US Championship - Playoffs

by ChessBase
10/19/2021 – Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Sam Sevian finished the 2021 US Championship sharing first place on 6½/11 points. A rapid round robin tournament (10 minutes plus 2-second increments) will decide the winner. In case of a tie, blitz and Armageddon will follow. | Follow the action live with commentary starting at 13.00 local time (14.00 ET, 20.00 CEST)

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Over the course of eleven rounds, twelve competitors will battle for $194,000 in prize money ($100,000 in the women’s tournament), qualification into the World Championship cycle, and the coveted title of 2021 US Champion.

Playoffs regulations: If there are three or four Players tied for first, the Players shall contest a rapid round robin (G/10 +2 delay). If no clear winner is produced, the remaining tied players shall contest a blitz (G/3 +2 delay) a) round robin (if three or four players remain tied) or b) 2-game match (if two players remain tied). If the contest is still undecided, the match will be decided by a series of Armageddon Games.


  • October 6-9: Rounds 1-4
  • October 10: Rest day
  • October 11-14: Rounds 5-8
  • October 15: Rest day
  • October 16-18: Rounds 9-11
  • October 19: Playoff (if necessary) and closing ceremony

Previous reports: Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 | Round 6 | Round 7 | Round 8 | Round 10 | Round 11

Live games and commentary

Open tournament - Playoffs


Women’s tournament


Commentary by GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and Cristian Chirila

Final standings

Open tournament


Women’s tournament



Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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Denix Denix 10/20/2021 10:20
I agree. The commentary has gone better and better! It multiplies the experience and adds more understanding and drama, specially with the faster time controls.
Queenslander Queenslander 10/19/2021 12:12
Fabulous commentary. Thanks Yasser, Maurice and Cristian.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/18/2021 11:01
Political propaganda of any color is usually simplifying rather complex questions and by design distorts reality to make it look to be more in favor to their position. Thinkers are not really fans of nationalistic or whatever propaganda even if they are not far of the position that is aimed to be advanced by the propaganda. The act of distorting and misrepresenting reality is what makes propaganda disagreeable for me, even if they try to promote what I think. As a personal opinion I would say that for me the concept of nation, belonging to a group of people with whom we share the same culture and habits is a constructive thing, so I quite disagree with the demonizing of nationalism what I have seen at so many places. Nationalism, of course has some not-at-all constructive forms. So, I would draw the line as follows: as long as you like the nation you belong to, I find that a respectable, constructive approach to reality, as long as you respect other nations as well. So, if nationalism is the mere love of one's culture, I think it is a decent world view. Of course, there are numerous non-nationalistic world views as well, that are decent. Karjakin was always a Russian, he was never asked whether he wants to live in the Ukraine, so his acceptance of the geographical change is not surprising and, if we understand that he did not have a Ukrainian identity, then we also know that representing the Ukraine flag was something that politics imposed on him. There are so many other people living in countries as minorities due to history's strange sense of humor. I think such people should not be prevented by the IOC from representing their country. As about Aronian, the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict is pretty bad and dangerous, so I can believe him when he expresses concerns and a nice financial offer helps him making the decision Armenians are not happy with.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/18/2021 10:52
@zagliveri_chess you are making good points. Yes, Greece exists, but the Soviet Union doesn't. The very fact that the Soviet Union ceased to exist would have meant that a significant part of the world's population would have not been represented at the Olympics if the IOC would have been enforcing this one flag rule on them. But, my point is, that there are (!) situations when people represent a different flag from the one they represented earlier. Take the Hungarian water polo players' example. Hungary fought a revolution against its communist dictatorship in 1956 and these players were representing Hungary at the same time. As far as I know - I admit I did not double-check the data, I could be wrong -, multiple members of the team did not return to Hungary, because a bloody and dark chapter of history started there with the Soviet army invading the country and persecuting non-communists. I do not know whether these sportsman were representing other countries afterwards, but hypothetically, in such situation, even though their country still existed, it became impossible for them to represent it post 1956. So, hypothetically, should we allow these sportsmen to represent another country, as was the case with ex-Soviets, or, should we enforce the one-flag policy, as in the case of Sofia Sakorafa? So, while her changing the flag might be a legitimate act by the IOC, I wonder on what grounds was this opportunity not allowed to her, when it was allowed for others. It may be a justifiable case, so I am genuinely interested about it and did not find any sources that would answer this question. I understand your point that possible harm to players or ceasing of a country is a good reason not to enforce this policy. But was this the IOC's reasoning as well?
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 10/17/2021 08:57
@lajosarpad: Your observations are correct. I had followed Sakorafa's case closely owing to a colleague serving as her legal representative of the petition to the IOC. I do not think that in its rejection letter IOC provided rationale for the decision other than that she had previously participated under the Greek flag. Sofia had received provisional Palestinian citizenship four months before the petition was filed but citizenship of country that is not officially recognized by everyone may be deemed legally non-binding. As you said, Ukranians, Armenians, Azeris, Georgians, Kazakhstanis, and Russians, plus other countries that are a bit less strong in chess, were previously part of Soviet Union and were allowed to participate under the new flags. There is a difference though. Soviet Union ceased to exist. Greece, despite efforts to the contrary :) is still around. It is also the founder of the Games, yet unlike other organizations (e.g. UN) it does not have veto powers :)

As I said previously, I understand the decisions for Karjiakin and Firouja, and perhaps for Dominguez and Bruzon. For these guys there were serious issues that would account for, say, an asylum petition to another country. For Caruana, So, and now Aronian, that is not the case. Their personal well-being were not threatened. For Fabi, Italy is not more dangerous than Saint Louis. Levon claimed tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan as one of the reasons that led him switch to the US, but I do not think there is much evidence of him being directly threatened by them.

Winning an Olympic gold medal with a team of imports or missionaries or whatever you call these participants is viewed as ludicrous by many, not so much for others. It also fuels nationalistic propaganda and that seldom is a decent development.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/15/2021 11:47
@Adbennet a country where lots of persons are flowing into might greatly benefit from the immigration, or it might be very painful for it. Native Americans also faced an inflow of immigrants a few centuries ago which ultimately destroyed their civilization. So, there are goodwilling immigrants and there are immigrants who do not wish to integrate. It's the interest of a country to reliably distinguish the two.

@Zagliveri_chess Palestine is not a country at this point, it is a de jure recognized state by the UN, which is governed by the PLO, which is an organization that is considered to be terrorist since 1987 by the UN. So it's quite interesting to see how sporting events/organizations deal with the very difficult political situation. Palestine has been present at Olympic Games since 1996, so, for me it is strange that Sofia Sakorafa was not allowed to represent the country of her new citizenship. It raises some very interesting questions, particularly of people who live in places which changed the flag. What about Ukrainian athletes who previously represented the Soviet flag? So, this is very strange to me. If ex-Soviet athletes were allowed to represent their new country, then on what grounds was Sofia Sakorafa not allowed to do so?
adbennet adbennet 10/15/2021 03:32
Thanks for clarifying, I didn't have all the background on the IOC rejections. I actually don't know if the Kenyan runners competed under more than one flag. The American runner did not. I don't have any strong opinion about whether it should or should not be allowed. But living in the USA which has a recent history of immigration, I tend to be in favor of people being allowed to move around freely.
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 10/14/2021 09:52
@adbennet Not aware of the cases you mentioned but, as clarification, I referred to individuals competing under more than one flags in Olympic games. Had the persons you mentioned participated with another country previously?

I recall a petition by Sofia Sakorafa, former world record holder in women's javelin and participant in Olympic Games with Greece asking to be allowed to participate in her late 40s (with no chance to the podium -- purely symbolic gesture) for Palestine and being denied. The IOC rejection letters explicated that her application would be granted if she had not previously participated under the Greek flag. Hence, nationality different than the flag is allowed, more than one flags is not.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/14/2021 09:51
@adbennet If someone has the citizenship of a country, then IMHO he/she should be allowed to represent that country. If not, then in my opinion the default should be that this is not allowed, except some special situations, where the person obviously belongs to a country of which he/she is not a citizen. For example, if Aronian obtains USA citizenship, then I think he should be allowed to choose whether he represents Armenia or the USA. Also, a Serbian from Kosovo, a Hungarian from Romania are known situations when people live in countries they are not bound to.

But anyway, the problem you have brought up is interesting and complex. I wonder what others think about it.

Also, if ratings would predetermine the results, then rating lists would never change, except when people born and die, so I agree with you on this one as well.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/14/2021 09:48
@adbennet that's a very complex problem. Hungarians from Transylvania may want to represent Hungary instead of Romania. Romanians from Moldavia may want to represent Romania instead of Moldavia. Serbians from Kosovo may want to represent Serbia instead of Kosovo. Borders are drawn by political and military struggle throughout history and some people's national identity may be oppressed by world politics. I would have no problem with allowing people who truly have a national identity, but who were not favored by history to represent the country which they are truly bound to. The problem is that people may choose to represent a country without being truly bound to it and it is extremely difficult to determine this factually, this would open up an endless debate.
adbennet adbennet 10/14/2021 06:03
@Theochessman - That's what makes it interesting. It would be so boring if the final tournament standings were always in pre-tournament rating order.
adbennet adbennet 10/14/2021 06:00
Zagliveri_chess wrote: "Chess is, as far as I know, the only sport that allows individuals to play under different flags in international competition."

No, this happens in running, even in the Olympics. For example a USA national ran for Greece, some Kenyans ran for different Arabian nations, etc. If the IOC is blocking chess for changes of federation, then it must be on technical grounds (waiting periods or such) rather than simply that it is happening.
Theochessman Theochessman 10/13/2021 09:26
Caruana (number 2 in the world, the only player other than Magnus who is 2800+ at the moment) is getting outperformed by a bunch of 2600s!?! What's wrong? Why is Fabiano so low on the scoretable?!?
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/13/2021 08:00
Caruana played very interesting games in rounds 5 and 6. It will probably not make him happy due to the result, but these are memorable games. As a non-American I am watching this tournament keenly, as it has some high-quality games that are reminding me of why I like chess.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/13/2021 07:57
@Masquer you are absolutely correct. The fallacy you described is called the fallacy of false dichotomy, which is an informal fallacy, that is, the fallacy is not in the structure of the argument, but in its content.

An excellent example for this fallacy can be found in earlier comments in this discussion, which, in a nutshell can be roughly compressed into "if you disagree that Caruana, So and Dominguez are excellent examples for the importance of the place on lives at, then you disagree with people being paid for their work".

You are also correct when you state that false dichotomy and straw man fallacies are frequently combined. I view this as a symptom of philosophical and political polarization. One is viewed to either be an absolute follower of party X or of party Y. This superficial thinking excludes the possibility that the individual may prefer one over the other, but that preference is not necessarily making the individual a follower with blind faith. For me this kind of description characterizes the author of such superficial criticism instead of the person he/she aims to criticize.
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 10/13/2021 07:09
My two cents on the topic that appears to be popular and divisive.

Chess is, as far as I know, the only sport that allows individuals to play under different flags in international competition. That is FIDE's decision. Chess has been proposed as an event for summer Olympic Games but the IOC has repeatedly denied it for the reason mentioned. Changing flags is a core violation of the Olympic charter. As a result, Chess Olympiads are not endorsed by the IOC.

We have many examples of players that switched flags. Korchnoi and Spaskky played for Switzerland and France respectively after playing many times for Soviet Union. FIDE's rational at the time was political asylum applications. That has more recently changed to money opportunities. Makropoulos was instrumental in popularizing those transfers. It takes USD 5,000 for a GM transfer and pennies for someone like me (~2100).

Prominent recent examples include Karjakin (Ukraine to Russia), Firouja (Iran to France), Caruana (Italy to US), So (Philippines to US), Domingues (Cuba to US), and Aronian (Armenia to US). Mr. Sinquefeld, a lover and supporter of chess, or anyone else with his wealth, could easily make Monaco win a Chess Olympiad by providing financial incentives to play for the tiny country instead of doing the same for the US. BTW, I do not think Monaco is less attractive than St. Louis which is in the top 2 of US cities in homicides and home to Mr. Sinquefeld.

I do not blame the players. If I were 2750, I would do the same. That is a business opportunity and you got to eat and feed a family after all, at least eventually. The tension emerges from the fact that the flag for many people is beyond money.

If FIFA had the same guiding principles as FIDE, I doubt Mo Salah would still play for Egypt. England pays way better plus it offers a much elevated chance of winning or at least advancing in a World Cup tournament than Egypt.
Masquer Masquer 10/12/2021 09:11

I've noticed that many people nowadays like to create mutually exclusive strawmen, reducing arguments to black or white choices, whereas in real life there are many shades of gray. This must be due to some sort of ingrained media indoctrination, imho.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/12/2021 11:10
@MauvaisFou good one! But in reality, the players in the USA open championships would beat the players in the Russia Women championships any day. I would also not bet on the Russian superfinals open players in a match with USA open championship players :)
MauvaisFou MauvaisFou 10/12/2021 06:11
Why are the Russian Women Superfinals so much stronger than the US Championship?
(+ Goryachkina plays in the Open Superfinals!)
And apart from "imported" players, USA does not seem to have many top players...
karavamudan karavamudan 10/10/2021 04:19
People are reading Shankland's books and then using it against him. There must be a law to prevent this :)
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 10/9/2021 08:39
I think Magnus is the new Fischer .

no other persons were the strongest in blitz and had the world championship title.
the druge the druge 10/9/2021 10:15
I think national championships are perfectly valid, but the stronger the tournament the more outside interest there will be. I am also delighted to see it being played in person - I am looking forward to my first OTB game next week since February 2020. I wonder whether wearing a mask affects some players concentration more than others?
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/9/2021 09:28
@Masquer that's very interesting. I will pay attention to that when I watch an interview with him the next time :)
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/9/2021 09:26
@Aighearach "Instead we have personal freedom, and people follow whatever traditions they want."

There is no inherent contradiction between the expectation that the immigrant respects the culture of the society they come to and following their own traditions. Whatever the traditions of the immigrant is, it is quite normal to expect an immigrant to speak the language, respect the culture of the society that accepted him/her, to have the intent to integrate and work. Yes, he/she should have personal freedom, but he/she will have to adhere to the written and unwritten laws of the society he/she comes to. If you accept immigrants without that expectation, then the place you value so much will quickly change, depending on the pace of the inflow and the world view of the majority of the immigrants.

As about the national championship, I maintain my point: a nationalist is obviously interested to see who the nation's best player is.

Summary: Caruana, Dominguez, So had all the right to immigrate into the US. But, it is also true that for them money and opportunities were more important than the place they lived at. This obviously means that they are not examples of people for whom the place they live at is so important. As about the place one lives at, that place was formed by a group of people, usually members of a nation. If a different culture appears there en masse, then the place and whatever is valued related to it will likely change. You do not have to agree with me. I will not accuse you of slandering or anti-whateverism or hyper-whateverism just because you disagree and the only reason I question the accuracy of your understanding of my comment is that you obviously misunderstood it, for example when you suggested that I disagree with people being paid for their work, which is obviously different from any points that I made. I respect you, the audience and myself, so I will not resort to the kind of fallacy you repeatedly resorted to in your comment.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/9/2021 09:01

"You're saying the same anti-American nonsense that people always say."

Exactly how is anti-American to point out that the people you have brought up as examples for the point you wanted to make are illustrating the opposite of your point? If the place they live at is so important for them, then how did they live it for money and opportunities?

"But it's weak, weak, weak arguments, without any moral authority."

I did not claim to be an authority, did not even suggest that. You were the one who assumed that I did not understand you or did not read you, apparently only because of my comment, where I expressed the fact that I disagreed with yours. I have no problem whatsoever with you disagreeing with me. As about morals, I do not need moral lectures from you, thank you very much.

"You're just trying to slander the players for being in what you see as the wrong country."

My point about them was very simple: they left the place they lived at for money and opportunities. Nothing more, nothing less. That's a fact. Facts are not slanderous.

"I guess your angle is as a hyper-nationalist nativist"

Thanks for the attempt to label me. As a matter of fact, the inherited culture I have, the right to have my personal and national identities are important for me. And I also believe that a country's best interest in terms of immigration policies is to ensure as much as possible that whoever comes has good intentions and those without good intentions are filtered out. If that fits whatever label you intend to use on me, then sure, give it a go.

"Immigrants to some places may have to "embrace the traditions of the society that accepts them," we have nothing like that here."

Then you will learn its importance the hard way.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/9/2021 08:46
@Aighearach the fact that I disagree with you does not necessarily mean that I misunderstood you or did not read you. You see, by the mere fact that you say something you will not be right and others do not have the obligation to agree with you. It is interesting that you point out that I used "a lot of words", yet, your answer to that is longer than my comment which was criticized by its length.

"When you talk about money, do you mean you don't think people should be allowed to choose their job?"

No. I was merely proving that the very people whom you brought up as examples for your argument were not good examples and my purpose in proving that was to express that your argument is bogus in my opinion. Your argument was that nationality is more than inherited culture and you continued your thought process by emphasizing the importance of the place people live in. But all the people you have brought up as example apparently considered money and opportunities more important than the place they lived in before they immigrated into the US. I do not question their right to do so, as you falsely accuse me of, which is a strawman, fitting to your "theory" about me not reading your comment. But, on the other hand, I think that the place people live in is less than their nationality. Wherever one lives, the towns, the buildings, the society was built by a group of people who formed the nation. So, the place formed by the nation is merely part of the inherited culture, that is shared by people living close to each-other, because every group of people needs social cohesion.

"Do you think getting paid for your work is immoral?"

No. But you are using a straw man again. My point was that if someone is leaving the place where he/she lives for money and opportunities, then they are not good examples for the importance of the place one lives at.
Masquer Masquer 10/9/2021 04:40
@galuna I wondered about that, too; maybe the time control is just too slow for him :-P
Masquer Masquer 10/9/2021 04:39
@lajosarpad - I've heard people say that Caruana now speaks with a Hungarian accent, although I can't really tell for sure. :-)
Galuna Galuna 10/8/2021 11:36
Why isn't Hikaru playing ?
Aighearach Aighearach 10/8/2021 10:35
@lajosarpad That's a lot of words, but you don't seem to be trying to have a conversation with me about any of it. I'm not sure you even read what I said; perhaps you scanned for keywords and gave your thoughts on those keywords? When you talk about money, do you mean you don't think people should be allowed to choose their job? Do you think getting paid for your work is immoral? You're saying the same anti-American nonsense that people always say. But it's weak, weak, weak arguments, without any moral authority. You're just trying to slander the players for being in what you see as the wrong country. And something about nationalism, I guess your angle is as a hyper-nationalist nativist? As for why Caruana lived in Hungary, his family moved there when he was kid. That's what kids do, they live where their parents live. Immigrants to some places may have to "embrace the traditions of the society that accepts them," we have nothing like that here. Instead we have personal freedom, and people follow whatever traditions they want.
Aighearach Aighearach 10/8/2021 10:23
Right now it is listing Robson-Shankland as +- but you only have to let the computer run for a few seconds for it to change to +=
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/8/2021 01:06
@Aighearach nationalists are obviously interested to know who the nation's best player is, who is the most adept representative of their nation. As about the place where they live, Dominguez, So or Caruana lived at some place before they immigrated into the USA, didn't they? Apparently money and professional opportunities was more important for them than the place they lived at. Of course, Dominguez left a communist dictatorship, maybe the totalitarian atmosphere induced there is unbearable for a true intellectual. As about Caruana, he had Italian and American identity all his life. I think the reason he lived in Hungary for a long while has a lot to do with his opportunities, like the First Saturday tournament. An immigrant, if he/she is goodwilling, then will embrace the traditions of the society that accepts them. Of course, one can only guarantee that the vast majority of immigrants are goodwilling if illegal immigration is not possible and the beaurocracy for immigration is efficient.
Aighearach Aighearach 10/8/2021 03:45
Nationality is about a lot more than just inherited culture... ask Dominguez, So, or Caruana. The latter was born in Florida, but he grew up in Hungary.

A national championship is merely about competing with your neighbors, with the people who have a shared connection in their lives. Humans are physical beings. We exist in a place. And which place we exist in has meaning for our lives. There is shared experience of place.

And logically, nationalists wouldn't even care about a national championship, it would be competition between the national team and other national teams that would excite them.
Aighearach Aighearach 10/8/2021 03:39
In Dominguez-Caruana it gives 36. Rc8! but the computer valuation at the bottom of the game says that this move reduced the advantage. If you're not going to use stockfish for the analysis (understandable) at least turn up the time it spends on the evaluation!
Theochessman Theochessman 10/7/2021 11:23
To me, real Chess is classical chess. With time controls of at least 2 hours each. Preferably longer.
Speed chess is like trying to run a marathon in 10 seconds.
Keith Homeyard Keith Homeyard 10/7/2021 10:53
Portlyotter , good for you. I also gave up chess for about 40 years and now enjoy the club atmosphere again. Strength is not important - enjoyment is! :)
Portlyotter Portlyotter 10/7/2021 10:27
Last night for the first time in 27 years I sat down to play over the board chess.This was at a club I last played for in 1979.

To touch chess pieces and meet people who I last played against 42 years ago was one of the most exciting and emotional moments of my life.

I have played online for almost 20 years but last night was real chess played in a room above an English pub.

We are not very good players but we love the game and we are glad to be facing each other over a wooden board with wooden pieces.

This for me is the chess I fell in love with when Caissa first took my hand in 1976.

Online blitz with the same old players playing each other repeatedly and maximising their income and that of their sponsors is a world away from my chess.

I know which I prefer.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/7/2021 11:59
Nationality is important for many people. Nationality represents their inherited culture, language, traditions. Each nation has its own story, habits and mentality as well as wisdom accumulated through the centuries. You can choose not to belong to any of them, like the communists do, but I wonder why is it important to you that others should share your lack of interest in their own culture, language and traditions?

As about speed chess, let me tell you that people who actually care more about the inner truths in a chess game than the superficial drama the players feel is interested to see well played classical games, with the occasional time troubles and blunders, yes, but not with childish blunders being the norm. If you are more interested about the drama than the game, then maybe watching boxing or some other activities is more fitting for you.

A share of 400% of chess tournaments is four times the totality of chess tournaments. It is a self-defeating argument if meant seriously. If it was meant to be a hyperbolic statement, then sure, you can exaggerate as much as you like.
Minnesota Fats Minnesota Fats 10/7/2021 12:17
To me, and not only to me i guess, it seems that grand national chess championships don't mean anything anymore, only for the historian amongst us, or the nationalists?
now it is all about online international fast chess, blitz chess.
Classic chess is a dinosaur!
Wy is Carlsen even defending his title while 400% of the chess tournaments are blitz and online ...crossing international borders... tournaments?
I guess he has to satisfy his sponsers and FIDE?