U.S. Championship: So keeps the lead

by ChessBase
10/28/2020 – GM Wesley So continued his excellent form at the 2020 U.S. Championship, scoring 2½/3 today to end with 5½/6 after the second day of play. GM’s Jeffery Xiong and Ray Robson have also been in excellent shape so far as they are tied for second with 5/6, a full two points ahead of the rest of the field.

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Robson and Xiong keep up the pace

Press release by the Saint Louis Chess Club
By IM Kostya Kavutskiy

GM Wesley So continued his excellent form at the 2020 U.S. Championship, scoring 2½/3 today to end with 5½/6 after the second day of play. GM’s Jeffery Xiong and Ray Robson have also been in excellent shape so far as they are tied for second with 5/6, a full two points ahead of the rest of the field.

US Championship 2020

Round 4

The first round of the second day started with five-time champion GM Hikaru Nakamura scoring his first win of the event, using a tricky opening sideline to get a serious edge right out of the gate against GM Alejandro Ramirez:

 

Nakamura used his healthier pawn structure to earn his first win of the event. | 1-0, 39 moves

Meanwhile GM Wesley So continued his perfect run by defeating GM Sam Shankland on the Black side of a sharp f3-Nimzo. What started off as good opening preparation led to a powerful attack for So, who sacrificed a full rook in order to keep White’s king in the center.

 

Sole leader GM Wesley So produced a fantastic attacking game against fellow Olympic teammate GM Sam Shankland. | 0-1, 34 moves

Keeping pace were Xiong and Robson, who both won their Round 4 games in great fashion. Xiong managed to outplay GM Leinier Dominguez, fending off his opponent’s attack before launching a decisive counterattack of his own. Robson played a fairly solid game, finishing with a nice tactic to win against first-time participant and Saint Louis local, GM Darius Swiercz:

 

After the cute back-rank trick 35...Qf2!, with idea 36.Rg1 Re1-+ | 0-1, 42 moves.

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Round 5

In the second round of the day So played one of his best games of the event, defeating Swiercz in a model Grunfeld to reach an incredible 5/5. The last time a player started 4-0 in an invitational U.S. Championship? Bobby Fischer’s historic 11-0 run in the 1963/64 U.S. Championship.

 

So played a flawless game to reach an impressive 5-0 start. | 1-0, 35 moves

With Xiong, Robson, and Nakamura all drawing their games, Wesley So increased his lead to a full-point over the field heading into Round 6. At the same time, Shankland won an excellent game against GM Alex Lenderman, thanks to his powerful kingside attack:

 

After 22...Nef3! in Lenderman - Shankland, leading to a win for the 2018 U.S. Champion. | 0-1, 45 moves

 

Round 6

In the final round of the day So was finally slowed down, being held to a draw by Dominguez in a relatively calm Berlin. This gave Xiong and Robson an opportunity to catch up within a half point. Xiong was worse for much of his game against another championship newcomer, GM Elshan Moradiabadi, but managed to swindle his way to a win in mutual time trouble.

In one of the sharpest games of the event, Robson got the better of GM Sam Sevian in a King’s Indian, ending in a fantastic queen sacrifice and king hunt in mutual time trouble. But the biggest surprise of the round was GM Awonder Liang’s stunning upset over Nakamura, where the three-time junior champion took advantage of his opponent’s overextended position. 

 

Despite his 0-3 start, GM Awonder Liang bounced back brilliantly on Day 2 with 2½/3 | 0-1, 57 moves

Said Awonder, “Whatever way you slice it, it's probably one of the best games I've ever played!”

 

Rounds 7-9 of the 2020 U.S. Championship will take place tomorrow, October 28, with live coverage from WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Maurice Ashley starting at 12:50 PM CDT on USChessChamps.com, YouTube, and Twitch.

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