American Cup, Day 5, Recap: Fine games and a strong novelty

by ChessBase
4/25/2022 – Grandmasters Fabiano Caruana (pictured) and Irina Krush are one step closer to the finals of the American Cup, after winning the first games of their final matches in the Champions Bracket. This means GM Leinier Dominguez and FM Alice Lee are in a must-win situation in Monday to force a playoff. | Photos: Bryan Adams and Lennart Ootes, Saint Louis Chess Club

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By IM Kostya Kavutskiy
Press release of the Saint Louis Chess Center

In the Elimination Bracket, GM Levon Aronian knocked out GM Wesley So in stunning fashion, while IM Stavroula Tsolakidou and WGM Katerina Nemcova were both sent home as well. Lasting all the way to a playoff was Robson - Sevian, which saw Robson emerge victorious after two exciting games.

Open Field - Elimination Bracket

Women’s Field - Elimination Bracket

CHAMPIONS BRACKET

CARUANA - DOMINGUEZ 1-0

Excellent preparation by Caruana earned him more than an extra hour on the clock against Dominguez, who needed to use a lot of time in order to reach a difficult but holdable endgame. With rooks and opposite colored bishops on the board, Caruana had a nice practical advantage, and although Dominguez defended extremely well for some time, he eventually ended up faltering, allowing Caruana to take the full point.

 

12.g5! was an extremely powerful novelty from Caruana, putting Black under tremendous pressure. | 1-0, 53 moves

GM Fabiano Caruana | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

KRUSH - LEE 1-0

Also winning the first game of the Champions Bracket final was GM Irina Krush, who nursed a small strategic edge out of the opening into a decisive positional advantage. Lee tried to defend by giving up a pawn and bailing out into an endgame, but Krush’s technique was too clean to allow for any chances.

GM Irina Krush | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

ELIMINATION BRACKET

ARONIAN - SO

While the first game of the match led to a relatively quiet draw, Aronian’s play as Black in the second game was nothing short of brilliant, as he allowed So to make a second queen in exchange for two rooks, with So even having an extra piece. But Aronian’s attack was too strong, and led to a winning tactical shot.

 

37…Re8! was the final move of the game, mating the White king after 38.Qxd4 Rxe1+

Wesley & Levon after the end of their second game. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

ROBSON - SEVIAN

The first two rapid games in this match were very evenly contested, with neither player able to create substantial winning chances. But in the playoff Robson took control, winning the first game as White thanks to a nice in-between move tactic. Sevian had chances to strike back in the second game, but another nice trick by Robson allowed him to save the game, holding the draw and clinching the playoff.

 

22.c6! was a killer move, as 22…Bxb3 23.c7 would leave White with a decisive material advantage. | 1-0, 37 moves

TSOLAKIDOU - TOKHIRJONOVA

A sharp f3-Nimzo saw Tsolakidou gain the initiative out of the opening, with pressure against Black’s kingside. But a nice pawn sacrifice by Tokhirjonova allowed her to turn the game around, leaving White with a much weakened structure. The players then entered a rook endgame which was objectively drawn, but difficult for White from a practical point of view, and a further blunder by Tsolakidou allowed Tokhirjonova to take the first game.

In the second game, Tsolakidou was unable to generate real winning chances as Black, and ended up blundering in a queen endgame, allowing Tokhirjonova to capitalize on the mistake and win the match 2-0.

WGM Begim Tokhirjonova | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

NEMCOVA - ABRAHAMYAN

Another tough match saw Abrahamyan winning the first game with Black, taking advantage of a blunder that left Nemcova in a completely lost rook endgame. In the second game Abrahamyan decided to trade queens early on, but Nemcova managed to trade down into a very promising knight vs. bishop endgame, with a much better pawn structure for Black. However Abrahamyan was able to find the right moment to create counterplay and activate her bishop, after which Nemcova lost control over the position and ended up losing the game.

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Games Championship Bracket (Open)

 

Games Elimination Bracket (Open)

 

Games Championship Bracket (Women)

 

Games Elimination Bracket (Women)

 

Day 6 of the 2022 American Cup will take place Monday, April 24 starting at 12:50 PM CT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Cristian Chirila, and Alejandro Ramirez on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.

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