US Championships: Naroditsky beats Caruana

by André Schulz
10/12/2021 – Rating favourite Fabiano Caruana was defeated by Daniel Naroditzky in round 5 of the US Championships and is currently a full point behind the co-leaders. Ray Robson drew to remain atop the standings, except he now shares first place with Alex Lenderman, who showed great tenacity to beat Sam Sevian after 140 moves. Katerina Nemcova is the sole leader in the women’s event. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Lenderman joins the lead

The favourites have not quite been up to their usual standards at the 2021 US Championship. Hikaru Nakamura didn’t even show up. Wesley So had obtained three draws and a win before round 5, and yesterday split another point, against Lazaro Bruzon. 

Leinier Dominguez has not yet gone beyond +1 either. After the victory over Sam Shankland in the fourth round, he could only get a draw against John Burke.

But Fabiano Caruana is having an even tougher time in Saint Louis. Before round 5, Caruana had three draws and a win to his name. In round 4 on Saturday, Caruana had narrowly escaped with a draw in a losing position against Wesley So. In round 5, however, he could not pull off another escape in his game against Daniel Naroditzky. Caruana got little out of a Ruy Lopez with the white pieces, and a misjudgement in the endgame left him in a losing position.

Caruana, Fabiano (2800) - Naroditsky, Daniel (2623)
Saint Louis USA (5.1), 11.10.2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 Tired of the eternal anti-Marshall and anti-Berlin variations, the masters today revive other Spanish lines, such as the Improved Steinitz Defence.

5.0–0 Bd7 6.c3 Nf6 7.Re1 g6 8.d4 Bg7 9.Nbd2 exd4 [Another way to go is 9...0–0 10.h3 Re8 11.Bc2 b5 12.Nf1 Na5 0–1 as in Dominguez, L - Nakamura, H, 2020]


10.cxd4 0–0 11.h3 Nb4 12.Bxd7 Qxd7 13.Qb3 a5 14.a3 Nc6 15.Nf1 [15.Qxb7?! Rfb8 trapping the queen.]

15...a4 16.Qd3 Na5 17.Bg5 Nb3 18.Rad1 h6 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.N1d2 Na5 21.Nb1 [Also possible here was 21.e5 dxe5 22.Ne4 Bg7 23.Nxe5 and the knights in the centre may give attacking chances on the kingside.]

21...b5 22.Qc2 [22.Nc3 Nc4 23.Qc2 c6=]

22...Bg7 23.Nc3 c6 24.e5 Rfe8= Black has a comfortable position and few worries.


25.Ne4 Nc4 26.exd6 Nxd6 27.Ne5 Qf5 28.g4 Qe6 29.Nc3 Rac8 30.Re2 Qb3 31.Qxb3?[31.Qd3=]

31...axb3 If the b2-pawn falls, its b3 counterpart will become a giant.

32.Kg2 c5 33.dxc5 Nc4 34.Nxc4 Rxe2


35.Nxe2? [White has better drawing chances after the intermediate move 35.Nd6, when there would follow 35...Bxc3 36.Nxc8 Bxb2 37.Rb1 Bxa3 38.Rxb3 Bxc5 39.Rxb5 Rxf2+ 40.Kg3 and the extra pawn will hardly be enough to win.]

35...bxc4 36.Rc1 [36.Rb1 Rxc5 threatens Rd5 and Rd2 with an attack on b2. The computer suggests 36.Nc3 Bxc3 37.bxc3 as the best option, e.g.: 37...Kg7 38.Kf3 Kf6 39.a4 Rxc5 40.Rd4 but the far-advanced passed pawn should win for Black.]

36...Bxb2 37.Rxc4 Bxa3 38.c6 b2 39.Nc3 Bf8 40.Nb1 Bg7 41.Kf3 Kf8 42.h4 Ke7 43.h5 Kd6 44.hxg6 fxg6 45.Rb4 Rxc6


The endgame is won for Black.

46.Rb7 Be5 47.Nd2 Rc2 48.Ke3 Kc6 49.Rb3 Rc3+ 50.Rxc3+ Bxc3 51.Nb1 Bb4 52.f4 Kd5 53.Kd3 h5 54.f5 hxg4 55.fxg6 Ke6 56.Ke4 g3 57.Kf3 Bd6 0–1

Fabiano Caruana congratulates Daniel Naroditsky | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Jeffrey Xiong ended his negative streak of three consecutive losses with a clean victory over Sam Shankland.


White is better thanks to his active pieces and the pawn majority on the queenside.

31.c6 bxc6 [31...Ref7 32.Ne5 Rg7 33.Re1]

32.Rxc6 Bd7 33.Rxf6 Rxb8 34.Nd4 Re5 35.Rd6 Rb7 36.b6 Re7 37.g3 Ng6 38.Bg2 The late fianchetto decides. There is no way to properly defend against the threat of Bxd5. 1–0

Sam Sevian, Aleksandr Lenderman

After winning a 140-move marathon against Sam Sevian, Aleksandr Lenderman joined Ray Robson in the lead | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Aleksandr Lenderman showed great stamina and tenacity in his game against Samuel Sevian. After 29 moves, Lenderman had won a pawn.


From here, Lenderman needed 121 more moves to turn the small material advantage into a full point. With the win, Lenderman caught up with Ray Robson at the top of the standings table. Robson signed a draw in his game against Dariusz Swiecz.

A familiar face among the visitors — Levon Aronian | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 5


All games


Women’s tournament

In the women’s championship, the duel between Irina Krush and Anna Zatinskih was on the programme. For many years, the two top grandmasters fought fiercely for the championship title. Yesterday, Irina Krush once again decided the game in her favour.

Meanwhile, Carissa Yip has become a serious contender in the fight for the title. The 18-year-old, however, was defeated by Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova in round 5. The latter was born in Uzbekistan, is 22 years old, and has many victories to her name at Youth Asian Championships. She is now studying at the University of Missouri and has transferred to the US Federation.

Victory! | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Katerina Nemcova remains in the lead after a draw against Anna Sharevich, followed by Nazi Paikidze, who won her encounter against Thalia Cervantes.

Nazi Paikidze | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 5


All games



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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