U.S. Championships: Yu sole leader in the women’s event

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/10/2022 – Fabiano Caruana and Jennifer Yu are the sole leaders in the U.S. Championships going into the first rest day of the 13-round event. In round 5, Caruana drew birthday boy Wesley So with the white pieces, while Yu defeated Sabina Foisor with black in what was her fifth consecutive decisive game of the tournament. | Photo: Bryan Adams

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No draws for Yu

Jennifer Yu, the 2019 U.S. women’s champion, is the one player that has not drawn a single game after five rounds in the national championships taking place at the Saint Louis Chess Club. The 20-year-old player from Ithaca defeated Sabina-Francesca Foisor with the black pieces to grab the sole lead going into the first rest day (out of three) of the event.

A 70-move game, the contest saw Yu getting the upper hand in the early middlegame. However, the new sole leader failed to find precise continuations to make the most of her advantage in the ensuing struggle.

But it was Foisor who made the last mistake, in an endgame with rooks and bishops of opposite colours.

 

The active 53.Rd5 was the way to continue defending this position for White. On the other hand, the natural-looking 53.Rb1, which was Foisor’s choice, was an error, as after 53...Bd6 54.Kf3 Bc5 55.Rf1 (preventing mate on f2) b3, Black has improved her bishop and made decisive progress by pushing her passer on the b-file.

Once she calculated it was safe to take the rooks off the board, Yu simplified into a pure opposite-coloured bishops endgame. Foisor kept on fighting, but had to resign when it was clear that one of Black’s passers would inevitably become a queen.

 

This was Yu’s fourth win of the event. She played three out of five games with the black pieces.

Sabina Foisor, Jennifer Yu

The long game is over — Sabina Foisor and Jennifer Yu | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Four games finished decisively in round 5 of the women’s event. Ashritha Eswaran scored her first win of the championship, while Rochelle Wu and Irina Krush grabbed their second victories of the event.

Krush, who remains undefeated, thus climbed to shared second place in the standings. After drawing her first three games, she scored back-to-back wins right before the rest day. On Sunday, she defeated Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova — who played board 1 for the U.S. team at the Chennai Olympiad — from the black side of a Sicilian Defence. The 38-year-old is looking to get her ninth national title!

Irina Krush

Irina Krush | Photo: Lennart Ootes

All results - Round 5

 

Standings after round 5

 

All games

 

 

Liang plays the Scotch Gambit, beats Aronian

The most anticipated game of round 5 in the open section, the clash facing top seeds Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana, finished in a draw. Much earlier on the day, the third seed Levon Aronian lost a 32-move game against 19-year-old Awonder Liang.

Playing white against the player with the fourth highest-ever rating in history, Liang decided to start the game with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4, the Scotch Gambit. The youngster shared a curious anecdote that prompted him to employ such adventurous strategy.

As he told Cristian Chirila, the database does not show a single game in which Aronian faced this line despite being a lifelong e4-e5 player. Nonetheless, Aronian quickly entered a solid variation against the gambit, which prompted Liang to reflect on the fact that “these 2700s just know everything”.

A fighting player, Aronian refused to force a queen swap on move 11, which was perhaps a bit too ambitious in that specific situation. Soon after, he got himself into a position where only a computer-like move would have prevented disaster.

 

Aronian confessed to Liang that when he played 13...Nb4, he had missed 14.Bd2, which threatens to place the bishop on the long diagonal with great effect. Here, the engines show 14...Kg8 as the only defensive recourse, a move that is certainly difficult to find under the circumstances.

In fact, the elite GM did not find it despite spending 20 minutes thinking, and instead went for 14...Qd6. Remarkably, his young opponent, aware of the fact that he was probably winning already, took his time and found the best continuation in 15.Nc3, which is stronger than the tempting 15.Bc3.

 

From this position, the conversion was not trivial at all, but Liang enjoyed playing with such a strong initiative and went on to get a fine attacking victory over a really strong opponent.

Awonder Liang

Awonder Liang | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The other winner of the day in the open was Sam Shankland, who bounced back from his loss against Wesley So by taking down Elshan Moradiabadi with the white pieces. Shankland described the encounter as “an absolutely horrendous game”, with plenty of mistakes for both sides. The 2018 U.S. champion, however, also noted that “the tournament is still young”.

These results left Fabiano Caruana in the sole lead with 3½/5 points, while two young players stand a half point back — Sam Sevian and Awonder Liang. After the rest day, the leader will try to widen the gap in his black game against tailender Moradiabadi.

Sam Sevian

In shared second place — Sam Sevian | Photo: Lennart Ootes

All results - Round 5

 

Standings after round 5

 

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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