2014 U.S. Championships: Akobian on top!

2014 U.S. Chess Championship
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Round #7 (Wednesday, 14 May 2013)
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

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
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Round #6 (Wednesday, 14 May 2013)
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

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 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/


  1. 2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Standings (Overall)
    Rank Name Score M/F Rating TPR W-We 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    1 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 5.0 M 2643 2746 +0.96 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1
    2 GM Kamsky, Gata 4.5 M 2713 2730 +0.19 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1
    3 GM Onischuk, Alexander 4.0 M 2668 2665 -0.01 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½
    4 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 4.0 M 2582 2673 +0.90 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 0
    5 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 4.0 M 2543 2663 +1.17 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1
    6 GM Friedel, Joshua E 4.0 M 2505 2651 +1.41 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1
    7 GM Gareev, Timur 3.5 M 2653 2597 -0.54 ½ ½ 1 1 0 0 ½
    8 GM Shankland, Samuel L 3.0 M 2634 2574 -0.58 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0
    9 GM Robson, Ray 3.0 M 2631 2560 -0.71 1 ½ ½ 0 0 1 0
    10 GM Erenburg, Sergey 2.5 M 2633 2511 -1.18 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½
    11 GM Ramirez, Alejandro 2.5 M 2595 2490 -1.03 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0
    12 GM Molner, Mackenzie 2.0 M 2522 2460 -0.58 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½
    All PGN Games (Overall)

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Rank Name Score M/F Rating TPR W-We 1 2 3 4 5 6
    1 IM Zatonskih, Anna 5.0 F 2469 2514 +0.32 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1
    2 GM Krush, Irina 4.5 F 2489 2435 -0.29 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½
    3 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 4.0 F 2366 2438 +0.59 1 0 1 ½ ½ 1
    4 WIM Zenyuk, Iryna 3.5 F 2249 2399 +1.21 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1
    5 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 3.0 F 2282 2255 -0.18 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1
    6 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2.5 F 2238 2240 -0.04 1 1 0 0 ½ 0
    7 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.5 F 2151 2201 +0.28 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½
    8 NM Eswaran, Ashritha 2.5 F 1979 2204 +1.50 1 0 1 ½ 0 0
    9 WIM Ni, Viktorija 1.5 F 2206 2040 -1.31 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0
    10 WGM Baginskaite, Camilla 1.0 F 2267 1982 -2.08 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0
    All PGN Games (Women)

  2. Let me Know if anyone see Alex King there? Um tryin to learn something from him right now? IN REAL LIFE.

  3. I can’t wait to see the scuffle between the animated Irina and the tranquil Anna. The task of winning today is of course on Irina since Anna would still have a chance with a draw. But, if Irina does win, I believe it would awaken a lively conversation about a possible Armageddon rematch between them. Nerves were definitely ruffled during that Blitz play-off, I loved the drama!

  4. I have a strange feeling that Irina will be going for blood in this round because her only option is to win. With Anna sitting at ease with a full point ahead, it would not be the best approach for Krush to play conservatively.

  5. It was gloom for Anna Zotonskih from start to finish in today’s game. Irina basically tortured her throughout their game until Anna ran out of face saving moves. Now, it is anyone’s guess as to who will win this. Irina is undoubtedly one of the strongest female chess players out there.

    1. You were right! Anna has scored well, but admittedly she is rusty and did not come totally prepared. Krush is very active and sharp so you can’t go into such an important contest half-prepared.

  6. Absolutely! She wriggled her way through the first few rounds, but she couldn’t get by in that fashion when up against Krush. There was definitely a lack of self-assurance in her play today. Towards the end she tried to wake up, but Irina was not in the mood for pity. Now, going into the final round, Irina has to feel motivated while Anna is probably not in the best frame of mind. It should be an interest closing moment.

  7. I am a big Krush fan because I’ve watched her play since she was a little girl. She doesn’t know it, but watching her play back in the days at the World Open, I just knew she would become a great player. She always had this concentration, which gave off the feeling that she was completely engrossed in the game.

  8. I would love to see Josh get a shot to play n these esteemed tournaments ( US Junior close), but it doesn’t seems like he’s viewed as one of the wildest wild card out there. So, he will have to work very hard this summer to get his rating in the 2500s.

  9. It’s a question that a lot of my friends have been asking me. Have they heard of Josh Colas or seen his website? I tell them; all of the kids that they invite every year surely knows who he is and have a lot of respect for him. So it’s hard for me to think that the people making the selection are unaware of whom he is. A kid that gets his rating over 2400 at age 14 all on his own and winning numerous National championships should be on anybody’s short list.

    1. …and it’s not like it’s too many of us. However, Justus is in the U.S. Junior Closed so his exposure has helped him. Not sure why both are not in the field.

  10. Senate Resolution J.4136 was passed honoring his National and International Chess accomplishments and the video is on YouTube. It would be a gross oversight for the Chess Capital of the nation not to have heard of him. Of course Justus was a member of the famous IS -318 school and got alot of exposure from the movie they made. The good thing is that Josh still has hope that he will eventually be recognized.

  11. The cream always rises to the top. No surprise Gata is in the finals and he will likely walk away with the first prize. It’s kind of cool how he seemed to have taken a very laid back approach and in the end he prove that you should never undervalue the tricks of an old dog. Irina’s task is slightly harder because of Tatev. She’s nothing to play with!

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