Saturday Armageddon to decide seat in 2021 US Chess Championship

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Lenderman Yoo in the USCOQ Armageddon

 

The finale of the US Chess Championship Online Qualifier, a month-long series of progressing events designed to offer a path to the national championship, was pushed to an Armageddon playoff that will be held Saturday afternoon on Chess.com. 

On Friday, four players had begun the final round of the qualifier’s culminating round-robin tournament with chances to win the event, the top prize of which is a seat in the 2021 US Chess Championship. Tournament leader IM Christopher Yoo missed his shot at securing clear first by settling for a draw with GM Elshan Moradiabadi, leaving the door open for GM Aleksandr Lenderman, who took down GM Timur Gareyev in a dramatic finish and caught Yoo at the tournament finish line. 

Friday’s results leave Yoo and Lenderman tied for first place with 4.5/7, and the two will chop the top cash prizes for $2,500 each. The real prize, however, will not be chopped: Yoo and Lenderman will play one single 10+0 Armageddon game on Saturday to decide who will earn a seat in next year’s national championship.  

Beginning at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time today, the two players will bid for the lowest “winning” start time, and the winning bidder will get the black pieces, the bid start time, and draw odds. The losing bidder will receive the white pieces and 10 minutes on their clock – and must win to advance to the 2021 US Chess Championship. 

The final Armageddon game will be broadcast live on Chess.com with commentary, as well as its YouTube and Twitch channels.

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USCOQ Round Robin Final Standings

 

The US Chess Championship Online Qualifier began in November as an open Swiss event for the nation’s U1600 players and has progressed each weekend through a series of increasingly stronger events. Yoo entered in the 2400+ Swiss qualifier and then advanced through a 23-player final Swiss, then a final knockout bracket and now this final round-robin tournament. He was the only non-GM in the 8-player field. Lenderman was a US Chess pre-selection to join the final round robin.

On Friday, Yoo wriggled out of some late pressure by Moradiabadi who, with a win, would have swapped places with the youngster in today’s Armageddon playoff. Yoo as black mis-stepped in a Catalan with an aggressive 26. .. e5, allowing liquidation while holding the inferior minor piece. But Moradiabiadi missed his chance at Yoo’s backwards b-pawn with 30. Qd7 … Qc8+, choosing the seemingly more-direct 30. Qd8+ instead. Black’s defense held. 

[pgn][Event "Live Chess"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2020.12.18"] [Round "?"] [White "Elshan1985"] [Black "ChristopherYoo"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A15"] [WhiteElo "2810"] [BlackElo "2803"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] [EndTime "16:38:13 PST"] [Termination "Game drawn by repetition"] 1. Nf3 {[%timestamp 7]} 1... Nf6 {[%timestamp 118]} 2. c4 {[%timestamp 14]} 2... e6 {[%timestamp 32]} 3. g3 {[%timestamp 24]} 3... d5 {[%timestamp 20]} 4. d4 {[%timestamp 9]} 4... Be7 {[%timestamp 39]} 5. Bg2 {[%timestamp 28]} 5... O-O {[%timestamp 10]} 6. Qc2 {[%timestamp 572]} 6... dxc4 {[%timestamp 4651]} 7. Qxc4 {[%timestamp 21]} 7... a6 {[%timestamp 2297]} 8. Bg5 {[%timestamp 4385]} 8... Bd7 {[%timestamp 5997]} 9. O-O {[%timestamp 1810]} 9... Bc6 {[%timestamp 3392]} 10. Rd1 {[%timestamp 570]} 10... Nbd7 {[%timestamp 1458]} 11. Qc2 {[%timestamp 411]} 11... h6 {[%timestamp 923]} 12. Bxf6 {[%timestamp 28]} 12... Nxf6 {[%timestamp 134]} 13. Nc3 {[%timestamp 76]} 13... Bb4 {[%timestamp 1509]} 14. Rac1 {[%timestamp 2198]} 14... Qe7 {[%timestamp 2616]} 15. a3 {[%timestamp 861]} 15... Bxc3 {[%timestamp 1358]} 16. Qxc3 {[%timestamp 1]} 16... Rfd8 {[%timestamp 1276]} 17. Bf1 {[%timestamp 3849]} 17... Bxf3 {[%timestamp 915]} 18. Qxf3 {[%timestamp 44]} 18... c6 {[%timestamp 398]} 19. Qb3 {[%timestamp 2468]} 19... Rd7 {[%timestamp 2798]} 20. Rd3 {[%timestamp 325]} 20... Rad8 {[%timestamp 331]} 21. Rcd1 {[%timestamp 26]} 21... h5 {[%timestamp 3328]} 22. Bg2 {[%timestamp 1017]} 22... h4 {[%timestamp 395]} 23. Bf3 {[%timestamp 224]} 23... Ne8 {[%timestamp 1438]} 24. Qc3 {[%timestamp 4620]} 24... Nc7 {[%timestamp 1610]} 25. Qc4 {[%timestamp 4798]} 25... hxg3 {[%timestamp 1119]} 26. hxg3 {[%timestamp 28]} 26... e5 {[%timestamp 1591]} 27. dxe5 {[%timestamp 1197]} 27... Rxd3 {[%timestamp 45]} 28. Rxd3 {[%timestamp 1]} 28... Rxd3 {[%timestamp 23]} 29. Qxd3 {[%timestamp 17]} 29... Qxe5 {[%timestamp 22]} 30. Qd8+ {[%timestamp 12]} 30... Ne8 {[%timestamp 542]} 31. Bg4 {[%timestamp 3521]} 31... Kh7 {[%timestamp 2351]} 32. Qd7 {[%timestamp 2013]} 32... Nd6 {[%timestamp 995]} 33. b4 {[%timestamp 72]} 33... g6 {[%timestamp 1113]} 34. Bf3 {[%timestamp 489]} 34... Kg7 {[%timestamp 615]} 35. Kg2 {[%timestamp 24]} 35... Kf8 {[%timestamp 1515]} 36. Qd8+ {[%timestamp 58]} 36... Kg7 {[%timestamp 268]} 37. Qc7 {[%timestamp 65]} 37... Kf8 {[%timestamp 247]} 38. Qb8+ {[%timestamp 768]} 38... Kg7 {[%timestamp 61]} 39. Qc7 {[%timestamp 1170]} 39... Kf8 {[%timestamp 186]} 40. Qd8+ {[%timestamp 2178]} 40... Kg7 {[%timestamp 124]} 41. Qd7 {[%timestamp 16]} 41... Kf8 {[%timestamp 274]} 42. Qd8+ {[%timestamp 2192]} 1/2-1/2[/pgn]

Lenderman and Gareyev was a guaranteed barnburner from first move, both players entering Friday tied and needing the full point to catch Yoo. Lenderman with white steered into an Indian game that turned sharp early, especially in the wake of Gareyev’s mobile e-pawn. His kingside pawn storm appeared to win Lenderman’s trapped bishop, though he passed on collection with a confusing 27. .. Ne5. The move allowed Lenderman an attacking line toward the exposed black king, which he took. 

[pgn][Event "Live Chess"] [Site "Chess.com"] [Date "2020.12.18"] [Round "?"] [White "AlexanderL"] [Black "TimurGareyev"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A41"] [WhiteElo "2793"] [BlackElo "2452"] [TimeControl "5400+30"] [EndTime "17:07:35 PST"] [Termination "AlexanderL won by resignation"] 1. Nf3 {[%timestamp 55]} 1... d6 {[%timestamp 1556]} 2. d4 {[%timestamp 53]} 2... Nf6 {[%timestamp 73]} 3. c4 {[%timestamp 103]} 3... Bf5 {[%timestamp 597]} 4. g3 {[%timestamp 538]} 4... g6 {[%timestamp 52]} 5. Bg2 {[%timestamp 130]} 5... Bg7 {[%timestamp 20]} 6. O-O {[%timestamp 103]} 6... O-O {[%timestamp 1195]} 7. Qb3 {[%timestamp 2412]} 7... Qc8 {[%timestamp 7330]} 8. Nc3 {[%timestamp 174]} 8... Nc6 {[%timestamp 3877]} 9. Rd1 {[%timestamp 361]} 9... Ne4 {[%timestamp 3754]} 10. Nd5 {[%timestamp 1572]} 10... a5 {[%timestamp 4055]} 11. Qe3 {[%timestamp 8802]} 11... e6 {[%timestamp 2145]} 12. Nc3 {[%timestamp 1884]} 12... Nxc3 {[%timestamp 3418]} 13. Qxc3 {[%timestamp 585]} 13... e5 {[%timestamp 1989]} 14. Be3 {[%timestamp 627]} 14... Bg4 {[%timestamp 5583]} 15. dxe5 {[%timestamp 416]} 15... dxe5 {[%timestamp 989]} 16. Rd2 {[%timestamp 1972]} 16... Re8 {[%timestamp 4423]} 17. Rad1 {[%timestamp 1134]} 17... h6 {[%timestamp 1835]} 18. Qa3 {[%timestamp 5679]} 18... e4 {[%timestamp 1799]} 19. Nd4 {[%timestamp 556]} 19... Ne5 {[%timestamp 945]} 20. Qa4 {[%timestamp 1257]} 20... Bd7 {[%timestamp 577]} 21. Nb5 {[%timestamp 879]} 21... Bc6 {[%timestamp 535]} 22. Qb3 {[%timestamp 3147]} 22... a4 {[%timestamp 1604]} 23. Qb4 {[%timestamp 828]} 23... f5 {[%timestamp 702]} 24. Bh3 {[%timestamp 1965]} 24... Nf7 {[%timestamp 1090]} 25. Bf4 {[%timestamp 1793]} 25... e3 {[%timestamp 1756]} 26. fxe3 {[%timestamp 4869]} 26... g5 {[%timestamp 1062]} 27. Qc5 {[%timestamp 1011]} 27... Ne5 {[%timestamp 1469]} 28. Na7 {[%timestamp 3804]} 28... Qb8 {[%timestamp 2458]} 29. Nxc6 {[%timestamp 1568]} 29... Nxc6 {[%timestamp 76]} 30. Qxf5 {[%timestamp 887]} 30... gxf4 {[%timestamp 40]} 31. Rd7 {[%timestamp 85]} 31... Qa7 {[%timestamp 430]} 32. Qf7+ {[%timestamp 302]} 1-0[/pgn]

 

Comments

Armageddon games are a bad idea. Not really fair to the player of the white pieces. Why not a blitz match of seven games, first to four points?

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