US Championships: Caruana and Sevian join the lead

by Klaus Besenthal
10/9/2021 – After escaping with draws from two inferior positions in the first rounds of the US Chamionship, Fabiano Caruana scored his first win of the event on Friday to join a group of 4 co-leaders atop the standings table — Sam Sevian also won to join the leading pack. In the women’s section, Katerina Nemcova continues to be the sole leader. | Photo: Bryan Adams

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Caruana beats Burke

In the game against 20-year-old John Burke on Friday, Fabiano Caruana was vastly superior. Even before move 30 Burke was confronted with numerous weaknesses in his position, and also a fatal pin. The final position was a kind of zugzwang on a full board.

 

16...Ba6? A terrible-looking move.

[After 16...Bb6! 17.Nxb5 Rxa1 18.Qxa1 0-0 Caruana would still have had a lot of work to do.  Many things suggest that the black bishop would have been better off on b6 from the start.]

17.Bb3 Ne7 18.d4! Now the position plays itself out.

 

18...exd4 19.Nxd4

[The refined 19.Nc2! was missed by Caruana: the move would have ensured that a white knight would get to d4 in any case.]

19...b4?

[With 19...Bxd4! Black would have been able to limit the damage here.]

20.Nc4 Bxc4

[After 20...Bxd4 21.Qxd4 0-0 22.cxb4 Nc6 23.Qc3 Bxc4 24.Bxc4 Ne5 25.Ra5 White has an extra pawn and can attack the black weaknesses on both wings.]

21.Bxc4 0-0 22.cxb4 d5 23.exd5 Qd6 

 

With his pawn sacrifice, Black has improved his queen, but it is no longer of any use.

24.Nb5 Qxb4 25.b3 Qc5 26.Qf3 The same applies as in the variation on move 20: White already has an extra pawn and no weaknesses, while Black faces big problems on both sides of the board.

26...Kg7 27.Ra6

 

Threatening Qf6+ as well as Rfa1.

27...f6 [Or 27...Bb6 28.Rxa8 Rxa8 29.d6! gaining material.]

28.Rfa1 Nc8 29.Kh2!

 

After this quiet move, there is nothing else for Black to do. 1-0

You can already see Fabiano Caruana’s drive in his face here | Photo: Crystal Fuller

These two are only 20 years old and still at the beginning of their careers — Jeffery Xiong and Sam Sevian debriefing after Sevian came out on top | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Lazaro Bruzon and Leinier Dominguez, two Cubans that now represent the United States, drew their direct encounter | Photo: Bryan Adams

After two defeats, Dariusz Swiercz bounced back with a win | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 3

 

All games

 

Nemcova still ahead

In the Women’s Championship, Katerina Nemcova defended her leading position with a draw against Ashrita Eswaran. Carissa Yip, Irina Krush and Eswaran, who were already half a point behind before the round, also only drew and consequently could not catch up with the leader.

Stylish ambience at the Saint Louis Chess Club — it is hard to imagine better conditions for a chess player | Photo: Crystal Fuller

Standings after round 3

 

All games

 

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Klaus Besenthal is computer scientist, has followed and still follows the chess scene avidly since 1972 and since then has also regularly played in tournaments.
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