Caruana Collapses; Yip, Eswaran Join Women's Championship Lead

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GM Fabiano Caruana
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GM Fabiano Caruana lost his second game in a row in the Saint Louis Chess Club, and is now tied with five players for seventh place in the 2021 US Chess Championship. // photo Crystal Fuller

 

American top-seed GM Fabiano Caruana has lost back-to-back games for the first time in his US Chess Championship history, his latest defeat coming at the hands of GM Samuel Sevian in Round 6 on Tuesday afternoon at the Saint Louis Chess Club.  

Entering October as FIDE’s World No. 2 ranked GM and the second of only two players rated 2800, Caruana has shed 15 points in St. Louis according to live rankings, dropping him to third behind Chinese GM Ding Liren. With five rounds remaining, including two pairings with the current championship co-leaders, GMs Ray Robson and Aleksandr Lenderman, even salvaging Caruana's dismal performance with draws puts in jeopardy his status as one of the world's top-5. 

And three players now share the lead after six rounds in the Women’s national championship, with both IM Carissa Yip and WGM Ashritha Eswarana catching pace with WGM Katerina Nemcova at 4.0/6. Eswaran has not lost a game yet in St. Louis and scored her second win over WIM Megan Lee on Tuesday, while Yip dodged an early bullet to tally her third win of the tournament using the Modern Defense as Black against WGM Anna Sharevich.  

 

 

Round 7 of the 2021 US Chess national championships begins at 1:00 p.m. central in the Saint Louis Chess Club, and broadcast live alongside GM commentary by Maurice Ashley, Cristian Chirila and four-time US Chess Champion Yasser Seirawan on YouTube and the official event website

 

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WCHOF
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photo Lennart Ootes

 

The 2018 challenger to World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen has not appeared in any recognizable form since arriving in St. Louis last week, fighting through awful positions in each of his three draws and admitting he had probably “extracted the maximum amount of points possible” from those situations. Those words rang true, as Caruana finally fell for his first loss to tournament wildcard GM Daniel Naroditsky on Monday, with no rebound to be had Tuesday. 

Sevian may have thrown the World No. 2 out of prep early with 3. Nc3 into a Four Knights Scotch, exposed by Caruana’s second central pawn blunder in as many games, on Tuesday a horrid 17. … d5? of which he never recovers. GM Elshan Moradiabadi breaks down Caruana’s collapse in CLO’s Round 6 Game of the Day – and be sure to check out the bonus study of Smyslov-Dueckstein from Zagreb 1955 with a similar pawn structure, mentioned in the analysis. 

 

 

 

There was no result from two marquee matchups in Round 6 of the US Chess Championship, seeing draws between the top-four players in the standings. The U.S. second- and third-seed GMs Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez split the point in a straightforward Queen’s Gambit Accepted after 37 moves, while the tournament co-leaders Robson and Lenderman called a truce after this fiery Sicilian on Tuesday. 

[pgn][Event "2021 US Chess Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.10.12"] [Round "6.4"] [White "Robson, Ray"] [Black "Lenderman, Aleksandr"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B31"] [WhiteElo "2669"] [BlackElo "2607"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2021.10.06"] {[%evp 9,91,45,46,27,60,42,55,43,49,40,46,3,14,12,13,17,7,15,14,15,11,18,28,0, 0,0,0,0,0,0,61,0,16,26,20,24,35,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,-13,-12,-37,0,-67,-56,-75,-33, -59,-43,-50,-8,-20,-20,-33,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0]} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. d4 cxd4 6. Qxd4 {B31: Sicilian: 2... Nc6 3 Bb5 g6.} f6 $1 {6...f6 scores better than 6...Nf6.} 7. Qa4 Qb6 $146 ({ Predecessor:} 7... Bg7 8. O-O Nh6 9. c4 Qb6 10. Nc3 O-O 11. Re1 Nf7 12. Be3 Qb7 13. Qb3 Qxb3 14. axb3 {1/2-1/2 (31) Vachier Lagrave,M (2774)-Radjabov,T (2758) Khanty Mansiysk 2019}) 8. c4 {White is slightly better.} Qa6 9. Qc2 d5 10. cxd5 (10. O-O $14 {deserves consideration.}) 10... cxd5 $11 11. exd5 Bf5 12. Qe2 Bd3 13. Qe6 Qxe6+ $1 14. dxe6 Nh6 $1 15. Nc3 Nf5 16. Nd5 O-O-O 17. Nb4 Bc4 $1 18. g4 Ng7 19. Be3 {[#] Strongly threatening Rc1.} Kb7 (19... Bxe6 $11 20. Rg1 (20. Bxa7 Bxg4 21. Nd2 e5 $17) 20... Bd7) 20. Rc1 (20. Nd4 $1 $14) 20... Rc8 21. Nd4 {aiming for Nbc6!} Bxe6 22. O-O Bxg4 23. Nb3 {Black must now prevent Na5+.} e5 24. Na5+ (24. Nd5 {keeps more tension.} Bd6 25. Nxf6 Bh3 26. Rfd1 Rxc1 27. Bxc1 Be7 28. Nd5) 24... Ka8 25. Rxc8+ Bxc8 26. Nd5 Bd6 27. Nxf6 Nf5 28. Rd1 Be6 29. a3 ({Better is} 29. Nc6 $11) 29... Rc8 $15 30. b4 Nxe3 ({Black should try} 30... h5 $17) 31. fxe3 Be7 32. Nd5 Bd8 (32... Bh4 $1 $15 33. Nb3 Rc2) 33. Nb3 Bb6 34. Kf2 Rc2+ 35. Kf3 {The position is equal.} Rxh2 {Hoping for ...Bxd5+.} 36. Nc5 Bf5 37. e4 Bc8 38. Ne7 Kb8 39. Nc6+ Kc7 40. Nxe5 Bxc5 41. Rc1 {[%mdl 64] [#] Pin} Rh3+ 42. Kf4 Rh4+ 43. Kf3 Rh3+ 44. Kf4 Rh4+ 45. Kf3 Rh3+ 46. Kf4 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

Yip spent 30 minutes of her clock deciding on 6. … Qa5, a mistake that leaves Black’s queen primed for discovery after 7. Be2. But Sharevich pulls the trick early with 8. Nd5 instead of the winning 8. e5!, allowing Yip a safe recovery. The game stayed hung in equality, with Black not finding much use from its bishop pair, but Sharevich’s self-inflicted 31. f4? kicked open a few lanes and got Yip’s attack going. Black was in control after the passive 35. Rg1, and soon Yip’s queen and bishop were into the backline. 

[pgn][Event "2021 U.S. Women's Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.10.12"] [Round "6.5"] [White "Sharevich, Anna"] [Black "Yip, Carissa"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A40"] [WhiteElo "2276"] [BlackElo "2402"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "98"] [EventDate "2021.10.06"] {[%evp 9,98,61,105,-41,143,142,226,77,72,75,72,73,74,32,26,25,27,0,0,0,0,-48, -51,-252,-48,-55,-45,-53,-14,-19,-13,-21,17,21,23,0,16,0,0,0,42,0,0,0,0,-56, -53,-73,-62,-98,-93,-116,-121,-445,-409,-387,-30,-344,-78,-96,-92,-547,-403, -723,-653,-1044,-1108,-1091,-816,-1266,-812,-1069,-1061,-976,-807,-785,-818, -809,-771,-845,-836,-768,-649,-877,-870,-962,-948,-924,-891,-979,-867]} 1. d4 g6 2. Bf4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 Nd7 5. e4 c5 (5... e5 $14 6. dxe5 dxe5) 6. Bc4 { A41: 1 d4 d6: Tartakower System and Modern Defence.} (6. d5 $16) 6... Qa5 $146 (6... cxd4 $15 7. Nxd4 e5 {[%mdl 64] Double Attack}) ({Predecessor:} 6... Qb6 7. Nd5 Qd8 8. O-O cxd4 9. Ng5 Nh6 10. Qf3 O-O 11. Rad1 Ne5 12. Qb3 Nxc4 13. Qxc4 {0-1 (55) Knott,T (1484)-Khalimov,K (1783) Frankfurt 2010}) 7. Bd2 $1 $16 h6 (7... Qb6 $16) 8. Nd5 (8. e5 $1 $18 {and White stays clearly on top.}) 8... Qd8 9. Bc3 cxd4 10. Bxd4 Ngf6 11. O-O (11. Qd3 $16) 11... e5 12. Nxf6+ Nxf6 13. Bc3 O-O 14. Qd3 Qc7 15. Bb4 (15. Rad1 $11 {was preferrable.}) 15... Rd8 $15 16. a4 $2 (16. Rfe1 $15) 16... b6 $2 ({Better is} 16... d5 $19 17. Bxd5 (17. exd5 $2 e4 $19 {[%mdl 64] Double Attack}) 17... Rxd5 $1 18. exd5 e4 {[%mdl 64] Double Attack}) 17. Nd2 Bb7 18. Bd5 Nxd5 19. exd5 a5 20. Ba3 Ba6 21. c4 f5 22. f3 Bc8 23. Kh1 Bd7 24. Qc2 Be8 (24... Rf8 $11 {is superior.}) 25. Rae1 (25. b3 $14) 25... Qd7 $11 26. b3 g5 $1 27. Bb2 (27. g4 $11) 27... Bg6 $15 28. Bc3 Kh7 29. Qb2 Rg8 30. g3 Rae8 31. f4 $2 {[%mdl 8192]} (31. Kg1 $17 {is more resistant.}) 31... gxf4 32. gxf4 e4 ({Black should try} 32... exf4 $19 33. Rxe8 Rxe8) 33. Re3 $2 {[%mdl 8192] [#]} (33. Bxg7 $1 $11 {and White is okay.} Rxg7 34. Rg1) 33... Bxc3 $2 (33... Bh5 $1 $19 34. Bd4 Qe7) 34. Qxc3 $17 {[#]} Bh5 $1 35. Rg1 $2 {[%mdl 8192]} (35. Rh3 $17 {nothing else works.} Bg4 36. Rg3) 35... Qe7 36. Qc1 (36. Reg3 $142 e3 37. Re1 Rxg3 38. hxg3) 36... Qf6 {Black is clearly winning.} 37. Rxg8 Rxg8 38. Qe1 Qd4 39. Rh3 Bf7 40. Rg3 Rxg3 41. hxg3 Bh5 {...e3 is the strong threat.} 42. Nf1 Bf3+ 43. Kh2 Kg6 44. Ne3 Qb2+ 45. Kg1 h5 46. Qf2 Qxb3 47. Nf1 Qxc4 48. Qxb6 Qxd5 49. Qe3 Bd1 0-1 [/pgn]

And Black was already losing here in Eswaran-Lee, but resigned immediately after Eswaran found White's next move. Can you find it?

 

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Eswaran Lee
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Eswaran - Lee after 25. ... b6

 

The 2021 US Chess Championships are being played October 5-19 in the Saint Louis Chess Club, with rounds beginning daily at 1:00 p.m. central. Each round will be broadcast live alongside GM commentary by Maurice Ashley, Cristian Chirila and four-time US Chess Champion GM Yasser Seirawan, viewable on the Saint Louis Chess Club YouTube channel or the official event website.      

Check CLO daily for round recaps and master analysis of the 2021 US Chess Championships.  

 


Quick Links:

2021 U.S. Championships Main Page

2021 U.S. Championships Live Games

2021 U.S. Championships Live Commentary

2021 U.S. Championship Pairings and Results

2021 U.S. Women's Championship Pairings and Results

Comments

Great article and excellent annotations. I think it would have made sense to mention why 27...Bxg2 does not work for Black in the Sevian-Caruana game. Of course, 28.Rxf7! wins but I had to do a double-take of the situation before I spotted it.

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