American Cup, Day 7: Aronian and Lee make it to the finals

by ChessBase
4/27/2022 – After defeating GM Leinier Dominguez in a dramatic playoff, GM Levon Aronian (pictured) qualified for the finals of the 2022 American Cup, where he will face GM Fabiano Caruana for the 1st place prize of $50,000. In the women’s field, FM Alice Lee earned herself a rematch in the $25,000 final against GM Irina Krush, after winning an incredibly close match against WGM Tatev Abrahamyan that went all the way to Armageddon. | Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club / Bryan Adams

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

Open Field - Championship Match

Women’s Field - Championship Match

ELIMINATION BRACKET

ARONIAN - DOMINGUEZ

In a repeat of their Champions Bracket match, once again Dominguez played the Petroff and achieved a completely winning position as Black. Only this time instead of giving mate, he had a technically winning queen endgame, with two extra pawns. But Aronian managed to stay in the game, creating counterplay with his queen and a passed c-pawn. Trying to get out of the checks, Dominguez stepped on the wrong square with his king, and Aronian was able to swindle a draw.

After 73.c6!, which saved the game for White. | ½-½, 83 moves 

The second game saw Aronian secure a small edge and start to press as Black, but Dominguez defended well and managed to hold the draw, leading to a playoff. In the first game of the playoff Aronian had Black again, and this time opted for a very risky setup against the Italian Game. Dominguez responded well but used up a lot of time to achieve a good setup. As the game sharpened up Dominguez lost control over the position, and a fantastic combination by Aronian decided the game.

32…Nc3!! won the game for Black, as after 33.Rxc3 Qxe4! the queen was untouchable due to back-rank mate. | 0-1 37 moves.

The final game was perhaps the wildest of the match. Just needing a draw to qualify, Aronian opted for the c3-Sicilian and quickly achieved a winning position. But a surprising blunder let Dominguez completely back into the game, with a queen and knight against Aronian’s two rooks and a bishop. Although it was a tricky situation for White, Aronian managed to sacrifice one of his rooks for Black’s knight and construct a fortress with his remaining rook and bishop, holding the draw and winning the match.

The key first game of Aronian vs. Dominguez, which was saved by Levon. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

LEE - ABRAHAMYAN

The Women’s Elimination Final saw a hotly contested match where White won every single game leading up to the Armageddon. First it was Lee who won a back-and-forth game by infiltrating with her queen and rook, then Abrahamyan struck back with the same combo in the next game, squeezing water from a stone in a symmetrical position.

In the playoff, Abrahamyan received White in the first game and landed a powerful knight sacrifice that obliterated Lee’s kingside.

36.Nxh6+! left White with a crushing kingside attack. | 1-0, 48 moves

This put Lee in a must-win situation for the next game, and she got her chance early on, as she spotted a nice zwischenzug tactic to win material and achieve a strategically won position. Abrahamyan tried to salvage things, but Lee’s technique was too good as she converted her advantage.

12.Nxf5! won a clean pawn for White, due to the threat of Nxe7+ | 1-0, 35 moves

In the Armageddon match, Abrahamyan won the coin-toss and chose the White pieces. This decision paid off as she had a chance to win a full piece out of the opening, but missed it in favor of just completing her development. This allowed Lee to get back in the game and fend off White’s initiative. Abrahamyan soon lost the thread and blundered an exchange, after which her position was simply dead lost. Lee grabbed the chance and even went on to win as Abrahamyan exhausted all of her resources.

Abrahamyan vs. Lee in Armageddon | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The finals of the 2022 American Cup begin Wednesday, April 27 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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