IM Ruifeng Li Maintains Lead

2016OPEN-0938IM Ruifeng Li vs. GM Joel Benjamin. Photo: Anne Buskirk
Ruifeng Li was able to keep his tenuous lead over the field at the 117th Annual US Open after a long and grueling round 7. Li found himself down a pawn in a rook plus pawn ending against GM Joel Benjamin but was able to hold the position and his half-point advantage in the standings. Following just behind him are GMs Illia Nyzhnyk, Aleksandr Lenderman, Joel Benjamin, and Melikset Khachiyan as well as IMs John Daniel Bryant and Zurab Javakhadze, who all sit at 6.0/7. All sections have finally merged and the relaxed schedule will feature only one round per day through the end of the tournament. The remaining two rounds will start at 7 p.m. EST today (Saturday, August 6) and 3 p.m. EST tomorrow (Sunday, August 7th).
2016OPEN-0790GM Illia Nyzhnyk. Photo: Anne Buskirk
Today’s game of the day showcases a nice attacking battle from the black side where GM Illia Nyzhnyk is able to seize the initiative with threats on the white squares against IM Yaacov Norowitz.
[pgn][Event "2016 US OPEN, DENKER, BARBER, NGTOC"]
[Site "Indianapolis, Indiana"]
[Date "2016.08.05"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Norowitz, Yaacov"]
[Black "Nyzhnyk, Illia"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E62"]
[WhiteElo "2529"]
[BlackElo "2718"]
[Annotator "Karagianis, Pete"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 O-O 5. g3 d6 6. Bg2 Nc6 7. O-O Bg4 8. h3
Bxf3 {It may look odd to trade the bishop so early, but this is connected
typically with a plan to play on the dark squares. White counters this by
keeping his pawn on e3 instead of advancing it to e4.} 9. Bxf3 Nd7 10. e3 e5
11. dxe5 Ndxe5 12. Be2 Qd7 {This has all been seen before. According to my
databse, 13. Kh2 is now the most popular move, with a score heavily in white's
favor.} 13. Nd5 {This, however, is a new move. Nyzhnyk finds a strong reply.}
Na5 (13... Qxh3 {is less convincing.} 14. Nxc7 Rac8 15. Nd5 (15. Qxd6 Rfd8)
15... h5 16. Nf4 {white's king is in no real danger.}) 14. Qc2 Qxh3 15. Nxc7
Rac8 {This may look similar to the line given above, however with the queen on
c2 (instead of d1) there is one key difference, which Nyzhnyk immediately
exploits.} 16. Nd5 Rxc4 {! the key difference just mentioned. Now, Bxc4 loses
instantly to Nf3+, so the rook is untouchable.} 17. Qd2 {White hits the knight
on a5 in an attempt to slow down black's initiative, but does not cover up the
white squares on the kingside (e.g. Qd1)} Nac6 18. Nf4 Qf5 19. Qxd6 Rd8 {Very
strong.} (19... Rc2 {! seems to almost win on the spot.} 20. Qd1 Rd8 21. Bd3 {
Perhaps this interference tactic worried white. However...} Nxd3 22. Qxc2 Nxf4
23. Qxf5 Ne2+ {This in-between check wins material for black.}) 20. Qc7 Rc2 21.
Bd1 Rxd1 {! It is odd to think that the culmination of a game where black
relinquished his white square bishop early in the opening will result in a
devastating attack by black on the white squares, but this exchange sacrifice
is both thematic and instructive. The bishop was the only piece keeping the
enemy queen and knight at bay. Now, both have direct attacking access to the
key squares near the white king.} 22. Rxd1 g5 {Another defender is pushed away.
} 23. e4 Qxe4 24. Rd8+ Bf8 25. Nh3 (25. Rxf8+ Kxf8 26. Qd6+ Kg8 {White runs
out of checks very quickly.}) 25... Nxd8 26. Qxd8 Nf3+ 27. Kf1 g4 (27... Qc4+
28. Kg2 Qc6 {makes a pretty picture, and is objectively best, though what
black plays in the game also wins.}) 28. Bh6 Qc4+ {White resigns in light of:}
29. Kg2 gxh3+ 30. Kh1 Qb4 0-1[/pgn]
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