2014 U.S. Chess Championships (St. Louis, USA)

2013 U.S. Chess Championship

This year’s U.S. Championship brings yet another format from the previous editions. Instead of the 24-player former, the open field will have a 12-player format and be fixed as a round robin tournament. The women’s championship will maintain the 10-player round robin format. Defending champions are Gata Kamsky and Irina Krush, the latter having earned the GM title since last year.

2013 U.S. Chess Championship

Reigning Champions: GMs Gata Kamsky and Irina Krush
Photo by CCSCSL.

While Kamsky will not have Hikaru Nakamura trying to wrest away the crown, Timur Gareev may provide a challenge as well as Ray Robson, Aleksandr Lenderman and last year’s surprising runner-up, Alejandro Ramirez. Eighteen-year old Daniel Naroditsky is the player looking to make a break-out this year. With this in mind, the field is much younger than previous editions with no one over age 40 competing.

Ashritha Eswaran

In the women’s competition, the most of the same faces are present except for 13-year old Ashritha Eswaran. Standing out with her trademark flower in her hair, the young player of Indian ancestry is a member of the U.S. World Youth Team and received the invitation by virtue of winning the All-Girls National Championship. Of course five-time champion Irina Krush will be face with the usual resistance from Anna Zatonskih. Both have won the last nine titles, but players like and Tatev Abrahamyan and Dr. Iryna Zenyuk look to provide some pressure.

This is the 6th consecutive time that the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis has hosted this prestigious event. The venue is stunningly beautiful and an appropriate conditions for the national championship. Rex Sinquefield has created what is arguably the centerpiece of American chess and is attracting international acclaim.

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The tournament will feature live streaming with commentary being done by GM Yasser Seirawan and WGM Jennifer Shahade with GM Maurice Ashley also providing color commentary and onsite interviews. The Chess Drum will be onsite for live coverage beginning May 8th. Follow the action!!

Live Games: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

2013 U.S. Chess Championship
USA USA USA
Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis
U.S. Overall (by USCF Rating)
#
Name
Title
Rating
Residence
1 Kamsky, Gata GM 2778
Brooklyn, New York
2 Gareev, Timur GM 2751
Brownsville, Texas
3 Onischuk, Alex GM 2751
Lubbock, Texas
4 Akobian, Varuzhan GM 2732
Topeka, Kansas
5 Erenburg, Sergey GM 2717
Richmond, Virginia
6 Robson, Ray GM 2714
St. Louis, Missouri
7 Shankland, Sam GM 2612
Orinda, California
8 Lenderman, Aleks GM 2693
New York City, New York
9 Ramirez, Alejandro GM 2551
Dallas, Texas
10 Molner, Mackenzie GM 2634
Tucson, Arizona
11 Naroditsky, Daniel GM 2632
Foster City, California
12 Friedel, Josh GM 2599
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
U.S. Women (by USCF Rating)
1 Krush, Irina GM 2548
New York City, New York
2 Zatonskih, Anna IM 2526
Germany
3 Abrahamyan, Tatev WGM 2475
Glendale, California
4 Baginskaite, Camilla WGM 2358
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
5 Zenyuk, Irina WIM 2352
Berkeley, California
6 Foisor, Sabina WGM 2303
Baltimore, Maryland
7 Ni, Viktorija WIM 2302
Barrington, Illinois
6 Nemcova, Katerina WGM 2297
Brownsville, Texas
9 Melekhina, Alisa FM 2251
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
10 Eswaran, Ashritha NM 2231
San Jose, California
Francisco Guadeloupe, Arbiter

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

24 Comments

  1. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #1 (Thursday, 8 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Molner, Mackenzie 0.0 2522 GM Onischuk, Alexander 0.0 2668 ½-½
    2 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 0.0 2643 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 0.0 2543 ½-½
    3 GM Friedel, Joshua E 0.0 2505 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 0.0 2582 0-1
    4 GM Gareev, Timur 0.0 2653 GM Kamsky, Gata 0.0 2713 ½-½
    5 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 0.0 2595 GM Shankland, Samuel L 0.0 2634 ½-½
    6 GM Robson, Ray 0.0 2631 GM Erenburg, Sergey 0.0 2633 1-0
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 0.0 2282 GM Krush, Irina 0.0 2489 0-1
    2 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 0.0 2249 IM Zatonskih, Anna 0.0 2469 ½-½
    3 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 0.0 2366 FM Melekhina, Alisa 0.0 2151 1-0
    4 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 0.0 2238 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 0.0 2267 1-0
    5 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.0 2206 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 0.0 1979 0-1
    Games

    The first round of the 2014 U.S. Championship began with a bang. There were a total of six decisive games out of 11 encounters. One of the first game to end was between Timur Gareev and Gata Kamsky, ending in just 14 moves out of a Slav. This of course brought a brief discussion about quick draws as commentator Maurice Ashley took the opportunity to ask players about this practice. The response was mixed, but of course the two players have already removed a big hurdle in their schedule.

    In Molner-Onischuk, white sacrificed a pawn for queenside pressure, but in the middlegame the pieces evaporated and a symmetrical rook ending was reached. Rook endings are the most common in chess and there were several in the first round including Akobian-Naroditsky which went to king vs king. Ramirez-Shankland netted nothing after a Catalan. Probably the most exciting game was Ray Robson’s win over Sergey Erenburg.

    Erenburg finally cracked under pressure after an ambitious pawn sacrifice by Robson. His 32…Qg5? was met harshly with 33. Qb4 b6 34. a4 c5 35. Qb5 Rgc6 36. Qa6 R6c7 37. Rxc7 Kxc7 38. Qxa7+ and with time winding down, black is mated.

    Robson, a sophomore at Webster University, conjured up a bold attack after sacrificing a pawn to gain time. He managed to get an initiative 25. g6!? Nxg6 26. Bh5 Rf6 27. Bxg6 Rxg6 28. Re7 Qd8. Robson played 29.c5! After 29…dxc5 white got a virulent attack after 30. Rd7 Qh4 31. Qa5 Rc8 32. Qxc5. However, Erenburg missed the best continuation erring with 32…Qg5?? (32…Re6!) and after 33.Qb4 white gets a winning initiative against the black king which ended up getting mated. Lenderman ground down Friedel in a nice example of good knight over bad bishop.

    In the women’s field, there were 4/6 decisive results. In Nemcova-Krush, white essayed the Velimorovic Attack, but white attack going given black’s active play. There were a few tactical niceties in the end. Zenyuk-Zatonskih was a classical battle with black finally holding the balance in the rook ending despite the pawn deficit. Abrahamyan overpowered Melekhina in a Guioco Piano while Foiser scored the full point against Baginskaite. In the latter game, the Romanian uncorked a novel sacrifice 24.Nxf7! shattering black’s camp.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    The talk of the round had to be the win by 13-year old Ashritha Eswaran. Commentators were closely following her game and had evaluated 29…Bg4 as critical. After 30. Rc3 Rxc3 31. Nf4! black’s queen is trapped, but on 31…Rxg3 32. Nxh5 Bxh5 white became overzealous. White had to give up her queen for two rooks and ended up in a difficult ending facing a steamroller of black pawns on the g- and h-file. Black finally finished off affairs with a clearout 70…e5! 71. dxe5 Bc4 (threatening mate) 72. Kg2 Kg4 and the pawns rolled through. Impressive win by the junior player!

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at https://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  2. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #2 (Friday, 9 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Onischuk, Alexander 0.5 2668 GM Erenburg, Sergey 0.0 2633 ½-½
    2 GM Shankland, Samuel L 0.5 2634 GM Robson, Ray 1.0 2631 ½-½
    3 GM Kamsky, Gata 0.5 2713 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 0.5 2595 ½-½
    4 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 1.0 2582 GM Gareev, Timur 0.5 2653 ½-½
    5 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 0.5 2543 GM Friedel, Joshua E 0.0 2505 ½-½
    6 GM Molner, Mackenzie 0.5 2522 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 0.5 2643 ½-½
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Krush, Irina 1.0 2489 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 1.0 1979 1-0
    2 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 0.0 2267 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.0 2206 ½-½
    3 FM Melekhina, Alisa 0.0 2151 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 1.0 2238 0-1
    4 IM Zatonskih, Anna 0.5 2469 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 1.0 2366 1-0
    5 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 0.0 2282 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 0.5 2249 ½-½
    Games

    While there were a lot of draws in today’s round, it was not for the lack of fight. In fact, the announcement of the new $64,000 prize for the women’s championship may have encouraged more fights.

    Despite the six draws today, there were a couple of close calls in games where the evaluation was as much as +7! In Lenderman-Gareev, it appears that there would be a decisive result when white developed a strong attack for a pawn after 24.Nxg7! Lenderman then went forth to sacrifice his queen after 27.Qxf5! As it turned out white did not have enough.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    A rematch of last year’s tiebreaker. Although not victorious a better result for Ramirez. Photos by Lennart Ootes.

    Ramirez was happy to get another draw as black against Kamsky as he stated he surprised the defending champion with the French Defense. Kamsky counter with the Advance variation, but got nothing. The game went on for 56 when they could have agreed 15 moves earlier after 40. Nxd5 Nxd5 41. Rd1. Molner-Akobian had its moments of excitement but black ended matters after having sacrificed a piece with 42…Nxd4!? Onischuk-Erenburg was fairly level throughout but black sacrificed a piece for counterplay with a passed pawn. In some very instructive play, white was able to stop the passed pawn, but black had enough tactical resources to hold the balance.

    Probably the most puzzling game was Naroditsky-Friedel which was an opening disaster for white. Black expanded on the queenside and white missed that on 22.Bxb5 black would have 22…Nxe5! After this, black continued to press after playing 22…a4, 23…a3 forcing white to further weaken the queenside. With the queenside compromise, white sought counterplay in the kingside with 37.g4. Black had to shift his defenses over to protect his king and this gave white enough time to get dynamic equality. The game ended in a three-fold repetition.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Irina Krush versus upstart Ashritha Eswaran.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    In the women’s competition, Krush dominated Eswaran, when the youngster misplayed the move order against the English and was never able to establish the flexible hedgehog position due to dangerous e5 threats. After misplaying a few more moves, she lost a pawn and the game was rather easy for the defending champ. In the final position, black is getting mated.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Nice fashion statement, but no color in today’s game for the young star.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Zatonskih-Abrahamyan marked yet another win by the four-time U.S. champion as we saw another Advanced French this round. This was a very clean win with white developing a nice advantage in space and a king’s knight that earned its paycheck! The rook maneuver at the end was very instructive.

    A third Advanced French in Melekhina-Foisor ended a bit better for black this time as white played a dubious pawn sacrifice and got nothing for it. Black’s central pawn mass simply rolled up the board and steamrolled the position.

    “After (Melekhina) traded queens, I didn’t think I could lose anymore,” Foisor said. “I thought my position was pretty much OK, because my pawn structure was intact and I could just start pushing them. We were both in time trouble, so I thought maybe I had some chances to starting pushing the pawns without enough time for her to calculate.”

    Black won a trivial king and pawn ending. Nothing much happened in Nemcova-Zenyuk, but Baginskaite-Ni had a nice buildup that eventually included a white attack and the a black queen sacrifice to stem the tide. After that black had a slight structural advantage, but not enough to claim any decisiveness.

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  3. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #3 (Saturday, 10 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 1.0 2643 GM Onischuk, Alexander 1.0 2668 ½-½
    2 GM Friedel, Joshua E 0.5 2505 GM Molner, Mackenzie 1.0 2522 ½-½
    3 GM Gareev, Timur 1.0 2653 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.0 2543 1-0
    4 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 1.0 2595 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 1.5 2582 0-1
    5 GM Robson, Ray 1.5 2631 GM Kamsky, Gata 1.0 2713 ½-½
    6 GM Erenburg, Sergey 0.5 2633 GM Shankland, Samuel L 1.0 2634 ½-½
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 1.0 2249 GM Krush, Irina 2.0 2489 ½-½
    2 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 1.0 2366 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 0.5 2282 1-0
    3 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2.0 2238 IM Zatonskih, Anna 1.5 2469 0-1
    4 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.5 2206 FM Melekhina, Alisa 0.0 2151 0-1
    5 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 1.0 1979 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 0.5 2267 1-0
    Games

    Things will get rough and tumble in the coming rounds, but for now the U.S. Championship has been a very close tournament with no player claiming a distinct superiority. In the women’s field, Ashritha Eswaran scored another victory over a beleaguered Camilla Baginskaite in a marathon. More on that later.

    Sam Shankland

    Ray Robson was able to hold Gata Kamsky in a rather placid Berlin Defense. Alex Lenderman broke into the lead with a win over Alex Ramirez after white got lost in the complications and went down material. Lenderman converted smoothly. In Akobian-Onischuk, there wasn’t much of a conversation and after 22 moves, they shook hands.

    In Gareev-Naroditsky, the young phenom fell under serious positional pressure in a King’s Indian, Averbakh variation. White got in a kingside pawn storm and black’s position was in a shambles. It was white’s outside passed pawn and attacking king that would do him in.

    “Positionally, my situation was looking really good,” Gareev said. “His bishop was stuck, I had more space, my structure was better, my pawns were placed on better colors, my pieces were more active… I was just trying to reduce the uncertainty at that point, and for awhile Daniel was trying to push forward and complicate things. Eventually he just ran out of resources, and we got to the endgame, which was a big advantage for me.”

    Erenburg-Shankland was an interesting conversation that did not yield much in the way of novelties, but a tough fight nevertheless. Friedel-Molner had a look of dynamism with so many imbalances when in fact, the game petered out rather quickly at move 35. Wins have been hard to come by with only four decisive games thus far.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Eswarana seems confident. Her confidence would pay off again.

    With four decisive games, the talk of the round (again) was Eswaran’s victory. This time it was Baginskaite’s scalp that would be claimed. This was a strange game in that white did not play the usual 9.Be3, but opted for the strange 9.Re1 and 10.Bf3 setup. This leaves the c4-square vulnerable and white does not have the usual play with f4. Thus, black was able to equalize the position rather easily.

    After 22…f5, black was looking very solid, but white had a passed a-pawn. Dynamic equality was on the board. Black continued to play reasonable moves, but then she begin to unravel after white lashed out with 29.g4. Baginskaite, who won the Lithuanian championship at the age of 15, missed a good change with 29…Rxc4! 30.bxc4 b3 with a strong initiative.

    Instead she played passively and her exposed king soon became an issue. Not only that… white’s passed a-pawn would become a serious trump. White actually won a pawn but the youngster began making a series of mistakes by chasing the black king to a more advantageous position. It was at a certain point that a pawn race ensued and both queens looked on as the pawns sprinted up the board for a queen.

    After the text move 60.Qb3+ black has a couple of playable choices… one move loses and the other wins. In time pressure, Baginskaite chose the losing 60…Kd4?? (60…Qc3!-+) 61. Qxe4+ Qxe4 62. Qxb4+. At this point, Baginskaite touches her queen, but resigned before more time could be added to her opponent’s clock. In the final position, 62…Ke5 63. Qxe4+ Kxe4 64.a5 Kd5 65.f4+-

    After 57…e1(Q), there were four queens on the board, but white got the first chance to deliver a blow. The computer gave the evaluation as roughly equal, but with four queens on the board there are lots of tricks. As if on cue, 58. Qb2+ Kd3 59. Qh7+ Qde4 60. Qb3+ Kd4?? (60…Qc3!) was now losing after 61. Qxe4+ Qxe4 62. Qxb4+ and the passed pawns run. Baginskaite illegally tried to move her queen after 62.Qxb4+ and when the arbiter came to add more time, she simply resigned.

    Two buddies faced each other in Zenyuk-Krush and although the game was certainly not a pre-arranged draw, the game had no violent tendencies. One of the challengers of the Krush-Zatonskih dominion is Tatev Abrahamyan, their teammate on the U.S. Olympiad team. Tatev has improved since the last year and has recently earned the IM title. In this game, she nursed an a-pawn and cashed it in for the full point on move 47.

    Alisa Melekhina got her first win in a crush.
    All photos by Lennart Ootes.

    In Ni-Melekhina, the game was practically a rout as Ni has not had much success in the last two women’s championships. She did not come to fight in this game as Melekhina quickly seized the center as Ni played 1. Nf3 c5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 g6 4. b3 Bg7 5. c3?! e5 6. e4. Black was able to develop an overwhelming position and in desperation Ni sacrificed a piece with 23.Nxe5? White had a mass of central pawns, but they had no momentum. Ni kept trying to complicate the position with tactics, but she kept losing material until Melekhina had netted a queen for a bishop. Clearly an easy game for the UPenn law graduate.

    Anna Zatonskih had a rather easy time against Sabina Foisor after white overlooked a tactical shot, 12. e4 Qxc3+ 13. Qxc3 Nxc3 14. Rxc3 cxd4 netting a pawn. Black got a very nice pawn chain and was in control.

    “My position was very easy – I don’t mean like easy to win, but easy to find moves to play,” Zatonskih said. “It was concrete lines and with a 30 second increment in such a position, it should be enough. I think white needs time in such a position to prove she had compensation for the pawn. For black, it was pretty particular what black was supposed to do.”

    Zatonskih is tied with Krush after three rounds.

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  4. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #4 (Sunday, 11 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Onischuk, Alexander 1.5 2668 GM Shankland, Samuel L 1.5 2634 1-0
    2 GM Kamsky, Gata 1.5 2713 GM Erenburg, Sergey 1.0 2633 1-0
    3 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 2.5 2582 GM Robson, Ray 2.0 2631 1-0
    4 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.0 2543 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 1.0 2595 ½-½
    5 GM Molner, Mackenzie 1.5 2522 GM Gareev, Timur 2.0 2653 0-1
    6 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 1.5 2643 GM Friedel, Joshua E 1.0 2505 ½-½
    Games

    With a rest day for the women, things are heating up in the in the open field with 4/6 decisive games. Lenderman powered to victory over Robson and bolted into first place on +3. Robson tried an exchange sacrifice out his Grunfeld, but got nothing for his investment. In fact, Lenderman grabbed the material and then launched an attack of his own. This culminated with the crushing blow with 29.Nxg6+! winning a pawn. In the ensuing complications, Lenderman gave back the exchange ending up two pawns. The game came to a beautiful finish with 50.Rg8+. Black resigned before 50…Nxg8 51.fxg8(Q)+ Kxg8 52. e7+ followed by 53.e8(Q). Nice!

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Lenderman is now the tournament leader!
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Molner-Gareev saw a Schleimann Ruy Lopez, certainly a surprise since it is not seen at top levels. The Uzbek certainly understood the nuances better and was able to get a favorable ending with a closed position with two knights versus a knight and bishop. Classic example. However, the game dragged on before Molner committed a one-move blunder after 68.Kg3 Nxc3+. After three draws, Kamsky crushed Erenburg in a Trompowsky Attack.

    “I decided on (Trompowsky) probably a half an hour before the game,” Kamsky said. “I looked at some lines and realized there’s nothing much going on – but its middlegame position, you can exchange a lot of pieces, so there’s a lot of play.”

    Certainly he understood the nuances, but launched a scintillating queenside(!) attack by prying open lines. The game ended with Kamsky “two-rooking” black’s king. Actually after 34.Rc7 there are all types of mating patterns in the air if the queen moves off the rank. In Onischuk-Shankland got a huge advantage and commentators were swooning over the overwhelming advantage. However, they were then wondering whether he had given away his advantage after 29.e6 instead of the suggested 29.f4. Of course, Onischuk had everything under control.

    “I think (Shankland’s) opening choice to go for this endgame was mistaken,” Onischuck said. “He can either draw or lose, but he has no chances to win. It’s a very comfortable position for me – maybe not much, but I’m bracing just a little bit. And in fact, he made a mistake with his bishop and maybe h6 is just losing.”

    Indeed. Onsichuk got his first win and is a point out of the lead. In other action Akobian-Friedel (Bogo-Indian) and Naroditsky-Ramirez (French) were drawn.

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  5. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #5 (Monday, 12 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Friedel, Joshua E 1.5 2505 GM Onischuk, Alexander 2.5 2668 ½-½
    2 GM Gareev, Timur 3.0 2653 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2.0 2643 0-1
    3 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 1.5 2595 GM Molner, Mackenzie 1.5 2522 1-0
    4 GM Robson, Ray 2.0 2631 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.5 2543 0-1
    5 GM Erenburg, Sergey 1.0 2633 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 3.5 2582 ½-½
    6 GM Shankland, Samuel L 1.5 2634 GM Kamsky, Gata 2.5 2713 ½-½
    Games

    What an exciting day at the U.S. Championships! There were some exciting encounters, particularly in the Women’s field.

    Gata Kamsky stated there may be a new U.S. Champion. Don’t bet on it.

    In the main championship, three decisive games were seen as the fighting vigor has picked up steam. Shankland-Kamsky and Friedel-Onischuk were nothing special while Erenburg-Lenderman drew in an exciting Sicilian Richter-Rauzer. Akobian was able to squeeze a win in a rook ending after Gareev made a terrible misjudgement.

    Ramirez got the win in a funny conclusion. The black king has marched up the board to aid in raiding the kingside only to be entombed by his own pieces. However, 43…Kh3 resulted in an amusing finish after 44.a4 Qg4 45.Qc5 Bf4 46.Qf2! After 46…Bg3, Molner resigned before allowing Ramirez to play 47.Ng1 checkmate!

    Robson has fallen on hard times with his second loss in a row after he played a novelty in the Berlin Defense 6.Ba4. White appeared to get adequate play as he controlled the e-file. However, as time wore on the marauding white rook actually got caught in a net. Instead of losing a rook, white decided to donate the knight instead, but the result was clear. Even Robson’s attempt at a “crazy rook” was nothing but a humorous self-deprecation.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #4 (Monday, 12 May 2013)
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Krush, Irina 2.5 2489 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 0.5 2267 1-0
    2 FM Melekhina, Alisa 1.0 2151 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 2.0 1979 ½-½
    3 IM Zatonskih, Anna 2.5 2469 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.5 2206 ½-½
    4 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 0.5 2282 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2.0 2238 1-0
    5 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 1.5 2249 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 2.0 2366 ½-½
    Games

    Krush-Baginskaite was simply a rout by any other name. The opening was normal, but black started to wander after 16…Be4?! The game would be over swiftly after 17.Bxe4 dxe4 18.Rd5 Qc8 19.Ng5. Baginskaite had to choose between two moves… 19…h6 and 19…f6. The former runs into 20.Qh5 hxg5 21.Rxg5 Be5 22.Bxe5 Nxe5 23.Rxe5 netting a pawn. This was not nearly as bad as the text 19…f6 which is noticeably worse after 20.Rd7.

    Krush delivered the finishing blow 23.Bxf6! forcing resignation. If Baginskaite would have continued, there was a choice of three delectable mates. Either… 23…Rg8 24.Qh5 Qf5 (24…h6 25.Qxh6# Ashley pointed out) 25.Nf7# or 25.Qxh7+ Qxh7 26.Nf7# (Jennifer’s and Irina’s choice).

    Now the light squares are indefensible. Krush who claimed not to be a good attacking player, sacrificed a rook with 21.Qh5! Qxd7 22.Qf7+ Kh8 23.Bxf6! and it’s done. The commentators were discussing which mates are the most aesthetically-pleasing. Of course the “smothered mate” is a favorite of many and this was demonstrated with gusto. Seirawan even shared a story of learning the smothered mate (with the queen sacrifice) as a boy. Certainly not a joking matter for black, but Krush seemed to revel is the opportunity to get such a rare finish. Yasser Seirawan seemed appalled as the sadistic idea that both Krush and Jennifer Shahade would prolong mate one move because of the aesthetic beauty. Quite hostile or maybe “Hostel“. 🙂

    Nemcova played the scintillating 26.Ne4!! after 26…dxe4, white finished the game with a nice flurry after 27.Rxg6! Kxg6 28.Rg1+ Kh7 29.Qxf6 and black is mated.

    The other beauty was Nemcova-Foisor out of a dubious Modern Defense. The sacrifice after 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d5?! 4. exd5 Nf6 5. Bc4 was simply bad. White held onto the pawn it ultimately became the battering ram in white’s virulent attack with 19.d6! A beautiful finish came after 25.Rg1+ Bg6 26.Ne4! After 26…dxe4, the coup de grace with the boomshot 27.Rxg6! Kxg6 28.Rg1+ Kh7 29.Qxf6 and mate is inevitable.

    Viktorija Ni blew a great opportunity to get her first win against Anna Zatonskih after winning the opening battle with active play. Black simply stole a pawn with 13.Rxd5 and later won a queen for two pieces, but was unable to create more weaknesses before white set up a fortress.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    A near-miss for Viktorija Ni who had Anna Zatonskih busted.
    Photos by Lennart Ootes.

    Ashritha Eswaran missed another opportunity after getting a big advantage against Alisa Melekhina’s Grand Prix Attack. The junior player shredded white’s plan and after 17…b5 was completely winning. However, black got a bit overzealous, grabbed the weak d3-pawn, but allowed white to liquidate into a rook ending. Rook endings are the most common in chess and many of them are drawn… even cases when there is a two pawn deficit.

    Instead of bringing her king over to the queenside and free the rook, Eswaran tried to push the pawns and allowed white to attack the kingside pawns. Despite the advanced passed pawn, black could not advance without preventing white from gaining an unstoppable passed pawn. Disappointing for Eswaran, but the result is not a bad one, but a win would have put her into clear 2nd.

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  6. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #6 (Tuesday, 13 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Onischuk, Alexander 3.0 2668 GM Kamsky, Gata 3.0 2713 ½-½
    2 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 4.0 2582 GM Shankland, Samuel L 2.0 2634 0-1
    3 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 2.5 2543 GM Erenburg, Sergey 1.5 2633 ½-½
    4 GM Molner, Mackenzie 1.5 2522 GM Robson, Ray 2.0 2631 0-1
    5 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 3.0 2643 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 2.5 2595 1-0
    6 GM Friedel, Joshua E 2.0 2505 GM Gareev, Timur 3.0 2653 1-0
    Games

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Shankland catching a glance at his nemesis.
    Having a huge plus-score certainly helps his confidence.

    Aleks Lenderman lost ground after losing to his nemesis in Sam Shankland. Shankland told commentator Maurice Ashley that he had a huge plus-score against Lenderman and went in very confident. In addition, he was able to catch Lenderman off guard, a fact that Lenderman confirmed in the post-game interview. Shankland nursed the pawn lead all the way until the endgame along with very active play. Ultimately, white decided to jettison another pawn to activate his rook, but this attempt was futile and Lenderman resigned.

    Onsichuk-Kamsky had a very equal game throughout and nothing was made out of this conversation. Akobian-Ramirez had a long discussion in a Semi-Slav, a game that lasted 85 moves. The game was fairly balanced, but white had a slight edge in terms of space and his two bishops. Ramirez sacrificed an exchange for a pawn, but the compensation was rather dubious.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Bringing live action to millions!
    Lenderman watches as he waits to be interviewed.

    White kept prodding with his rook and while it appeared that black had a fortress the dominant white king would play a key role in breaking it. Ultimately black had to race toward the queenside to avoid being pushed into total passivity and losing his kingside pawns. However, white had it figured out and was able to use his king to stop the progress of the passed a-pawn white promoting his own f-pawn.

    In Friedel-Gareev, black trotted out the “Hippopotamus” and this game went 25 moves before any material was exchanged. However, white was able to create a few weakness, most notably the queenside pawns. However, black had resources including 37…Bc6! which Friedel claimed his missed. The game went on and white decided that he needed to give up a pawn to get a winning endgame and he was able to do so with his technique.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #5 (Tuesday, 13 May 2013)
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 2.5 2366 GM Krush, Irina 3.5 2489 ½-½
    2 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2.0 2238 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 2.0 2249 ½-½
    3 WIM Ni, Viktorija 1.0 2206 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 1.5 2282 ½-½
    4 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 2.5 1979 IM Zatonskih, Anna 3.0 2469 0-1
    5 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 0.5 2267 FM Melekhina, Alisa 1.5 2151 ½-½
    Games

    Unlike previous rounds, the women had mostly draws with only Anna Zatonskih scoring the full point against Ashritha Eswaran. All the games were hard fought and it appeared that Alisa Melekhina would score against Camilla Baginskaite, but could not escape a perpetual check.

    Irina Krush now has company in 1st place. Guess who?

    Photos by Lennart Ootes.

    All the other games were hard fought and went into endings, but were drawn. Abrahamyan-Krush saw tense moments because Krush had fallen behind a bit as Abrahamyan had gotten two rooks on the seventh. However, she traded a pair of rooks and no longer had any winning chances with her extra pawn.

    The race has heated up with Zatonskih pulling into a tie with Krush with 4/5. The two have yet to play each other, but will meet in the penultimate 8th round. Both will play Melekhina in the remaining rounds. Will we have yet another showdown?

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  7. Without Caruana or Nakamaura in the lineup, no player is really outclassed so the final result for the man is uncertain. As for the ladies, since Irina has already made peace with her friend Zenyuk, dodged defeat at the hands of the tenacious Tatev, took full advantage of Eswaran lack of experience, bludgeoned former world u-20, all she needs now is to Krush Anna and in all likelihood she’ll have this contest all wrapped up. BTW, this colorful reporting of the US Championship by the Chess Drum is unmatched.

    1. This is going to be very tight. However, I’m afraid it will come down to Krush and Zatonskih once again. I’m sure we will come up with all type of headlines for it.

      I was disheartened that Kamsky said they may be another U.S. Champion. He’s probably right, but I can’t see him losing any games here. Both Akobian and Lenderman have tougher schedules.

  8. I have high regards for Kamsky, as he always comes across as very pleasant and he puts on no airs. But, at least in this tournament, I am not seeing any sparkles in his games. Yet, I won’t be shocked all to see him come out on top since no one is really on fire at this point of the tournament.

  9. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #7 (Tuesday, 13 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Gareev, Timur 3.0 2653 GM Onischuk, Alexander 3.5 2668 ½-½
    2 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 2.5 2595 GM Friedel, Joshua E 3.0 2505 0-1
    3 GM Robson, Ray 3.0 2631 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 4.0 2643 0-1
    4 GM Erenburg, Sergey 2.0 2633 GM Molner, Mackenzie 1.5 2522 ½-½
    5 GM Shankland, Samuel L 3.0 2634 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 3.0 2543 0-1
    6 GM Kamsky, Gata 3.5 2713 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 4.0 2582 1-0
    Games

    Things heating up in the U.S. Championship as Kamsky beat Lenderman for the latter’s second loss in a row which helped Akobian leap into the lead with 5/7. With Kamsky second on 4.5 and a quartet of players with 4/7, this could very well come down to the last round of play.

    Kamsky essayed the King’s Indian Attack in traditional style. What was amazing was the fact that black seemed to have a very solid structure other than the weak a-pawn. Ultimately, black lost the pawn and was tied down to the defense of the g7-square and backrank possibilities. The white pawn only had to march up the board and eventually deflect the black queen away. Lenderman resigned before the end.

    Akobian obtained the lead by outplaying Robson, who has suddenly faded in the last four rounds with three losses. In his game with Akobian, he tossed a pawn when his pieces became jumbled. Black’s solid structure allowed no counterplay and white had to donate a pawn for nothing after 23.h6. It appeared that white would be able to hold, but there were far too many weaknesses to defend. Black won another pawn and then finished the game with a cute tactic.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Future Olympians at battle?

    The youngest in the overall men’s field Naroditsky got another win today with a miniature over Shankland. Out of a King’s Indian, white played a type of Maroczy setup, but decided to launch an attack by flinging his pawns forward. It was soon evident that his aggressive left him with an overextended position and black finished nicely with 27…Rxd3 28. Qxd3 Nf2+ 29. Rxf2 Qc6+ with massive losses for white.

    Ramirez also fell back with a lost to Friedel after a speculative opening involved two black knights for a white rook. There were some nice tactics in this position, but the knights turned out to be more resilient mopping up pawns. In fact, a white rook is entombed on h6 in the final position.

    In the two draws Gareer-Onischuk had a long fight which ended in the Lucena Position draw. Erenburg-Molner was a battle of the players holding the last two places. The Be3 Najdorf turned out to be rather uneventful.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #6 (Tuesday, 13 May 2013)
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Krush, Irina 4.0 2489 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.0 2151 ½-½
    2 IM Zatonskih, Anna 4.0 2469 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 1.0 2267 1-0
    3 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 2.0 2282 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 2.5 1979 1-0
    4 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 2.5 2249 WIM Ni, Viktorija 1.5 2206 1-0
    5 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 3.0 2366 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2.5 2238 1-0
    Games

    With four of the five games being decisive, the women’s field is blazing… and the last four rounds will the most exciting in recent history. Both pre-tournament favorites are where we thought they would be.

    Anna Zatonskih has a lot to smile about… another win.

    Back to the “Fire on Board” business in the women’s field with four of the five game reaching a decision. The game that was drawn was perhaps the most thrilling with co-leader Irina Krush being taken to task by Alisa Melekhina. Black played a Blumenfeld Counter Gambit and got good play. In fact, Krush was dismayed on how poorly she played the opening. She revealed that she had not been feeling well due to lack of sleep.

    The game became tricky in the middlegame, but it appeared that white had parried black’s initiative and was completely winning. The commentators recommended 37.Qxc5, but Krush mentioned she feared having to allow 37…Nxf3+ 38.Kh1! In the end, when white dawdled, black had enough to force a draw by perpetual check.

    Zatonskih beat Baginskaite after winning a piece and converting a R+N vs. R ending after a horrible blunder by her opponent in the time scramble. In yet another Guioco Piano, Abrahamyan-Foisor went into very familiar terrain, but black went astray during a tactical skirmish giving up the exchange, a queen for a rook.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    The deep pre-round ruminations propelled Iryna Zenyuk to victory.

    Ashritha Eswaran, the early darling of the tournament, has fallen on hard time losing her second in a row to Sabina Foisor who slowly grown her down until she could convert her pawn advantage. In Zenyuk-Ni, black was routed and this result was never in doubt. Black’s position had as many holes as Swiss cheese and white controlled the board. It didn’t help that black got her knights tangled eventually losing one of them.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Alisa Melekhina, chess master, lawyer, entrepreneur.
    Photos by Lennart Ootes.

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2014/05/09/2014-u-s-championships-st-louis-usa/

  10. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #8 (Friday, 16 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Onischuk, Alexander 4.0 2668 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 4.0 2582 0-1
    2 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 4.0 2543 GM Kamsky, Gata 4.5 2713 ½-½
    3 GM Molner, Mackenzie 2.0 2522 GM Shankland, Samuel L 3.0 2634 ½-½
    4 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 5.0 2643 GM Erenburg, Sergey 2.5 2633 1-0
    5 GM Friedel, Joshua E 4.0 2505 GM Robson, Ray 3.0 2631 ½-½
    6 GM Gareev, Timur 3.5 2653 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 2.5 2595 ½-½
    Games

    A truly “blunderful” day as today’s round was marred by a number of horrible blunders occurring in several games in both championships. Camilla Baginskaite lost her game in 14 moves to Katerina Nemcova. Players frittered away advantages and seemingly forgot basic principles. However, Eswaran won today beating Iryna Zenyuk and improving to 50%.

    In a round billed as a “comedy of errors” by Yasser Seirawan, many games were see-saw battles where the evaluation seemingly shifted from move to move. While Jennifer Shahade seemed to believe these errors made the games more exciting, Seirawan seemed absolutely horrified at the quality of some of the games.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    GM Maurice Ashley doing his usual stellar job.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Yasser Seirawan providing commentary.

    Erenburg was slowly outplayed by Akobian, but he should not have dropped the full point. After white’s 30.Qb6, black played for counterattack with 30…Qc3? (30…Qxb6=) thinking that he could launch an attack on the second rank. However Akobian pointed out that he missed the white’s winning maneuver with 31.Qd8+ and 32.Qd1. The point is that black’s 32…Qb2 33.a6 Rf5 34.a7 white would queen and hold the g2-square.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Daniel Naroditsky taking a peek at the other games
    while Kamsky is on the move.

    Daniel Naroditsky is having a stellar showing in his championship debut after holding Gata Kamsky in a rook ending. The game was technically drawn 25 moves before the end. Kamsky was attempting to take advantage of white’s weak pawns, but to no avail.

    Alexander Onischuk’s loss to namesake Alex Lenderman may show that there is an emergence of different players and that the top players may be moving on. Hikaru Nakamura, Kamsky and Onischuk all seem to be at different points in their chess careers and not totally motivated about the U.S. Championship.

    Onischuk was simply outprepared in his game and Lenderman hit him with the nice 19…Rxc4! wresting the initiative. After that black was totally dominant planting a “Godzilla” knight on d3. White was forced to give back an exchange and only had a couple pawns for a piece. In the end, white’s king was chased out in the open and caught in a mating net.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Commentary being conducted by GMs Ben Finegold and Robert Hess
    is being hosted at Lester’s.

    Neither Molner-Shankland nor Friedel-Robson showed much and the games was drawn rather uneventfully. However the Gareev-Ramirez game was the most unpredictable game of the round. First, Gareev was completely winning by move 19.Qh5+ and still held a decisive advantage until 33.Qg6 when black conjured up counterplay with his advanced b-pawn. The engines still showed white with an edge, but after the queens came off, many were wondering if black had chances. It turns out that even with black’s menacing pawns, white’s rook was an able defender. Besides, white’s h-pawn raced for the queening square and was able to force a perpetual check.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #7 (Friday, 16 May 2013)
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2.5 2238 GM Krush, Irina 4.5 2489 ½-½
    2 WIM Ni, Viktorija 1.5 2206 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 4.0 2366 ½-½
    3 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 2.5 1979 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 3.5 2249 1-0
    4 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 1.0 2267 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 3.0 2282 0-1
    5 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.5 2151 IM Zatonskih, Anna 5.0 2469 0-1
    Games

    Anna Zatonskih cemented her lead over Irina Krush by winning with the French Defense today against Alisa Melekhina while Krush was held by Sabina Foiser in a game that dragged out to almost 80 moves.

    Tatev Abrahamyan is fortunate to remain a contender after today’s near-tragic game.

    Tatev Abrahamyan caught a break today when Viktorija Ni failed to break through in a completely winning position. In fact, Ni was two pawns up when she allowed a draw by repetition. This result may show more about Ni’s lack of confidence than Abrahamyan’s fighting ability.

    In another debacle in a round which is now billed as “comedy of errors”, a beleaguered Camilla Baginskaite ceded her game in a mere 14 moves to Katerina Nemcova after a “fingerfehler”. Baginskaite, who has been relatively inactive in past years, is probably playing in her last championship.

    On the bright side, the U.S. field has discovered a rising star in Ashritha Eswaran who won against Iryna Zenyuk and is now on a respectable 50% score. When Maurice Ashley asked her if she thought she would do this well, she responded with her 1000-watt smile that she felt no intimidation from her fancied opponents since she has confidence in her abilities. If there is a bright spot in this tournament it has been the 13-year old star from San Jose.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    America’s newest star?

    All photos by Lennart Ootes.

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  11. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #9 (Saturday, 17 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 3.0 2595 GM Onischuk, Alexander 4.0 2668 ½-½
    2 GM Robson, Ray 3.5 2631 GM Gareev, Timur 4.0 2653 1-0
    3 GM Erenburg, Sergey 2.5 2633 GM Friedel, Joshua E 4.5 2505 0-1
    4 GM Shankland, Samuel L 3.5 2634 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 6.0 2643 1-0
    5 GM Kamsky, Gata 5.0 2713 GM Molner, Mackenzie 2.5 2522 ½-½
    6 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 5.0 2582 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 4.5 2543 1-0
    Games

    Tables have indeed turned in the U.S. Championship with a change in the top positions in both tournaments. Varuzhan Akobian dropped his decision against Sam Shankland allowing Alex Lenderman to catch him after his win over Daniel Naroditsky.

    Akobian trotted out the Caro-Kann instead of his tried-and-true French. “Var” has been playing the Caro-Kann lately and the Advanced Variation in currently in fashion. This game went badly for black as white pried open the pawn fortress with 19.h4 and 20.h5 while the king was stuck in the center. The two laser bishops zipped across the board like Shaolin swords and were poised to skewer the king with 45.Bc5+. Akobian resigned.

    Alex is back in the race
    for what would be a historic result.

    In Lenderman-Naroditsky was a Classical King’s Indian with an imbalanced middle game. With heavy pieces on the board the position was rich with tactical possibilities. White forced the issue on the queenside and provoked a weakness of the black c-pawn. In addition, black’s king was vulnerable. Ultimately the black king was caught in a vicious net and succumbed quickly after 50.Qxh7 Bb2 51.Qg7+ when black would suffer massive losses.

    Kamsky-Molner was a London System, an opening not often played at top level. Kamsky has employed it on occasion. In this game white no advantage, but ending up a pawn up in a rook ending. The ending was indeed drawing and featured an amusing ending featuring a stalemate.

    Erenburg-Friedel saw a Taimanov Sicilian and black got everything he wanted in the position. It is amazing that Sicilian players strive to get …d5 in. Well… black got …d5 in and then was able to create a strong center with c5, d4, e5. This is rarely seen for black.

    A picturesque position with mate on the board after 49…Qd4#! Black got everything he wanted in this Taimanov Sicilian.

    White was banking on getting the a2 and b3 passed pawns rolling, but donated the e5-pawn. Unfortunately, this pawn was helping to keep the black center from expanding. After that the black pawns started moving up the board like an infantry on attack and basically squashed white’s position. Those white passed pawns on a2 and b3 never got a chance to get rolling. The final position is picturesque with checkmate on the board and pawns surrounding the white king.

    Timur Gareev is probably wondering what has happened in his U.S. Championship debut. He was expected to vie for the title, but he has fallen horribly. In his game against Ray Robson, he faced the Scotch which does not have the best reputation, but white got a better structure and the initiative. After 22.Rxc7 white had a slight edge and his pieces attacked from within black’s camp. The game still appeared to be equal until 41.Rd3+ Nd5?

    After 42.Bxg6, black was gradually pushed back. What is amazing is that despite so little material on the board, there were still tactics on the board. White got the idea to sacrifice the exchange after 59…Nc6+ 59.Bxc6! Rxd3 60.cxb5 with passed pawns on opposite sides of the board… far too much for a rook to handle. In the finale, white had a nice deflection trick forcing a queen and black resigned. Nice!

    Ramirez-Onischuk showed that Onischuk seemed to be woefully off-form and ended up a pawn down in a rook ending. With a blockade complete Onischuk secured the draw, but to grovel for a draw may show that the motivation is not there. The U.S.C.F should make the U.S. Championship the Olympiad qualifier to give players more of an incentive to play in top form. Kamsky and Onischuk have not played inspired chess as in years past.

    2014 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #8 (Saturday, 17 May 2013)
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Krush, Irina 5.0 2489 IM Zatonskih, Anna 6.0 2469 1-0
    2 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 4.0 2282 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.5 2151 ½-½
    3 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 3.5 2249 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 1.0 2267 ½-½
    4 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 4.5 2366 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 3.5 1979 1-0
    5 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3.0 2238 WIM Ni, Viktorija 2.0 2206 0-1
    Games

    The Krush-Zatonskih showdown was the marquee matchup of the round and would basically determine the stage for the final round. Zatonskih immediate lost a psychological battle when she took a long time to play 8…Qxd4 when it is a normal move in the position. White got a superior position at move 15 and the black king was exposed and there were several weaknesses on the queenside. Finally, black dropped a pawn and got a technically winning position. In the end, white got two connected pass pawns against the rook and converted easily.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Krush ponders while reaching for queen…

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    …75.h8(Q)…

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    …resigns!

    Tatev Abrahamyan got a crucial win against upstart Ashritha Eswaran and the latter played the Lowenthal variation, but never really equalized even after playing the speculative 13…Nd4!? The game went into a rook ending and black’s central pawns were forced forward, blockaded and weakened. Ultimately, Abrahamyan was able to achieve a technically winning position. White displayed good technique and round up the point.

    Another Guioco Piano was seen in Nemcova-Melekhina and there were massive exchanges. By move 23, the game was already in an ending in which there were no changes for either side. Zenyuk-Baginskaite also ended without dynamism and was also drawn.

    Viktorija Ni finally got her first win after getting winning positions in a couple of other games. Katerina Nemcova played in improbable 9.Ba3? a seemingly pointless move that led to her getting her pieces jumbled on the queenside. Ni plowed into white’s position with minor pieces and white was caught flat-footed. By move 16…Nf4 and 17…Bh3! Houdini had black as +4.09. White had to donate an exchange and the ensuing endgame was simply lost.

    All photos by Lennart Ootes.

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  12. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #10 (Sunday, 18 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Onischuk, Alexander 4.5 2668 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 4.5 2543 ½-½
    2 GM Molner, Mackenzie 3.0 2522 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 6.0 2582 ½-½
    3 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 6.0 2643 GM Kamsky, Gata 5.5 2713 ½-½
    4 GM Friedel, Joshua E 5.5 2505 GM Shankland, Samuel L 4.5 2634 0-1
    5 GM Gareev, Timur 4.0 2653 GM Erenburg, Sergey 2.5 2633 0-1
    6 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 3.5 2595 GM Robson, Ray 4.5 2631 ½-½
    Games

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    GM Maurice Ashley has done a wonderful job which prompted Romanian WGM Alina L’Ami to post on his Facebook page, “Makes me believe that chess was simply made for TV! Enjoying the show.” He has certainly made the championship exciting. Great job!

    THE HOME STRETCH!

    The plot thickens as the U.S. Championship is in its last stage with endless possibilities. Leading up to the final round, there are still chances of a playoff, but in what could not have been scripted any better Alex Lenderman and Varuzhan Akobian will play for the title. Gata Kamsky must beat Josh Friedel in case that game is drawn. A three-way playoff will take place to determine the winner.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    While Friedel gets an “A” for his stylish hat, he gets an “F” for his lackluster performance against Shankland.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Shankland seems to revel in being the “spoiler”. He has beaten three contenders in Akobian, Lenderman and now Friedel.

    In round #10, Sam Shankland is eliminated from the championship, but also took Friedel with him after slowly outplaying him in an impressive showing. While both are eliminated from championship contention, Shankland still has a chance for an Olympiad spot if Lenderman should lose in his finale.

    In the other decisive game, Timur Gareev continued his tumble with another lost to tailender Sergey Erenburg. Not sure why Gareev is having such a poor showing. Too much blindfold? Not enough preparation? This is exactly the reason that the U.S. Championship should be an Olympiad qualifier for the entire team. Gareev would have otherwise qualified (pending his travel documents), but would he truly deserve a spot? Not with his performance here.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    The wheels fell off for Timur Gareev. Another loss to tailender Sergey Erenburg and this is a tournament he’d rather forget.

    All other games were drawing in various endings.

    All photos by Lennart Ootes.

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  13. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #11 (Sunday, 19 May 2013)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Robson, Ray 5.0 2631 GM Onischuk, Alexander 5.0 2668 ½-½
    2 GM Erenburg, Sergey 3.5 2633 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 4.0 2595 1-0
    3 GM Shankland, Samuel L 5.5 2634 GM Gareev, Timur 4.0 2653 ½-½
    4 GM Kamsky, Gata 6.0 2713 GM Friedel, Joshua E 5.5 2505 1-0
    5 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 6.5 2582 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 6.5 2643 ½-½
    6 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 5.0 2543 GM Molner, Mackenzie 3.5 2522 1-0
    Games

    The 2014 U.S. Championship will go down as perhaps one of the most exciting in the past 25 years. Certainly different from a decade of drawfests in the 90s. This tournament will be defined by the fighting chess along with the percentage of decisive encounters. The key matchups were the Kamsky-Friedel and Lenderman-Akobian. Who could have written a better script? In the end the crowning of a champ would wait another day.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Daniel Naroditsky has a bright future in U.S. chess.

    Daniel Naroditsky closed out a successful debut by beating MacKenzie Molner and finishing with +1. Sam Shankland also finished with +1 and served as the “spoiler” but more importantly finished strongly. Ray Robson finished even along with Josh Friedel and Alex Onischuk. Perhaps Robson expected to do a bit better, but lost crucial games to Lenderman and Naroditsky.

    Timur Gareev had a disastrous debut scoring -2 and losing four games! Certainly not what was expected of him in his quest to join the national team. However, one man’s loss is another man’s gain and Alex Lenderman seems poised to join the team in Tromso, Norway along with Nakamura, Kamsky, Onischuk and Akobian.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Class personified… the Sphinx-like Gata Kamsky was able to use his poise and experience to crush Josh Friedel in the finale’.

    Kamsky simply manhandled Friedel in a slow London System. With white’s choice, it sidesteps preparation while giving the stronger player a playable position to grind. Almost to script, white played a slow and steady position against black’s hedgehog setup.

    Kamsky probed the kingside and when Friedel defended he quickly switched with the unlikely thematic moves 35.Bg1 and 36.Bd1. This idea became apparent after 48.f3 when white had a completely dominating position. Black’s position soon collapsed like a house of cards.

    In Lenderman-Akobian, black appeared to have gotten a very nice position with 22…g4 weakening white’s center, but the pieces and pawns melted away setting up a three-way tie for 1st… Kamsky, Lenderman and Akobian. Lenderman-Akobian will play an Armageddon match and the winner will face Kamsky in a mini-match.

    2014 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #9 (Sunday, 19 May 2013)
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WIM Ni, Viktorija 3.0 2206 GM Krush, Irina 6.0 2489 ½-½
    2 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 3.5 1979 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3.0 2238 0-1
    3 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 1.5 2267 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 5.5 2366 0-1
    4 FM Melekhina, Alisa 3.0 2151 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 4.0 2249 1-0
    5 IM Zatonskih, Anna 6.0 2469 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 4.5 2282 ½-½
    Games

    In the women’s field some improbable events occurred with both Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih nearly LOSING their games and allowing Tatev Abrahamyan to sneak through to win the title. Fortunately both players’ experience allowed them to stay calm. Zatonskih was totally outplayed by Katerina Nemcova and hit with a nice set of tactics losing the exchange. However she complicated matters and was able to steer the game into a drawn knight ending.

    Krush dominated the early phases of her game against Viktorija Ni, but dawdled a bit when she played 30…Qe6 instead of the winning 30…Rg7! The point is that one 31.Qf4 (31.Qxf5 Rg2+ 32.Rf2 Qh6!!) c4! Ni was able to counter when black made more inaccuracies and actually had winning chances on a couple of occasions.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Something had clearly gone wrong for Krush.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Now losing??

    After 55.d6! Rf8 Houdini gave the evaluation as white +6.02. Instead of playing the winning 56.Rh1+ Kg5 57.Rd5+, she frittered away her advantage with 56.Kb4 Rd8 and 57.c5. In a few more moves, they went to king vs. king. Close call for Krush!

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Escaped with a draw! A loss would have been disastrous.

    Nemcova was the only other player in the field to finish with a plus-score. It is interesting to note that Ashritha Eswaran acquitted herself very well in the championship and won three games. This may be the first of several opportunities for the 13-year old.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Ashritha Eswaran was the darling and photographer’s favorite. Her colorful persona is a welcome addition to what has become a tournament dominated by the same players.

    All photos by Lennart Ootes.

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at http://www.uschesschamps.com/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  14. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Final Standings (Overall)
    Rank Name Score M/F Rating TPR 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
    1 GM Kamsky, Gata 7.0 M 2713 2703 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1
    2 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 7.0 M 2582 2715 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ ½
    3 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 7.0 M 2643 2709 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 0 ½ ½
    4 GM Shankland, Samuel L 6.0 M 2634 2644 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1 ½
    5 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 6.0 M 2543 2652 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1
    6 GM Onischuk, Alexander 5.5 M 2668 2605 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½
    7 GM Robson, Ray 5.5 M 2631 2608 1 ½ ½ 0 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ ½
    8 GM Friedel, Joshua E 5.5 M 2505 2620 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 0 0
    9 GM Erenburg, Sergey 4.5 M 2633 2543 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 1 1
    10 GM Gareev, Timur 4.5 M 2653 2541 ½ ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½
    11 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 4.0 M 2595 2510 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0
    12 GM Molner, Mackenzie 3.5 M 2522 2485 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0
    All PGN Games (Overall)

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Final Standings (Women)
    Rank Name Score M/F Rating TPR 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    1 GM Krush, Irina 6.5 F 2489 2429 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½
    2 IM Zatonskih, Anna 6.5 F 2469 2429 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 0 ½
    3 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 6.5 F 2366 2429 1 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1
    4 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 5.0 F 2282 2311 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½
    5 FM Melekhina, Alisa 4.0 F 2151 2240 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1
    6 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 4.0 F 2249 2229 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 0
    7 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 4.0 F 2238 2230 1 1 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1
    8 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 3.5 F 1979 2184 1 0 1 ½ 0 0 1 0 0
    9 WIM Ni, Viktorija 3.5 F 2206 2197 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½
    10 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 1.5 F 2267 1997 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0
    All PGN Games (Women)

    1. Playoffs

      For the purposes of pairing players in the following scenarios, the following mathematical tie-breaks will be used: 1. Direct Encounter (if applicable), 2. Most Blacks, 3. Koya System, 4. Sonneborn-Berger, 5. Won Games. If there is no need for a playoff, then these tie-breaks will also be used for the purposes of the crosstable and any special prizes or trophies.

      An Armageddon Game is defined as a game with base time of 45 minutes for each Player. Black will have draw odds. Each Player shall bid an amount of time (minutes and seconds, a number equal to or less than 45:00) with which they are willing to play in order to choose their color. The Player who bids the lowest amount of time chooses their color and begins with that amount of time; the other Player receives 45:00. If both Players bid exactly the same amount of time, the Chief Arbiter will flip a coin to determine who shall choose their color.

      1. Two Players: The tie will be broken with a two-game rapid match (G/25+5). If the contest is still undecided, the match will be decided by an Armageddon Game.

      2. Three players: If there are three Players tied for first, the two Players with the lowest tie-breaks will contest an Armageddon Game. The winner of this game will face the player with the highest tie-breaks as described above (“Two Players”).

      3. Four Players: Tie-breaks will be used to determine pairing numbers: 1 plays 4 and 2 plays 3. Each Player will contest an Armageddon Game. The winner of each game will face one another as described above (“Two Players”).

      4. More Than Four Players: If more than four players are tied for first place, a combination of math tie-breaks and playoffs will be used to find the top four players and the procedure described above (“Four Players”) shall be followed. The format if more than four players are tied for first will be determined by the Arbiter and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

      Link: https://www.uschesschamps.com/node/428

  15. GM Gata Kamsky and GM Irina Krush
    2014 U.S. Champions!

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    GM Gata Kamsky and GM Irina Krush

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Tiebreaks (Sunday, 20 May 2013)
    Armageddon
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 0.0 2582 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 0.0 2643 0-1
    Playoff Tiebreak
    2 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 0.0 2643 GM Kamsky, Gata 0.0 2713 ½-½
    3 GM Kamsky, Gata 0.5 2713 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 0.5 2643 1-0
    Kamsky beats Akobian 1½-½

    What a wild a crazy finish of the 2014 U.S. Chess Championship!! Throughout the tournament, it did not appear that the defending champions Gata Kamsky and Irina Krush would successfully defend their title. Their play was spotty and both had scares in at least one game. However, when it came down to the title being on the line, both showed their strength and determination.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Armageddon Battles!

    In the overall championship, Lenderman and Akobian had a rematch of their last round game. This included the color allocation… Lenderman had white with 40 minutes, Akobian had black with 30 minutes, but only needed a draw to advance. After Lenderman’s 1.c4 the game took a radically different course after the first few moves. Somehow white’s pawn sacrifice with 20.d5 seem to go awry and black responded powerfully with 20…dxc5 21.dxc6 bxc6 22.Na4 c4!

    In the Armegeddon game, Varuzhan Akobian cracked the whip with 23…Bxf2+! leading to a virulent attack. Lenderman took the bishop and was mated several moves later.

    White may not have seen the ensuing attack and after playing 23.Qxc4? he was hit with the thunderbolt 23…Bxf2+! After this, the commentators showed that taking the bishop was lose quickly, but of course playing 24.Kh1 was probably the better choice.

    Lenderman DID play 24.Kxf2 and the attack was swift after 24.Kxf2 Qd2+ 25.Kg1 Re2 when white is completely busted. White played a few moves amounting to pitching meat to stave off approaching crocodiles. However, Lenderman showed some class and sportsmanship by allowing a picturesque mate after 31.Qc2 Rh1+ 32.Bg1 Nxg3#. Disappointing ending but a strong showing by Lenderman.

    In the matchup, Kamsky-Akobian the draw for colors gave Kamsky the black pieces. Akobian essayed the quiet Catalan and there was no noise made as Kamsky drew comfortably.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Akobian, showing disappointment, got nothing in the first game.

    In the second game, Kamsky showed that the London System can be a winning opening. He crushed Josh Friedel in the last round and played it once again in the second playoff. The merits of the London System is that it sidesteps reams of analysis and white gets a playable position. Generally this favors the stronger player.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Both players prepare for an epic battle.
    Millions of fans around the world tuned in.

    The game went forth along normal lines until back broke with 21…c5 and white quickly seized the initiative and winning a pawn. Akobian simply miscalculated. They say mistakes come in bunches and Akobian erred with 29…Be6 allowing 30.Nxg7! winning another pawn… then another. The game was now hopeless. The game ended with a nice deflection of 37…Qc5 38.Rd8+ winning the queen for a rook. Akobian had seen enough and resigned. Susan Polgar empathized with Akobian.

    Nevertheless, congratulations are due to Gata Kamsky who successfully defended his title and has now earned his fifth championship crown. Kamsky did not perhaps play his best in the preliminary games and even predicted there would be a new U.S. Champion. However, he received a couple of breaks. He mentioned Akobian’s position against Lenderman in round #11 as a fortunate break allowing him to sneak to the top.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Tiebreaks (Sunday, 20 May 2013)
    Armageddon (Women)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 IM Zatonskih, Anna 0.0 2469 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 0.0 2366 ½-½
    Playoff Tiebreak
    2 GM Krush, Irina 0.0 2489 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 0.0 2366 1-0
    3 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 0.0 2366 GM Krush, Irina 1.0 2489 ½-½
    Krush defeats Abrahamyan 1½-½

    In the preliminary qualifier, Tatev Abrahamyan defeated Anna Zatonskih in the preliminary qualifier. Irina Krush then defeated Abrahamyan for the title, 1½-½.

    After sacrificing piece, Houdini gave Zatonskih a winning advantage after 17.Qc2-f5.

    In Zatonskih-Abrahamyan, both entered a complicated line in the Nimzo-Indian feature a dubious line for black resulting in an attack on its king after 12…Nc5 (12…Nxc3) 13.Bxh7+! After 16.Nxd5! Bxd5? 17.Qxf5 black was busted (diagram). However, white bungled the attack after getting several winning positions. After 20.a4, white is simply down a piece with no mating attack.

    The commentators pointed out that white should have changed the order of her moves and played 20.Rb1. After black put the “Larsen knight” on f8, white had to try another attack. She tried another sacrifice with 25.Bf6 to complicate matters. None of this worked and after black repelled white’s attack, she collected more material but forced a three-fold repetition. All that was required was a draw for her to advance.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Tatev Abrahamyan was pleased to be moving to the tiebreak.

    In the tiebreak, Krush chose white in the drawing and the first game was vintage. Another Nimzo, but white erred after building up an overwhelming position in the middlegame. The game went to an ending where black had a technical draw, but she did not know the drawing technique called the “Vancura Defense” and dropped the full point. Hikaru Nakamura sent a message citing a couple of example including his own game with Radjabov.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    Abrahamyan could have held this game according to Nakamura.

    So it was… Abrahamyan needed to win the next game in order to prolong the match. In this game Krush trotted out the Kalishnikov. Abrahamyan tried to get an attack going with 19.f4 but had nothing… until… Krush started to panic by weakening 25…f6. White kept probing trying to get at the weakened black king, but Krush held steady. Ultimately, white ended up a pawn down in a technical draw. Krush would thus agree to a draw in a three-fold repetition making her the 2014 champion.

    Krush was not very glowing in the praise of her play citing a couple of situations where she was losing including against Alisa Melekhina and Viktorija Ni. However, she said that she drew on her knowledge of Biblical teaching, “Help me with my disbelief.” Certainly… we all need help given the twists and turns in this wonderful tournament. Unbelievable!

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

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