2022 U.S. Championships, Round 11: The Tension Mounts

We’re nearing the finish line at the 2022 U.S. Chess Championships. After 11 rounds, and plenty of drama, the tension is ratcheting up as everything remains to play for.

The 2022 U.S. Women’s Championship saw the stakes continue to rise for the players at the top of the standings, who stayed in close proximity to each other as they approach crucial head-to-head matchups in the final two rounds.

 

Begim versus Yu courtesy SLCC / Lennart Ootes Begim versus Yu courtesy SLCC / Lennart Ootes

 

Tournament leader FM Jennifer Yu ground out an important endgame win as Black against WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova.

 

 

FM Yu’s closest chaser, GM Irina Krush, followed suit with her own endgame win as Black against IM Nazi Paikidze.

 

 

Other near-leaders — FM Thalia Cervantes Landeiro, FM Alice Lee, and WIM Megan Lee — had varied fortunes, winning, drawing, and losing their respective games.

 

Image 2022 US Ch w Rd11 Standings Image Caption courtesy SLCC / Spectrum Studios

 

Going into Tuesday’s twelfth round, Yu (8/11) has White against Krush (7½) in what is likely to be the most important game of the entire tournament.

 

FM Jennifer Yu courtesy SLCC / Lennart Ootes GM Irina Krush courtesy SLCC / Lennart Ootes

 

This will be the seventh tournament game between the two players; the record in their previous six games (all from U.S. Women’s Championships) is an ominous +2=2-2. It’s showdown time!

Tokhirjonova (6) playing White against Cervantes Landeiro (7) will also be a key matchup among the near-leaders. Looking ahead to the final round on Wednesday, Cervantes Landeiro will have White against Yu, with both players potentially having all to fight for.

 

Image Caruana and Robson Image Caption Caruana and Robson (courtesy SLCC / Lennart Ootes)

 

The U.S. Championship also saw the top two players maintain their places, with leader GM Fabiano Caruana and chaser GM Ray Robson being held to solid draws by GM Jeffery Xiong and GM Awonder Liang respectively. Spectators eagerly anticipating another “museum opening” from Liang, as FM Carsten Hansen referred to Liang’s Damiano Petroff against Caruana in round nine, were perhaps a bit disappointed by Liang’s relatively mainstream French Defense this time around.

Two of the players trailing the pack at 5½ made up a bit of ground by winning their games.

 

Image GM Leinier Dominguez Perez Image Caption courtesy SLCC / Lennart Ootes

 

GM Leinier Dominguez Perez won a marathon endgame grind as White against GM Christopher Yoo, but only after a critical late-stage hiccup on move 121 (!):

 

 

Meanwhile GM Samuel Sevian triumphed as Black against GM Dariusz Swiercz.

 

Image GM Sam Sevian Image Caption courtesy SLCC / Lennart Ootes

 

The win came in a heavy-piece middlegame after a rather unforced positional blunder from Swiercz:

 

 

Image 2022 USCh Rd 11 standings Image Caption courtesy SLCC / Spectrum Studios

 

Going into round twelve, Caruana leads with 7½, and has Black against GM Sam Shankland (6), who made a quick draw on Monday against GM Levon Aronian. Caruana will then have White against Aronian in the final round.

Still chasing Caruana is Robson with 7 points. He will also have the Black pieces against Yoo (4).

GMs Dominguez Perez (6½) will have Black against GM Jeffery Xiong (6), who will then have Black against Robson in the thirteenth round. The remaining 6½, Sevian, will have White against GM Hans Niemann (5½).

Caruana is surely hoping to notch his second U.S. Championship title to add to his first one from 2016. The real question: is newly minted “Super-GM” GM Robson, now boasting a 2700+ FIDE rating but with no U.S. Championship titles yet to his name, even hungrier to win?

It will all come down to the final two rounds! Don’t miss all the action here on CLO.

 


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