California Cool: Wang and Shankland Lead US Champs

Going into Championship weekend at the US Chess Championships in Saint Louis (April 17-30) two players hailing from California are in the clear lead. And they are both surprise contenders. 15-year-old Annie Wang is leading the US Women's Championship by a full point over her nearest rival, Nazi Paikidze. Annie has an outstanding 7.5/9, good for a performance rating over 2600. https://twitter.com/USChess/status/989950342916911111 In the final two rounds, Annie faces four-time champion Anna Zatonskih and defending champ Sabina Foisor. If she wins this event, she will be the second youngest ever to do so, after GM Irina Krush, who won the US Women's in 1998, at the age of 14. Wang defeated Krush in their head to head battle in round eight. After struggling to find a good plan in the first time control, Annie pounced on Irina's error of 42....Rxc4, and found all the right attacking moves, particularly the sequence of 48.Qf8, 49. Rb1, 50. Kh2 and 51. Be7!

[pgn] [Event "U.S. Women's Championship"] [Date "2018.04.26"] [White "Wang, Annie"] [Black "Krush, Irina"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E38"] [WhiteElo "2321"] [BlackElo "2422"] [PlyCount "105"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "United States"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 c5 5. dxc5 Qc7 6. e3 Bxc5 7. Nf3 a6 8. Bd3 b6 9. b3 Bb7 10. Bb2 Be7 11. O-O d6 12. Rfd1 Nbd7 13. Rac1 Nc5 14. Be2 O-O 15. Nd4 Rfd8 16. Ba1 Rac8 17. Bf3 Bxf3 18. Nxf3 Qb7 19. Qe2 Nfe4 20. Nxe4 Nxe4 21. Nd2 Nf6 22. e4 Rd7 23. Rc3 b5 24. Rg3 e5 25. Re3 Bd8 26. Re1 Bb6 27. Rd3 Bc5 28. Bc3 h6 29. Qf3 Rdd8 30. h3 Nh7 31. Qg4 Ng5 32. Rg3 Qe7 33. Rf1 Ne6 34. Kh1 g6 35. Qf3 Nf4 36. Rg4 Nh5 37. Qd3 Kh7 38. cxb5 axb5 39. Ba5 Rf8 40. Qxb5 Qa7 41. Kg1 Bd4 42. Nc4 Rxc4 43. bxc4 Rb8 44. Qd5 Rb2 45. Bd8 Qd7 46. Qa8 Ba7 47. Bh4 Rxa2 48. Qf8 Bc5 49. Rb1 Ba7 50. Kh2 Ra4 51. Be7 Qe6 52. Rb7 Bxf2 53. Rb8 1-0 [/pgn]
In the US Championship, Sam Shankland took a half point lead over GM Fabiano Caruana with a key victory over Yaro Zherebukh
[pgn][Event "U.S. Championship"] [Date "2018.04.27"] [Round "9.2"] [White "Shankland, Samuel"] [Black "Zherebukh, Yaroslav"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D63"] [WhiteElo "2671"] [BlackElo "2640"] [PlyCount "141"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "United States"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. d4 Nbd7 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 h6 7. Bh4 O-O 8. Rc1 c6 9. a3 a6 10. c5 e5 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. dxe5 Nd7 13. Bxe7 Qxe7 14. Qd4 Nxe5 15. Be2 Qg5 16. g3 Qe7 17. O-O Bh3 18. Rfe1 f5 19. f3 Rae8 20. Nd1 Qf7 21. Nf2 Qh5 22. Qh4 Qxf3 23. Qxh3 Qxe3 24. Bh5 Nf3+ 25. Bxf3 Qxf3 26. Qg2 Qb3 27. Nh3 Re4 28. Qd2 b6 29. Nf2 Rxe1+ 30. Qxe1 bxc5 31. Rxc5 Qxb2 32. Qc3 Qb8 33. Nd3 Qb1+ 34. Kg2 f4 35. Nxf4 Qe4+ 36. Kg1 g5 37. Ng2 Qf5 38. Qe1 Qf6 39. Rc1 d4 40. Qe2 c5 41. Ne1 Rc8 42. Nd3 c4 43. Qe4 Qd6 44. Ne5 c3 45. Nd3 Kg7 46. Kg2 Rc7 47. Re1 c2 48. h4 Qc6 49. Qxc6 Rxc6 50. Kf3 gxh4 51. gxh4 Rc3 52. Ke4 Rxa3 53. Rc1 Rc3 54. Kxd4 Rc8 55. Nc5 Kg6 56. Rxc2 Kh5 57. Rh2 Rg8 58. Ne4 Rg1 59. Nf6+ Kg6 60. Ke5 Re1+ 61. Ne4 Kh5 62. Kf4 Rf1+ 63. Kg3 Re1 64. Nf6+ Kg6 65. Nd5 Rd1 66. Nf4+ Kf5 67. Ra2 Rg1+ 68. Ng2 Rb1 69. Rxa6 Rb3+ 70. Kh2 Kg4 71. Rxh6 1-0 [/pgn]
The round could have been even better for Shankland, because Fabiano was in very serious trouble against Hikaru Nakamura. After the game, Fabi pointed out the winning line, 46....Qxe4!
[pgn] [Event "U.S. Championship"] [Date "2018.04.27"] [Round "9.1"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2804"] [BlackElo "2787"] [PlyCount "105"] [EventDate "2018.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "United States"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. c3 O-O 6. O-O Re8 7. Nbd2 a6 8. Bxc6 dxc6 9. Nc4 Bd6 10. Bg5 b5 11. Ne3 Qe7 12. Nh4 Qe6 13. Nhf5 Bf8 14. f4 Nd7 15. Ng3 f6 16. f5 Qf7 17. Bh4 Bb7 18. Qe2 Rad8 19. Nh1 Nc5 20. Rfd1 Rd6 21. Nf2 Red8 22. Rd2 a5 23. g4 g5 24. Bg3 Ba6 25. Rad1 b4 26. c4 b3 27. a3 R6d7 28. Qe1 Nb7 29. Nh1 Nc5 30. Qe2 Rd4 31. Be1 R8d6 32. Nf2 Qd7 33. Kg2 Qd8 34. h3 Rd7 35. Nf1 Na4 36. Nh2 Bc5 37. Nf3 R4d6 38. Rc1 Bxf2 39. Qxf2 c5 40. Qe2 Rxd3 41. Rxd3 Rxd3 42. Bxa5 Bb7 43. Kf2 Qd7 44. Re1 Rd6 45. Rc1 Qc6 46. Re1 Rd8 47. h4 h6 48. hxg5 hxg5 49. Kg3 Rd7 50. Qh2 Rh7 51. Qd2 Rd7 52. Qh2 Rh7 53. Qd2 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
During"> the live show (which you can replay on YouTube) Joan DuBois of US Chess called to ask who the oldest player to play a US Championship was. Though Yaz and I were stumped over the air, Mike Klein and Ed Gonsalves helped us out on twitter. https://twitter.com/ChessMike/status/989953686750318598 Action resumes on Saturday at 2 ET, with key round ten pairings including Annie Wang vs. Anna Zatonskih, Onischuk vs. Shankland, and Zherebukh vs. Caruana. IM Eric Rosen took over our @USChess twitter feed during round 9 of the event. Look for his next takeover on round 11, Sunday and relive some of his best tweets today below. https://twitter.com/USChess/status/989931355701211136 https://twitter.com/USChess/status/989996660657975298 https://twitter.com/USChess/status/989967820774572032 https://twitter.com/USChess/status/989974658329038854 https://twitter.com/USChess/status/989963386422267905 https://twitter.com/USChess/status/989976247743799296 Watch live commentary of the final two rounds and possible playoffs with GMs Maurice Ashley, Yasser Seirawan and WGM Jennifer Shahade starting at 2 PM EDT from April 28-30.  For more information, visit uschesschamps.com.

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