2020 U.S. Women's Crown Up for Grabs Saturday

The 2020 U.S. Women’s crown will be officially transferred today, either reclaimed or inherited.  

The competition to determine America’s top female has come down to a race of three. With two rounds left to be played Saturday afternoon, GM Irina Krush maintains a half-point lead and seeks to reclaim the familiar title of America’s queen a record-setting eighth time. But right behind her are two players who seek to pass the torch: IM Dorsa Derakhshani, this year’s 9th seed who has showcased dazzling offense throughout, and IM Carissa Yip, the three-time U.S. Girls Champion ready for an upgrade to her title.  

This year’s U.S. Women’s Championship has brought the nation’s top 12 females together for an online event organized by the Saint Louis Chess Club. The round-robin event began Wednesday and has played three rounds per day, featuring all Rapid games with a G/25+5 time control. The final two rounds are set to begin Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and may be viewed here.  

 

Image
2020 U.S. Women's Championship Standings after Round 9
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC / uschesschamps.com

 

Only at first glance does Krush appear to hold the same half-point lead she had just a day ago. Though she remains undefeated at 6.5/9, her pace slowed with two draws to begin Friday, including this English attack that she slowly built to a dominant position over IM Annie Wang, but then slipped with 43. Kg3?, played with just one second left on her clock, to allow perpetual check.  

[pgn][Event "2020 U.S. Women's Championship"] [Site "https://lichess.org/mY30J2RC"] [Date "2020.10.23"] [Round "7.6"] [White "Irina Krush"] [Black "Annie Wang"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2478"] [BlackElo "2458"] [Annotator "https://lichess.org/@/broadcaster"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "1500+5"] [WhiteClock "0:00:11"] [BlackClock "0:00:35"] 1. c4 {[%emt 0:00:05]} e6 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 2. Nc3 {[%emt 0:00:04]} d5 {[%emt 0: 00:02]} 3. d4 {[%emt 0:00:03]} Be7 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 4. cxd5 {[%emt 0:00:04]} exd5 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 5. Bf4 {[%emt 0:00:02]} Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:08]} 6. e3 { [%emt 0:00:01]} O-O {[%emt 0:00:03]} 7. Bd3 {[%emt 0:00:03]} (7. Rc1 c5 8. dxc5 Nc6 9. Nf3 Bxc5 10. Be2 d4 11. exd4) 7... c6 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 8. h3 {[%emt 0: 00:04]} Nbd7 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 9. Nf3 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Re8 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 10. O-O {[%emt 0:00:05]} Nf8 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 11. Rb1 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Be6 { [%emt 0:00:53]} 12. b4 {[%emt 0:00:24]} a6 {[%emt 0:00:11]} 13. Na4 {[%emt 0: 02:18]} Bd6 {[%emt 0:01:48]} 14. Bxd6 {[%emt 0:03:04]} Qxd6 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 15. Nc5 {[%emt 0:00:12]} Rab8 $6 {[%emt 0:01:32] Inaccuracy. b6 was best.} ( 15... b6) 16. a4 {[%emt 0:00:20]} N8d7 {[%emt 0:00:35]} 17. Qc2 {[%emt 0:01:24] } h6 {[%emt 0:01:18]} 18. Rfc1 {[%emt 0:00:57]} Rec8 {[%emt 0:01:06]} 19. Qd2 $6 {[%emt 0:00:46] Inaccuracy. Nxb7 was best.} (19. Nxb7 Rxb7 20. Bxa6 Rbc7 21. Bxc8 Rxc8 22. a5 g6 23. Qa4 Kg7 24. Qa1 Ra8 25. Ne5 Nb8) 19... Qe7 {[%emt 0:01: 34]} 20. Ne5 {[%emt 0:03:24]} Ne8 $6 {[%emt 0:04:04] Inaccuracy. Nxe5 was best. } (20... Nxe5 21. dxe5 Nd7 22. f4 Nxc5 23. bxc5 Re8 24. Rf1 Bd7 25. Qc2 f6 26. exf6 Qxf6 27. Rbe1) 21. Qc2 {[%emt 0:05:24]} Nd6 {[%emt 0:02:49]} 22. f4 { [%emt 0:00:24]} f5 {[%emt 0:02:55]} 23. Ncxd7 {[%emt 0:00:39]} Bxd7 {[%emt 0: 00:04]} 24. Kh2 {[%emt 0:00:23]} Ne4 {[%emt 0:00:33]} 25. Bxe4 {[%emt 0:00:21]} dxe4 {[%emt 0:00:59]} 26. Qc5 {[%emt 0:01:07]} Qe8 {[%emt 0:00:55]} 27. Nc4 $6 {[%emt 0:02:02] Inaccuracy. g4 was best.} (27. g4) 27... Qe6 {[%emt 0:02:12]} 28. Nb6 {[%emt 0:01:04]} Rd8 {[%emt 0:00:37]} 29. Nxd7 {[%emt 0:00:34]} Rxd7 $6 {[%emt 0:00:26] Inaccuracy. Qxd7 was best.} (29... Qxd7 30. Qb6 Rdc8 31. Rc5 Kh7 32. Re5 Rf8 33. b5 axb5 34. axb5 Ra8 35. Rc5 Rfc8 36. Rbc1) 30. b5 { [%emt 0:00:12]} axb5 {[%emt 0:01:29]} 31. axb5 {[%emt 0:00:03]} cxb5 {[%emt 0: 00:10]} 32. Rxb5 {[%emt 0:00:13]} Rf8 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 33. Rcb1 $6 {[%emt 0:00: 20] Inaccuracy. Qb4 was best.} (33. Qb4 Qe7 34. Rcc5 Kh7 35. Qb2 g6 36. Re5 Qg7 37. Re6 Rff7 38. Rbb6 Rde7 39. Rxg6 Qxg6) 33... Qf7 {[%emt 0:00:09]} 34. Qa7 { [%emt 0:00:28]} Rc8 $2 {[%emt 0:00:21] Mistake. b6 was best.} (34... b6 35. Qxb6) 35. Rxb7 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Rcc7 $4 {[%emt 0:00:02] Blunder. Rcd8 was best. } (35... Rcd8 36. Rxd7) 36. Qa8+ {[%emt 0:00:20]} Kh7 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 37. Rxc7 $2 {[%emt 0:00:19] Mistake. Rb8 was best.} (37. Rb8) 37... Rxc7 {[%emt 0:00:02] } 38. Rb8 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Rc3 $4 {[%emt 0:00:20] Blunder. Qd7 was best.} ( 38... Qd7 39. g4) 39. Rf8 {[%emt 0:00:17]} Qe6 $6 {[%emt 0:00:03] Inaccuracy. Qd7 was best.} (39... Qd7 40. Rd8) 40. Rh8+ $6 {[%emt 0:00:20] Inaccuracy. Qd8 was best.} (40. Qd8 Rd3 41. h4 h5 42. Rh8+ Kg6 43. Qg5+ Kf7 44. Qxh5+ Ke7 45. Re8+ Kd7 46. Rxe6 Kxe6) 40... Kg6 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 41. Re8 $2 {[%emt 0:00:03] Mistake. d5 was best.} (41. d5 Qf7 42. Rf8 Qe7 43. Re8 Qf7 44. Qd8 Rc7 45. Qd6+ Kh7 46. Rf8 Rd7 47. Rxf7 Rxd6) 41... Qc6 {[%emt 0:00:12]} 42. Qxc6+ $6 { [%emt 0:00:17] Inaccuracy. Qa5 was best.} (42. Qa5 Qxe8) 42... Rxc6 {[%emt 0: 00:01]} 43. Kg3 $2 {[%emt 0:00:03] Mistake. g4 was best.} (43. g4) 43... Rc3 { [%emt 0:00:01]} 44. Kf2 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Rc2+ {[%emt 0:00:01]} 45. Kf1 { [%emt 0:00:02]} Rc3 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 46. Kf2 {[%emt 0:00:08]} Rc2+ {[%emt 0:00: 00]} 47. Kg3 {[%emt 0:00:02]} Rc3 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 48. Kf2 {[%emt 0:00:09] Normal} 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

And while Krush was collecting half points, including a peaceful resolution with Derakhshani in round 8, Yip was continuing her winning surge. Already riding a victory from round 6 on Thursday, Yip added two consecutive wins to open Friday, first catching Krush in the standings, then taking the clear lead with this King’s Indian win over WIM Emily Nguyen in the eighth round.  

[pgn][Event "2020 U.S. Women's Championship"] [Site "https://lichess.org/PPwI8z4q"] [Date "2020.10.23"] [Round "8.5"] [White "Emily Nguyen"] [Black "Carissa Yip"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D75"] [WhiteElo "2348"] [BlackElo "2493"] [PlyCount "86"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "1500+5"] [WhiteClock "0:00:44"] [BlackClock "0:03:15"] 1. d4 {[%emt 0:00:05]} g6 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 2. c4 {[%emt 0:00:02]} Nf6 {[%emt 0: 00:02]} 3. Nc3 {[%emt 0:00:03]} Bg7 {[%emt 0:00:07]} 4. Nf3 {[%emt 0:00:03]} O-O {[%emt 0:00:02]} 5. g3 {[%emt 0:00:02]} d5 {[%emt 0:00:15]} 6. cxd5 { [%emt 0:00:02]} Nxd5 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 7. Bg2 {[%emt 0:00:01]} c5 {[%emt 0:01: 03]} 8. O-O {[%emt 0:01:55]} cxd4 {[%emt 0:00:33]} 9. Nxd4 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Nxc3 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 10. bxc3 {[%emt 0:00:01]} a6 {[%emt 0:00:23]} 11. Qb3 { [%emt 0:01:13]} Qc7 {[%emt 0:00:39]} 12. Rb1 {[%emt 0:01:09]} Nd7 {[%emt 0:01: 28]} 13. Ba3 {[%emt 0:01:25]} Ne5 {[%emt 0:00:25]} 14. Rfc1 {[%emt 0:02:45]} Rd8 {[%emt 0:03:26]} 15. Nf3 {[%emt 0:01:47]} Rb8 {[%emt 0:03:39]} 16. Nxe5 { [%emt 0:02:36]} Qxe5 {[%emt 0:00:14]} 17. Qb4 {[%emt 0:00:54]} Be6 {[%emt 0:01: 49]} 18. Qe4 {[%emt 0:03:26]} Qa5 {[%emt 0:04:55]} 19. Bxe7 {[%emt 0:01:25]} Rd7 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 20. Qb4 {[%emt 0:03:09]} Qxa2 {[%emt 0:01:02]} 21. Rb2 { [%emt 0:01:14]} Qc4 {[%emt 0:00:10]} 22. Bc5 {[%emt 0:00:36]} Qxb4 {[%emt 0:00: 24]} 23. Rxb4 {[%emt 0:00:15]} Rc8 {[%emt 0:01:22]} 24. Be3 {[%emt 0:00:32]} Rxc3 {[%emt 0:00:22]} 25. Rcb1 {[%emt 0:01:13]} b5 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 26. Be4 { [%emt 0:00:06]} Rc4 {[%emt 0:00:30]} 27. Rxc4 {[%emt 0:00:10]} Bxc4 {[%emt 0: 00:03]} 28. Bf3 {[%emt 0:00:11]} h5 {[%emt 0:00:19]} 29. Bb6 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Rd2 {[%emt 0:00:26]} 30. Kf1 {[%emt 0:00:22]} Ra2 {[%emt 0:00:13]} 31. Bc5 { [%emt 0:00:14]} a5 {[%emt 0:00:12]} 32. Kg2 {[%emt 0:00:01]} b4 {[%emt 0:00:11] } 33. Bxb4 {[%emt 0:00:09]} axb4 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 34. Rxb4 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Bxe2 {[%emt 0:00:08]} 35. Rb8+ {[%emt 0:00:05]} Kh7 {[%emt 0:00:14]} 36. Bd5 { [%emt 0:00:01]} Ra7 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 37. h4 {[%emt 0:00:12]} Rc7 {[%emt 0:00: 12]} 38. Re8 {[%emt 0:00:03]} Bc4 {[%emt 0:00:06]} 39. Bxc4 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Rxc4 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 40. Re7 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Kg8 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 41. Re8+ { [%emt 0:00:01]} Bf8 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 42. Ra8 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Kg7 {[%emt 0:00: 02]} 43. Ra7 {[%emt 0:00:06]} Rc2 {[%emt 0:00:02] Normal} 0-1 [/pgn]

The win over Nguyen, who has been decisive this tournament and now sits in clear fourth with 5/9, appeared to be Yip’s toughest remaining opponent in a lineup that saw all the top seeds early. But all ideas of a downhill roll to the Women’s crown was halted by WIM Ashritha Eswaran, who handed Yip her first loss of the tournament in Friday’s ninth round. After beginning the event with two losses, Eswaran has quietly put together four wins in her last six games.   

 

Image
2020 U.S. Women's Championship Eswaran vs. Yip
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC / uschesschamps.com

[pgn][Event "2020 U.S. Women's Championship"] [Site "https://lichess.org/xKMAlP2g"] [Date "2020.10.23"] [Round "9.2"] [White "Carissa Yip"] [Black "Ashritha Eswaran"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B15"] [WhiteElo "2493"] [BlackElo "2292"] [PlyCount "100"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "1500+5"] [WhiteClock "0:00:56"] [BlackClock "0:02:51"] 1. e4 {[%emt 0:00:05]} c6 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 2. d4 {[%emt 0:00:06]} d5 {[%emt 0: 00:03]} 3. Nd2 {[%emt 0:00:01]} dxe4 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 4. Nxe4 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 5. Nxf6+ {[%emt 0:00:00]} exf6 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 6. c3 { [%emt 0:00:05]} Bd6 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 7. Bd3 {[%emt 0:00:01]} O-O {[%emt 0:00: 03]} 8. Qc2 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Re8+ {[%emt 0:00:01]} 9. Ne2 {[%emt 0:00:03]} h5 { [%emt 0:00:05]} 10. Be3 {[%emt 0:00:11]} Be6 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 11. Ng3 {[%emt 0: 01:21]} h4 {[%emt 0:02:19]} 12. Ne4 {[%emt 0:00:30]} Bc7 {[%emt 0:02:07]} 13. O-O-O {[%emt 0:02:13]} Nd7 {[%emt 0:00:19]} 14. c4 {[%emt 0:00:45]} Nf8 { [%emt 0:02:33]} 15. Nc5 {[%emt 0:00:51]} Bg4 {[%emt 0:01:18]} 16. Rde1 { [%emt 0:01:41]} b6 {[%emt 0:00:27]} 17. h3 {[%emt 0:02:45]} Bh5 {[%emt 0:00:45] } 18. Na6 {[%emt 0:02:19]} Bg6 {[%emt 0:00:44]} 19. Bxg6 {[%emt 0:00:28]} Nxg6 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 20. Nxc7 {[%emt 0:00:17]} Qxc7 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 21. Bd2 { [%emt 0:00:18]} Qd7 {[%emt 0:00:14]} 22. Be3 {[%emt 0:00:58]} b5 {[%emt 0:00: 06]} 23. Rhg1 {[%emt 0:00:54]} bxc4 {[%emt 0:00:38]} 24. Qxc4 {[%emt 0:00:18]} Qf5 {[%emt 0:00:18]} 25. g3 {[%emt 0:00:46]} Re4 {[%emt 0:01:24]} 26. Qc2 { [%emt 0:00:47]} Qe6 {[%emt 0:00:35]} 27. gxh4 {[%emt 0:02:53]} Nxh4 {[%emt 0: 01:07]} 28. Rxg7+ {[%emt 0:01:44]} Kxg7 {[%emt 0:00:22]} 29. Bh6+ {[%emt 0:00: 01]} Kxh6 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 30. Rxe4 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Qxh3 {[%emt 0:00:01]} 31. Qxc6 {[%emt 0:00:24]} Qf1+ {[%emt 0:03:18]} 32. Kd2 {[%emt 0:00:01]} Qxf2+ { [%emt 0:00:03]} 33. Kd3 {[%emt 0:00:02]} Rg8 {[%emt 0:00:08]} 34. Qc1+ { [%emt 0:01:06]} Kh7 {[%emt 0:01:27]} 35. Qh1 {[%emt 0:00:28]} Qg3+ {[%emt 0:00: 51]} 36. Re3 {[%emt 0:00:29]} Qg6+ {[%emt 0:00:19]} 37. Re4 {[%emt 0:01:11]} Qg3+ {[%emt 0:00:51]} 38. Re3 {[%emt 0:00:02]} Qf2 {[%emt 0:01:00]} 39. Re4 { [%emt 0:00:28]} Qf3+ {[%emt 0:01:27]} 40. Qxf3 {[%emt 0:00:02]} Nxf3 {[%emt 0: 00:01]} 41. Re7 {[%emt 0:00:00]} Kg6 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 42. Rxa7 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Rd8 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 43. Ra4 {[%emt 0:00:06]} Kf5 {[%emt 0:00:10]} 44. Ke3 { [%emt 0:00:07]} Ng5 {[%emt 0:00:23]} 45. Ra5+ {[%emt 0:00:13]} Kg4 {[%emt 0:00: 02]} 46. d5 {[%emt 0:00:10]} f5 {[%emt 0:00:04]} 47. Ra4+ {[%emt 0:00:11]} Kg3 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 48. Rd4 {[%emt 0:00:30]} f4+ {[%emt 0:00:04]} 49. Ke2 { [%emt 0:00:13]} f3+ {[%emt 0:00:06]} 50. Kf1 {[%emt 0:00:03]} Rh8 {[%emt 0:00: 02] Normal} 0-1 [/pgn]
 

Yip’s loss came as a stunning blow to an otherwise fantastic tournament by the 17-year-old, and left the door open for Krush to regain her lead. The tournament’s only GM delivered in style with this beautiful attack over the ever-dangerous WGM Tatev Abrahamyan in round 9. Though it worked toward victory, Krush later admitted that her rook sacrifice didn’t lead to the fully realized crushing attack, quipping “I only have so much Tal in me.”  

 

Image
2020 U.S. Women's Championship Abrahamyan vs. Krush
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC / uschesschamps.com

[pgn][Event "2020 U.S. Women's Championship"] [Site "https://lichess.org/Ks9ERz1K"] [Date "2020.10.23"] [Round "9.5"] [White "Irina Krush"] [Black "Tatev Abrahamyan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E35"] [WhiteElo "2478"] [BlackElo "2421"] [Annotator "https://lichess.org/@/broadcaster"] [PlyCount "55"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "1500+5"] [WhiteClock "0:02:16"] [BlackClock "0:00:57"] 1. d4 {[%emt 0:00:05]} Nf6 {[%emt 0:00:05]} 2. c4 {[%emt 0:00:05]} e6 {[%emt 0: 00:03]} 3. Nc3 {[%emt 0:00:03]} Bb4 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 4. Qc2 {[%emt 0:00:01]} d5 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 5. cxd5 {[%emt 0:01:03]} exd5 {[%emt 0:00:03]} 6. Bf4 { [%emt 0:00:22]} c5 {[%emt 0:02:55]} 7. dxc5 {[%emt 0:00:04]} O-O {[%emt 0:01: 49]} 8. e3 {[%emt 0:00:20]} Nc6 {[%emt 0:01:07]} 9. Nf3 {[%emt 0:04:04]} Bxc5 { [%emt 0:05:35]} 10. Be2 {[%emt 0:00:18]} d4 {[%emt 0:00:39]} 11. Rd1 {[%emt 0: 04:56]} Nd5 {[%emt 0:01:13]} 12. Ng5 {[%emt 0:03:20]} g6 {[%emt 0:01:41]} 13. Nxd5 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Qxd5 {[%emt 0:00:13]} 14. O-O {[%emt 0:00:05]} Be7 { [%emt 0:02:30]} 15. Bc4 {[%emt 0:01:35]} Qa5 {[%emt 0:01:15]} 16. h4 {[%emt 0: 00:54]} dxe3 {[%emt 0:01:45]} 17. Bxe3 {[%emt 0:00:34]} Ne5 {[%emt 0:00:30]} 18. Bb3 {[%emt 0:00:20]} Bf5 {[%emt 0:00:12]} 19. Qe2 {[%emt 0:00:26]} h6 { [%emt 0:00:17]} 20. Rd5 {[%emt 0:00:38]} Qc7 {[%emt 0:00:36]} 21. Rc1 {[%emt 0: 00:09]} Nc6 {[%emt 0:00:13]} 22. Rxf5 {[%emt 0:01:02]} hxg5 {[%emt 0:01:01]} 23. hxg5 {[%emt 0:03:02]} gxf5 {[%emt 0:00:26]} 24. Qh5 {[%emt 0:00:04]} Qe5 { [%emt 0:00:19]} 25. g6 {[%emt 0:00:09]} Qg7 {[%emt 0:00:02]} 26. Bh6 {[%emt 0: 00:32]} Qf6 {[%emt 0:00:41]} 27. Bd2 {[%emt 0:00:38]} Qg7 {[%emt 0:01:03]} 28. Bc3 {[%emt 0:00:11] Normal} 1-0 [/pgn]

The 2020 U.S. Women’s Championship will conclude with its final two rounds Saturday, with first moves at 1:00 p.m. central. In the spirit of Eswaran’s defiance to Yip, the U.S. Women’s crown will likely be decided by the performance of spoilers, as most remaining matches pair the three front-runners with the bottom third of the current standings.   

FM Thalia Cervantes will be influential, first taking the white pieces against Derakhshani, then playing Yip as black in the final round. Yip will also pair against IM Anna Zatonskih, a four-time Women’s champion who is having a rough event, the only player without a victory. Krush will have to deal with Nguyen in the final round, with every half point important in determining the championship’s $100,000 prize fund.  

Spectators may watch the games along with expert commentary by GMs Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley, and WGM Jennifer Shahade on uschesschamps.com or the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and TwitchTV channels. 


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