US Champ R6: Big Results

by Alejandro Ramirez
4/8/2015 – Important results in the Open section of the U.S. Chess Championship. Onischuk took down Kamsky to now tie for third with Sevian, who defeated Troff. In second place, is Robson who leapfrogged over So in a very strange game. The newest addition to the American team is now in third. In the Women's Krush blundered away a win, and with Nemcova winning again she now leads by a point.

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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 Six

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

Troff, Kayden 0-1 Sevian, Samuel
An up and down game. Troff's rather passive opening didn't net him much, but after Sevian's strange decision to leave his d4 pawn relatively undefended Troff was able to get a nice initiative against it with the break f4! There was no doubt that White was better, and with a nice exchange sacrifice he had more than enough compensation.

However Troff played a very bad knight maneuver, which allowed Sevian more than enough time to consolidate and take over the initiative. After a couple of more mistakes Sevian had to convert Rook + Pawn vs. Knight + Pawn, and managed to eventually.

Nakamura, Hikaru ½-½ Shankland, Samuel L
A strategically very interesting game. A complicated advanced Caro-Kann where the nuances were difficult to understand. The game was drawn in an endgame where perhaps Shankland was only very minimally better.

Gareev, Timur ½-½ Naroditsky, Daniel
Nothing happened at all in this game.

Daniel Nadoritsky had no trouble holding a draw

Robson, Ray 1-0 So, Wesley

[Event "U.S. Championship 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.04.07"] [Round "6"] [White "Robson, Ray"] [Black "So, Wesley"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2656"] [BlackElo "2788"] [Annotator "Josh Friedel"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] {The former roommates and Millionaire Chess rivals square off.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 {This line has always been considered tame, but it has been very popular recently, as White has found new ways to press.} Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nxe5 8. Rxe5 O-O 9. Nc3 Ne8 {Once again, the latest trend.} 10. Nd5 Bd6 11. Re1 Nf6 {A rare move.} (11... c6 12. Ne3 Bc7 13. Nf5 d5 14. Ne7+ Kh8 15. Nxc8 Rxc8 {has been played in dozens of games. White has snagged the bishops, but with Black's position so solid it is very difficult to actually win here.}) 12. Nxf6+ Qxf6 {Black keeps the bishops, but in return he has to live with a sad c8 bishop for a few moves.} 13. d4 c6 14. Be3 b6 ( 14... Bc7 {looks natural, but after} 15. d5 $1 {Black still hasn't solved all his problems.}) 15. Bd3 Bc7 {Wesley prepares to play d5.} 16. d5 $5 {An interesting decision, and one which I like. Ray gambits a pawn to permanently mangle Black's pawns.} Be5 17. c3 cxd5 18. Qg4 d6 19. Qa4 $1 {Ray finds the best way to make trouble for Black. The queen looks strange here, but it covers the d4 square as well as harasses Black's queenside.} Qd8 20. Rad1 (20. Qc6 $6 Be6 {helps Black.}) 20... Be6 21. Bb5 {White aims for Bc6.} a6 22. Bc6 b5 23. Qa3 {This might be a fine move, but it looked a little weird to me during the game.} (23. Qc2 {followed by taking on d5 seems to secure a slight edge.}) 23... Rb8 24. Qxa6 $6 {Ray gets a little too greedy.} (24. Bxd5 {was simple and good.}) 24... b4 $5 {Wesley tries to keep the game double-edged.} ( 24... Qh4 25. g3 Qa4 $1 {gives Black excellent counterplay, but leads to a drawn game.} 26. Qxa4 bxa4 27. Bxa4 Rxb2 28. Bd4 Rxa2 {with a likely draw.}) 25. Ba7 (25. f4 {was an interesting move, but Black has} bxc3 $1 26. fxe5 cxb2 {with a complete mess.}) 25... Rc8 26. cxb4 $6 {Both players play enterprising chess, but I'm not sure this is objectively best.} (26. Bd4 $1 {was again simple and best, although I doubt the chances of winning are very high after} bxc3 27. bxc3 Qc7 28. Bxe5 Qxc6 29. Qxc6 Rxc6 30. Bd4) 26... Qh4 27. Rxe5 $1 { The only move, but it's a good one.} (27. g3 $6 Qxb4 {leaves White with looseness on the kingside, queenside, and every other side.}) 27... dxe5 28. Bc5 {White's bishops are menacing, but Black's center has the potential to become dangerous.} Rfd8 29. a4 $6 {This one is a little slow.} (29. b5 {would be my preference, securing c6 and giving White Bb6 ideas.}) 29... d4 30. Bb7 Rb8 {A crazy position with time pressure. You can guess what's coming.} 31. Ba7 $2 {Ray attacks the wrong rook.} (31. Bb6 {is a better move, but after} Bb3 32. Bxd8 Qxd8 33. Rd3 Bxa4 34. Qxa4 Rxb7 {Black's pawns are far superior to White's.}) 31... Qe7 $2 {Wesley misses a big chance.} (31... Rxb7 $1 32. Qxb7 Bd5 33. Qc7 Bxg2 $1 {leaves White's position in ruins. The queenside pawns are simply not fast enough.} 34. Qxe5 Qg4 35. Re1 Ba8+ $1 {This is an important move, keeping the bishop out of the way.} 36. Kf1 (36. Qg3 Qd7 37. Bc5 d3 {and the d-pawn coupled with long diagonal threats win easily.}) 36... Qh3+ 37. Ke2 Qb3 $1 {and Black's attack will win material at the very least.}) 32. Bxb8 Rxb8 33. Bf3 Qxb4 {Black is still much better, but it isn't over yet.} 34. a5 g5 $6 {A little too fancy. I'd also be nervous about weakening the king with queens still on.} (34... Bb3 35. Ra1 Bc4 36. Qc6 Qxb2 {keeps the edge.}) 35. h3 { After this simple move, life isn't so simple anymore.} Qxb2 $6 {The wrong time to grab this guy.} (35... h5 {is the move I like. If you are going to play with g5, go all out! The computer screams equal of course, but I think it is the most practically challenging.}) 36. Qd6 $6 (36. Qc6 $1 {planning to run the a-pawn is even better.}) 36... Rc8 $2 {This just loses on the spot.} (36... Qb4 $1 {Keeps Black in it.} 37. Qxe5 Rb5 38. Qf6 Qxa5 39. Qxd4 {Black's king is open, but with limited material the draw should be trivial.}) 37. Qxe5 {Now Black's king is open and the a-pawn is running.} h6 38. Qxd4 Qxd4 39. Rxd4 Rc1+ 40. Rd1 Rc7 (40... Rxd1+ 41. Bxd1 {is a completely hopeless ending, since White will just keeping offering bishop trades while forcing the a-pawn down Black's throat.}) 41. a6 Ra7 42. Bb7 {and Wesley throws in the towel, as it's basically worse than playing down an exchange. A topsy turvy game with both players showing great fighting spirit. Ray, likely feeling at home in the time pressure phase, managed to outplay his top 10 opponent.} 1-0

Onischuk, Alexander 1-0 Kamsky, Gata

Alexander Onischuk finally converted his advantage

[Event "U.S. Championship 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.04.07"] [Round "6"] [White "Onischuk, Alexander"] [Black "Kamsky, Gata"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D15"] [WhiteElo "2665"] [BlackElo "2680"] [Annotator "Josh Friedel"] [PlyCount "175"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 a6 5. e3 Bf5 6. Qb3 Ra7 {This is what these a6 slav people do. All normal.} 7. Nh4 Bg6 (7... Be6 {Kamsky tried this in a blitz game, but I guess it isn't for serious chess.}) 8. Nxg6 hxg6 9. a4 { Onischuk commits himself on the queenside. The idea is to prevent b5 permanently.} e6 10. g3 a5 11. Bg2 Nbd7 12. O-O {To be honest, I already really like White's position. I think this opening needs to be revisited from the black side.} Qb6 {Trading queens is an attempt to alleviate the pressure, but it doesn't completely dissolve it.} 13. Qxb6 Nxb6 14. cxd5 $1 {White wants to open lines for his bishops.} Nbxd5 (14... exd5 15. f3 {followed by e4 is positionally risky for Black.}) (14... Nfxd5 {is slightly more accurate for concrete reasons.} 15. e4 Nb4 16. Rd1 Ra8 17. Bf4 {is how Onischuk played in the game, but now after} Be7 18. d5 {Black has} g5 $1 19. Bc7 Bd8 20. Bd6 Be7 { and Black has good defensive chances.}) 15. e4 Nb4 16. Rd1 Ra8 17. Bf4 Be7 18. d5 $1 {Now Black has no adequate response to this breakthrough, and White finds himself with a healthy advantage.} Nd7 {Black tries to leave things closed, but White has a pleasant choice of which pawns to weaken.} 19. dxc6 ( 19. dxe6 fxe6 {is less clear in my opinion, since the e6 pawn isn't that easy to attack.}) 19... bxc6 20. Na2 $1 {This is the move that busts Black's position. Without a knight on b4, the c6 pawn will be a weakness all game.} e5 $6 (20... Nxa2 21. Rxa2 {is the lesser evil, since at least White has to spend a couple moves bringing this guy back into play.}) 21. Nxb4 $1 {Onischuk usually doesn't give second chances.} Bxb4 (21... axb4 22. Be3 Nc5 23. Bf1) 22. Be3 {White has a stable plus now, and it is a matter of building the position, something which Onischuk does exceedingly well.} Ke7 $6 (22... Nc5 {is a better defensive try according to the computer. The idea is that it discourages Rac1, and Black has the option of castling to ensure that his king won't get assaulted in the center.}) 23. Rac1 {White's advantage, which was already very pleasant, has grown even larger.} Rac8 24. Rc2 f6 25. Rdc1 Kd6 26. h4 {White slowly improves his position. Black can't do much of anything.} Rc7 27. Bh3 Rb8 28. Bg4 Nb6 29. b3 Nd7 {The b3 pawn is hardly a weakness, but Black had nothing better to do.} 30. Kg2 Ba3 31. Rd1+ Ke7 32. Rd3 {Everything is guarded.} Nf8 33. Rdc3 Kd6 34. f4 {All of White's pieces were on ideal squares, which usually indicates it is time to expand.} Nd7 {Here Onischuk decides to change the character of the position. He gives up one of his bishops in order to highlight Black's kingside weaknesses.} 35. Bxd7 $1 Kxd7 36. fxe5 fxe5 {The g-pawns will be extremely weak for the rest of the game, particularly if the bishops get swapped.} 37. Kh3 $6 {This looks natural, but White could have been more precise.} (37. Rd3+ Ke6 38. Bc5 {forcing the bishops off immediately very strong.}) 37... Be7 38. Bd2 Ra8 39. Kg4 Ra6 {Very passive, but it is hard to recommend anything better.} 40. Be3 Rb7 (40... c5 { is horribly anti-positional, but given the lack of counterplay Kamsky got in the game, was possibly worth a try. The idea is to ensure that g6 stays guarded, while preventing the very strong Bc5 idea. The drawback, however, is that it creates even more weaknesses.}) 41. Rd3+ Ke6 42. Bc5 {The bishops get forced off, and the weak g-pawns will be fish food for the white piranha on g4. } Bxc5 43. Rxc5 Rb4 44. Rc4 Rab6 (44... Rxc4 45. bxc4 Rb6 46. Kg5 Rb4 47. Kxg6 Rxc4 48. Re3 $1 {Followed by Kxg7 and the h-pawn is unstoppable.}) 45. Kg5 Rxb3 46. Rxc6+ $1 {Most accurate.} (46. Rxb3 $6 Rxb3 47. Rxc6+ Kf7 {is less clear.}) 46... Rxc6 47. Rxb3 Kf7 48. Rb7+ Kg8 49. Ra7 {Black is completely passive.} Kh7 50. Rxa5 {It is finally time to start grabbing pawns. The only question will be whether Black can hold against the e-pawn.} Rc4 51. Rxe5 Rxa4 52. Re7 Ra3 53. g4 (53. Kf4 {gives Black fewer tricks.}) 53... Rf3 54. Re8 Rf1 (54... Rf8 { was worth a try, with the idea of playing Re8 next move. White's only option is to play} 55. Re5 {intending to meet} Re8 {with} 56. Kf4) 55. Rd8 Re1 (55... Rf2 {is the other way to go, trying to keep the king cut off.} 56. Rd4 Rf1 57. e5 {Re4 is threatened, so Black has to play} Re1 58. Kf4 Kg8 59. Re4 g5+ $1 { The only try, but after} 60. hxg5 Rf1+ 61. Kg3 Rg1+ 62. Kf2 {White should still be winning.}) 56. Rd4 Re2 57. Kf4 {Now Onischuk can use the e5 square to transfer his king to the d-file.} Kg8 58. Ke5 Kf7 (58... Rg2 59. g5 Rg4 {looks like a better defensive try.}) 59. Rd7+ Kf8 60. Kd5 Ra2 61. Ke6 Ra6+ 62. Rd6 Ra8 63. e5 {Now White is clearly winning, and it is simply a matter of technique.} Rb8 64. Rc6 Rd8 65. Rc7 Ra8 66. Kd7 Re8 67. Kd6 Rd8+ 68. Rd7 Ra8 69. Kd5 Ra5+ 70. Ke6 Ra8 {White has fiddled around some, but he hasn't blown anything.} 71. Rf7+ Kg8 72. Rc7 Kf8 73. Rc6 Rb8 74. Kd5 (74. Kd7 {wins immediately, but Onischuk enjoys his position awhile longer.}) 74... Kf7 75. e6+ Kf8 76. Rc7 {Slowly but surely, White makes progress.} Ra8 77. Kd6 Rd8+ 78. Rd7 Ra8 79. Rf7+ Kg8 80. Rc7 Kf8 81. Rf7+ Kg8 82. Rb7 Kf8 83. Kd7 Re8 84. Rb1 Re7+ 85. Kd6 Re8 86. Rf1+ Kg8 87. Kd7 Ra8 88. Rc1 {Onischuk finally brings home the point. He made up for a couple missed opportunities earlier in the tournament with this win.} 1-0


"What would Sam Shankland play?"

Holt, Conrad 1-0 Akobian, Varuzhan
A game that was so complicated that it is difficult to annotate it! We recommend you go through this crazy game, but understanding it is very, very difficult.

Varuzhzan Akobian blundered in a very tough position to play

Pairings for Round Seven

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


Replay Round Six Games

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U.S. Women's Championship - Round Six

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


Virkud, Apurva 0-1 Goletiani, Rusudan
White wasted so many moves with her dark-squared bishop in the opening it was not strange that she was massacred. At the end of the game White had yet to move her f1 bishop or her h1 rook.

When one side develops and the other one doesn't, bad things happen

Sharevich, Anna ½-½ Krush, Irina

[Event "U.S. Womens Championship 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.04.05"] [Round "6"] [White "Sharevich, Anna"] [Black "Krush, Irina"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2267"] [BlackElo "2477"] [Annotator "Josh Friedel"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 {Irina goes for a benoni, revealing her aggressive intentions.} 7. Nf3 Bg7 8. Bg2 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. Bf4 Ne4 {Once again, she plays the most aggressive option. Na6 and a6 are slightly tamer options.} 11. Nxe4 Rxe4 12. Nd2 Rxf4 (12... Rb4 {is another option, but trying to grab b2 looks very unsafe. Amusingly, after} 13. a3 { most players opt for} Rxf4 $1 {I'll leave it to theoreticians to figure out whether a3 helps Black or White.}) 13. gxf4 Bxb2 {A typical exchange sac for the Benoni.} 14. Rb1 Bg7 15. Nc4 Na6 {This has been played a few times, and even the super solid Peter Leko has played this position as Black. That usually indicates it is a serious line.} 16. Qd2 $6 {I'm not sure how bad this move is objectively, but I don't think it is the correct approach to the position.} (16. e4 {or e4 within the next couple of moves is crucial I think. Black has a very easy plan of expanding on the queenside, and if allowed to do so she'll be in excellent shape. Therefore, I think it is very important to press quickly in the center with e4-e5 and create some threats against Black.}) 16... Bh6 $5 {I'm not 100% about this move, but I like the idea, which is to discourage e4-e5.} 17. e3 (17. Na5 $5 {was possibly a way to interrupt Black's plans.}) 17... b6 {From here on Sharevich doesn't play one terrible move, but she plays without a plan, and it allows Krush to simply build her position at her leisure.} 18. Rb3 Nc7 19. Re1 Ba6 20. Qc1 Qd7 21. Ra3 Bxc4 $1 (21... b5 { looks tempting, but White has a resource.} 22. Ne5 $1 dxe5 23. d6 {with counterplay.}) 22. Qxc4 b5 23. Qe2 (23. Qc1 {looks strange, but I think it is the best move. The idea is to threaten e4.} a5 24. e4 c4 25. Rh3 {and the position is unclear.}) 23... a5 {Now the pawns just roll.} 24. Rc3 a4 25. Qf3 b4 26. Rcc1 Nb5 27. Bh3 $6 {This helps Black.} (27. Bf1 {immediately was better, but White is still lost in my opinion.}) 27... Qb7 28. Bf1 Na3 29. e4 b3 {At this point, everyone and their mother thought that Irina would cruise to a smooth victory.} 30. axb3 axb3 31. Bd3 (31. Rc3 {was the best defense, but I think it only delays the inevitable.}) 31... b2 32. Rcd1 c4 33. Bb1 Qb4 34. e5 {White finally gets this move in, but it is almost 20 moves too late.} c3 35. Qd3 {The key for Black isn't so much to find the most accurate moves, but far more importantly to just not play bad ones.} Rc8 (35... Nxb1 36. Rxb1 Qc5 {is the easiest, threatening c2 which can't be stopped for very long.}) 36. Qa6 (36. Qh3 {is a nice fork, but after} Rf8 {White can't actually do anything. }) 36... Rd8 (36... Rf8 {I prefer putting the rook on a defended square.}) 37. e6 {Anna's last chance.} fxe6 $2 {No matter how awful the position, usually one slip is all it takes.} (37... Nxb1 {wins, as after} 38. e7 Rb8 39. e8=Q+ Rxe8 40. Rxe8+ Kg7 {White can't actually make any threats. For instance, if} 41. Qc8 Nd2 42. Rg8+ Kf6 43. Qd8+ Kf5 44. Qd7+ Kxf4 45. Qxf7+ Kg4 46. Qe6+ Kh4 47. Qe7+ Kh3 {and White is out of checks, since after} 48. Qe6+ Qg4+ {is check. Any engine will tell you these lines easily, but coming up with them over the board with the clock ticking is completely another ball game.}) 38. dxe6 { Somehow, the position is a draw now.} Nxb1 39. e7 Re8 40. Qc6 {The problem for Black is that her king is simply too open now.} Qb8 41. Rxd6 Nd2 {White has more than one path to a draw, but not the move that was played.} 42. Rxg6+ $2 ( 42. Rd8 Rxd8 43. e8=Q+ $1 (43. exd8=Q+ $2 Qxd8 44. Re8+ Bf8 $1 {wins for Black. }) 43... Rxe8 44. Rxe8+ Qxe8 (44... Bf8 $2 45. Rxb8 {and the rook covers the b1 square.}) 45. Qxe8+ {and Black can't avoid the checks.}) (42. Kg2 {is also a draw.}) 42... hxg6 $2 {A case of mutual blindness.} (42... Bg7 $1 {and White can resign. Or play} 43. Qd5+ Kh8 44. Rxg7 b1=Q {and then resign.}) 43. Qxg6+ { Now it is a draw once again, and there are no more surprises.} Bg7 44. Qe6+ Kh7 45. Qf5+ Kg8 46. Qd5+ Kh8 47. Qh5+ Kg8 48. Qd5+ Kh8 49. Qh5+ {and the players call it a day. Irina will really be kicking himself about this game, as she outplayed Anna for most of the game before missing several chances to finish the game.} 1/2-1/2


Focus pose

Melekhina, Alisa 0-1 Ni, Viktorija
A bold pawn sacrifice! Ni obtained a nice initiative, even though objectively it might not be a sound gambit. Melekhina was unable to keep up with the threats, and Ni took the game in aggressive fashion.

Alisa Melekhina was the cover of this month's edition of Chess Life,
the most widely read chess magazine in America

Viktorija Ni's second victory in a row

Abrahmyan, Tatev 1-0 Foisor, Sabina
Abrahamyan showed much better understanding of the Spanish structure. Her dual-pronged attack on the queenside and kingside coupled with her advantage in space proved to be too much for Foisor. A blunder in an already difficult position allowed White to simplify into a won endgame as Black's knights were simply too far from the action.

Wang, Annie ½-½ Paikidze, Nazi
Paikidze had a strong advantage in the endgame. However, Wang showed great endgame maturity and was able to hold the draw.

Yu, Jennifer 0-1 Nemcova, Katerina

[Event "U.S. Womens Championship 2015"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2015.04.07"] [Round "6"] [White "Yu, Jennifer R"] [Black "Nemcova, Katerina"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A18"] [WhiteElo "2180"] [BlackElo "2279"] [Annotator "Josh Friedel"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "USA"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 {Black attempts to play a Nimzo against the English.} 3. e4 {White declines.} d5 4. e5 d4 {This counterattack is important, as otherwise the knight has to move to an unfortunate square.} 5. exf6 dxc3 6. bxc3 Qxf6 7. d4 Nc6 {An unusual move. Usually Black challenges the center with either e5 or c5.} 8. Nf3 e5 9. Nxe5 {I don't think this move should lead anywhere.} (9. Bg5 {is more common and testing.}) 9... Nxe5 10. Qe2 Bg4 11. Qxe5+ Qxe5+ 12. dxe5 O-O-O {White has won a pawn, but with weaknesses all over and a bad king, Black should be doing well.} 13. f3 (13. Be2 {looks safer to my eyes.}) 13... Bf5 14. g4 Bc2 15. Bg5 $1 {Jennifer finds the best continuation. It is important to gain this tempo, and force the rook to make a decision.} Rd7 ( 15... Re8 16. Kd2 Bg6 17. h4 h6 18. Bf4 {and White is hanging on.} (18. Be3 { is also playable.})) 16. Kf2 Bc5+ (16... Ba3 {was trickier.}) 17. Be3 {White should be doing totally fine now.} Bxe3+ (17... Rd2+ 18. Be2 Bd3 19. Rhe1 {and Black can't do anything.}) 18. Kxe3 Re8 19. Rc1 $6 (19. f4 {first is more accurate, to take away the Bc6 option that was available in the game.}) 19... Ba4 20. f4 g5 $6 {Nemcova returns the favor.} (20... Bc6 21. Rg1 g5 {was a better order, getting her bishop to a better square for free.}) 21. Bg2 Rde7 $6 {This move I don't like, since White shouldn't have to allow the rooks to become active along this file.} (21... f6 22. Be4 gxf4+ 23. Kxf4 fxe5+ 24. Ke3 {and after} Bc6 {I think a draw is the likely result.}) 22. Rb1 $1 {A clever move, taking away the Bc6 option.} b6 (22... Bc6 23. Bxc6 bxc6 24. Rhe1 {and White is better.}) 23. Be4 $6 {Not the most accurate.} (23. Rbe1 {was simple and good. The idea is if} f6 24. Kf2 $1 fxe5 25. f5 {and White is dominating.}) 23... f6 (23... h5 $1 {is strong, but a really tough move to find. The idea is that after} 24. gxh5 gxf4+ 25. Kxf4 Rxe5 {The h-pawn is hard to hang onto, and Black is doing fine.}) (23... gxf4+ 24. Kxf4 Rxe5 25. Bxh7 {is better for White.}) 24. Bf5+ (24. Kf3 {Would be my choice, stepping off the e-file. The line would go} gxf4 25. Bf5+ Bd7 26. Bxd7+ Kxd7 27. exf6 Re3+ 28. Kxf4 {and Black has super active rooks, but needs to play accurately to fight against the pawns. The best move is} R8e5 $1 {With the idea of Ke6 and playing against White's king. I don't think Black is in danger, but White is certainlly no worse.}) 24... Kb7 (24... Bd7 {is better, and White should still play} 25. Kf3 {with similar ideas to the previous position.}) 25. e6 $2 {Jennifer has played extremely well in this ending, but chess can be very unkind. Here she misses a nasty trick by Nemcova.} (25. Kf2 $1 {stepping off the file is very promising for White.}) 25... Bd7 26. Be4+ Kc8 27. exd7+ (27. f5 {was certainly what Jennifer had planned, but it fails to} Bxe6 $1) 27... Kxd7 {The e4 bishop cannot be saved.} 28. Rhd1+ $6 {Understandable, but this doesn't help White.} ( 28. fxg5 Rxe4+ 29. Kd3 fxg5 {and White should try to eliminate pawns with} 30. h4 $1 {Black is still much better here, but there are reasonable chances for a draw.}) 28... Kc8 29. Kd3 (29. Rd4 c5 {is not helpful at all.}) 29... Rxe4 30. fxg5 fxg5 {White's rook on d1 is fairly useless here.} 31. Rg1 $6 {This is the beginning of the end.} (31. c5 bxc5 32. h3 {was the best defense, cutting her losses. It's still going to be a long road.}) 31... Re2 $1 {Nemcova correctly puts her rook on the 7th, but the main idea isn't to take any pawns.} 32. h4 $2 (32. c5 {was again best, but it looks grim after} R8e3+ 33. Kc4 Rc2) 32... R8e3+ 33. Kd4 c5+ 34. Kd5 Kc7 $1 {White's king is active, but unfortunately it works against her here.} 35. Rbd1 Re5# {Katerina continues to roll through the tournament. This one wasn't easy, however, as Jennifer had good chances for advantage for much of the game. Unfortunately for her, her efforts were derailed by sly trap.} 0-1

Jennifer Yu in the receiving end of a beautiful combination

Pairings for Round Seven

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


Replay Round Six 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


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


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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