U.S. Championships: Robson traps Niemann’s queen, Abhimanyu scores

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/14/2023 – Fabiano Caruana has now a full-point lead at the U.S. Championship, as his closest chaser before round 8, Hans Niemann, was defeated by Ray Robson on Friday. Niemann is now sharing second place with Leinier Dominguez, Wesley So and Abhimanyu Mishra — the latter beat Sam Sevian in round 8. Meanwhile, in the U.S. Women’s Championship, Carissa Yip and Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova cannot stop winning, as each obtained a fourth consecutive win on Friday and now have a 2-point lead over their closest chasers. | Photo: Austin Fuller

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


A single misstep

Hans Niemann had been the only player to remain at a half-point distance from sole leader Fabiano Caruana after seven rounds at the U.S. Championship. However, playing black against Ray Robson, he suddenly allowed his queen to be trapped by his opponent — despite having a 45-minute advantage on the clock!

A time-trouble addict, Robson had been very careful not to let any tactical trick escape him in the opening and early middlegame of a theoretical Ruy Lopez. At this point, with six moves to go before reaching the time control, he had 4 minutes to Niemann’s 49.

Both the blunder 34...Qa3 and the refutation 35.Ra2 were played almost instantly.

The queen has nowhere to go. Resignation came after 35...Ba4 36.Qa1.

Hans Niemann

Hans Niemann | Photo: Lennart Ootes

After this loss, Niemann remained in second place, but now a full-point behind defending champion Caruana, who drew Sam Shankland with white. Sharing second place with Niemann on plus-one scores are Leinier Dominguez, Wesley So and Abhimanyu Mishra.

At 14 and as the second-lowest rated player in the field, Abhimanyu is having a great run in the national championship. On Friday, he beat Sam Sevian with the white pieces. The teenager had an extra pawn in a bishop vs knight endgame, and managed to convert his advantage after Sevian incorrectly pushed his f-pawn on move 47.

The ending was analysed by our in-house expert, GM Karsten Müller.

Abhimanyu Mishra

Abhimanyu Mishra | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 8 results

Standings after round 8

All games

Yip and Tokhirjonova two points ahead

There is no stopping the leading duo in the Women’s Championship. After each obtained a fourth consecutive victory in round 8, co-leaders Carissa Yip and Gulrulkhbegim Tokhirjonova now have a 2-point lead over Irina Krush and Alice Lee.

While Tokhirjonova outplayed Anna Zatonskih positionally to get a rather clean 32-move victory on Friday, Yip emerged victorious out of a rollercoaster battle against Atousa Pourkashiyan.

If we look at this position, it is surprising that it was Black who ended up getting a win. Despite being an exchange down, White has a strong initiative. And, indeed, Pourkashiyan could have obtained a remarkable victory had she found 54.Rc3 here, threatening to give a lethal check from c8 — e.g. 54...Qd6 fails to 55.g6, leaving the queen en prise to take away the h7-square from the black king.

It should be noted that both players had about a minute left on the clock at this point and were mostly ‘living on increments’.

Instead of the killer shot, White played 54.Qb8+, and after escaping with the king to f6, the worst had passed for Yip.

A few moves later, Pourkashiyan faltered again, except this time not by failing to find a winning manoeuvre but by entering a hopeless position.

Black is attacking the rook on g3 and, according to the engines, has a slight advantage.

However, it was not the time to go for desperate measures — i.e. 58.Nh7+ allowing 58...Rxh7 to pin the knight with 59.Qf4, as was seen in the game. After the simple 59...Rhg7, Black is guaranteed further simplifications, and her material advantage is sure to give her the victory.

Instead of all this, White could have gone for 58.Nxf7, and the battle continues. With so little time on the clock, Yip would have probably struggled to find the more accurate moves to convert her advantage. It was a lucky break for the youngster, which keeps her tied for first as she fights to get her second U.S. women’s title.

Carissa Yip

Carissa Yip | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova

Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Round 8 results

Standings after round 8

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.