US Championships: Sevian and So join the lead

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/14/2021 – Three decisive results in round 7 left Wesley So, Sam Sevian and Aleksandr Lenderman in the shared lead of the US Championship. Former co-leader Ray Robson was beat by Fabiano Caruana, who bounced back from two painful consecutive losses. In the women’s championship, Carissa Yip beat Anna Zatonskih to grab the sole lead. Irina Krush and Katerina Nemcova stand a half point behind. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Caruana bounces back

It is simply impossible to rule out a player like Fabiano Caruana in the fight for first place with so many rounds to go, even when he has shown he is clearly in subpar form. The Italo-American star bounced back from two painful losses by taking down former co-leader Ray Robson in round 7, and now stands one point behind the leaders with four rounds to go.

In the meantime, second seed and defending champion Wesley So has climbed to first place after getting a full point in his game with black against John Burke. So is now sharing the lead with Aleksandr Lenderman and Sam Sevian. The latter followed up on his remarkable victory over Caruana by beating Lazaro Bruzon — Bruzon had drawn all his games until round 6.

Aleksandr Lenderman, Jeffery Xiong

Co-leader Aleksandr Lenderman drew Jeffery Xiong on Wednesday | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Facing Robson with white, Caruana entered a materially balanced endgame on move 33. He had a small edge with the bishop pair against Black’s bishop and knight.


Here is where the grind began. Caruana kept making progress one step at a time, until a crucial position was reached no fewer than 38 moves later.


Caruana correctly assessed that giving up his dark-squared bishop with 71.Bxg5 is called for here. After 71...Nxg5+, White infiltrated with his king via c5 and soon enough grabbed his opponent’s b and c-pawns.

Once the bishops were exchanged, the endgame with four pawns against a knight and a pawn was winning for White. Caruana got to end the game with a small flourish.


It is easy to see that promoting the g-pawn with check wins, but Caruana noticed that it was not necessary to get a queen for his pawn, so he played 90.g8B+, prompting Robson’s resignation. The bishop also does the job in the case.

[Editor’s note: As Michael Bacon points out in the comments, Robson could have drawn by capturing the dark-squared bishop on move 60. Another suggestion that probably drew was mentioned in the interview with Caruana: 73...Ne4+ 74.Rb6 c5! 75.bxc5 Kf7.]

Fabiano Caruana

It was a long day at the office for Fabiano Caruana | Photo: Lennart Ootes

While Caruana worked hard for his win, the other two winners of the day obtained their full points much earlier. So outplayed Burke from the black side of a Ruy Lopez to get a 34-move win, while Sevian saw Bruzon surprisingly blundering as early as move 19. The Cuban was lost three moves later, on a board full of pieces.


22...a4 was the last move of the game. Any rook move will be followed by 23...Nc3, forcing the white queen to leave the defence of the f3-bishop.

Standings after round 7


All games


Following her setback from round 5, when she lost to Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova, Carissa Yip has scored two consecutive wins to grab the sole lead of the women’s tournament. She is now chased by Katerina Nemcova and 8-time champion Irina Krush, who beat Ashritha Eswaran in Wednesday’s seventh round.

Yip got the better of an out-of-form Anna Zatonskih with the white pieces.


White is clearly better coordinated, as Black has not even managed to castle — not surprisingly, 28.b4 dismantles Zatonskih’s crumbling position. Resignation came after 28...Bxb4 29.Rxd4, forking queen and bishop.

Irina Krush

In the hunt — Irina Krush | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Standings after round 7


All games



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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