Day of Delivery Tightens Standings in US Chess Championships

Image GM Fabiano Caruana in the Saint Louis Chess Club Image Caption With his third-round win, GM Fabiano Caruana joined a group of four players leading the 2021 US Chess Championship in St. Louis. // photo Crystal Fuller, Saint Louis Chess Club


Five players delivered their first wins in the 2021 US Chess national championships on Friday afternoon, tightening up races that show early signs of becoming fights to the finish. 

Nobody’s perfect after three rounds in America’s chess capital -- though everyone has points on the board -- with lively wins by GMs Fabiano Caruana and Sam Sevian crowding them into a pack of four players who now lead the U.S. Championship at 2.0/3 in St. Louis. The 20-year-old Sevian, once America’s youngest National Master at 9, scored as Black in a Catalan against junior-rival GM Jeffery Xiong, while the World No. 2 Caruana shook off his rocky start in the national championship with a sparkling Ruy Lopez against GM John Burke on Friday. 


R3 Results R3 Standings


WGM Tatev Abrahamyan scored her first win of the 2021 U.S. Women’s national chess championship, leaving behind her 0-2 start – and perhaps 1. e4 along with it – with a surprise 1. Nf3! against four-time Women’s champion IM Anna Zatonskih. Also posting her first win of the event was FM Thalia Cervantes, fresh off her debut on the U.S. National team and now playing in her first U.S. Women’s national championship live, joining a pack of four players chasing leader WGM Katerina Nemcova at 2.5/3.  


R3 Results R3 Standings


Though perhaps not a pack for much longer. All four players in second place are set to square off in a pivotal fourth round on Saturday afternoon, with Cervantes taking Black against fellow junior star WIM Ashrita Eswaran, and a fireworks matchup between the U.S. Women’s top-two females, GM Irina Krush and IM Carissa Yip. 

Saturday’s games of the 2021 US Chess national championships will begin 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


FM Thalia Cervantes WIM Ashritha Eswaran GM Irina Krush IM Carissa Yip From left, FM Thalia Cervantes and WIM Ashritha Eswaran, GM Irina Krush and IM Carissa Yip, are tied with 2.0/3 and all paired together in Saturday's fourth round of the 2021 U.S. Women's Chess Championship.


Caruana’s start in St. Louis had looked shaky at best after sweating through two draws to kickoff the 2021 national championship, but on Friday the World No. 2 displayed a pure dominance over the 2020 U.S. Junior Champion. Burke as Black played into a favorite 5. d3 line in the Ruy Lopez but found himself strapped by pressure early, outplayed by a well-armed Caruana in a game that lasted just 29 moves. 

Caruana-Burke qualifies as CLO’s Round 3 Game of the Day, annotated here by IM John Watson. 



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GM Dariusz Swiercz was another to notch his first win of the 2021 national championship, attacking GM Daniel Naroditsky’s Sicilian Dragon down a deep theoretical line in the Yugoslav on Friday afternoon. IM John Watson annotates again to walk us through the theory, and Sweircz’ perfect technique through an instructional bishops-of-opposite-color endgame. 



Image GM Daniel Naroditsky Image Caption GM Daniel Naroditsky hangs his head after a long theoretical battle with GM Dariusz Swiercz in the third round of the 2021 US Chess Championship. // photo Lennart Ootes, Saint Louis Chess Club


Cervantes took control of 2017 Women’s Champion WGM Sabina Foisor’s Semi-Slav on Friday, after Black surrenders the open d-file with 24. … Rg5. White’s rooks invade first on a battery up the middle, then they stack again along the 7th rank to apply serious pressure on the black king. With Foisor under clock pressure, Cervantes goes on to make permanent damage with several nice tactical shots before the time control. 

[pgn][Event "2021 U.S. Women's Chess Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.10.08"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Cervantes Landeiro, Thalia"] [Black "Foisor, Sabina-Francesca"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2175"] [BlackElo "2205"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "165"] [EventDate "2021.10.06"] {[%evp 9,165,35,42,31,50,50,48,50,59,9,41,17,47,47,67,30,30,40,45,50,60,9,39, -8,-13,-9,-6,-14,0,0,0,0,11,12,26,33,25,29,77,78,162,162,160,164,192,186,556, 543,532,537,556,571,611,610,592,625,617,576,573,583,569,564,682,337,715,369, 371,358,321,0,838,833,786,786,786,770,1011,1008,989,951,1501,1516,1504,1474, 2513,2352,15253,2753,2654,2687,2666,2338,4564,2301,2916,2647,4519,4301,15261, 15262,15262,15262,15263,15263,15265,15265,15265,27997,27998,27998,27999,27998, 27999,27998,27999,27997,27998,27998,27998,27998,27998,27998,27999,27999,27995, 27999,27998,27999,27999,27999,27998,27999,27998,27999,27998,27998,27998,27998, 27999,27999,27998,27998,27998,27998,27999,27999,27999,27999,27999,27999,27999, 27999,27999,27999,27999,27999,27999,27999]} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 a6 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bf4 Nf6 6. e3 {D31: Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-Slav without ...Nf6 (+ Marshall Gambit and Noteboom) and Exchange Variation lines without ...Nf6.} Bd6 7. Bg5 $1 {[%mdl 4] outshines the older 7.Bxd6.} Be6 8. Bd3 {White is slightly better.} Nbd7 9. Qc2 ({White should play} 9. Nge2 $14) 9... h6 10. Bh4 c6 11. Nge2 $146 ({Predecessor:} 11. f4 Nb6 12. Nf3 Qc7 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. O-O O-O-O 15. Rab1 c5 16. Kh1 Kb8 17. a4 {1/2-1/2 (56) Chan,N (2004)-Kusenkova,N (2211) Antalya 2019}) 11... Qc7 12. Bg3 Bxg3 13. Nxg3 O-O 14. O-O Qd6 15. Na4 ( 15. Rad1 $14) 15... Rfe8 16. Nc5 (16. Rfc1 $14) 16... Nxc5 $11 17. dxc5 Qe5 18. h3 Rad8 19. Ne2 Bc8 20. Nd4 Ne4 21. Bxe4 dxe4 22. Ne2 Rd5 23. b4 Qe7 (23... Rd3 $11 {is superior.}) 24. Rad1 $16 {White now steadily converts the win.} Rg5 ( 24... Rdd8 $16) 25. Nf4 $18 Re5 26. Rd6 Be6 27. Rfd1 Kh7 $2 (27... h5 {is tougher.} 28. R1d4 Bf5) 28. Nxe6 Rxe6 29. Rd7 {[%mdl 64] [#] Skewer} Qg5 30. Rxf7 Rg6 {[%csl Gg6][%cal Rg5g2]} 31. g3 Qh5 32. Rdd7 Qxh3 33. Qb2 {[%cal Rf7g7]} Qg4 34. Qd4 h5 35. Rf4 Qh3 {intending ...h4.} 36. Rd8 (36. Rxb7 $142 h4 37. Qd7 {[%mdl 64] Overworked Piece} (37. Rxe4 Rxe4 38. Qxe4 hxg3 $14) 37... Qxd7 38. Rxh4+ (38. Rxd7 hxg3 39. a4 gxf2+ 40. Kxf2 Rh6 $18) 38... Rh6 39. Rxd7 ) 36... Ree6 $2 (36... Rxd8 37. Qxd8 Qe6) 37. Rd6 Rxd6 38. cxd6 {[%mdl 4096] Endgame Black must now prevent d7. KQR-KQR} Qd7 39. Rf7 $2 Qxd6 $2 {[%mdl 8192] [#]} (39... Qxf7 $11 40. d7 Qf3) 40. Rxg7+ $3 {[%mdl 512]} Kh6 41. Qxd6 Rxd6 42. Rxb7 {KR-KR} Rd1+ 43. Kg2 Ra1 44. Rb6 Rxa2 45. Rxc6+ Kg5 46. Rc5+ Kg4 47. Re5 Ra4 48. Rxe4+ (48. b5 $142 axb5 49. Rxb5) 48... Kf5 49. Rh4 Kg5 50. Kf3 Kg6 51. Rc4 Kf7 52. Rh4 Kg6 53. g4 hxg4+ 54. Rxg4+ Kf5 55. Rh4 Ke6 56. Rh5 Rxb4 57. Rh6+ Kf5 58. Rxa6 Rb5 {White mates.} 59. e4+ Kg5 60. Ra3 Rc5 61. Rd3 Rc2 62. Rd5+ Kh4 63. Ke3 Ra2 64. f3 Ra8 65. Kf4 Rf8+ 66. Rf5 Ra8 67. Rf7 {[%cal Rf7h7]} Kh3 68. Kf5 Kg3 69. f4 Ra4 70. Rb7 Ra8 71. Rb3+ Kh4 72. Rb6 Kg3 73. e5 Rf8+ 74. Rf6 Ra8 75. Kg6 Kg4 76. e6 Ra7 77. Rf7 Ra6 78. f5 Kf4 79. Kg7 Ke5 80. e7 Ra8 81. Rf8 Ra7 82. f6 Ke6 83. Kg6  1-0 [/pgn]

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:

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2021 U.S. Championship Pairings and Results

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