2015 U.S. Chess Championships (St. Louis, USA)

2013 U.S. Chess Championship

Weeks ago, we announced the coming of the 2015 U.S. Championship and the historic nature of this year’s edition. Headlined by two of the world’s top ten players, a mixture of veterans and several rising stars, it will prove to be perhaps the most anticipated championship in many years. While attention is aimed at Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So, Gata Kamsky is attempting to defend his title and notch his sixth victory. Such would tie Walter Browne and put him within striking distance of Bobby Fischer’s eight championships.

In the women’s field there are some new faces. Irina Krush will remain the top seed while defending her title and going for her seventh. She will meet resistance from mainstays Tatev Abrahamyan and 2005 champion, returnee Rusudan Goletiani and six-time participant Sabina Foisor. However, there are some not-so-familiar faces including Katerina Nemcova and debutantes Anna Sharevich and Nazi Paikidze, all of whom are attending universities in the U.S. New York attorney Alisa Melekhina will be looking for her breakthrough and Viktojia Ni will try to improve last year’s showing. The field gets even younger with three junior players in Apurva Virkud (16), Jennifer Yu (13) and Annie Wang (12).

2014 U.S. Chess Championship

GM Gata Kamsky and GM Irina Krush
Photo by Lennart Ootes.

Hikaru Nakamura will add a sense of intrigue in this year’s championship with Wesley So also trying to unseat Gata Kamsky. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

This is the 7th consecutive time that the championships will be hosted at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. The venue has become a national landmark and has become the “Mecca” of chess in the U.S. hosting high profile events such as the Sinquefield Cup after founder, Rex Sinquefield. His vision and the housing of the U.S. and World Chess Hall of Fame cements the city’s status a catalyst for chess promotion and development.

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. There will also be guest appearances by other chess personalities. There are also going to be all types of prizes given away in a number of contests! The Chess Drum will be providing live coverage and hopes to be onsite for the finale. Follow the action!!

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/
Livestream: https://new.livestream.com/ccscsl/USChessChampionships
Chess24.com: https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/us-championship-2015#live

2015 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 Nakamura, Hikaru GM 2865
St. Louis, Missouri
2 So, Wesley GM 2834
Minnetonka, Minnesota
3 Robson, Ray GM 2770
St. Louis, Missouri
4 Kamsky, Gata GM 2748
Brooklyn, New York
5 Onischuk, Alex GM 2740
Lubbock, Texas
6 Naroditsky, Daniel GM 2737
Foster City, California
7 Shankland, Sam GM 2735
Orinda, California
8 Akobian, Varuzhan GM 2713
North Hollywood, California
9 Gareev, Timur GM 2698
Las Vegas, Nevada
10 Troff, Kayden GM 2662
West Jordan, Utah
11 Sevian, Samuel GM 2645
Boston, Massachussetts
12 Holt, Conrad GM 2632
Wichita, Kansas
U.S. Women (by USCF Rating)
1 Krush, Irina GM 2516
Brooklyn, New York
2 Abrahamyan, Tatev WGM 2459
Glendale, California
3 Sharevich, Anna WGM 2388
St. Louis, Missouri
4 Foisor, Sabina WGM 2371
Lubbock, Texas
5 Nemcova, Katerina WGM 2356
St. Louis, Missouri
6 Paikidze, Naik IM 2342
Baltimore, Maryland
7 Melekhina, Alisa FM 2320
New York, New York
8 Goletiani, Rusudan WGM 2312
Hartsdale, New York
9 Ni, Viktorija WIM 2300
Barrington, Illinois
10 Wang, Annie WIM 2266
La Canada, California
11 Virkud, Apurva NM 2260
Troy, Michigan
12 Yu, Jennifer WFM 2227
Ashburn, Virginia
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.

29 Comments

    1. OH a one hour pre-tournament interview, thats different! Um at the Buffalo Public LIbrary and i left my Headphones at the house so i guess ill check it out later, thanks Daaim as aware of this! seems yaz is lookin at the Knights though! lol

  1. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #1 (Wednesday, 1 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Robson, Ray 0.0 2656 GM Troff, Kayden W 0.0 2532 1-0
    2 GM Onischuk, Alexander 0.0 2665 GM Gareev, Timur 0.0 2604 ½-½
    3 GM Holt, Conrad 0.0 2530 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 0.0 2798 0-1
    4 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 0.0 2622 GM Sevian, Samuel 0.0 2531 1-0
    5 GM Kamsky, Gata 0.0 2683 GM Shankland, Samuel L 0.0 2661 ½-½
    6 GM So, Wesley 0.0 2788 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 0.0 2633 1-0
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 FM Melekhina, Alisa 0.0 2235 WCM Virkud, Apurva 0.0 2132 0-1
    2 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 0.0 2322 WIM Wang, Annie 0.0 1901 0-1
    3 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 0.0 2180 WGM Sharevich, Anna 0.0 2267 0-1
    4 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 0.0 2279 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 0.0 2311 ½-½
    5 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 0.0 2276 GM Krush, Irina 0.0 2477 ½-½
    6 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.0 2188 IM Paikidze, Nazi 0.0 2333 ½-½
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #1: Early upsets as juniors come hunting scalps

    The first round of the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship got underway and featured fierce battles and even a couple of upsets. While in the men’s field, the young players had a hard time, the women’s field had a couple of nice upsets and could have been three. Annie Wang once made headlines by becoming the youngest female master showed why her wildcard admission was no fluke. Against veteran Tatev Abrahamyan, Wang essayed the French Defense and went into a topical line of the Tarrasch. White got a decent position with space but nothing special until there was an exchange of inaccuracies.

    Annie Wang

    It was when Abrahamyan played 19.f5?! is when the tables starting turning. Unfortunately Wang returned an inaccuracy with 21…Qe7?! which was met by the irrepressible 22.Qc2! with a battery on the diagonal. After 24..axb4, white immediately blundered with 25.Rxf6? and the game came to a crashing end after 25…Bd4! White has to donate an exchange and then a another piece. The upset was complete and the 12-year old vanquished a would-be tournament favorite. At the press conference, Wang was very pleased at her win, but stated, “I feel lucky” and at the brink of winning on 25…Bc5! she exclaimed, “Whoa… did that just happen?”

    It goes without saying that the three scholastic players will be playing for scalps and for valuable experience and the mainstays will be hunted. In fact, only Anna Sharevich prevented the scholastic players from getting a clean sweep for the round. In this weird game, Sharevich dubiously sacrificed two pawns and then offered Jennifer Yu a piece with 15…Bc5? White is faced with 15.fxe4 Bxf2+ 16.Kd1 dxe5 and black has no compensation. To sacrifice so recklessly so early only means that Sharevich underestimated her young opponent and fortunately for her, she was not punished.

    Jennifer Yu missed her chances to capitalize off dubious opening of Sharevich.

    Jennifer Yu missed her chances to capitalize off of a dubious opening of Anna Sharevich. Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    As the game wore on Yu had two extra pawns, but allowed black to pry open the position with pawns and batter down the king defenses. With a strong attack, white was in a losing position, but missed the best continuation (39…Rb6!) and was losing again! After jostling of the heavy pieces, the junior player blundered again and ende up getting mated. It was a very disappointing loss for the 13-year old having arrived at a completely winning position in the opening, but panicking in a crucial moment.

    The last and oldest junior upended Alisa Melekhina in one of the cleanest victories of round. Melekhina opted for a rather unambitious Closed Sicilian and black appeared to equalize very easily after 18…d5 and 20…d4. After this the position opened black’s nursed a passed b-pawn down the board to achieve a rather trivial winning ending.

    In the other games, top seed Irina Krush saved an inferior position against Foisor and was relieved to have come out of the game unscathed. Maurice Ashley kept comparing Krush’s position to Swiss chess as her pawn structure was torn asunder. However a few inaccuracies and a queen trade allowed her to wiggle away. While Ni-Paikidze was relatively quiet, Nemcova-Goletiani was a hard-fought affair with white attaining an advantage throughout, but being unable to covert her extra pawn as the chances melted away along with the pieces.

    2014 U.S. Chess Championship

    GM Conrad Holt and GM Hikaru Nakamura in round one action.

    In the overall championship, Hikaru Nakamura got off to a quick start with a thrashing of Conrad Holt despite a questionable opening. While under immense pressure, Holt blundered after 25.Nf5?? and on 25…Ne1! black had multiple decisive threats including the cute mate (which didn’t occur)… 26.Nh4 Qg2+!! 27.Nxg2 Nf3#. Wesley So also wonbut like Nakamura, he also did not have a convincing showing but took advantage of a blunder after 32.Nexc4?? White’s would end up with two pieces for a rook and would dominate the board. Kamsky-Shankland was rather quiet and ended in 30 moves and Onishcuk-Gareev was a steady draw with no fanfare.

    The young stars took a beating in the first round as both Kayden Troff and Samuel Sevian lost there games. Ray Robson faced the Najdorf and trotted out 6.Be3. Troff seemed to go wrong in his preparation and ended facing two laser bishops which sliced his lone rook to pieces. Sevian ended up in a strange ending where white had two central passed pawns. Black would seek to hold them at bay while he pushed his own. Black actually promoted to a queen first, but ended up getting mated as white queened with check!

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/
    Livestream: https://new.livestream.com/ccscsl/USChessChampionships
    Chess24.com: https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/us-championship-2015#live

    OVERALL

    WOMEN

    Catch live commentary of the event with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at https://www.uschesschamps.com/2015-us-championship-2015-us-womens-championship/information/live.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/
    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2015/04/01/2015-u-s-chess-championships-st-louis-usa/

  2. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #2 (Thursday, 2 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Troff, Kayden W 0.0 2532 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 0.0 2633 1-0
    2 GM Shankland, Samuel L 0.5 2661 GM So, Wesley 1.0 2788 0-1
    3 GM Sevian, Samuel 0.0 2531 GM Kamsky, Gata 0.5 2683 ½-½
    4 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 1.0 2798 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 1.0 2622 1-0
    5 GM Gareev, Timur 0.5 2604 GM Holt, Conrad 0.0 2530 0-1
    6 GM Robson, Ray 1.0 2656 GM Onischuk, Alexander 0.5 2665 ½-½
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WCM Virkud, Apurva 1.0 2132 IM Paikidze, Nazi 0.5 2333 ½-½
    2 GM Krush, Irina 0.5 2477 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.5 2188 1-0
    3 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 0.5 2311 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 0.5 2276 1-0
    4 WGM Sharevich, Anna 1.0 2267 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 0.5 2279 0-1
    5 WIM Wang, Annie 1.0 1901 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 0.0 2180 0-1
    6 FM Melekhina, Alisa 0.0 2235 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 0.0 2322 1-0
    Games (Men, Women)

    GM Hikaru Nakamura

    This round will not get many prizes for stellar play as blunders were commonplace in the games today. In Nakamura-Akobian, black played his usual French, but played a gambit line that is not in the spirit of his style. This was confirmed by Nakamura in the post-game conference. With the win, Nakamura climbed back over 2800 (2802) and when asked how he felt about it he was rather flippant in his remark stating, “Who cares. I have better things to do than to follow that stupid rating list.” What one can take from this statement was that he has one goal in mind and only one person stands in the way of this.

    In Shankland-So, the game plodded with black having an advantage of active pieces. Shankland had to donate a pawn in order to trade pieces and increase his chances for a draw. This effort almost paid off as So made some a number of mistakes throwing away wins at several points in the double knight ending. In the end it was Shankland who made the final mistake with the improbable 92.g4?? and white resigned after simply 92…Nxg4. In Robson-Onischuk, the student-teacher battle was a bit sterile as absolutely nothing came out of this Ruy Lopez. Sevian-Kamsky was interesting in that the youngster decided to go after the six-time champion with a seemingly crude idea of piling up rooks and queen on the g-file and hope to break through with 33.Nf5.


    Nakamura didn’t seem to concerned about moving into the #2 position on the FIDE list. In the meantime, Wesley So went up to #5.


    As pointed out in the commentary, black was not obligated to capture the sacrificed knight and the g-file would remain plugged. Black ultimately sacrificed an exchange and had adequate play to level the game. Conrad Holt had a stunning result back in 2013 U.S. Championship, but he is struggling to find his form. He tried a caveman attack against Timur Gareev with f4 and Rf1-f3-h3 but this wasted time and allowed black to set up a bulwark knight on e4. Ultimately, white had to sacrifice an exchange for that knight, but white couldn’t find a way to hold the position. Troff-Naroditsky was a strange game where the knights ruled. This was a game that followed main line, but white seemed to keep a slight grip on the position and was able to extract a structural advantage and black’s position crumbled. Troff found the winning path with the nice 52.Re6+ Rxe6 53.dxe6 Kxe6 54.Rxe4+.

    After a disappointing loss yesterday, Kayden Troff got what he deserved today. Photo by Lennart  Ootes.

    After a disappointing loss yesterday, Kayden Troff got what he deserved today.

    In the women’s field, there were 5/6 decisive games. The only draw was Virkud-Paikidze in a swashbuckling Benko Gambit. This game saw the decline with 5.b6 which is not the most active retort, but a rather solid one. Black got active play by breaking with …e6. The game descended in a rather unbalanced affair with the 16-year old aiming her pieces at the black king. Actually Paikidze missed a win after 32…Qb4! 33.Re4 Ne2+ 34.Kh2 and 34…dxe2 instead of her 34…Qxe2. After 36.Nxe8 d2 37.Qe7! white had enough counterplay to save the game. Black could not promote because of endless checks or mate.

    Perhaps it is difficult to prepare during the rigors of grad school, but here Anna Sharevich spent one minute and twenty seconds before playing Rac1. What did she miss?

    Sharevich-Nemcova was a lopsided affair as Sharevich momentarily forgot about king safety and black pieces were poised for the kill. What’s worse is that Sharevich overlooked a mate in one with 29…Qh1#! Awful. After nearly losing against Jennifer Yu, perhaps the Webster doctoral student is lacking preparation and it is showing.

    In the battle of the two youngest players Annie Wang (12) and Jennifer Yu (13) battled in what was probably the latest of many battles from scholastic circles. The game appeared to be headed for a draw when Wang made a horrible blunder and her king ended up in a mating net. The example is instructive.

    With shattered pawns, Wang tried to make a dash for black’s queenside pawns with 39.d5?? After 39…cxd5+ 40.Kb5 Ne6! 41.Kxa5 there was 41…Kc5! and suddenly white was completely lost due to the dominance of the black knight. After 42.b4+ Kc6 43.Be2 Nd4 44.Bd1 f4 and white resigned in a couple of moves.

    Viktorija Ni tried the Dzindzi-Indian, but got nowhere against Irina Krush. Photo by Lennart  Ootes.

    Viktorija Ni tried the Dzindzi-Indian, but got nowhere against Irina Krush.
    All photos by Lennart Ootes.

    Krush-Ni was a matter of black simply not taking this game seriously. Trotting out the Dzindzi-Indian after 1. c4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c5 4. d5 Bxc3+!? 5. bxc3 f5. However, black didn’t seem to equalize as this opening makes it a bit difficult for black to arrange the pieces. Without much to do but shuffle pieces, black finally allow white a virulent attack after 23…Qxh4 24.Ng3 Qd8 25.Rh1. Krush finished the game off winning a piece after 33.Qf6+!

    Rusudan Goletiani returns after a year away from the championship. Apart from her mothering duties, she has a thriving chess company and has little time for actual study and competitions. However she seems to be in form and won against Sabina Foisor. This game was actually equal throughout, but black faltered in time pressure. After 78.Rb7!= black started the downhill spiral with 81.Ke5 Rf8? 82.f6+? Kh6?? (82…Rxf6!=) 83.Kf5 (threatening mate) and black has to lose material to prevent mate.

    In Melekhina-Abrahamyan, it is becoming evident (at least in the early rounds) that the top seeds are a bit too relaxed and off-form. Abrahamyan lost her second consecutive game to the Melekhina after playing a bad middlegame. Abrahamyan, one of the favorites, inexplicably blundered after her light squares became dangerously weak. She then tossed a piece after 30.Qe5 and it was the end.

    OVERALL

    WOMEN

  3. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #3 (Friday, 3 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Onischuk, Alexander 1.0 2665 GM Troff, Kayden W 1.0 2532 ½-½
    2 GM Holt, Conrad 1.0 2530 GM Robson, Ray 1.5 2656 0-1
    3 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 1.0 2622 GM Gareev, Timur 0.5 2604 ½-½
    4 GM Kamsky, Gata 1.0 2683 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2.0 2798 ½-½
    5 GM So, Wesley 2.0 2788 GM Sevian, Samuel 0.5 2531 0-1
    6 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 0.0 2633 GM Shankland, Samuel L 0.5 2661 ½-½
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 0.0 2322 WCM Virkud, Apurva 1.5 2132 1-0
    2 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 1.0 2180 FM Melekhina, Alisa 1.0 2235 ½-½
    3 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 1.5 2279 WIM Wang, Annie 1.0 1901 1-0
    4 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 0.5 2235 WGM Sharevich, Anna 1.0 2267 1-0
    5 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.5 2188 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 1.5 2311 0-1
    6 IM Paikidze, Nazi 1.0 2333 GM Krush, Irina 1.5 2477 1-0
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #3: Sevian upsets So… Paikidze takes down Krush!

    Big result today in the men’s section as Wesley So lost to the youngest competitor in the top section. In a complicated Slav, Sam Sevian answered the challenge and waded the waters of theory with a top ten player. That shows quite a bit of courage, but it paid off. Sevian followed the path of Viswanathan Anand’s game against Levon Aronian. So avoid Aronian’s debacle and decided to vary with 13.Bxh7+ instead of 13.Nxh7+. The piece sacrifice that followed seemed to give the Filipino a good initiative, but Sevian had a nice resource with 22.Rcxg5!

    At that point, black’s pieces were swarming the board and gained a strong initiative against the white king. By the time, the queen rook got into the game with 33.Rf1, it was too late… three pieces were far too much for the rook to bear. Ultimately black’s pieces morphed into an mating unstoppable force and the upset was complete! Here is how Sevian described it.

    Video by CCSCSL.

    Hikaru Nakamura missed an opportunity to put distance between himself and the field when allowing Gata Kamsky a tactical recourse in a position that was clearly worse. Ray Robson got a nice win against Conrad Holt in his pet Grunfeld Defense. If this is all theory, it shows how far the Grunfeld has become since its popularity in the 70s. It appeared that white had quite an attack after 16.h5, but black calculated very deeply and was able to gain strong counterplay with a passed d-pawn. The win puts him in a tie for first.

    Akobian-Gareev went 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 h6 3.e4 g5 4.Bc4 Bg7 ala Michael Basman. The strange thing was that white never exploited this type of play and they calmly split the point. Daniel Naroditsky has been having a bad tournament with two losses and it appeared as if he would face another loss after 28.Be6 Qh4 29.Bxc8 Qxf2+ 30.Kh1 Bxc8. However, Naroditsky found the drawing line and salvaged the game. Onischuk-Troff was a very interesting positional draw. White tortured black for 20-30 moves with a passed d-pawn, but it appeared Onischuk missed his chances later on.

    GM Irina Krush went down against Nazi Paikidze today. Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    On the women’s side, the story of the round had to be Nazi Paikidze who upset Irina Krush in impressive fashion. The game looked like a Modern Benoni reversed and the Georgian-born IM started her aggression with 18.g4!? Krush, who does not seem to be in top form side-stepped the challenge (18…f5) with the passive 18…Nf8 and Paikidze kept coming with 19.g5.

    After 19…h5, white cracked off the a pawn with 20.Nxe5! since 20…Nxe5 21.f4 regains material. Some moves later, white piled her heavy pieces on the g-file to pry open the kingside. Besides the roving rooks, white had two menacing connected pawns. In fact in the final position, it became three connected pawns and Krush had seen enough. It appears that Krush may have gotten a wake-up call.

    Viktorija Ni was hoping to improve on last year’s sour result, but has fared even worse thus far. Her game against Rusudan Goletiani was a matter of her forgetting the move order and getting into trouble out of the opening. In this line, white often sacks a pawn with d5 only to recover with an improvement in space. Ni forgot an intermezzo 13…Nc6! and is already busted after 14.cxd5 Ne5. Horrible white game.

    IM Rusudan Goletiani. Photo by Lennart  Ootes.

    IM Rusudan Goletiani is back from a one-year hiatus and appears to be rejuvented. Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Annie Wang had success in the first round, but she is now learning how tough it can be playing strong players each round. She took a harsh lesson from Katerina Nemcova in a clinical performance. The game ended with white mating the black king. How did it happen? In the Exchange French, black seemed to equalize quite well in the opening, but began to slip in the middlegame after meeting 26.Bxd5 with 26…Rxd5? After 27.Rxe7 got two rooks on the 7th and ended up with a strong attack with mating patterns galore. Under immense pressure, Wang’s king fell after 34.Bc5+ Ke8 35.Rce7+ Kd8 36.Bb6+ with mate to follow.

    Apurva Virkud also got a lesson from the experienced Tatev Abrahamyan in the Sicilian Najdorf. The game seemed to follow familiar terrain, but 20…e5? had to be a mistake. White battered the light squares and the black king was a sitting duck in the middle of the board. The black king eventually made a dash for the queenside, but not before the kingside was plundered. White ate the pawns and her f- and g-pawns had a clear path to glory. A much-needed win for Tatev.

    Tatev Abrahamyan was in a must-win situation against 16-year old National Master Apurva Virkud. Photo by Lennart  Ootes.

    Tatev Abrahamyan was in a must-win situation against 16-year old National Master Apurva Virkud. Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Yu-Melekhina was level all the way through as white’s slight edge petered out and it was black who was looking for winning chances. These chances evaporated after 42…f5? when 42…a4! may have kept the game going. Finally Foiser-Sharevich was another disaster as black’s position was structurally ruined out of the opening. Black suffered mightily as her position was likened to Swiss cheese it had so many holes. With no shelter for the king, white chased the black’s king across the board where it would wait to be mated. Well-played!

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/
    Livestream: https://new.livestream.com/ccscsl/USChessChampionships
    Chess24.com: https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/us-championship-2015#live

    OVERALL

    WOMEN

  4. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #4 (Saturday, 4 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Onischuk, Alexander 1.0 2665 GM Troff, Kayden W 1.0 2532 ½-½
    2 GM Holt, Conrad 1.0 2530 GM Robson, Ray 1.5 2656 ½-½
    3 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 1.0 2622 GM Gareev, Timur 0.5 2604 ½-½
    4 GM Kamsky, Gata 1.0 2683 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2.0 2798 ½-½
    5 GM So, Wesley 2.0 2788 GM Sevian, Samuel 0.5 2531 ½-½
    6 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 0.0 2633 GM Shankland, Samuel L 0.5 2661 ½-½
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WCM Virkud, Apurva 1.5 2132 GM Krush, Irina 1.5 2477 0-1
    2 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 2.5 2311 IM Paikidze, Nazi 2.0 2333 ½-½
    3 WGM Sharevich, Anna 1.0 2267 WIM Ni, Viktorija 0.5 2188 ½-½
    4 WIM Wang, Annie 1.0 1901 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 1.5 2235 0-1
    5 FM Melekhina, Alisa 1.5 2235 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 2.5 2279 0-1
    6 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 1.0 2322 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 1.5 2180 1-0
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #4: All draws amongst men… more bloodletting amongst ladies.

    The So-Nakamura battle was highly anticipated. Photo by Lennart  Ootes.

    The So-Nakamura battle was highly anticipated.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    In the overall championship, there were all draws today. It is the first time and perhaps one would think that players are being cautious. However, there were some very exciting games including Nakamura-So which had a critical moment after black’s 31…Nf3+! After this shot, white treads carefully with 32.gxf3 Qxf4, So is winning a pawn. It turns out however, that this game goes right into a drawn rook and pawn ending. Tense moment for Nakamura, but he held very easily.

    Several of the games were rather placid, but not so in the case of Gareev-Kamsky. The Uzbek player trotted out the Sicilian Wing Gambit with 1.e4 c5 2.b4!? probably a first in over 2600 play. There is a slight variation with 1.e4 c5 2.a3!? and 3.b4. Gareev played 1.h4 and 2. a4 in Hawaii Festival and earlier in tournament played …h6 and …g5 so maybe his blindfold prowess is affecting his openings. 🙂 This game certainly became murky and entered a tactical landmine with a share of mistakes on both sides. In the end, white had chances but it would not be enough and the game petered out to a draw.

    Timur Gareev has taken his eccentrism to a new level. Photo by Lennart  Ootes.

    Timur Gareev has taken his eccentrism to a new level. Today he essayed 1.e4 c5 2.b4!? against the ultra-solid Gata Kamsky… and almost won! Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Onischuk-Holt was an interesting game where white held the positional advantage for nearly the entire game, but could not find a path to victory. Troff-Shankland did not offer much in the way of a discussion in the Queen’s Indian. Sevian-Naroditsky saw a Marshall Gambit that had a long prepared line, but it is uncertain why such a forcing line is played if not to exact an advantage. The play was concrete and there was not much except a three-fold repetition.

    More bloodletting today in the women’s group with 4/6 decisive. When Katerina Nemcova was asked earlier in the tournament why there were so many decisive results in women’s play she mentioned the disparities in level of play and also that women cannot hold such level positions for an extended time. Whatever the reason, perhaps a study can be done here.

    Goletiani-Paikidze was a draw, but quite an exciting encounter. The game waded into equal terrain, but by the 30th move, there were a couple of pawn sacrifices that sparked counterplay for black. Nevertheless the game petered out into a book draw with white’s extra a-pawn. Melekhina-Nemcova was another anti-Sicilian trotted out by white… this time the c3 Sicilian.

    Katerina Nemcova turned the tables against Alisa Melekhina with 31…g3! but was unable to corral the full point without the help of a later blunder.

    Unfortunately, white feel into deep, deep trouble trying to press on the kingside and black turned the tide after 30…g4 31.Ne1 g3! Stockfish evaluation was at -3.78, but increased to an improbable -8.31 after white’s 35.Nf3. Now one cannot simply look at the eval to determine the position, but black missed several opportunities to apply more pressure. The game went to a winning rook ending and white blundered with 49.g5? hxg5 50.hxg5 and now the a-pawn would decide.

    In Virkud-Krush, the defending champion took advantage of the lack of experience of her opponent in this line, quickly equalized and slowly outplayed the young star. In the end, Virkud missed a tactic in time pressure tossing a piece with 37.Bf3?? Qxd4 when 38.Qxd4 Nb3+ 39.Kd1 wins due to the intermezzo 39…Bxf3+. Here was Krush’s comments after the game:

    Video by CCSCCL.

    Abrahamyan-Yu was a Philidor, a defense with a poor reputation and almost never seen at the highest level. Abrahamyan decided to simply play chess and adopted 6.g3. This was another case of the more experienced player understanding the position better and she ground her down at move 60. In Wang-Foisor, black equalized with no problems after a strange opening choice by white. As was the trend in this round, the more experienced player slowly outplayed her opponent and the game was essentially over at move 25. Sharevich-Ni was a see-saw battle where white was winning then her advantage evaporated. After obtaining a winning position, black dawdled with 64…Kb6 when 64…Rxc4+ would have done. After 71.c3 the game was dead drawn.

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

    WOMEN

  5. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #5 (Sunday, 5 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Holt, Conrad 1.5 2530 GM Troff, Kayden W 2.0 2532 0-1
    2 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2.0 2622 GM Onischuk, Alexander 2.0 2665 ½-½
    3 GM Kamsky, Gata 2.0 2683 GM Robson, Ray 3.0 2656 1-0
    4 GM So, Wesley 2.5 2788 GM Gareev, Timur 1.5 2604 1-0
    5 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.0 2633 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 3.0 2798 0-1
    6 GM Shankland, Samuel L 1.5 2661 GM Sevian, Samuel 2.0 2531 ½-½
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 1.5 2180 WCM Virkud, Apurva 1.5 2132 0-1
    2 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 3.5 2279 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 2.0 2322 ½-½
    3 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2.5 2235 FM Melekhina, Alisa 1.5 2235 ½-½
    4 WIM Ni, Viktorija 1.0 2188 WIM Wang, Annie 1.0 1901 1-0
    5 IM Paikidze, Nazi 2.5 2333 WGM Sharevich, Anna 1.5 2267 ½-½
    6 GM Krush, Irina 2.5 2477 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 3.0 2311 1-0
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #5: Nakamura, Nemcova lead at the break… Holt takes hit.

    A 'what just happened' moment occurred in Holt-Troff.

    A ‘what just happened’ moment occurred in Holt-Troff.

    Every chess player has experienced the pain of a loss. Even worse is the pain of losing a game that you were perhaps a move or two away from tasting the sweetness of victory. Of course chess isn’t so easy. A famous Grandmaster once said that forty strong chess moves can be nullified by one bad move. Thus was the case in Holt-Troff. This is a game between two players who have been competing against each other since junior days. Amazingly, Troff had a 4/4 score! In this game it appeared that Holt was going to break the streak after Troff went horribly wrong in a Grunfeld Defense.

    The position in Holt-Troff after 15…Qb6. The evaluation of Stockfish is +5.55 and this position certainly has to be winning for white. Strange things started to happen.

    After the enterprising 12…Nxf2?! black was “all in” for an attack, but after 13.Qa4 Qxc5 14.dxe6 black was already completely busted. White played the tempting 16.Bc7?! (better was 16.Qa3! with 17.Be3 in mind) which while strong allowed black to stay in the game. Jennifer Shahade pointed out during the game that it is often difficult to choose between moves when one’s advantage is so overwhelming. Objectively speaking, Holt was winning up until the point of his final blunder. The issue now was king safety, a motif that would come back to bite him.

    Out of desperation, Troff started giving checks to the white king. Generally, the idea is to hustle the king to a cubby-hole to hide. After 42…Ne3+, Holt played 43.Kh3 and after 43…g5! there was a sinking feeling that we all get when blowing a position. Facing mate or loss of a rook, a shell-shocked Holt stared at the board and played moves out of reflex.

    A dejected Holt stares at the board in complete shock.

    A dejected Holt stares at the board in complete shock…
    and so was the commentary team of “Jen and Yaz”.

    After resigning, Holt quickly bolted the board in disgust. Heart-breaking for the UTD graduate student. Here is what a bewildered Kayden Troff had to say:

    Video by CCSCSL.

    Perhaps the game that created the most excitement was Nakamura-Naroditsky which saw a mainline Sicilian Dragon (with …h5). This line has been played hundreds of times at every level of chess. It still has a few adherents at top level, but it is so concrete and over-analyzed that it is hard to find original ideas. However, Nakamura was up to the test.

    Nakamura + Red Bull = a Dragon!
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    He opted for the 10…h5 line which has gone in and out of vogue over the past 30 years. Nakamura uncorked the thematic exchange sacrifice with 14…Rxc3! devaluing the white pawn structure and increasing the strength of the “dragon bishop”. Naroditsky had a material advantage, but for white these positions are difficult to play since the g4 ideas are no longer an option. What does white do?

    After 24…Nc5! black now had full compensation for the exchange and the tide was turning. Naroditsky gave the exchange back trying to take advantage of black’s centralized king after 32.Bf6. It turns out that black had seen a bit further… 32…Ne4 33.Nxf5 Bd3! all of white’s pieces are in jeopardy. On 34.c3 Rc5! 35.Nxe7 Rb5 white had seen enough. Nakamura maintains his lead over the field as Wesley So also won his game.

    So-Gareev did not see an eccentric opening by Gareev, but a solid French Defense. However Gareev did test the waters with a provocative 9…h5!? not a typical French idea. Black had to castle by hand and later sacrificed a pawn to activate his king rook. The game went into a Q+N ending with white shepherding that extra pawn… and another. He also claimed the point. It was not an impressive victory, but one that keeps So in striking distance of Nakamura.

    Kamsky finished the game off nicely after 35.Nf6! since 35…Rxd5 is met by 36.Ng8+! On 35…Kg7 36.hxg6 hxg6 37.Qh4! black has to suffer massive losses after 37…Nxe5 38.Rxd8.

    Kamsky-Robson saw the youngster go down for his first loss. Kamsky eschewed his London System for a mainline QGA. However, white got a picturesque attacking position with the center closed and pieces aimed at the black king. There was a queenside skirmish, but the attention fell back on the kingside as white tried to pry the black cover open. Robson panicked with 31…Kh6 which was rudely punished with 32.Ne4! Nd5 33.Bxd5 exd5 34.Rxd5 Rd8 35.Nf6! The finish was crisp.

    Shankland-Sevian was a Guioco Piano that didn’t offer much except for a few tactical nuances which leveled off very quickly. Akobian-Onischuk was a theoretical Nimzo with some positional nuances but the pieces came off rather quickly and there were nothing left. Akobian made some very interesting comments about the state of American chess. Not long ago he was a rising star and now he is paving the way for the younger players.

    Video by CCSCSL.

    In the women’s competition, Katerina Nemcova held her lead by drawing with one of the pre-tournament favorites Tatev Abrahamyan. This was a rather quiet game out of the 4.Qxd4 Sicilian. This offbeat line has quite a bit of venom if black simply plays normal moves. Nemcova steered away from the main lines and played 6.Qd3?! instead of the normal 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.Bg5. However, the Maroczy Bind that ensued is similar to other options in this line, but white wasted a tempo with 6.Qd3 when she could’ve opted for 6.Bxc6 Bxc6 7.c4!? There was never anything in this game for white as black equalized easily.

    Katerina Nemcova thanked Webster University for support. Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Katerina Nemcova thanked Webster University for support.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Krush-Goletiani was a type of Bogo-Indian Defense that turned into quite a swashbuckling affair. After normal moves, the game took a turn when Goletiani unleashed a powerful attack with 12…Nfg4 13.h3 Qh4!? White seemed to have enough protection as long as she doesn’t accept the sacrifice. However, black kept coming after 14.Nf4 g5! 15.Nfd5 f4 when things got critical in a hurry.

    Nice zinger Bxh3! by Goletiani almost broke through!

    Goletiani got her chance after Krush played 19.Rae1?! Bxh3! (19…Nf3+!! was even stronger) At this point Krush stated that she underestimated the power of the idea. Perhaps Goletiani overestimated her chances and instead of recapturing the rook with 22…dxe5, she went for the gusto with the tempting 22…Bxg2? Krush threw a monkey wrench in these plans with 23.Rh5! and when the smoldering board cleared from time pressure smoke, black’s attack was parried. Not only that, black could not calm her mind down and kept trying to exact an advantage.

    After 33…Qa3 her king was now in danger! How quickly things can change! Black’s exposed king was soon facing three attacking pieces and the lone rook was not enough to ward off the swarm. The rook fell on the sword and white simplified into a winning ending. Energetic game!

    While Paikidze-Sharevich took the day off with a tame draw, Foisor-Melekhina went 90 moves until black finally held the draw. White actually had a chance after 71…Qe8 72.Qd6+! but in time pressure it is difficult to see any ideas. After that black defended perfectly and saved the half-point.

    In Yu-Virkud, the position arose after 44…Kc3. It appeared that the c-pawn will decide, but white actually had a saving resource.

    The scholastic players Yu-Virkud had an interesting battle. It is not known if they had met before, but they were certainly familiar with each other. In this game, black seemed to play with more decisiveness at critical moments. Nursing a passed c-pawn, black had many trumps not the least of which was control of crucial queenside files. However, after establishing a winning advantage, Virkud made a mistake with 43…c2 when white could have set up a nice blockade.

    In the diagrammed position, white missed her chance to meet 44…Kc3? with 45.Ne1! She found the idea a couple of moves later, but the difference was the white king was already driven off of crucial squares due to black’s Nb6-c4 manuever. White had to donate a piece and the rest was easy for black. Lastly, Ni-Wang was a relatively one-sided affair in the Catalan. It is safe to say that Ni had control much of the game and deserved the win. Wang was simply outplayed and dominated. There were no forking or drawing tricks in the end.

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

    WOMEN

      1. Oh, thanks Daaim i wasnt sure,i just noticed the ratings and titles of the women practicers in this event on your site! often times as an ULTRAMODERNIST i play the TRADITIONAL RATINGS IGNORED VARIATION and forget that this is how folks is seed and measured using traditional systems, good looks bro!

  6. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #6 (Tuesday, 7 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Troff, Kayden W 3.0 2532 GM Sevian, Samuel 2.5 2531 0-1
    2 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 4.0 2798 GM Shankland, Samuel L 2.0 2661 ½-½
    3 GM Gareev, Timur 1.5 2604 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.0 2633 ½-½
    4 GM Robson, Ray 3.0 2656 GM So, Wesley 3.5 2788 1-0
    5 GM Onischuk, Alexander 2.5 2665 GM Kamsky, Gata 3.0 2683 1-0
    6 GM Holt, Conrad 1.5 2530 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2.5 2622 1-0
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WCM Virkud, Apurva 2.5 2132 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 3.0 2311 0-1
    2 WGM Sharevich, Anna 2.0 2267 GM Krush, Irina 3.5 2477 ½-½
    3 WIM Wang, Annie 1.0 1901 IM Paikidze, Nazi 3.0 2333 ½-½
    4 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.0 2235 WIM Ni, Viktorija 2.0 2188 0-1
    5 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 2.5 2322 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3.0 2235 1-0
    6 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 1.5 2180 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 4.0 2279 0-1
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #6: Rock ’em, Sock ’em! Boards ablaze in St. Louis.

    Today was perhaps the wildest round yet! There were mates on the board, blunders into losses, blunders into draws, interesting motifs, but it was the day of the rook. In the women’s section, the rook played a prominent role in all the decisive games including the thrilling battle of Sharevich-Krush.

    Position after Sharevich’s 42.Rxg6+.

    Throughout the game, Krush was in command and was moving the menacing pawns up the board towards glory. Looking at diagram on the right, Krush had played 41…Nd2 in order to promote the pawn to a new queen. The commentators were analyzing 42.Rd8 which would have lead to a spectacular draw after 42…Rxd8 43.e8(Q)+ (43.exd8(Q)+ transposes) Rxe8 44.Rxe8+ Qxe8 45.Qxe8+ Kg7 46.Qe5+ with a draw. So the fans went beserk when the camera showed Sharevich play 42.Rxg6+??

    According to Sharevich, she had the idea of a perpetual draw in mind and Krush perhaps saw the same line, but could have snatched the full point with the unlikely 42…Bg7! What was strange was that Krush immediately took the rook and perhaps did not consider the winning move. A very disappointing game for Krush who had her share of chances, but continues to struggle to find her form. Sharevich gave her thoughts after the game and was surprised to learn that 42…Bg7 was winning for black!

    Video by CCSCSL.

    The marauding rooks showed up in Yu-Nemcova when the young junior walked into a mating net. The game followed a main line until Yu deviated with 9.Nxe5 instead of 9.Bg5 or 9.d5. As play wore on, it was clear that the tournament leader was in for a fight. Black systematically broke down white’s already broken pawn structure with a …g5, …f6 battering ram on the e-file.

    After white’s 32.h4,
    black to play and mate in four.

    At this point, white panicked with 25.e6 when 25.Kf2 would have kept the game unclear. After 25…Bd7 26.Be4+ Kc8! (not 26…Kb8?? 27.exd7!+-), black was on top. After a series of trades, play on the e-file was telling. With leaks in her position, Yu tried holding her position together with 31.Rg1, but after 31…Re2, she blundered with the zeitnot 32.h4?? After 32…R8e3+ the black king walks the plank after 33.Kd4 c5+ 34.Kd5 Kc7 35.Rbd1 Re5#.

    There have been several comments by women players about the temperamental play of women in general. Is this true? Are women more unstable in terms of chess decisions? Perhaps, but that may not be the only reason that the games in the women’s section have such volatility. On the other hand, Wang-Paikidze showed tremendous fighting spirit of the youngster in holding the draw after 102 moves.

    One game that showed the difference between the seasoned player and the inexperienced was Virkud-Goletiani. White allowed black a dream position after 15…b5! followed by the ambitious 16…Bxd5! Black was firmly in control after that ultimately got a crushing rook attack on the queen-castled king. White’s kingside pieces were flat-footed the whole game.

    Rusudan Goletiani may be back in business.
    Video by CCSCSL.

    In Melekhina-Ni, white faced an enterprising sacrifice that Ni said was prepared by her Belorussian husband Yury Shulman. At the least, it managed take white out of preparation. the 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 is sometimes met by the 3.Bb5+ line, but the game continued 3.Nc3 Nxd5 4.Bc4 c6 5.Qf3 Nd7!? a novelty. In ensuing play, it doesn’t appear that black has enough compensation for the pawn, but in the game, black slowly gains momentum. In trying to wade through the complications, Melekhina began to feel the pressure and overlooked the tactic 28…Qxe5 netting black a piece. In fact, black ended up getting a mating attack by (guess which piece) the rooks.

    Finally Abrahamyan-Foisor was a positional Ruy Lopez where not even a pawn was traded until move 27. By move 35, two rooks and two minor pieces remained with six pawns for each side. White’s pieces were better placed. Black tried sacking a piece to loosen the vice grip on the position, but white’s pieces were well-mobilized and it would not be easy for white to trade off the pawns. White trapped the king on the 8th rank and the opposing monarch rushed to deliver the coup de grace.

    In the men’s group, there were four decisive games with Robson-So being the headliner. The two young GMs were roommates at Webster University and battled in the final of the Millionaire Chess Open. Both took a combined $150,000 (So $100,000 – Robson $50,000) which was captured in a famous photo. However, it was all business today.

    Wesley So has suddenly looked mortal.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    The Berlin Defense was employed by So and they reached a very dynamic position with pairs of bishops zipping around the middle of the board like missiles. In a critical moment, black essayed the queen sally of 26…Qh4 after which white found the logical and probably necessary 27.Rxe5. While the engines, give a slight plus for black, white has more than enough compensation…three passed pawns to boot.

    Ultimately, black had to give the exchange back for a pawn, but white had advanced the a-pawn deeply. In order to stop this pawn, black had to blockade with the rook and with 42.Bb7 it became entombed. Black resigned as the white king would merely walk over to the b6-square and force the rook to fall on the sword. So has had a rough going losing a second game and tumbling down the ELO ladder.

    Nakamura-Shankland and Gareev-Naroditsky were relatively short draws reaching the minimum limit for moves played before a draw can be agreed. Troff-Sevian featured the future of American chess. Their game featured a very unbalanced position as youngsters these days seem to be eschewing positional principles for unbalanced complications. The game was totally insane. White sacrificed an exchange to get passed pawns rolling up the board, but black found some accurate moves to stop the pawn and forced simplification into a winning ending.

    Interesting contrast of expressions for Nakamura.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Holt-Akobian saw a gross blunder, but this time it was not Holt who was the victim, but the victor. This game started out tamely and then exploded in the middlegame. Black’s king was fished out into the center of the board and Akobian hunkered down and clustered pieces around him. However, black overlooked a combination after Holt’s Petrosian-like 46.Qc1. Retreating moves are often the easiest to misunderstand and after 46…Rg6 white banged out 47.Re8+ Kf6 48.Qf4+ netting a piece. Black resigned a few moves later.

    Onischuk-Kamsky was a game between two veterans and positional maestros. White ultimately got a grip on the position and kept increasing pressure. The game went into a double rook ending with white having the better pawns and king. In the end the passed e-pawn and white’s king were able to outmuscle the lone black rook and Onischuk was able to get the full point.

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

    WOMEN

  7. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #7 (Wednesday, 8 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2.5 2622 GM Troff, Kayden W 3.0 2532 0-1
    2 GM Kamsky, Gata 3.0 2683 GM Holt, Conrad 2.5 2530 1-0
    3 GM So, Wesley 3.5 2788 GM Onischuk, Alexander 3.5 2665 1-0
    4 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.5 2633 GM Robson, Ray 4.0 2656 0-1
    5 GM Shankland, Samuel L 2.5 2661 GM Gareev, Timur 2.0 2604 1-0
    6 GM Sevian, Samuel 3.5 2531 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 4.5 2798 ½-½
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 5.0 2279 WCM Virkud, Apurva 2.5 2132 1-0
    2 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3.0 2235 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 1.5 2180 ½-½
    3 WIM Ni, Viktorija 3.0 2188 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 3.5 2322 ½-½
    4 IM Paikidze, Nazi 3.5 2333 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.0 2235 1-0
    5 GM Krush, Irina 4.0 2477 WIM Wang, Annie 1.5 1901 1-0
    6 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 4.0 2311 WGM Sharevich, Anna 2.5 2267 0-1
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #7: Robson catches Nakamura… Nemcova coasting.

    Just when we thought yesterday’s round couldn’t be topped for its excitement, we had round seven! Ray Robson almost evoke heart attack while allowing his clock to whittle down to seconds. You could hear the commentators counting down… 3… 2… 1! A player known for his chronic woes with managing his clock, Robson took this to a new level against a beleaguered Daniel Naroditsky.

    A dejected Daniel Naroditsky lays despondent after losing to a victorious Ray Robson. Naroditsky had chances to hold. Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    The world’s youngest chess author in history has been having a horrible tournament, but was hoping to get back on track against a surging Robson. It was a Grunfeld Defense which Robson has explained he took up as eschewing the King’s Indian. The critical moment of the game was after 30.c4 when white was trying to conjure up play on either wing.

    While Naroditsky did succeed in invade the queenside he may have missed 35…Rb1! as the initiative swung in black’s favor white tried to bail out with endless checks but black had all the trumps. Nevertheless, Naroditsky had chances after black’s fancy 53…f3 54.g4! Now it was white who was looking to attack the cornered black king. It was around this time that Robson ran dangerously close to forfeiting on time.

    At one point it was reported that he was down to one second. It appears that white has a draw after 57.Qf8+, but decided on 57.Qh8+ and in the flurry of moves to follow, the black queen was able to provide sufficient protection. Devastating loss for Naroditsky who was close to snatching the half-point.

    Video by CCSCCL.

    If this is a sign of things to come, then U.S. chess will be competitive for a long time. Sevian-Nakamura featured the prodigy of today with the prodigy of the past. Sevian has broken all the records that Robson broke of Nakamura’s who broke all of Bobby Fischer’s. Make sense? Nakamura never got much out of this game although he played in his usual energetic style. However, as the game wore on, he was unable to create the imbalances needed to go for the initiative. Good game for Sevian.

    So-Onischuk saw a Marshall Gambit which doesn’t seem to be the Ukrainian’s style. There was twists and turns in this theoretical battle, but black somehow lost the thread in what was a relatively equal position. The crucial position occurred after 29.Rxd4 when an attack on f7 loomed. Black played 29…Be7 and after 30. Nf3 black erred with 30…Bb1? which loses material. The win put So back into contention one-half point out with four rounds to go.

    So still has Nakamura in his sights.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Gata Kamsky is also trying to scratch his way back into contention after dissecting Conrad Holt in a technical win. In this game, white extracted a slight advantage going into the endgame, but the bishop pair gave white some initiative. Black marched his king all the way back from c8 to g8 and soon found that his abandoned queenside was being raided! White cut the black king off from protecting the queenside and after 55.Rg7! all of black’s pawns will be gobbled up.

    Another tough game for Varuzhan Akobian who was still trying to recover from his loss to Holt. Against Kayden Troff, he faced a topical line in the Grunfeld, but forgot an intermezzo 24…Bxa4+ which ultimately gave black a much better structure in the ending. Troff converted very smoothly. Troff has made an impression and certainly one on Akobian today.

    This has been a breakout tournament for the Utah native, GM Kayden Troff.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Shankland-Gareev showed another eccentric opening by black as he opted for the Schleimann Defense after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5!? The opening does not have a good reputation, but it can be used effectively for “shock value” and does have some venom. Gareev had played 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4?! against Shankland at the Hawaii Festival.

    Black sacrificed a pawn early but seemed to play carelessly as white pieces became more mobile. White had a number of tactical threats that took advantage of black’s weak back-rank. As pressure increased it appeared that black would be able to hold on but the niggling back-rank threats remained and would be to his undoing. In the final position, black is forced to donate a piece to cover the back rank threat.

    Katerina Nemcova is continuing to apply pressure to the field with yet another win, this time against Apurva Virkud. This game started 1.e4 c5 2.b3!? a rare line that seeks to sidestep main lines. Nemcova probably saw that Virkud knew how to handle main lines very well and just wanted to let her experience shine through.

    Nemcova has played the best chess in the tournament… by far.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Virkud equalized rather easily, but after the queens came off started making slight positional mistakes. After move 30, white was tightening the vice like a boa constrictor and black resorted to shuffling pieces back and forth. White rooks penetrated and she sacked an exchange to get the other rook onto the back rank to cut off the king and rook simultaneously. After 52.Rh8, black is forced to return the exchange, but with her other fianchettoed rook, her position became hopeless. She had to donate more material to free the rook and it was simply too much to ask.

    Krush had just played 11.Bxe6. Black can recapture the bishop in two ways. She decided on 11…fxe6 and Krush had a chance to win immediately.

    Chasing Nemcova was Irina Krush who conveniently dispatched Annie Wang in short order, but was the butt of jokes for missing a simple tactic in the opening. Krush played 11.Bxe6 which should give her a lasting advantage, but when black played 11…fxe6?? Krush could have won piece with 12.Qh5+ and 13.Qxc5. Actually a pretty bad sign of blindness. She took it is stride saying that if she had taken the piece she would not have had the satisfaction of playing such a strong positional game. Perhaps she had a point since Wang showed absolutely no understanding of the position.

    Soon Krush was slowly tightening the screws and Wang ended up blundering into a mate. Since her opening win against Abrahamyan, Wang has spun out of control mustering only one draw and five losses in last six rounds. The fans watching had pity, but all can attest that this would be a learning experience. The question is whether such a performance makes a young player more motivated or less motivated. Playing such strong players every single round can be a tall order for inexperienced players.

    Goletiani-Sharevich could be considered a mild upset considering the way both have been playing. Goletiani had been on a role and was only one point back, but this loss may damage her chances with four rounds left. White opted for a type of double fianchetto Reti opening and got nothing special. In fact, black could have snatched the initiative with a deft exchange sacrifice 29…Rxd2! but retreated and allowed white a chance at the initiative. The game got crazy as pieces started flying about the board… several pieces were hanging.

    In Goletiani-Sharevich, white had missed a couple of killing blows and by the look of it, had a winning position with all four pieces attacking. This was before she played 40.e4?? After 40…Qh4, white was being mated.

    Amidst time pressure, there were a comedy of errors including several missed wins by both sides. Black replied with 39…Qd8 and white immediately played 40.e4?? to make time control. If one looks at this position, there would no way to figure white should lose, but the last move cuts off the the bishop from defending the king. After the calm 40…Qh4 white was being mated!! Goletiani must’ve had a sinking feeling and took 23 minutes before playing 41.g5. However, the ending was brutal and swift after 41…Bxe4+ 42.Kg1 Qxg5+ 43.Qg4 Rg2+ mating. Amazing swindle!

    Sloppy play may be the result of fatigue creeping in as players having to play with such intensity every game takes its toll. One of the more tame game was actually a Grand Prix Attack in Ni-Abrahamyan. The game did not have much of the swashbuckling tactics and ended with a perpetual check. On the other hand Paikidze-Melekhina was an English that exploded mid-game with heavy pieces trolling the board.

    There were a couple of shots missed in the tactical slugfest, but as pieces zipped across the board it was black’s king that was more vulnerable. Melekhina went after the white king in time pressure, but it merely took her pieces away from the defense of her vulnerable king. She took 16 minutes before playing 41…Qf6, but after 42.Rb8! the game was over due to danger on the a1-h8 diagonal. The game ended 42…Qh6+ 43.Rh4 Qg6 44.Rxe8+ Qxe8 45.Qe5+ Kg8 46.Rg4+. Disappointing loss for Melekhina.

    In Foisor-Yu, the junior player was close to winning. Fast forward to 39…Ra8. The position is completely winning with two pawns to the good, but it is difficult to advance them. Once the queens were traded, it took a bit of technique which Yu failed to show. White was able to build a fortress despite the two-pawn deficit.

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

    WOMEN

  8. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #8 (Thursday, 9 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Troff, Kayden W 4.0 2532 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 5.0 2798 0-1
    2 GM Gareev, Timur 2.0 2604 GM Sevian, Samuel 4.0 2531 1-0
    3 GM Robson, Ray 5.0 2656 GM Shankland, Samuel L 3.5 2661 ½-½
    4 GM Onischuk, Alexander 3.5 2665 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.5 2633 1-0
    5 GM Holt, Conrad 2.5 2530 GM So, Wesley 4.5 2788 1-0
    6 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2.5 2622 GM Kamsky, Gata 4.0 2683 ½-½
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WCM Virkud, Apurva 2.5 2132 WGM Sharevich, Anna 3.5 2267 ½-½
    2 WIM Wang, Annie 1.5 1901 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 4.0 2311 0-1
    3 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.0 2235 GM Krush, Irina 5.0 2477 0-1
    4 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 4.0 2322 IM Paikidze, Nazi 4.5 2333 ½-½
    5 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 2.0 2180 WIM Ni, Viktorija 3.5 2188 0-1
    6 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 6.0 2279 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 3.5 2235 ½-½
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #8: Nakamura rolls… Krush edges closer!

    Nakamura taking a glance at chess history of which he is a big part.

    Kayden Troff got an idea of what it is like to play a 2800. There wouldn’t be any swindles today and America’s top player showed his mettle.

    (Editor’s note: Perhaps we are becoming frustrated with Hikaru Nakamura’s harsh self-criticism… deeming his play “moronic” and “idiotic”. Although he was a bit harsh on his play, he uncorked a novelty and dominated for the most part. However, when you’re 2800 the standards of of a different level and it may be hard for the average player to imagine because he keeps winning… and he beats elite players too! Nevertheless, Nakamura opines that if he is playing at this level against Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, or other elite players perhaps, he’d surely lose. We’re not buying it.)

    GM Josh Friedel explains what happened.

    Now about the other games…

    The game of the round was Holt-So with white facing yet another Grunfeld. This game took a sudden turn on move 14 as So sacrificed a piece with 14…Bh5 15.g4. Black would have two pawns for the piece plus his opponent’s weak king. However, white’s two bishops was able hold the position and frankly, black’s attack has no steam. So ended up sacrificing another exchange, but white defended a gave Robson his third loss of the tournament. Improbable result by So who was looking to make an impression in his first U.S. Championship.

    Wesley So with Ms. Loftis Key, the mother in a Filipino family that has taken So into the family in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

    Robson-Shankland drew a game of two French Defense aficionados. Akobian-Kamsky was a friendly draw as well. It seems like it was all played before. Another short game was Gareev-Sevian, but it certainly was not a draw. This demolition cooled off Sevian who had probably started to gain confidence. Gareev played the Trompowsky Attack, an opening that he mentioned he played because of an inspiration from a 2200-Elo player. Wow.

    Sevian snatched the b-pawn with 4…Qxb2 and tried to run and hide, but white got a dangerous initiative after 11.h4!? Then came the double pawn sack with 15.e5! dxe5 16.d6! exd6 17.Nce4. The game continue with a blistering attack and by the time 20.f5 was played it was too late to stop the attack. Black blundered with 20…Nf6 and it seemed that every move white played gained time and tempo. Black sacked the queen for three pieces, but the king was too exposed and it only prolonged the suffering. None of black’s queenside pieces had moved an inch. That is often what happens to “pawn grubbers” taking poisoned b-pawns.

    It goes without saying that many cringe at seeing Daniel Naroditsky in such pain. The talented young man whose chess skill seems to have grown along with his height has had a rough go and it did not get easier with another tough opponent. Imagine having to play Alexander Onischuk after losing a heartbreaking game to Ray Robson. In this game, something went wrong with black’s overall strategy and his bishop on b7 became an instant target after 19.c5. After 20…Ba8, the bishop never moved again and black was effectively down a piece.

    Krush still in hot pursuit of the leader.

    Krush still in hot pursuit of the leader.
    Photos by Lennart Ootes.

    Irina Krush is now within one-half point of the lead despite being relatively out of form. Krush defeated Alisa Melekhina in her pet c3 Sicilian after weathering aggressive intent. However, white’s center became overextended so black decided to sacrifice an exchange for a pawn. Melekhina seemed a bit unsure and dawdled a bit in finding a coherent plan. Black snapped off another pawn skewing the white rooks and winning the exchange back. White tried to get some counterplay on the exposed king, but black finished the game off with a deft mating combination.

    Nemcova-Foisor was a fairly equal battle throughout and there was not much risk taken by either side. Abrahamyan-Paikidze was also drawn, but was a marathon of a battle out of a mainline Caro-Kann. The game got complicated in the middlegame with white pawn storming the black king with 20.g4 and 21.g5. Black had ideas of her own but threw caution to the wind and sacrificed a piece! As the game wore on, black was getting none of the compensation hoped for and the situation looked dire. However, white went for a three-fold repetition since she couldn’t figure out how to prevent checks to her exposed king.

    WGM Anna Sharevich
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Rusudan Goletiani rebounded from a loss yesterday in a walk-over win against Annie Wang. Wang missed a tactical shot 23…Nxg3! winning on the spot. When the smoke clear black was down three pawns and an exchange. It was amazing how quick the game deteriorated. Wang has now lost six games after an auspicious start against Abrahamyan.

    Virkud-Sharevich opted for a slow positional battle. The sham sacrifice 31…Bh3 did not ruffle the features of the young player and she calmly ignored it. The game did not have much of an imbalance and was quietly drawn. Jennifer Yu was on the wrong side of powerfully played game by Victorija Ni.

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

    WOMEN

  9. So’s forfeit rocks U.S. Championship!

    The tournament has gone from bad to worse for Wesley So. Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Everyone who follows international chess will have heard the controversy surrounding Wesley So’s forfeiture in the ninth round of the 2015 U.S. Championships. One of the pre-tournament favorites, this tournament has turned into quite a nightmare for the Filipino star and has put a damper on the entire tournament.

    After changing his federation, he was making his debut in competing for the U.S. title and there was a lot of excitement about the pending battle with Hikaru Nakamura. This all turned sour on Friday after the So disqualification. Here is what happened:

    During the ninth round of the U.S. Championship, Wesley So was paired with Varuzhan Akobian. Akobian was having a poor tournament losing a couple of tough games. So’s tournament was going south as well having already lost three games and valuable ELO points. According to Tony Rich, Wesley So had been warned twice previously for “note taking” on his scoresheet.

    At or around the sixth move of the game, Akobian had informed the Chief Arbiter that So’s note-taking was “distracting”. Chess.com also verified that So had repeated this practice in the first three rounds. This included a complaint by Sam Shankland in round two. The notes were not chess-related. Following is an explanation by Tony Rich, Chief Arbiter.

    Video by CCSCSL.

    How is this behavior warrant a forfeiture? The rule is cited by FIDE states:

    11.3 During play the players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse any game on another chessboard. (…) The rules of a competition may specify a different, less severe, penalty.

    11.5 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever.

    11.7 Persistent refusal by a player to comply with the Laws of Chess shall be penalised by loss of the game.

    It was the contention that after So was warned he felt that such a rule did not preclude him from taking notes on a separate sheet of paper. It turns out that Alejandro Ramirez saw So’s idiosyncrasy of writing notes on his scoresheet at the Millionaire Chess Open (which So won). Before making the decision, Rich contacted International Arbiter Francisco Guadalupe for verification of the rules.

    In the background Tony Rich is seen explaining his ruling to the players. GM Timur Gareev is trying to figure out what has happened. Truly epic! Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    It was quite a shock that has rocked the chess world and has ignited a debate on this particular rule. What was discovered during the debate was that many strong players did not know of the “note-taking” rule. It should not be assumed that even the strongest players know all of the FIDE tournament rules. There was even a famous case of Yury Averbakh being unaware that while a king cannot cross an attacked square while castling, the rook can.

    So posted the following message on Facebook:

    I have been having trouble concentrating so I wrote a note to myself on a piece of paper (not my score sheet) …it said: double check triple check use your time. Akobian saw it and complained to the arbiter and a forfeit was declared. I’m sorry I did not know it was against the rules.

    Posted by Wesley So on Friday, April 10, 2015

    So has actually launched an appeal. This appeal will not be on the decision to forfeit, but for the loss of rating points. There would be a question of whether a forfeit or adjudication by the Arbiter would simply nullify the game while recording the result.

    There seems to be other issues surrounding the controversy. According to an article run in the Star Tribune (Minnesota), the family that So has been living with since leaving Webster University has been embroiled in a dispute with So’s biological family.

    “There are personal problems in my family,” So said after the forfeit. “Trying to fix them during this tournament caused a lot of stress and tension. It diverted a lot of energy from the board when I should be focusing on my game.”

    ~GM Wesley So

    Loftis Key, Wesley So’s host mother became embroiled in a related controversy. This picture was taken on the day before the controversy. Photos by Lennart Ootes.

    The crux of the drama has to do with Wesley So leaving Webster to pursue a professional career in chess. This angered his family and according to the article, So’s mother (Elenanor So) and aunt came to the site of the U.S. Championships to demand that he return to school or lose contact with the family. There was commotion outside the club after his game which included yelling. So apologized to the club for the commotion. Loftis Key, So’s host mother, accused Webster coach Paul Truong for orchestrating the visit. Truong has acknowledged contact with the mother, but denied any involvement in her trip.

    So will be able to play his last two games without any penalties. However, the rules stand against note-taking and apply to all players. This is a very unfortunate incident and while the pain was subside over time, it has put a damper on what was to be his inauguration as a national player for the U.S.

    So is optimistic about his future and has no intention on leaving his new federation. “Nothing is going right for me in this tournament,” he said. “I’ll be glad when it’s over. There’ll be other U.S. championships. My goal for next year will be to win it.”

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/
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  10. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #9 (Friday, 10 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Kamsky, Gata 4.5 2683 GM Troff, Kayden W 4.0 2532 ½-½
    2 GM So, Wesley 4.5 2788 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 3.0 2622 0F-1F
    3 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 1.5 2633 GM Holt, Conrad 3.5 2530 1-0
    4 GM Shankland, Samuel L 4.0 2661 GM Onischuk, Alexander 4.5 2665 ½-½
    5 GM Sevian, Samuel 4.0 2531 GM Robson, Ray 5.5 2656 ½-½
    6 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 6.0 2798 GM Gareev, Timur 3.0 2604 ½-½
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 4.0 2235 WCM Virkud, Apurva 3.0 2132 1-0
    2 WIM Ni, Viktorija 4.5 2188 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 6.5 2279 ½-½
    3 IM Paikidze, Nazi 5.0 2333 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 2.0 2180 1-0
    4 GM Krush, Irina 6.0 2477 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 4.5 2322 1-0
    5 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 5.0 2311 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.0 2235 ½-½
    6 WGM Sharevich, Anna 4.0 2267 WIM Wang, Annie 1.5 1901 ½-½
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #9: World stunned by So forfeit… fierce debate ensues.

    The long and short of it (pun intended).

    The long and short of it (pun intended).
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Round nine will go down in history as a memorable lesson in chess etiquette and rules. The shock of Wesley So’s forfeiture reverberated around the world and the view were pointed and in many cases diametrically opposed. Some wished for sympathy and further warning before a irreversible punishment was meted out. Others agreed with the ruling citing earlier warnings and complaints. The conversation will continue long after the event is over. Read story here!

    The tournament didn’t see any significant changes in the open section. Hikaru Nakamura maintains the lead and it appears that only Ray Robson will have a reasonable chance of catching him. Both drew and none of the other games had any bearing on the upper half. Naroditsky-Holt was a sigh of relief as Naroditsky won his first game after dropping five. The last two rounds will feature epic matchups including today’s Robson-Nakamura bout.

    The long and short of it (pun intended).

    FM Alisa Melekhina probably knocked IM Rusudan Goletiani out of contention. Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    In the women’s section, Irina Krush has pulled into a virtual tie for 1st with Katerina Nemcova winning yet again. Krush a dodged a couple of bullets and was hit by another, but has steadied the ship winning an impressive six games. Krush plays Nemcova in the final round and Nemcova also has to play Nazi Paikidze who is only a point behind. However, Rusudan Goletiani had to scramble to draw her game against Alisa Melekhina and is practically out of contention for 1st. Nevertheless, it will certainly be a thrilling weekend.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/
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    Chess24.com: https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/us-championship-2015#live
    Drum Coverage! https://www.thechessdrum.net/

    OVERALL

    WOMEN

  11. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #10 (Saturday, 11 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM Troff, Kayden W 4.5 2532 GM Gareev, Timur 3.5 2604 ½-½
    2 GM Robson, Ray 6.0 2656 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 6.5 2798 ½-½
    3 GM Onischuk, Alexander 5.0 2665 GM Sevian, Samuel 4.5 2531 1-0
    4 GM Holt, Conrad 3.5 2530 GM Shankland, Samuel L 4.5 2661 1-0
    5 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 4.0 2622 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 2.5 2633 1-0
    6 GM Kamsky, Gata 5.0 2683 GM So, Wesley 4.5 2788 0-1
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WCM Virkud, Apurva 3.0 2132 WIM Wang, Annie 2.0 1901 ½-½
    2 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.5 2235 WGM Sharevich, Anna 4.5 2267 0-1
    3 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 4.5 2322 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 5.5 2311 1-0
    4 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 2.0 2180 GM Krush, Irina 7.0 2477 0-1
    5 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 7.0 2279 IM Paikidze, Nazi 6.0 2333 0-1
    6 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 5.0 2235 WIM Ni, Viktorija 5.0 2188 0-1
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #10: So bounces back… Krush at the brink!

    Wesley So composed himself against Gata Kamsky,
    but there is much on his mind.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    While it shouldn’t be a surprise that the top six players are members of the Olympiad team, the order is somewhat of a surprise. A day after Wesley So lost his fourth game on a forfeit, he beat Gata Kamsky in fine style. This was a good sign that So had rebounded from his forfeiture.

    Against Kamsky he had to beat back initial aggression. It was apparent that Kamsky was testing So’s state of mind, but black got a very solid position. It is uncertain why Kamsky opted for 28.g4? but it immediately lost a pawn to 28…Ng6. After that So tightened the vice and white’s position collapsed. Good win for So who will gain good ELO points back. According to chess2700.com, So has lost 16 points thus far.

    Very difficult interview with Wesley So after round ten.
    Video by CCSCSL.

    Nakamura-Robson was a showdown between the top two in the standings. This game did not have much in the Four Knights Game and was draw at move 30. Nakamura maintains a half-point lead and will get Alexander Onischuk tomorrow in a tough pairing. Robson gets Timur Gareev who has only gotten one win thus far. Of course, Nakamura would have to lose in order for there to be any chance of a playoff.

    Hikaru Nakamura is hearing the footsteps of Ray Robson.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Alexander Onischuk beat Samuel Sevian who has cooled off a bit after a strong start. The game was a Grunfeld Defense where black went wrong in the middlegame by overextending his central pawns and losing one of them. In fact, black’s pawns were in shambles and were picked off one after the other. Conrad Holt has had an up and down tournament including the devastating loss to Troff, but upended Sam Shankland after developing a space advantage and pressing with a kingside attack. After 24.f5! black decided to sacrifice the queen to ward off the attack. However, black’s king had no protection and vulnerable against the slicing power of the queen and bishop. On cue, one of the rooks was skewered and the Shankland resigned.

    Irina Krush is finally in sole possession of first place after mating Jennifer Yu. Nazi Paikidze beat Katrina Nemcova moving into a tie for second place but also getting the tiebreaker in case of a tie. All Krush needs is a draw to clinch another title. It will be her 7th. Tatev Abrahamyan has notched a couple of wins in the second half to offset a horrible start. Today she beat Rusudan Golteiani who has struggle in the past couple of several rounds

    Interesting position in Abrahamyan-Goletiani. Given the menacing pawns, how would you proceed as black? Will you be steamrolled?

    Their game was a classical Scheveningen Sicilian that has been seen countless times. White piled up her forced on the g-file after prying open the kingside with a pawnstorm. Black used a white pawn on h6 as a shield, but white sacrificed a knight to get the pawns rolling. Look at the incredible position… three pawns on the sixth versus a rook! Black had to sacrifice one of her rooks, but white played the ending well and converted the point.

    Foisor-Ni had the rare Czech Benoni inviting a positional encounter, but the Romanian would have none of it. Her 8.h4 seem to reveal her aggressive intentions. Black countered energetically white white never followed up h4 with any coherent plan. In fact, it was black who began to snatch the initiative. Ni play some fine positional moves to penetrate white’s camp… on 31.Qg7 32.Qxg7+ Kxg7 black was on top. Thereafter it appeared that white’s position collapsed in a matter of ten moves. Ni’s extra pawns would prove to be the deciding factor. Nit has certainly played above her expectations and is now sitting on +2.

    Melekhina-Sharevich was a weird game in which the evaluation swung wildly in critical moments. White essayed the Closed Sicilian and unfurled a slow kingside attack. While the initial attack was parried, white maintained an advantage in space plus the passed d-pawn was a monster and was hard to blockade.

    In a turn of events black corraled the f-pawn and finally got the king in to block and win the d-pawn. It appeared that Melekhina was trying to arrive at one of the drawing positions in the R+P ending. In fact, after an exchange of blunders, she got her chance but made a crucial mistake in allowing the black rook access to the h-file with 64.Kh5?? (64.Kh4!=) when after 64…Rf3! the game is over.

    Heartbreaking loss for Melekhina who has had a rough go in this tournament. She told The Chess Drum that she hoped to make a better showing to prove the point made in her excellent piece in Chess Life on balancing chess and career. The article is a must-read and The Chess Drum will run a story on his timely topic. Perhaps she placed pressure on herself trying to prove her hypothesis when her participation in the event (and various chess, academic and law successes) was proof enough. It is a topic that has not fully been explored.

    Virkud-Wang petered out rather quickly in a concrete game without many imbalances. The three scholastic players have not scored well, but the amount of experience they will received will be invaluable for confidence and for future development as chess players.

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

    WOMEN

  12. 2015 U.S. Chess Championship
    USA USA USA
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #11 (Sunday, 12 April 2015)
    Overall
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 GM So, Wesley 5.5 2788 GM Troff, Kayden W 5.0 2532 1-0
    2 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 2.5 2633 GM Kamsky, Gata 5.0 2683 ½-½
    3 GM Shankland, Samuel L 4.5 2661 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 5.0 2622 ½-½
    4 GM Sevian, Samuel 4.5 2531 GM Holt, Conrad 4.5 2530 1-0
    5 GM Nakamura, Hikaru 7.0 2798 GM Onischuk, Alexander 6.0 2665 1-0
    6 GM Gareev, Timur 4.0 2604 GM Robson, Ray 6.5 2656 0-1
    Women
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 WIM Ni, Viktorija 6.0 2188 WCM Virkud, Apurva 3.5 2132 1-0
    2 IM Paikidze, Nazi 7.0 2333 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 5.0 2235 ½-½
    3 GM Krush, Irina 8.0 2477 WGM Nemcova, Katerina 7.0 2279 ½-½
    4 IM Goletiani, Rusudan 5.5 2311 WFM Yu, Jennifer R 2.0 2180 ½-½
    5 WGM Sharevich, Anna 5.5 2267 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev 5.5 2322 1-0
    6 WIM Wang, Annie 2.5 1901 FM Melekhina, Alisa 2.5 2235 1-0
    Games (Men, Women)

    Round #11: Nakamura, Krush… 2015 U.S. Champions!

    Hikaru Nakamura bagged his 4th title. His first was 10 years ago!

    There was a bit of tension in the last round of the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship, but in the end, all went according to script. Top seeds Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush clinched titles in the crucial last round. Nakamura upended Alexander Onischuk in a Scotch Gambit, an unlikely choice but one with a bit of venom if black is not careful.

    In this line black sacrificed a pawn for piece play, but was unable to obtain an initiative. In the end Onischuk dropped a piece after 27…Nxf2 28.Nd4. This tournament was a bit strange in that Nakamura didn’t play his absolute best chess, but was able to stave off a surging Ray Robson and in the end, a fourth U.S. Championship.

    A time of reflection ahead for So.
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Robson had a wonderful showing with +4 result and is perhaps showing that he will be a force to be reckoned with in future events. Fourteen-year old Samuel Sevian also had a strong event scoring 50% against the strongest field he has ever faced. His win over Wesley So showed that he has enough confidence to win big games.

    As for So, his mid-tournament meltdown was due to offsite factors that seem a lot more complicated than merely writing notes on a sheet of paper. An entire imbroglio has unfurled with accusations being aimed at various people (including Millionaire Chess). What is important now is for the 21-year old So to get this episode behind him and to reconcile with his family. In this end, these are going to be the people who are there when the lights grown dim. So is a wonderful young man, a prodigious talent and the chess world wishes him well!

    Irina Krush displaying her usual exuberance after 7th title.
    Will she wear her famous red dress?
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    In the women’s field, Irina Krush showed that she was the most stable and also showed the despite some tough moments, she kept her composure and was able to avoid a crisis. On the other hand, Katerina Nemcova waited until the penultimate round to have a rare setback losing to runner-up Nazi Paikidze. However, beating Krush in the last round would have given her the title despite that fact that an unbeaten Paikidze beat both Krush and Nemcova. It was an interesting tournament with breakout performance for Viktorija Ni (7/11) and debutante Anna Sharevich (6.5/11).

    Rusudan Goletiani faltered in the later rounds and ended on +1. National players Tatev Abrahamyan and Sabina-Francecsa Foisor were inconsistent and finished with even scores. At the bottom half you had the wildcard scholastic players who merely chalked this tournament as an experience. There was Annie Wang opening win over Abrahamyan that started a buzz. Apurva Virkud had a couple wins and draws with Paikidze and Sharevich.

    Will Apurva Virkud be a future contender?
    Photo by Lennart Ootes.

    Will these junior players continue with chess or will they become a footnote in history like previous young participants Baraka Shabazz, Cindy Tsai, Hana Itkis, Laura Ross and Ashritha Eswaran? In the meantime, the vacuum of talented girls leaving chess has been filled by immigrants seeking higher education. Half of the women’s field consists of recent emigres, many who double as university students.

    One of the persons who may shed light on this issue is Alisa Melekhina. In her case, she scored poorly, but not for the lack of fight. It was merely a case of nerves and missed opportunities. It goes without saying that being a lawyer at a New York law firm carries with it a unique set of challenges. Nevertheless, Melekhina has made her mark and the variety of her accomplishments is proof that one can have a successful balance in a life which includes chess. While she flamed out of the event, her article in Chess Life will be an ongoing case of how one can find that balance!

    OVERALL

    WOMEN

  13. 2015 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 Nakamura, H 8.0 M 2798 2803 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1
    2 GM Robson, R 7.5 M 2656 2774 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1
    3 GM So, W 6.5 M 2788 2694 1 1 0 ½ 1 0 1 0 0 1 1
    4 GM Onischuk, A 6.0 M 2665 2676 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 0
    5 GM Kamsky, G 5.5 M 2683 2638 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½
    6 GM Akobian, V 5.5 M 2622 2644 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½
    7 GM Sevian, S 5.5 M 2531 2652 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 1
    8 GM Shankland, S 5.0 M 2661 2604 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½
    9 GM Troff, K 5.0 M 2532 2616 0 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1 0 ½ ½ 0
    10 GM Holt, C 4.5 M 2530 2587 0 1 0 ½ 0 1 0 1 0 1 0
    11 GM Gareev, T 4.0 M 2604 2543 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0
    12 GM Naroditsky, D 3.0 M 2633 2468 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1 0 ½
    All PGN Games (Overall)

    2015 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 10 11
    1 GM Krush, I 8.5 F 2477 2444 ½ 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½
    2 IM Paikidze, N 7.5 F 2333 2366 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½
    3 WGM Nemcova, K 7.5 F 2279 2368 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 0 ½
    4 WIM Ni, V 7.0 F 2188 2345 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1
    5 WGM Sharevich, A 6.5 F 2267 2301 1 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1
    6 IM Goletiani, R 6.0 F 2311 2269 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 1 0 1 ½ 0 ½
    7 WGM Abrahamyan, T 5.5 F 2322 2233 0 0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0
    8 WGM Foisor, S 5.5 F 2235 2239 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 ½
    9 WCM Virkud, A 3.5 F 2132 2115 1 ½ 0 0 1 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0
    10 WIM Wang, A 3.5 F 1901 2114 1 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1
    11 FM Melekhina, A 2.5 F 2235 2028 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 0
    12 WFM Yu, J 2.5 F 2180 2033 0 1 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½
    All PGN Games (Women)

  14. Nakamura, Krush leading U.S. Chess

    Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush
    2015 U.S. Chess Champions!

    On a crisp Monday night of April 13th, Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush were crowned as the U.S. Champions. It would be the 4th for Nakamura and the 7th for Krush. It also reinforces the notion of where the power lies in American chess. While there is home-grown talent on the men’s side with Ray Robson, Samuel Shankland, Daniel Naroditsky, Conrad Holt, Kayden Troff and Samuel Sevian there is the ominous presence of Wesley So, the Filipino-born sensation who changed his federation with much fanfare last year. Uzbekistan-born Timur Gareev created moments of “reckless danger” for opponents.

    Was this a curtain call for the legendary Kamsky?
    Photo by CCSCSL.

    Not to be outdone by the “young bucks” and “old heads” Gata Kamsky and Alexander Onischuk and Varuzhan Akobian, Nakamura showed his supremacy in positions where he had to be resourceful. While he was certainly critical of his play early on and was in a little trouble against So, he was able to avoid a major crisis and help stave off the heroics of aspirants. Robson had a breakout tournament and has shown that he will be a force in the future along with his friend Wesley So.

    Irina Krush has continually shown she is a class above everyone else in American chess. One of only two full Grandmasters in the U.S., her nemesis IM Anna Zatonskih was not in the field and she was surely “missed”. However, there was fierce competition with newcomer Nazi Paikidze and Katerina Nemcova. In fact, Nemcova led for most of the tournament until her lost to Paikidze.

    Hikaru Nakamura bagged his 4th title. His first was 10 years ago.

    Krush is now a seven-time champion!
    Photos by Lennart Ootes.

    On the women’s side you have a number of emigres (past and present) who double as college students such as Sabina-Francesa Foisor, Nazi Paikidze, Katerina Nemcova and Anna Sharevich. You have two emigres in Rusudan Goletiani and Viktorija Ni who are involved in chess education. There were three juniors (Apurva Kirkud, Annie Wang and Jennifer Yu) and perhaps one of the quintessential role models for women’s chess, Alisa Melekhina, a newly-minted lawyer and entrepreneur.

    What does the future hold for American chess? The scholastic aspect of chess has exploded and there are thousands of players developing from coast-to-coast. As more support is given to the efforts of Chess-in-Schools initiative, organizations like Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis and new events like Millionaire Chess, chess hopes to draw a higher profile. The environment may also give new players a chance to express their talents.

    Participants...2012 U.S. Junior Championship.

    The future of American chess? Three of these 2012 Junior Closed participants competed in the 2015 U.S. Championship. Photo by CCSCSL.

    Both Nakamura and Krush both came up through the American scholastic system and have turned into important figures in the American chess scene. One day they will be in the Hall-of-Fame. Young players are now emulating them and many project that the U.S. will remain as a world contender for Olympiad medals. At this point, Nakamura has a legitimate chance to compete for a world championship title and is now the #3 player. Is it time to start getting excited about the potential of another “boom” in American chess? Most definitely.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/
    Livestream: https://new.livestream.com/ccscsl/USChessChampionships
    Chess24.com: https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/us-championship-2015#live
    Drum Coverage! https://www.thechessdrum.net/

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