Nemcova Alone in Front, Wesley Joins Top of US Championship

WGM Katerina Nemcova
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WGM Katerina Nemcova is the only player to stay perfect through two rounds of the 2021 national chess championships in the Saint Louis Chess Club. // photo Bryan Adams


After just two rounds of play in the Saint Louis Chess Club, WGM Katerina Nemcova remains the only one of 24 players to achieve a perfect 2-0 score in the 2021 US Chess Championships. On Thursday, Nemcova knocked down her second former U.S. Women’s champion in a row, winning as Black in a Semi-Slav over 2017 champion Sabina Foisor after besting four-time champion IM Anna Zatonskih in the opening round. 

Thursday’s win gives Nemcova an early lead in the 2021 Women’s national title chase and keeps longshot chances alive for the $64,000 Bobby Fischer Prize, awarded to any player who can match the American chess legend’s 11-0 performance in the 1963-64 US Chess Championship. All other players in St. Louis have been nicked for at least a half-point -- not the least of which is the US Chess Championship top-seed GM Fabiano Caruana, who pulled a proverbial rabbit from a hat to escape with a second draw in as many chances. 



After wriggling his way through an uncomfortable draw as White against GM Lazaro Bruzon on Wednesday, Caruana again found his feet to the fire in Round 2, this time by 2760-rated GM Leinier Dominguez – who wasn’t as keen in letting the World No. 2 off the hook. Staring down White’s monster passed pawn with a minute on his clock and several moves to go before the time bonus, Caruana again kept his cool under pressure for a marathon 108 moves to escape with his second half-point. 

The effort comes in as CLO’s Round 2 Game of the Day, annotated here by two-time Tennessee State Champion NM Alex King. 


GM Leinier Dominguez
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GM Leinier Dominguez discusses with commentator GM Maurice Ashley in the Saint Louis Chess Club, after grinding through 108 moves with GM Fabiano Caruana in the second round of the 2021 US Chess Championship. // photo Lennart Ootes


Also posting Thursday wins in the 2021 national championship was GM Daniel Naroditsky, who rebounded from an opening-round loss to defeat GM Jeffery Xiong in a Colle System, as well as defending US Chess Champion GM Wesley So. The World No. 6 made clean work through the Sicilian of GM Dariusz Swiercz, who stumbled with just a few hasty pawn pushes to allow So in a for a suffocating kingside attack. At 1.5/2, So has now claimed a share of the tournament lead along with GMs Ray Robson and John Burke, who both drew on Thursday. 

Defending U.S. Champion GM Wesley So and GM Daniel Naroditsky both won in the second round of the 2021 US Chess Championship.

[pgn][Event "2021 US Chess Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.10.07"] [Round "2"] [White "So, W."] [Black "Swiercz, D."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B52"] [WhiteElo "2778"] [BlackElo "2647"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2021.10.05"] {[%evp 10,63,53,39,30,27,63,68,58,61,69,3,9,4,47,44,45,0,9,0,40,35,41,20,35,18, 72,33,99,93,85,84,98,100,234,234,472,455,566,563,776,776,751,751,780,781,811, 785,805,798,854,865,963,950,938,912]} 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 $1 Nc6 {B52: Sicilian: Moscow Variation with 3...Bd7.} 7. d4 $1 {The main line 7.d4 scores better than 7.0-0.} Qg4 {White should prevent ...cxd4.} 8. d5 {[%cal Rd5c6]} Nd4 {White is slightly better.} 9. Nxd4 { And now Qa4+ would win.} Qxd1+ 10. Nxd1 (10. Kxd1 $14 cxd4 11. Nb5) 10... cxd4 $11 11. f3 Rc8 $146 (11... Nd7 $11 {might be stronger.}) ({Predecessor:} 11... e5 12. Bg5 Be7 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. a4 Kd7 15. Ke2 Rhc8 16. b3 Bd8 17. Nb2 Ba5 { 1/2-1/2 (32) Ma,Q (2559)-Li,C (2686) Xinghua 2013}) 12. b3 $14 e5 13. g4 (13. a4 $14) 13... Be7 14. Ke2 h5 15. g5 Nd7 16. Bd2 O-O 17. Nf2 a6 (17... f5 $11) 18. Nd3 $16 f5 ({Black should try} 18... b6 $14) 19. gxf6 $1 gxf6 20. Rhg1+ Kh7 21. Rg3 h4 {[#] A mistake that costs the game.} (21... Rg8 $16) 22. Rg4 $1 $18 {[%cal Rg4h4]} f5 $2 (22... Rg8 23. Rxh4+ Kg7 24. Rg1+ Kf8) 23. exf5 {White is clearly winning.} Rxf5 24. Rag1 Re8 25. Nf2 Nf6 26. Rg7+ Kh8 27. Rf7 Rh5 28. Rg6 Ng8 29. Ne4 Rd8 30. Bg5 Rh7 {[#]} 31. Rxe7 $1 {[%mdl 512]} Rxe7 32. Bxh4  1-0 [/pgn]

Chasing Nemcova in the U.S. Women’s Championship are three players, including the top-two seeds. Defending champion GM Irina Krush held a decisive-looking, two-pawn advantage in an endgame with WGM Anna Sharevich, though let her advantage evaporate to a half-point; while IM Carissa Yip joined the chasing pack at 1.5/2 with a Round 2 win over WGM Tatev Abrahamyan. 

In an ultra-sharp Advanced French, America’s No. 2 female Yip set off an impressive display of tactical fireworks, which caught the eye of Chess Life editor John Hartmann. 


IM Carissa Yip
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US Chess' No. 2 female IM Carissa Yip set off some tactical fireworks in the second round of the 2021 U.S. Women's Chess Championship in St. Louis. // photo Lennart Ootes, Saint Louis Chess Club



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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