US Champ. Rd10: 12-year-old beats grandmaster

by ChessBase
4/25/2016 – In round ten, the leaders of both events were made to sweat quite heavily in order to get positive results. Fabiano almost blew away his lead when he allowed his opponent to get a winning position while Tatev played a dubious middlegame and got into trouble. Still, the result of the day was Carissa Yip's upset win over Irina Krush. Report and GM analysis.

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Report by GM Christian Chirila

Photos by Lennart Ootes

2016 U.S. Championship

Caruana vs. Kamsky ½ - ½

The immovable Fabiano was almost shaken out of his leader’s chair
as he played the five-time U.S. Champion Gata Kamsky

Despite the fact that Gata did not have a great tournament up to this point, he is still one of the leading players on American soil and is a threat to anybody when he is in shape. Today he looked like he was in great shape as he slowly outplayed the number one American player. Fabiano chose not to enter the open Sicilian and instead went for the popular 3.Bb5, Gata was well prepared and comfortably equalized out of the opening. As he started feeling the pressure of Black’s active pieces, Fabiano went for the queen trade with 20.Qb4. In the ensuing endgame, Black was just marginally better but Fabiano gravely erred and allowed Black to obtain an almost winning position.

Kamsky and Caruana trade notes on their game

Caruana vs. Kamsky (annotated by GM Christian Chirila)

[Event "2016 U.S. Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis, Mo"] [Date "2016.04.24"] [Round "10.1"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Kamsky, Gata"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B31"] [WhiteElo "2795"] [BlackElo "2678"] [Annotator "Christian Chirila"] [PlyCount "119"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:22:19"] [BlackClock "1:14:31"] {What a terrible blow this would have been for Fabi if only Gata had been a bit more careful in the endgame...Caruana was coming into this round as the clear favorite, and with Wesley having a difficult battle and Nakamura a point behind, he could have entered the final round with a one point advantage. However, he was facing Gata Kamsky, five-time U.S. Champion and an incredible player overall.} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 {In the game against Nakamura he chose the open Sicilian. In the media room after the game Gata jokingly hinted at the idea that he was much better prepared against that scenario} g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. O-O Bg7 6. Re1 d6 (6... Nh6 {is the main line} 7. c3 f6 8. d4 cxd4 9. cxd4 O-O 10. Nc3 Nf7 {White has the lead in development but only by a slight margin. If Black manages to get his pieces out and exchange the queens, the endgame will be clearly in his favor thanks to his powerful bishop pair}) 7. e5 dxe5 8. Nxe5 Qc7 9. d4 (9. Qe2 Be6 10. d3 Nf6 11. h3 Nd5 12. Na3 O-O 13. Nac4 { 0-1 (41) Leventic,I (2499)-Zelenika,S (2292) Sibenik 2007}) 9... cxd4 10. Qxd4 Nf6 11. Nc3 Be6 12. Qc5 Rc8 13. Bf4 Qb7 (13... Nh5 $5 14. Bg5 h6 15. Bh4 g5 16. Bg3 Nxg3 17. hxg3 Qd6) 14. Na4 (14. Nd3 $1 {Would have been the right retreat} Nd7 (14... O-O 15. Qa3 Nd5 16. Nc5 Qb6 17. Nxe6 fxe6 18. Bg3 Bd4 19. Nd1 { White will consolidate and the superior pawn structure will be a critical factor in the long run}) 15. Qa3 c5 16. Be3 (16. Bg5 h6 17. Be3 Qc6 18. Rad1 O-O) 16... Qc6 17. Nf4 Bc4 18. Rad1) 14... O-O (14... Nd5 $5 15. Bd2 O-O 16. Qa5 Rfd8 17. Nc5 Qxb2 18. Nxe6 fxe6 19. Rab1 Qxc2 20. Rbc1) 15. Qa3 Qa6 16. Nd3 Bf5 17. Ndc5 Qc4 18. Be5 Rfd8 (18... Qxc2 19. Nc3 $1 Rfd8 20. Nb3 (20. Rac1 Qd2 21. Qxa7 Bf8 22. Qb7) 20... Ne4 21. Re2 Qxe2 22. Nxe2 Bxe5) 19. c3 Rd2 20. Qb4 (20. h3 $1 {was necessary as White needs to control the Ng4 jump, as well as create a safe haven for the king.} Qh4 21. Bg3 Qg5 22. Qb4) 20... Qxb4 21. cxb4 Rcd8 22. Bc3 (22. Nb3 R2d5 23. Bc3 Bf8 24. h3 {If black doesn't follow up with strong moves to keep his initiative rolling, White will get the advantage due to his better structure}) 22... Rc2 23. h3 h5 24. a3 h4 25. Rxe7 (25. Nb7 $5 Rd7 26. Nac5 Rc7 27. Be5 Rc8 28. Rac1) 25... Nd5 26. Rd1 Ra8 27. Bxg7 $2 { the overly ambitious move that could have costed Fabiano the championship} (27. Ree1 Nxc3 28. bxc3 Bxc3 (28... a5 29. Rd6 axb4 30. cxb4 Ra2) 29. Nxc3 Rxc3 30. Re3 Rxe3 31. fxe3 a5) 27... Nxe7 28. Bf6 Nd5 29. Bxh4 Re8 30. b5 (30. g4 Bc8 31. Nc3 Nxc3 32. bxc3 Kg7 (32... Rxc3 $2 33. Ne4) 33. Rd6) 30... cxb5 (30... Nb6 $1 {the first moment Fabiano escapes almost untouched} 31. Nc3 cxb5 32. g4 Be6 33. Nxe6 Rxe6) 31. Rxd5 bxa4 32. Bf6 Rc4 33. Bc3 Rc8 34. Nd7 (34. Nd3 Rxc3 35. bxc3 Rxc3 36. Nb4 Rxa3 37. Ra5 Be6 38. Rxa7 Kg7) 34... Rxc3 35. bxc3 Rxc3 36. g4 Bxd7 $2 {The ensuing endgame is just a draw} (36... Be6 {This is the natural move and one that Kamsky otherwise would make without any thought. Still not sure whether he thought he is winning the rook endgame or simply couldn't assess the upcoming endgame} 37. Rd4 Rxa3 38. Nc5 Bb3 39. Rd3 (39. Kg2 Ra1) 39... Ra1+ 40. Kh2 Bd1 41. g5 Bc2 42. Rd8+ Kg7 43. Rd7 Bf5 44. Rxa7 a3) 37. Rxd7 Rxh3 38. Rxa7 Rxa3 39. g5 Ra1+ 40. Kg2 Kf8 41. Kf3 a3 42. Kf4 Ra2 ( 42... a2 43. Kf3 Ke8 44. Kf4 Kd8 45. f3 Kc8 46. Ra8+ Kb7 47. Ra3 Kc6 48. Ra8 Kc5 49. Ra7 Kd4 50. Ra8 Kd3 51. Rd8+ Ke2 52. Ra8 Kf2 53. Ra3 Kg2 54. Kg4) 43. Kg3 Ke8 44. Kf3 Ra1 45. Kf4 Kd8 46. Rxf7 Rf1 47. Ra7 Rxf2+ 48. Kg3 Ra2 49. Ra6 Ra1 50. Kg2 a2 51. Ra8+ Kc7 52. Ra7+ Kb6 53. Ra8 Kb5 54. Rb8+ Kc4 55. Rc8+ Kd3 56. Rd8+ Ke3 57. Ra8 Kf4 58. Ra5 Kg4 59. Kh2 Kf3 60. Ra3+ {A great escape by Caruana who can now count out one of his 9 lives and go into the final round with a smile on his face. The final round will offer the spectators a dramatic end to this exciting event!} 1/2-1/2

So vs. Robson ½ - ½

Wesley So's efforts to wrest the title have been well matched by his rivals

As he was leaving the press conference, Nakamura seemed puzzled at Wesley’s opening choice as he accurately pointed out his game against Giri from the Candidates should be a clear indicator that Black is doing well in the line played. We will never know what Wesley had in mind if Ray would have followed Giri’s footsteps, as Ray played the novelty 16…Bc8?!—which in my opinion is not a great improvement.

Ray Robson has done superbly but has just been outscored by his Top 10 compatriots

Wesley should have followed with 18.Bxg4!? and the advantage would have been on his side. Instead he played the dull 18.Bf3 after which Black had no problems holding his ground. The game was very balanced up until the end as Wesley spoils a good opportunity to catch the leader going into the last round.

Nakamura vs. Xiong 1-0

Almost every round of the three titans spoil us with an almost perfect game, today it was Naka’s turn to show his immense star power and completely demolish his opponent. The opening was a dream for Naka, as he showed incredible preparation and played the most critical variation of the obscure 3.f3 Nc6 Grunfeld.

Hikaru Nakamura has made a fantastic comeback after a near disastrous start

Jeffery had to experience firsthand what happens when you allow an elite GM to have a comfortable advantage without no counterplay on your side. Jeffery tried to complicate matters at all costs but it was to no avail as Nakamura courageously accepted his pawn sacrifice and annihilated any potential counterplay with precise moves.

Nakamura - Xiong (annotated by GM Robert Hess)

[Event "US Chess Championships"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2016.04.24"] [Round "10"] [White "Hikaru Nakamura"] [Black "Jeffery Xiong"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E60"] [WhiteElo "2787"] [BlackElo "2618"] [Annotator "Robert Hess"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2016.04.13"] {Entering this game, Hikaru Nakamura trailed fellow super GM Fabiano Caruana by a point. After a horrid 2/4 start - including a loss to Caruana in their direct encounter - the reigning US Champion has been on a rampage, scoring an impressive 5/6. Xiong, previously undefeated in his first US Championship, became Nakamura's latest victim.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. f3 {A good decision by Nakamura and his second, Kris Littlejohn. Why enter the Grunfeld against a young, solid player who has scored well in the opening? I believe that these 3. f3 can really help White achieve an out-of-book position quickly, allowing the stronger player to take charge in the early stages.} Nc6 (3... d5 {is a more fashionable line, but perhaps Xiong was afraid to venture into this variation since Nakamura has had a successful history in it, including a smashing win over Caruana.} 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Qd6 10. h4 Rd8 11. Nb5 Qd7 12. h5 a6 13. Nc3 Nxd4 14. hxg6 hxg6 15. Bxd4 Qxd4 16. Qe1 Qxd1+ 17. Nxd1 Na4 18. b3 Nc5 19. e5 Bf5 20. f4 a5 21. Nf3 a4 22. b4 Nb3+ 23. axb3 a3 24. Qc3 e6 25. Ne3 a2 26. Qa1 Bf8 27. Nxf5 gxf5 28. b5 c6 29. bxc6 Rdc8 30. Bc4 Rxc6 31. Nd4 Rcc8 32. Kc2 Bb4 33. g4 fxg4 34. f5 {1-0 (34) Nakamura,H (2772)-Caruana,F (2779) Elancourt 2013}) 4. d5 Ne5 5. e4 d6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be2 O-O 8. f4 Ned7 9. Be3 {As Nakamura stated in his interview with Maurice Ashley, it's not that Black's position is particularly poor here. The real issue is that White achieves a harmonious setup with ease, whereas Xiong will find it quite difficult to gain active counterplay. White's path to improvement is certainly much simpler than Black's.} e6 ({I'm curious if a move like} 9... Re8 {is an improvement. The essential question is if capturing on e6 with the rook is better than taking back with the pawn.} 10. Nh3 e6 11. dxe6 Rxe6 12. Bf3 {looks quite questionable for Black. The e-pawn is not hard to defend, and White has obtained complete central control with ease. Black remains cramped and with no pawn breaks in the foreseeable future.}) 10. dxe6 ( 10. Nh3 exd5 11. cxd5 Re8 {leads to problems down the e-file for White.}) 10... fxe6 11. Nh3 Qe7 12. O-O b6 13. Bf3 Rb8 (13... Bb7 $4 14. e5 Bxf3 15. exf6 Bxd1 16. fxe7 {wins a piece for White.}) 14. Qc2 Bb7 15. Rae1 Kh8 {Apparently a novelty, but I'm sure it was played merely because Xiong didn't know what to do here. The position is already quite difficult.} (15... a6 {didn't help Black escape Wesley So:} 16. Kh1 Kh8 17. Bc1 Ng8 18. b3 Nh6 19. Bb2 Nf7 20. g3 Nd8 21. Bg2 Nc6 22. Nd5 Qd8 23. Ng5 Nc5 24. b4 h6 25. Nf3 Nd7 26. Nh4 exd5 27. exd5 Nxb4 28. Nxg6+ Kg8 29. Ne7+ {1-0 (29) So,W (2755)-Perez,R (2332) Las Vegas 2014}) 16. Ng5 Bh6 (16... h6 17. Nh3 {only creates another weakness, this time on g6.}) 17. Nb5 (17. h4 {is the move the engines scream for, probably just to secure the knight's position and prepare an eventual f4-f5 break.}) 17... Bxg5 (17... e5 {was more ambitious and would have given Xiong more of a puncher's chance. I still much prefer White after} 18. f5 (18. Nxc7 { gives Black ample counterplay for the lost pawn:} exf4 19. Bxf4 Ne5 20. Nce6 Bxg5 21. Nxg5 h6 (21... Rbc8 {might be a safer method of seeking equality.}) 22. Nh3 g5 23. Bxe5 dxe5 {Black may be down a pawn, but White has a long way to go before that material edge proves enough for victory. It will be difficult for White to maneuver his minor pieces to their optimal squares (namely the knight from h3-f2-d1-e3-f5), since the e4 pawn is forever a target. Certainly an edge for White, but this is a huge improvement over the game continuation.}) 18... gxf5 19. exf5 Ng4 20. Bxg4 Bxg5 {becomes very complex. White may gain one of those queenside pawns, but the open g-file and strong Black center would have provided Xiong good counter chances.}) 18. fxg5 Ne8 19. Nxa7 $1 {A free pawn is a free pawn, but it does take precision to gobble one up when the knight appears to be trapped on a7. Nakamura had this calculated out, though:} Ne5 {This move just doesn't challenge Nakamura at all. Xiong's position was hovering somewhere in between very unpleasant and horrible, especially against someone of Nakamura's caliber, but Ne5 is inexplicable. If I'm being a bit harsh on the talented youngster, it's because I know he's capable of better. In order to hang with these super elite players, you must setup obstacles and hope they trip up somewhere along the way. From here on out, the win became simple.} (19... c6 20. Qb3 {appears to cause White far less difficulty:} (20. Qa4 Ne5 (20... Ra8 21. Nxc6 Rxa4 (21... Qg7 22. Qb5 Nc7 23. Qb4 Bxc6 24. Qxd6 {Black's knight on c7 and bishop on c6 are both en prise. Black's last hope falls flat:} Ne5 25. Bd4 Rad8 26. Bxe5 Rxd6 27. Bxg7+ Kxg7 28. e5 Rd2 29. Bxc6 Rxf1+ 30. Rxf1 Rxb2 {White is two pawns ahead. The ending isn't completely trivial, but with a few accurate moves the position collapses. }) 22. Nxe7 Rf7 {appears to trap the knight, but the nice shot} 23. Bd1 { ends the game immediately.}) 21. Bd4 (21. h4 {also looks very reasonable, but I'm reluctant to further expand on the kingside.}) (21. Bxb6 c5 {is not what White is looking for. Black has sacrificed two pawns for tremendous activity, as White's forces are distracted and stuck on the queenside.}) 21... c5 22. Bxe5+ dxe5 23. Qb3 Ba8 24. Nb5 Qxg5 25. Rd1 {is a position with equal material, but the position is anything but equal. White has a clear edge, thanks to the superior pawn structure and open d-file.}) 20... Ra8 21. Bxb6 c5 22. a4 Qxg5 23. a5 {allows White to escape, unscatched and up a pawn.}) 20. Be2 Rxf1+ 21. Rxf1 Ra8 22. Nb5 Rxa2 23. Na3 {That rook regains the lost pawn, but immediately the knight digs its hooves into a3 and entombs it.} Qg7 24. Bd2 Nc6 (24... Rxb2 {was the tactical shot Xiong hoped Nakamura would miss, but White's last move covers it.} 25. Qxb2 Nf3+ 26. Rxf3 Qxb2 27. Bc3+ {picks up the queen, with White ahead a full rook.}) 25. Bc3 Nd4 26. Bd3 {Cute. Black had a cheapo in mind, and Nakamura not only calls, but raises with a better cheapo of his own.} (26. Qd3 $4 Nxe2+ 27. Qxe2 Qxc3 {would have been tragic. Amazingly, White is not completely lost here (though he is much worse), but this would have been a silly blunder.} 28. Rf8+ Kg7 29. Nc2 Qe5 30. Qf1 Nf6 $1 31. Rxf6 Ra8 {and Black is now much better, but White can fight on. Regardless, this would have been an amateur blunder in a masterfully played game.}) 26... Kg8 27. Qf2 (27. Qa4 {was also easy, but when you're winning, how you win is unimportant.}) 27... c5 28. Bb1 Ra1 29. Nc2 Rxb1 (29... Ra8 30. Nxd4 cxd4 31. Bxd4 e5 32. Bxb6 {allows the rook to survive, but White has a two pawn lead and a completely dominating position.}) 30. Rxb1 Bxe4 {This would work if not for...} 31. Nxd4 Bxb1 32. Nf5 $1 {The only winning move, but an elementary one to spot.} (32. Nxe6 $2 Qf7 {is equal.}) 32... exf5 33. Bxg7 Kxg7 34. Qe3 { Xiong tips his king, understanding that his b-pawn falls first, then the h-pawn, then Nakamura can do whatever he pleases en route to victory. This game can be summed up as smooth sailing for Nakamura, who wisely picked an opening that limited Xiong's active resources. Xiong can learn a ton from this encounter with one of the world's top ten players.} 1-0

Shabalov vs. Onischuk ½ - ½

In one of the tamest games of the round, Shabalov tried to obtain an advantage in the classical variation of the Queen’s Indian. It was to no avail, as Onischuk knew his setup and never allowed White to build the momentum. The pieces were quickly exchanged and the players agreed to a draw at move 30.

Shankland vs. Lenderman ½ - ½

It has been an extremely frustrating event for Shankland and, despite the fact that he did not lose this round, he stated at the post-round press conference that this one game has left an incredibly bitter taste.

The ever modest, but ambitious Aleksander Lenderman

Sam tried to break the bad streak by playing an ultra aggressive f3 Nimzo. As he got a huge opening advantage, it felt like this is going to be his point. But as it often happens when you are not in optimal form, he failed to convert his massive advantage and allowed his opponent to escape. A disappointing game for Sam, but definitely one from which he will learn and grow from. As we are eagerly waiting for the final round show; he is surely waiting for this nightmarish tournament to be over.

Akobian vs. Chandra 1-0

Var has been having a pretty difficult tournament as well, but in today’s game it seemed like we are witnessing a resurgence of his impressive power. His opening preparation was very accurate and he obtained a stable middlegame advantage due to his bishop pair and full control over the White squares. With great patience he improved his position move by move and placed his younger opponent under extreme pressure. Chandra went for a desperate attack on the kingside, but Var’s bishop on g2 was like a power pole that would not give up under any burden. Var attacked Black’s structure with 32.b4 and after the c file was open it was only a matter of time until his pieces would invade and produce irrecoverable damage. Chandra could do nothing as he waited for his execution.

Standings after ten rounds

2016 U.S. Women’s Championship

Abrahamyan vs. Gorti 1-0

It has been an ongoing race between Tatev and Nazi throughout the whole tournament with Krush and Zatonskih coming along at times but never really managing to keep up with the pace imposed by these two impressive players. There is a change of guard going on, and the question was who is going to break first? Tatev was coming into this round with a half point advantage and a burning desire to win the title that has slipped through her fingers in previous years. Gorti on the other hand, is a newcomer to the Championship and was surely looking to print her arrival stamp on the championship’s standings sheet. Tatev started with 1.e4 and the opening of the tournament made an appearance once again, 1…e6! The French is Tatev’s only opening against 1.e4 as Black and she surely had an idea of what’s going on, but despite that, it seemed like Gorti is the more knowledgeable out of the two. The tension was rising and Tatev’s nervousness could be felt everywhere in the Club.

A nerve wracking round for Tatev, but the Girl with the Purple Hair showed true grit as she
held on to a bad position and was rewarded when the tables were turned

With all the eyes on her, she knew a slip up of this magnitude would haunt her for ages. She took her breath, and continued fighting through adversity with the resilience of a champion. Gorti, who came into this game with no pressure on her shoulders, was starting to feel the raw emotion coming of Tatev’’s presence. She started erring, she made the first few inaccuracies, and it was all downhill from there. After turning the tables and obtaining an advantage, Tatev’s play was flawless and blunders were nonexistent. She only has one more round to go, the gold is shinning bright…

Abrahamyan vs. Gorti (annotated by GM Christian Chirila)

[Event "2016 U.S. Women's Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis, Mo"] [Date "2016.04.24"] [Round "10.1"] [White "Abrahamyan, Tatev"] [Black "Gorti, Akshita"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C05"] [WhiteElo "2342"] [BlackElo "2184"] [Annotator "Christian Chirila"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:06:11"] [BlackClock "0:07:42"] {What an important round for the championship! Going into this round, Tatev was leading the pack by half a point, and in order to secure her first title she would most probably need to win at least one of her remaining games. Paikidze was quietly sitting in the backseat waiting for her to make a mistake. } 1. e4 e6 {The opening of the tournament, unanimous decision!} 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. Ngf3 c5 6. c3 Nc6 7. Bd3 g6 (7... Be7 8. O-O a5 9. Re1 cxd4 10. cxd4 Qb6 11. Nb1 Nxd4 {is the main line which leads to great complications} ) 8. Bc2 (8. h4 {Should be the critical response, immediately going for the kingside attack due to the newly create hook on g6} h6 9. Bc2 Bg7 10. Nf1 b5 11. Ng3 a5 12. O-O cxd4 13. cxd4 Qb6 14. Be3 {1-0 (28) Caruana,F (2709) -Dvirnyy,D (2492) Siena 2010}) 8... Bg7 9. Nb3 b6 10. Bg5 Qc7 11. O-O a5 { Black has obtained what she wanted. By now Tatev was out of theory and starting to feel the pressure of the result} 12. Nc1 Ba6 13. Ne2 O-O 14. Re1 Rae8 (14... b5 $5 15. Qd2 b4 16. Bh6 bxc3 17. bxc3 Rfc8) 15. Qd2 cxd4 16. cxd4 f6 17. exf6 Nxf6 18. Bf4 Qd7 19. Ng3 $6 (19. Nc3 {would have been a much better place for the N} Nh5 20. Be3 Rc8 (20... Rxf3 21. gxf3 Rf8 22. Ba4 Rxf3 23. Rac1 Bb7 {Black has some compensation but if white consolidates on the kingside he will be almost winning}) 21. Rac1 Nb4 22. Bb1) 19... Ng4 20. h3 e5 $1 {Black gets the central breakthrough} 21. dxe5 (21. hxg4 $5 exf4 22. Rxe8 Qxe8 23. Re1 Qd7 24. Ne2 Bxe2 25. Rxe2 Qxg4 26. Bb3) 21... Ngxe5 22. Nxe5 Nxe5 23. b3 {I don't particularly fancy this move, the Nc4 threat should have been annihilated by capturing the N} (23. Bxe5 Rxe5 24. Rxe5 Bxe5 25. Re1 Bg7 (25... Bxg3 $6 26. fxg3 Bc4 (26... d4 27. Re4) 27. b3 Ba6 28. Re5)) 23... d4 $6 (23... Qf7 $1 24. Bxe5 Bxe5 25. Rad1 Bb7 26. Nf1 Qf6 {White will slowly start running out of moves as he is facing a dangerous bishop pair with open center} 27. Re2 Kg7 28. Bd3 h5 29. Nh2 Bf4) 24. Be4 Qf7 25. Bg5 Bc8 (25... Nd7 $1 26. Rad1 Nc5 27. Bc6 Re6 28. Bf3 Rfe8) 26. Rac1 Be6 {this is already a serious mistake that goes unpunished} 27. Nf1 (27. f4 $1 Nd7 28. Bc6 h6 (28... Bd5 29. Rxe8 Rxe8 30. Bb5 $1 Rb8 31. Rc7 Rb7 32. Rc8+ Nf8 33. f5) 29. Ne4 hxg5 30. Nxg5 Qxf4 31. Qxf4 Rxf4 32. Nxe6 Rf7 33. Bd5) 27... Rc8 28. f3 (28. Rxc8 Rxc8 29. Nh2 Bd5 30. Bf4 Rd8 (30... Bxe4 31. Rxe4 d3 32. Rd4) 31. f3 h5 32. Nf1 Bxe4 33. Rxe4 Qd5) 28... a4 29. bxa4 Bxa2 30. Bh6 Rxc1 31. Rxc1 Bxh6 32. Qxh6 Bb3 $2 {after this move all of black's pawns on the queenside are becoming a liability} (32... Qf6 33. Rc7 Bf7 34. Ng3 d3) 33. Rb1 Qe6 34. Qd2 Rd8 35. Qb4 Bc4 36. Qxb6 Qxb6 37. Rxb6 Bxf1 38. Kxf1 {From this position on Tatev plays the endgame flawlessly and does not give Black any chance} d3 39. Ke1 Rc8 40. Rd6 (40. a5 Nc4 41. Rb5 Nd6 42. Rb1 Nxe4 43. fxe4 Rc2 44. Ra1 Rxg2 45. Ra4) 40... Rc1+ 41. Kf2 Ra1 42. Rd4 g5 43. Rd5 Ra2+ 44. Ke3 d2 45. Ke2 Nc4 46. Rd4 d1=Q+ 47. Kxd1 Ne3+ 48. Kc1 Rxg2 49. a5 Ra2 50. Rd3 Rxa5 51. Rxe3 Ra1+ 52. Bb1 h6 53. Re6 Ra3 54. Be4 {With great resiliency and an impressive endgame technique, Tatev manages to stay on top of the rankings and enter the final round with a great shot at winning the title!} 1-0

Paikidze vs. Melekhina 1-0

Nazi Paikidze has stayed in contention for the gold, and trails by just a half-point to keep her chances alive

It can easily be concluded that Paikidze is the athlete of the tournament. She works out twice a day, she cooks her own healthy meals, and on top of that she is among the best female chess players this country has to offer. Her bid for the U.S. Women’s Championship has been nothing short of extraordinary, and in her second championship now we can easily conclude that she will be staying at the top for a long time.

Alisa Melekhina has had a rough event as her rust shows its ugly face

Melekhina has been having a very difficult tournament, but to count her out of this game would have been a terrible thought. Paikidze started off with yet another surprise: the Torre System! All these new openings that she is presenting in this tournament are a badge of her work at home. When your opponent is throwing new things at you and you are stripped of your theory cushion, you can only wrap your head in your hands and fight through. That is what Melekhina tried to do, but unfortunately for her Paikidze was just too strong. White slowly tried to create new weaknesses, and after she managed to do so (the doubled pawns on the “e” file) Melekhina could only wait for her imminent execution. After an impressive strategic showing, Nazi gets an important victory and stays within fighting range from Tatev. It will be an explosive last round!

Yip vs. Krush 1-0

To keep her chances alive, Krush had to roll past the youngest opponent in the competition and hope that her rivals in the title bid would not win their games. She was ready to do so, but her young opponent also had something to prove! 

A historic game for 12-year-old Carissa Yip, who gunned down GM Irina Krush in a huge upset

Krush saw her title dreams shaping up in her favor after the first two hour of play. She repelled her opponent’s attack and was slowly imposing her will on Carissa. On the other boards, Tatev was having difficulties, while Nazi still had plenty of fight left before she could claim her victory. Then the blunder came! 27…Rxd3?? and her dreams were shattered into pieces, making way for her opponent’s reveries to shape up from ashes. Carissa grabbed her opportunity and never let go, claiming her second win against a GM at the ripe age of 12!

The ebullient pre-teen is interviewed by Maurice Ashley in the superb live coverage

Yu vs. Zatonskih 1-0

Zatonskih was coming off a heartbreaking loss against Tatev the previous round, and the remaining damage on her was quite obvious today as well. Anna played a very good game and managed to create chances for a completely equal position.

Her knight corralling the White king, the passed “d” pawn, and the extremely unpleasant pressure on the “e” file was a mix that Yu had difficulties dealing with. Anna could have gotten a winning advantage on the last move before the time control with 40…f5! breaking White’s position apart. Instead she played the dull 40…R5e6 which turned the tables in her opponent’s favor. After that it was only a matter of time before Yu converted her space advantage on the kingside into material advantage, claiming her second victory of the tournament and plummeting Anna’s chances at a title comeback.

Nemcova vs. Foisor ½ - ½

Nemcova came into this game with a clear game plan: she had to take her opponent out of her comfort zone and outplay her in the middlegame for a smooth victory. It seemed to go that way for the most part of the game, but in the end Sabina’s resiliency proved strong enough to repel Nemcova’s initiative and force a draw in a materially unbalanced endgame. The players remain tied on the 5th and 6th place respectively and will give everything in the last round to try and surpass the other on the standings for a heftier payday.

Bykovtsev vs. Eswaran 0-1

Bykovtsev has had a few good results throughout the tournament but her results have been quite unstable. The same can be said about Eswaran, but she seems to have elevated her game as we approached the later stages of the tournament, while Bykovtsev seemed to do better at the beginning.

The game was a tense affair with Eswaran managing to outsmart her opponent in a complicated endgame with opposite colored bishops and rooks on the board. Eswaran climbs to the 9th spot sitting at -1 and Bykovtsev sits on the 11th spot with -4.

The elegant playing area of the US Women's Championship

Standings after ten rounds


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