GM Fabiano Caruana
Image Caption
Top-seed GM Fabiano Caruana lost to wildcard GM Daniel Naroditsky in the fifth round of the 2021 US Chess Championship in St Louis. // photo Lennart Ootes, Saint Louis Chess Club


One of America’s heavyweights has hit the proverbial canvas in the 2021 US Chess Championship, as top-seed GM Fabiano Caruana was knocked down by tournament wildcard GM Daniel Naroditsky on Monday afternoon.  

The World No. 2 has looked weak in the knees since the national title fight began last week in the Saint Louis Chess Club, seeing him uncharacteristically stumble through the opening rounds and sweat through several inferior positions just to save draws. But Naroditsky came to St. Louis to fight, producing decisions in every game through the tournament’s first half, and the left-coast GM connected in the fifth round. 

As White in a Ruy Lopez, Caruana looked to be winning with a solid push up the center, but took an awkward step backwards with 29. Nc3, allowing Naroditsky to pounce on the initiative with a queen trade at 30. … Qb3. The aftermath put America’s top-seed under significant time duress, eliciting a whiff at 36. Rc1? and handing Black a material advantage. Naroditsky’s conversion against the World No. 2 -- described as an "amazing, euphoric feeling" -- was quite an achievement, here under the microscope of Chess Life editor John Hartmann. 



Daniel Naroditsky Beats Caruana: "An Amazing Euphoric Feeling"


The loss drops Caruana to fifth place at 2.5/5, one point behind leaders GM Ray Robson and GM Alex Lenderman, who joined first place at plus-2 with his second win in a row -- a six-hour, 140-move conversion over GM Samuel Sevian on Monday. Third-place is shared by America’s other two heavyweights, 2700-rated GMs Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez, who are set to square off in an important sixth round on Tuesday. 

Round 6 first moves will be played 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




Women's Championship

US Womens Championship
Image Caption
WGM Katerina Nemcova leads the 2021 U.S. Women's Championship with 3.5/5, but is chased by a pack of five players including IM Nazi Paikidze in second place. // photo Bryan Adams, Saint Louis Chess Club


The 2021 U.S. Women’s national chess championship delivered four wins on six boards on Monday, though the results do little in untangling the standings, with 8 of 12 players within one point of sole leader WGM Katerina Nemcova at 3.5/5 entering the tournament’s second half.  



Five players share second place, including defending Women’s Champion GM Irina Krush, who got herself up off the mat after her stunning fourth-round loss to second-seed IM Carissa Yip before heading into the rest day. The 8-time champion rebounded well on Monday in a Queens Gambit Declined over forever-rival IM Anna Zatonskih, who fell under the effects of Krush’s poisoned b-pawn. 

[pgn][Event "2021 U.S. Women's Chess Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.10.11"] [Round "5.6"] [White "Krush, Irina"] [Black "Zatonskih, Anna"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D41"] [WhiteElo "2429"] [BlackElo "2422"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2021.10.06"] {[%evp 14,71,30,22,23,12,34,22,42,31,42,25,26,26,57,56,109,118,122,112,105,112, 332,193,233,232,231,129,261,261,261,261,264,266,490,192,192,183,204,94,99,86, 81,100,84,93,310,305,284,291,700,662,792,776,890,872,29986,29987,29987,29988]} 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 c5 5. cxd5 cxd4 6. Qxd4 exd5 7. Bg5 Be7 8. e3 Nc6 {D50: Queen's Gambit Declined: Dutch-Peruvian Gambit.} 9. Qd3 Be6 10. Be2 Qb6 $146 {Strongly threatening ...Ne4.The position is equal.} ({ Predecessor:} 10... h6 11. Bh4 O-O 12. O-O Qb6 13. a3 Qb3 14. Nd2 Qb6 15. Nf3 Qb3 16. Nd2 Qb6 17. Nf3 Qb3 {1/2-1/2 (18) Zhao,X (2506)-Ju,W (2558) Teheran 2016}) 11. O-O Rd8 12. Nb5 O-O 13. h3 Rd7 14. Nbd4 Qxb2 (14... Nxd4 $14 15. Nxd4 (15. Qxd4 Bc5 $11) 15... Ne4) 15. Bxf6 $16 gxf6 16. Rfb1 Qa3 17. Rb3 $40 { [%mdl 128] White is out for blood.} Qa4 (17... Qd6 $16) 18. Qb1 (18. Qd1 $142) 18... Nxd4 19. Nxd4 Rc7 20. Rxb7 (20. Bb5 $18 Qa5 21. Qd1) 20... Qd7 (20... Rxb7 $16 {was worth a try.} 21. Qxb7 Qb4) 21. Rxc7 $18 Qxc7 22. Bd3 Bc5 23. Bxh7+ Kg7 $2 (23... Kh8 {might work better.} 24. Nxe6 fxe6) 24. Bf5 $2 (24. Nxe6+ fxe6 25. Qg6+ Kh8 26. Rc1 $1) 24... Bxd4 25. exd4 Re8 {[#]} 26. Qc2 (26. Qb5 $1 $18 {[%cal Rb5e8] is the precise move to win.}) 26... Qf4 $16 {[#]} 27. Bxe6 Rxe6 {[%mdl 4096] Endgame KQR-KQR} 28. Rd1 Re4 29. Qd3 Qd6 $2 (29... a5 $16) 30. Qd2 Qa6 31. Rb1 Re2 $2 (31... Qc4 32. Rb4 Qc7) 32. Qf4 $18 Qd3 33. Rb3 Qd1+ 34. Kh2 Re6 35. Rg3+ Kf8 36. Qb8+ 1-0 [/pgn]

Joining the second-place pack is two-time Women’s Champion IM Nazi Paikidze, delivering her first win as Black in a Leningrad over FM Thalia Cervantes; and Missouri WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova, who has two wins in her first U.S. Women’s Championship and delivered Yip her first loss in a Grunfeld on Monday afternoon. 


WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova
Image Caption
In her first U.S. Women's Championship, Missouri WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova has scored two wins, including Monday's fifth-round victory over IM Carissa Yip. // photo Bryan Adams, Saint Louis Chess Club


[pgn][Event "2021 U.S. Women's Chess Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.10.11"] [Round "5.4"] [White "Tokhirjonova, Gulrukhbegim"] [Black "Yip, Carissa"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E61"] [WhiteElo "2322"] [BlackElo "2402"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "109"] [EventDate "2021.10.06"] {[%evp 19,109,52,50,37,50,50,57,63,91,52,95,54,129,138,220,204,192,208,229,204, 215,190,179,175,199,153,153,148,142,158,387,368,613,510,487,480,474,457,487, 368,532,541,512,493,501,490,639,630,649,630,638,628,633,633,726,583,813,797, 877,777,792,798,784,785,797,800,792,795,832,815,892,875,1066,1051,1065,1007, 1052,999,1225,1203,1130,1041,1053,1423,1277,1149,1192,1083,1042,921,29992,1577] } 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. g3 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Bg2 Nb6 7. Nf3 Nc6 8. e3 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. h3 e5 11. d5 $1 {[%cal Rd5c6] D76: Fianchetto Grünfeld: Main Line with 7...Nb6.} Na5 12. Qc2 Bd7 13. Rd1 {White is slightly better.} Qc8 14. Kh2 c6 $1 {[%cal Rc6d5]} 15. dxc6 $146 ({Predecessor:} 15. d6 Qb8 16. Ne4 Bf5 17. b3 c5 18. Ba3 Bxe4 19. Qxe4 f5 20. Qh4 Nd7 21. Ng5 h6 22. Bd5+ Kh8 23. Ne6 Nc6 24. Bxc6 bxc6 25. Nc7 e4 26. Bb2 Qb7 {1-0 (26) Badelka,O (2428) -Nikologorsky,M (2215) Moscow 2021}) 15... Bxc6 ({Better is} 15... Nxc6 $14 16. Nb5 Rd8) 16. e4 $16 Qe6 (16... h6 $16) 17. b4 {[%cal Bb2b4,Bb4b5][%mdl 32]} Nac4 18. a4 $1 a5 19. b5 Bd7 20. Nd5 {Ng5 is the strong threat.} Rec8 21. Ng5 Qe8 22. Nxb6 (22. Qa2 $18) 22... Nxb6 {[#]} 23. Qd3 $36 {[%mdl 2048] And now Be3 would win. Keeping Black busy.} Rd8 {[#] White must now prevent ...Bg4!} 24. Qe3 $1 {[%cal Re3b6]} Nc8 {Loses the game.} (24... Nc4 $16 25. Qb3 Be6) 25. Bb2 $18 Bh6 $2 (25... h6) 26. h4 Bg7 27. Bf1 h6 28. Nf3 Qe6 29. Ba3 Qe8 (29... Qf6 $142 30. Bb2 Qb6) 30. Bc4 Bg4 31. Bd5 Rd7 32. Bb3 Rd8 33. Kg2 Ne7 34. Rxd8 Rxd8 35. Nh2 Bc8 36. Rc1 Qd7 37. Nf3 Re8 38. Kg1 Rd8 39. Bc5 Rf8 40. Rd1 Qe8 41. Bb6 Bd7 42. Bxa5 Kh7 43. Bc3 Bg4 44. Rc1 f6 45. Bb4 f5 46. Rc7 f4 47. gxf4 exf4 48. Qd3 Ng8 49. Bxf8 Qxf8 50. Ne5 Nf6 51. Nxg4 Nxg4 52. Qd7 Ne5 53. Qe7 Nf3+ 54. Kh1 {Threatening mate with Qxf8.} Qh8 55. Rxb7  (55. h5 $142 Nh4 56. Rxb7 gxh5 57. Qxh4 Qc8 58. Bd5 Qc3 59. b6 Kg6 60. Qxf4) 1-0 [/pgn]


GM Jeffery Xiong had been having a rough tournament with just one draw through four rounds, and then  offered an easy way out against also-struggling GM Sam Shankland on Monday. But Xiong steers out of threefold repetition and fights on for his first win of the tournament, annotated here by IM John Watson as CLO’s fifth-round Game of the Day



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

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