U.S. Championships: Caruana scores, Yoo wins two in a row

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/8/2022 – Three decisive games were seen both at the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Women’s Championship in Friday’s third round. In the open, Fabiano Caruana and Awonder Liang scored their first wins of the event, while Christopher Yoo grabbed a second victory in a row. Among the women, Tatev Abrahamyan, Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova and Ruiyang Yan collected full points. | Photo: Austin Fuller

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Leading a double life

Many of the participants at the U.S. Championships are not professional chess players in the strictest sense of the word, as they continue to do homework and study for exams, either in high school or college, while playing in the national events. Remarkably, they still manage to beat strong opponents and remain competitive under the trying circumstances.

Awonder Liang (aged 19) belongs to this group. A prodigious player, he could have chosen to focus on chess after leaving high school, but instead decided to keep his options open and go to college. Moreover, talking to Cristian Chirila, he explained that he is taking different courses without having yet decided on a specific Major. 

In round 3, Liang bounced back from his loss against Elshan Moradiabadi with a victory over Aleksandr Lenderman. The youngster later confessed that, at the moment, he is “much more a student than a chess player”, and also explained:

I was out of book after move 3, so basically I didn’t know what to do against the Slav, and I guess that’s just something that kind of happens when you are at sub-2700 level — I mean, you like to watch the games of guys like Caruana, but sometimes you also have to look at my games to see the struggle (smiles).

The interview is well worth a watch, as the game included plenty of instructive, strategic themes, and Liang’s attitude towards the game is rather refreshing amid so much drama.



All three winners in the open played white on Friday. While Fabiano Caruana was actually in trouble against Dariusz Swiercz but managed to make the most of his massive advantage on the clock, Christopher Yoo showed nice calculation skills in his game against Moradiabadi.

 

As pointed out by Yoo, in this position he was a rook and a piece down, but somehow Black had managed to leave all three of his minor pieces en prise — and White might choose to grab the rook on f8 as well. 

Once the dust settled, White emerged with an extra pawn on the queenside. By move 39, Yoo had a clearly winning position, and he got to play a good-looking capture to end the game.

 

39.Qxa8 was followed by Black’s resignation. The b-pawn was the hero of the game.

US Chess Championships 2022

The playing hall | Photo: Austin Fuller

Friday’s results left four players tied for first place with 2/3 points — Yoo and Caruana joined round-1 winners Hans Niemann and Sam Sevian in the leading pack. In round 4, Niemann will face Caruana with the white pieces in a crucial clash of co-leaders.

All results - Round 3

 

Standings after round 3

 

All games

 

 

Two Lees in the lead

Megan Lee and Alice Lee are sharing the lead with 2½ points in the women’s championship. The two youngsters drew their games on Thursday and saw former co-leader Jennifer Yu losing her encounter with black against Tatev Abrahamyan. Besides Abrahamyan, Ruiyang Yan — who is making her debut in the national tournament — and Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova also left the playing hall with a full point to their names.

This is how a smiling Abrahamyan described her victory over Yu:

It was a lot of back and forth. We both managed our time really poorly. At some point something happened, we didn’t have time, and the game ended.

It was, indeed, a turbulent encounter, with Yu making the decisive mistake on move 34. White had obtained a clear advantage in the early middlegame, but amid the chaos Black had somehow reached this defensible position.

 

The one move to continue the struggle is 34...Re8, when White does gain the knight with 35.Rxe8+ Kxe8 36.Qxg7, but Black gets counterplay via 36...Qc1+ 37.Bf1 Bc4.

Instead, Yu’s 34...Bf7 immediately fails to 35.Qh8+ Bg8 36.Bc4, and it is White who gets to pin the light-squared bishop. Resignation came two moves later.

Tatev Abrahamyan

Tatev Abrahamyan | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Three players stand a half point behind the co-leaders — Yu, Abrahamyan and Tokhirjonova. The most relevant games for the standings on Saturday will be:

  • Alice Lee vs. Ruiyang Yan
  • Tatev Abrahamyan vs. Sabina Foisor
  • Jennifer Yu vs. Sophie Morris-Susuki (a repeat of the U.S. Girls Championship’s playoff)
  • Anna Zatonskih vs. Megan Lee
  • Nazi Paikidze vs. Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova

Alice Lee

Co-leader Alice Lee | Photo: Austin Fuller

All results - Round 3

 

Standings after round 3

 

All games

 

 

Links


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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