US Championships: Nemcova makes it 2 out of 2

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/8/2021 – Wesley So joined Ray Robson and John Burke in the lead of the US Championship after beating Dariusz Swiercz in round 2. Meanwhile, Katerina Nemcova (pictured) became the only player in both sections to keep a perfect score after two games, as she defeated Sabina Foisor with the black pieces. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Caruana escapes again

Rating favourite Fabiano Caruana has scored one point after two rounds in the US Championship, nothing out of the ordinary for such a strong event. The way he got that point is a bit surprising, though, as he could easily be standing on 0/2 after surviving worse positions against Lazaro Bruzon and Leinier Dominguez in the first two rounds of the tournament.

Second seed Wesley So, in contrast, scored his first win in round 2 and is now sharing the lead with Ray Robson and John Burke. In a lengthy post-game interview, the ever-friendly grandmaster noted that Caruana, Dominguez and himself have had a busy schedule, which might explain their suboptimal form at the outset of the national championship. The Filipino-born star will face Caruana in Saturday’s fourth round.

Leinier Dominguez, Fabiano Caruana

Leinier Dominguez missed a big chance against Fabiano Caruana | Photo: Bryan Adams

The other winner of the day was Daniel Naroditsky, who bounced back from his loss against Robson by beating Jeffery Xiong with the white pieces. 

 

The position arose from the Zukertort opening. We see an intense battle in the centre.

23.b4 Preparing to get the knight to e3.

23...Bxb4 [Black could go for 23...b5. After 24.Bxe4 Bxe4 25.Nd2 Bxb4, however, White gets the pawn back and wins another one with 26.Nxe4 fxe4 27.Qxb5 a5 28.Rxe4 — Black cannot play 28...Dxe4 here (better is 28...h6) due to 29.Qb8+ with mate to follow.]

24.Ne3 g6 25.a3 Be7 26.Nxd5 Qxd5 27.Qf3 White has a lot of pressure. The a2-g8 diagonal is a headache for Black, as so many valuable pieces are lined up there.

 

27...Nc3?! This move gives up an exchange, but Black holds the extra pawn. [27...Rc8 to better protect the back rank was perhaps a better idea. However, White has 28.g4 and gets a strong initiative.]

28.Bc4 [28.Bc2!? looks more accurate.]

28...Rxc4 29.Qxd5 Nxd5 30.Rxc4 b5 [Better was 30...Bc5 to close the c-file.]

31.Rc8+ Kf7 32.Rf3 Nb6 33.Rc7 Nc4 34.Bc3 Nxe5 [34...Nxa3 35.g4]

35.Rh3 h5 36.Rxa7 f4 37.Rb7 Rc6 38.Rxb5 Bf6 39.Rb1 [39.Bxe5?? Rc1#]

 

39...Ng4 Black still has a few recourses at his disposal.

40.Be1 Rc2 41.Rf3 g5 42.h3 Ne5 43.Rf2 Rc4 44.Ra2 The situation is clear. The a-pawn decides the game.

44...f3 45.a4 Re4 46.Bg3 fxg2+ Black has no real threats on the kingside.

47.Kxg2 Nd3 48.a5 h4 49.a6 White does not need to defend his piece.

49...hxg3 50.a7 Nf4+ 51.Kxg3 Re3+ 52.Kg4 [Not 52.Kh2?? Rxh3+ 53.Kg1 Bd4+] 1–0

Daniel Naroditsky, Jeffery Xiong

Daniel Naroditsky and Jeffery Xiong | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 2

 

All games

 

In the women’s section, three players scored full points on Thursday. Much like Naroditsky in the open, Megan Lee recovered from a defeat by beating Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova with the black pieces. Meanwhile, Carissa Yip got the better of Tatev Abrahamyan in a crucial matchup and Katerina Nemcova became the only player in both sections to kick off the event with two consecutive wins.

Yip, who at 18 is the third highest-rated woman player in the country, played enterprising chess to beat Abrahamyan.

 

19...Bc6 A crucial mistake by Black. She threatens to play d4, but White is quicker.

20.Bh7 Rg7 21.Ne4 The bishop went to h7 not only to attack the rook but also to open up this possibility.

21...Qc7 22.Bb6

 

Here Black continued with 22...dxe4 allowing her queen to be captured but getting some material in return — a good practical decision given the circumstances.

Nonetheless, Yip showed great skill in converting her advantage, impressing commentator Yasser Seirawan with her calculation abilities.

Carissa Yip

18-year-old Carissa Yip | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 2

 

All games

 

Additional reporting by André Schulz

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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