious pressure. This is where he starts to lose the thread.} 22. Bf1 $2 {522} (22. Ng2 {was a very strong, though not so very obvious move.} Bd3 23. Bh5 Nc2 24. Rh4 {This is the idea, as now the rook uses the h4 square.} Qf5 25. Ne1 {and Black has to trade knights, after which White's position is dominant.}) 22... Bd3 {77 Another key m ove.} 23. Bh3 {156} Nc2 {38} 24. Be6+ {257} Rf7 {2 White lost his edge, but is still doing OK if he plays accurately. Short on time, Conrad blunders.} 25. Nf5 $4 {404} (25. f3 {It is necessary to cover the light squares around the key. The position is a complete mess after this.}) 25... Ne1 {12 and just like that, White is lost. Qg2 and Nf3 are killer threats.} 26. Ne7+ {183} (26. Nh4 { seems to cover things, but the nasty} Qg2+ $1 27. Nxg2 Nf3#) 26... Kf8 {7} 27. Ng6+ {34} Ke8 {8 I was hoping Conrad would play Nh4 to allow the cute mate, but understandably he resigned. An unfortunate game for Holt, who really was playing a great game until time pressure derailed him.} 0-1

Conrad Holt saw himself in a complicated position and he blundered badly near the end

So, Wesley 1-0 Naroditsky, Daniel
Wesley So's opening was fantastic, obtaining a strong pair of bishops and a powerful center. Black's knight on h5 was bad, but So made a couple of mistakes and allowed Naroditsky back into the game... until he blundered!

Cool and collected: Wesley So took advantage of a blunder by Naroditsky

[Event "U.S. Championship 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.04.01"] [Round "1"] [White "So, Wesley"] [Black "Naroditsky, Daniel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E27"] [WhiteElo "2788"] [BlackElo "2640"] [Annotator "Friedel"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [TimeControl "40/5400+30:1800+30"] {I'm sure many are eager to see how So will fare in his 1st US Championship. While he won his 1st round, it wasn't without a few bumps.} 1. d4 {0} Nf6 {0} 2. c4 {0} e6 {2} 3. Nc3 {0} Bb4 {7} 4. f3 {0 Wesley goes for one of the sharpest lines against the Nimzo.} O-O {176 c5 and d5 are the other main moves. } 5. a3 {3} Bxc3+ {8} 6. bxc3 {3 Now we are in a version of the Saemisch, although it is slightly favorable for White since usually Black prefers to play c5-Nc6 before castling in these positions.} Nh5 {345} 7. Nh3 {23} f5 {7 Black tries to restrict Black's center before e4 is played.} 8. Nf2 {3} b6 { 412 This is a new move, and it looks inaccurate to me. I think it is very important to fight for the center immediately in such positions.} (8... d6 { has been played several times, with the idea of playing e5.}) 9. e4 {33} fxe4 { 226} 10. fxe4 {412} Qf6 $6 {110 This move looks natural, but the queen will have to move later.} (10... Nf4 11. g3 Ng6 {would have been my choice. It isn't exciting, but at least the knight doesn't get stuck on h5.}) 11. Ra2 {427 } Qf7 $2 {407} (11... Nf4 {once again, I would go with this move.}) 12. Nh3 $1 {1338 Now the knight is stuck, White controls all the necessary central and kingside squares, and also has the two bishops. Objectively it is lost, but Danya fights well.} Qg6 {266} 13. e5 {230} (13. Rf2 {was also a killer, and perhaps simpler. The idea is if} Qxe4+ 14. Be2 {and Black is losing material.}) 13... Bb7 {716} 14. Bd3 $6 {478} (14. Rf2 {was still quite strong.}) 14... Be4 {66 Now matters aren't so simple.} 15. Bxe4 {24} Qxe4+ {2} 16. Qe2 $2 {9} (16. Re2 Qh4+ 17. Rf2 {was better.}) 16... Qb1 $1 {376 Now Black is back in it, although the position is still unpleasant.} 17. Qc2 {668} Qxc2 {7} 18. Rxc2 {1} g6 {40 The ending is a relief for Black, although with White's center and the dark squares it is hard to believe there is no edge.} 19. Ng5 {164} Nc6 {324} 20. Ne4 {14} Kg7 {152} 21. g4 $2 {640 This is too ambitious, and gives Black counterplay.} (21. Rf1 {White should probably trade off this odd rook on f1.} Rxf1+ 22. Kxf1 Rf8+ 23. Kg1 {and White is still a bit better.}) 21... Nf4 {7} 22. Be3 {4} Nh3 {519} (22... Nd3+ 23. Kd2 Nf4 {was a better way to repeat moves.}) 23. Rg2 {162} Nf4 {474} 24. Rg3 {89 The rook is slightly improved here, but Black still has plenty of counterchances.} d6 $5 {210 I'm not sure the pawn sac is best objectively, but I like the spirit of the move, trying to crack away at the center and activate Black's pieces.} 25. exd6 {222} cxd6 {5} 26. Nxd6 {7} Rad8 {150} 27. Ne4 {395} (27. c5 {looks natural, but after} bxc5 28. dxc5 Rb8 {Black gets excellent counterplay.}) 27... e5 $1 {128 The game is a mess now with chances for both sides.} 28. dxe5 {307} Nd3+ {95} 29. Ke2 {5} Ndxe5 {345} 30. Nd2 {46} Rfe8 {151} 31. Rf1 {47} Na5 {70} 32. Rf4 {55} Nexc4 $2 {281 After playing excellently to get back in the game, Danya gets a bit impatient.} (32... Kg8 {I like this move, avoiding Bd4 ideas and asking White what the plan is.}) 33. Nxc4 {315} g5 {2} 34. Rd4 {85} Rxd4 {6} 35. Nxa5 {6 I don't think the rooks are as strong as the pieces here, especially with an extra pair of rooks on the board, which almost always helps the pieces.} Ra4 {3 } 36. Nc6 {54} Rxa3 {109} 37. Kd3 {5 It will be a long time before Black will be able to create a dangerous passed pawn, and meanwhile storm clouds will start to form around the king.} Ra2 {141} 38. Rh3 {93} Rg2 {156} (38... h6 39. Bd4+ Kh7 {was a better defense, but after} 40. Rf3 {Black's king is still in danger.}) 39. Bd4+ {87} Kg8 {7} 40. Ne5 {0 Black is lost, and Wesley doesn't give Danya a second chance.} Re6 {0} 41. Nd7 {417} Rd6 {623} 42. Nf6+ {100} Kf7 {2} 43. Ne4 {6} Rd5 {47} 44. Rxh7+ {7} Kg6 {5} 45. Rg7+ {20} Kh6 {5} 46. Rxa7 { 22} b5 {34} 47. Ra6+ {8 Black is losing the rook on d5, so he threw in the towel. Similar to Conrad against Hikaru, Danya had chances to make life difficult for Wesley, but one key mistake and opponents of this calibre simply don't forgive.} 1-0

Naroditsky found himself in a bad position from the beginning, but it was a blunder that sealed the deal

Kamsky, Gata ½-½ Shankland, Sam
Not the most exciting game. Kamsky decided to avoid theory by playing an early cxd5 against the Semi-Slav. If anything he got a slightly worse position from the opening. The game was drawn on move 30 in a maybe slightly better position for Black.

Onischuk, Alexander ½-½ Gareev, Timur
In a clearly better position with symmetrical pawn structures Onischuk made a crucial mistake, blundering a pawn. He had to fight hard to save the half point, but managed at the end. His transition into a 4v3 rook endgame was good enough to keep the draw.

Onischuk usually enjoys grinding down these type of
positions, but he blundered a pawn and had to defend

Robson, Ray 1-0 Troff, Kayden
Sometimes one mistake, one opening mix up, is enough to lose the game.

[Event "ch-USA 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2015.04.01"] [Round "1"] [White "Robson, R."] [Black "Troff, Kayden W"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2656"] [BlackElo "2532"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2015.03.31"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. f3 Be6 9. Qd2 O-O 10. O-O-O Nbd7 11. g4 b5 12. g5 b4 13. gxf6 bxc3 14. Qxc3 Nxf6 15. Na5 Rc8 16. Nc6 Qe8 17. Nxe7+ Qxe7 18. Qa5 Rc6 19. Kb1 {Ray revelead that he played this exact variation against Torres in the Final Four of last year. However, the game never made the database, and Troff was caught unaware.} (19. Rg1 Rfc8 20. Kb1 d5 $1 {Here d5 works without a problem;} 21. exd5 Nxd5 22. Rxd5 Bxd5 23. Qxd5 Rd6 24. Qe4 Rd1+ 25. Bc1 Qc5 $1 {And White is basically losing. He cannot defend against the different threats, including the rook on g1, the pressure on c2 and the pins on the first rank.}) 19... d5 $4 { Confusing variations! Troff thought that this was possible after Kb1, but it isn't in this position.} 20. exd5 Nxd5 21. Rxd5 Bxd5 22. Qxd5 Rd6 23. Qe4 Rd1+ 24. Bc1 {White is threatening Bd3 and he is completely winning.} Qg5 25. f4 Qxf4 26. Qxf4 exf4 27. Bg2 Rxh1 28. Bxh1 {After this forced sequence it is clear that White is winning. The passed pawn on the c-file, the pair of bishops and easier activity for the king combined with the fact that Black's pawns on the kingside are stuck make White's win only a matter of technique, and Robson finished the game off perfectly.} g5 29. c4 Rc8 30. Bd5 Kg7 31. Kc2 Kf6 32. b4 Kf5 33. a4 g4 34. b5 axb5 35. axb5 Rb8 36. Ba3 f3 37. Bc5 Re8 38. b6 h5 39. b7 h4 40. Ba7 h3 41. Kd2 g3 42. b8=Q 1-0

Akobian, Varuzhan 1-0 Sevian, Samuel
Akobian obtained a slight edge from this early Bd2 Grunfeld. Sevian fought hard, but made an important mistake in the endgame during time pressure and Akobian showed excellent technique.

Akobian was as meticulous is his hand writing as he was with his in-game technique

Pairings for Round Two

Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
1 GM Troff, Kayden W 0.0 2532 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 0.0 2633  
2 GM Shankland, Samuel L 0.5 2661 GM So, Wesley 1.0 2788  
3 GM Sevian, Samuel 0.0 2531 GM Kamsky, Gata 0.5 2683  
4 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 1.0 2798 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 1.0 2622  
5 GM Gareev, Timur 0.5 2604 GM Holt, Conrad 0.0 2530  
6 GM Robson, Ray 1.0 2656 GM Onischuk, Alexander 0.5 2665

Replay Round One Games

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U.S. Women's Championship - Round Two

Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
1 FM Melekhina, Alisa 0.0 2235 WCM Virkud, Apurva 0.0 2132 0-1
2 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 0.0 2322 WIM Wang, Annie 0.0 1901 0-1
3 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 0.0 2180 WGM Sharevich, Anna 0.0 2267 0-1
4 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 0.0 2279 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 0.0 2311 ½-½
5 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 0.0 2276 GM Krush, Irina 0.0 2477 ½-½
6 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.0 2188 IM Paikidze, Nazi 0.0 2333 ½-½

Foisor, Sabina ½-½ Krush, Irina
The defending champion can certainly consider herself lucky for drawing her first game.

[Event "U.S. Womens Championship 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.04.01"] [Round "1"] [White "Foisor, Sabina-Francesca"] [Black "Krush, Irina"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E35"] [WhiteElo "2235"] [BlackElo "2477"] [Annotator "Friedel"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [TimeControl "40/5400+30:1800+30"] {As with in the men's event, the highest rated player in the women's event was in some trouble.} 1. d4 {2} Nf6 {0} 2. c4 {15} e6 {0} 3. Nc3 {38} Bb4 {3} 4. Qc2 {4 Krush has a lot of experience here for both colors, and Foisor really likes these lines for White.} d5 {28} 5. cxd5 {31} exd5 {10} 6. Bg5 {92} h6 {28 } 7. Bh4 {32} O-O {15} 8. Nf3 {407 This is a little unusual, but transposes directly to a ragozin position.} (8. e3 {is more common and more flexible.}) 8... c5 {73} 9. e3 {444} Be6 {111 This has only been played a couple of times, but it looks thematic. Black wants to play Nbd7, but doesn't want the bishop to get stuck.} 10. dxc5 {739} Nc6 {240} (10... Nbd7 {looks a little more natural to me, giving support to f6 and allowing for Nxc5 if Bd3.}) 11. Bb5 { 127} g5 {1799 Thematic, but also risky.} 12. Bxc6 {416} bxc6 {47} 13. Bg3 {10} Ne4 {166} 14. O-O {434} Nxc3 {64 This is slightly inaccurate, and is punished accurately by Foisor.} (14... Bxc3 {was better, forcing bxc3.}) 15. a3 $1 {229 An excellent move, which likely Irina missed. The battle of uphill for the defending champ.} Ne2+ {1096 a shade panicky.} (15... Bxc5 16. Qxc3 Bb6 {was slightly better for Black than the text.}) 16. Qxe2 {9} Bxc5 {5} 17. Rac1 {565 Now White wins the c-pawn while activating the rook.} Qe7 {256} 18. b4 {256} Bb6 {8} 19. Rxc6 {80} Rfc8 {14} 20. Rfc1 {312} Rxc6 {42} 21. Rxc6 {4} Rc8 {8} 22. Qc2 {122} Rxc6 {50} 23. Qxc6 {5 All logical.} g4 {480 weakening, but necessary. Otherwise White will play Be5-d4 and Black is positionally busted.} 24. Bh4 {886} Qf8 {8} 25. Ne5 {180} Qg7 {225} 26. Qd6 {223 Both sides have played accurately.} Qh7 {503} 27. h3 {44 White decided not to allow back rank mate. Black's king is in fact much weaker.} gxh3 {12} 28. Bf6 {308} Qb1+ {392} 29. Kh2 {1} Qc2 {11 Good defensive try by Krush.} 30. Qc6 $6 {114 Slightly inaccurate.} (30. Qb8+ Qc8 31. Qxc8+ Bxc8 32. Nc6 $1 {covering d4 and threatening Ne7.} Kf8 33. gxh3 {and White has good chances to convert the pawn. }) 30... Qxc6 {60} 31. Nxc6 {1} hxg2 {43} 32. a4 {71} Bd7 {198} 33. b5 {51} Kf8 {260} (33... a6 {Black should try to eliminate a pair of pawns.}) 34. Nb4 $2 { 52 This move doesn't look necessary.} (34. Kxg2 {looks very good for White.}) 34... Bh3 {125} 35. Nxd5 {59} Ke8 {25} (35... Be6 {was even more accurate. The idea is if} 36. Nc3 Bb3 37. Kxg2 Ba5 {and White loses the queenside.}) 36. Bd4 {67} Be6 {32} 37. Nf4 {43} (37. Bxb6 Bxd5 38. Bxa7 {looks nicer, but with opposite bishops it is well in the draw zone.}) 37... Bb3 {7 The draw is a near certainty now.} 38. a5 {30} Bxa5 {30} 39. Bxa7 {3} Bc7 {50} 40. Kxg2 {0} Bxf4 {0} 41. exf4 {5} Ba4 {74 A very well-played game overall, especially for a very nervy first round. Sabina played well and had Krush on the ropes, but the defending champ defended well and after a couple small errors the advantage slipped away.} 1/2-1/2

She'll take it! A lucky draw for the defending champ.

Ni, Viktorija ½-½ Paikidze, Nazi
Ni outplayed Paikidze, obtaining a slight advantage based on her control of c5 and blockade against the weak c6 pawn. Black managed to win a pawn, but the positional pressure was still strong. The players repeated in a position that was slightly favorable for White, but with both sides under time pressure.

Abrahamyan, Tatev 0-1 Wang, Annie
A complicated position that was decided by a blunder in time trouble. An important win for the 12-year-old!

[Event "U.S. Womens Championship 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.04.01"] [Round "1"] [White "Abrahamyan, Tatev"] [Black "Wang, Annie"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C03"] [WhiteElo "2322"] [BlackElo "1901"] [Annotator "Friedel"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [TimeControl "40/5400+30:1800+30"] 1. e4 {0} e6 {0} 2. d4 {0} d5 {0} 3. Nd2 {0} h6 {7 An unusual move, but Black can play almost any move in the Nd2 lines.} 4. Ngf3 {364} Nf6 {31} 5. Bd3 {37} c5 {78} 6. exd5 {146} Nxd5 {351 This move is a bit out of place.} (6... exd5 { is more standard, leading to normal IQP positions.}) 7. O-O {1341} Nd7 {491} ( 7... Nc6 {looks more natural.}) 8. Ne4 {268} Be7 {718} 9. a3 {336 This idea is slow, but probably not bad.} O-O {374} 10. c4 {286} N5f6 {137} 11. Nxc5 {110} Nxc5 {182} 12. dxc5 {4} Bxc5 {15} 13. b4 {65} Be7 {227} 14. Bb2 {22} b6 {281} 15. Ne5 {678} Bb7 {167 Black position is solid, but passive.} 16. Qe2 {84} Qc7 {420} 17. f4 {570 Playing for f4-f5 is tempting, but Black will always have counterchances.} (17. Rfe1 Rfd8 18. Rad1 {is a simpler way to go. The idea will be to play Ng4 at the proper moment, with some attacking chances. Black should try to play a5 to stir up trouble.}) 17... Rfd8 {361 I'm not sure the rook wants to be here.} (17... a5 {already looks like an annoying move.}) 18. Rae1 {311} Bd6 {607} (18... a5 {is still playable, but now after} 19. Nxf7 { There is some chaos.} Kxf7 20. Qxe6+ Kf8 21. Bg6 Bd6 {and supposedly Black can survive, but it would take a lot of nerve to play this way.}) 19. f5 {267} (19. Ng4 {first looks safer.} Nxg4 20. Qxg4 {and White still has good attacking chances.}) 19... Re8 $1 {343 Credit to Annie for realizing her rook was better on e8.} 20. Bb1 {521 This is on the slow side, which could be punished with best play. At this point both players were very short of time, so calculating the necessarily lines was nearly impossible.} (20. Ng4 {was best, and leads to a fairly level ending.} Nxg4 21. Qxg4 Bxh2+ 22. Kh1 Qg3 23. Qxg7+ Qxg7 24. Bxg7 {and I slightly prefer White due to the extra space, but Black should be doing alright.}) 20... exf5 {406} 21. Rxf5 {3} Qe7 $2 {207 Now White is on top again, but it is far from easy.} (21... Nd7 {was quite strong, and the pins are killer, but it is hard to move all the pieces away from the king.} 22. Qc2 { looks nice, but now} f6 $1 {is killing and Black's king is totally safe.}) 22. Qc2 {90} g6 {89} 23. Rf4 {280 This move isn't so bad, but it is a bit awkward.} (23. Rff1 {is natural} Be4 {and most likely White missed that} 24. Nxg6 $1 {is possible.} fxg6 25. Qd2 {and Black will lose the piece back with interest.}) 23... a5 {459 A resourceful move, and White blunders here.} 24. Qf2 {129} (24. Rff1 {was likely best, correcting the previous mistake, but this is a hard move to make.}) 24... axb4 {96} 25. Rxf6 $2 {39} (25. Kh1 {is necessary, and the game is still unclear.}) 25... Bc5 {5} 26. Bd4 {5} Bxd4 {8} 27. Qxd4 {15} Qxf6 {7 Now it is truly over.} 28. axb4 {43} Qg5 {31} 29. g3 {66} Rad8 {31} 30. Qxb6 {87} Rxe5 {60 A back and forth game, which was largely decided by time trouble mistakes. Credit to Annie Wang for holding up under pressure against one of the tournament favorites.} 0-1

Happy camper: Annie Wang wins her first game at the U.S. Championship

Nemcova, Katerina ½-½ Goletiani, Rusudan
A strange game to comment on. Nemcova was winning from the opening with a huge positional advantage. She continued playing well, won a pawn and had a crushing attack. Incredibly Nemcova let the advantage slip move by move until it completely evaporated into a drawn endgame.

Yu, Jennifer 0-1 Sharevich, Anna
The debut of both players in a U.S. Championship, and what a topsy-turvy game. Sharevich sacrificed two pawns from the opening for very questionable compensation... only to follow it up by sacrificing a piece! Yu thought for 30 minutes before declining the sacrifice (though taking the piece would probably have won without difficulties...). The extra two pawns still gave Yu a huge advantage. Somehow she did not take care of her king and in time pressure blundered several times to lose the game.

Jennifer Yu was winning, then losing, then winning, but finally lost

Melekhina, Alisa 0-1 Virkud, Apurva
One of the cleanest games of the round. Virkud showed good preparation against Melekhina's Closed Sicilian. A strong series of pawn pushes on the center gave Black a big initiative. Even though she could have wrapped up the game quicker,

Pairings for Round Two

Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
1 WCM Virkud, Apurva 1.0 2132 IM Paikidze, Nazi 0.5 2333  
2 GM Krush, Irina 0.5 2477 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.5 2188  
3 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 0.5 2311 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 0.5 2276  
4 WGM Sharevich, Anna 1.0 2267 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 0.5 2279  
5 WIM Wang, Annie 1.0 1901 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 0.0 2180  
6 FM Melekhina, Alisa 0.0 2235 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 0.0 2322

Replay Round One Games

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Commentary provided for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis by Josh Friedel:

Joshua Friedel

Josh was born in 1986 in New Hampshire, USA and is currently living in Wisconsin. He obtained his international master title in 2005 and his grandmaster in 2008. He has participated in six US Championships, including a tie for fourth in 2008. Major Open tournament victories include: the 2003 Eastern Open, 2005 Berkeley Masters, 2008 National Open, 2009 Edmonton International, 2009 North American Open, 2010 Saint Louis Open, 2010 American Open, 2013 Chicago Open.

Josh will be annotating the games for the Saint Louis Chess Club.

Photos by Lennart Ootes


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Topics US Champ, USA

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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klint klint 4/3/2015 07:27
"I was hoping Conrad would play Nh4 to allow the cute mate, but understandably he resigned. "

It was a good decision for Conrad to resign from that, he's not hoping to play NH4 because it's devastating.

If 28. Nh4, Then 28..Qg2+ for Black, 29. Nxg2, then a mate, 29..Nf3# yeah, a cute mate....
ChiliBean ChiliBean 4/2/2015 05:30
Wow! Just wow! And it's only the first round.