Wesley So, Carissa Yip are 2021 US Chess National Champions

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2021 US Chess Champions GM Wesley So and IM Carissa Yip
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GM Wesley So and IM Carissa Yip are the 2021 US Chess National Champions. // photos Crystal Fuller, Lennart Ootes, Saint Louis Chess Club

 

Grandmaster Wesley So will continue his reign as the US Chess national champion, while International Master Carissa Yip begins hers over American women. 

The highest titles of US Chess were bestowed in St. Louis on Tuesday, during the closing ceremonies of the 2021 US Chess Championships, held in the nation’s chess capital through the first weeks of October. So and Yip were presented as this year’s American King and Queen after finishing in front of 24 of the nation’s top chess players, 12 of the best females and another dozen of the top-ranked U.S. Grandmasters, all beckoned to the round-robin invitational by the Saint Louis Chess Club, which has hosted the annual event since 2009. Both players were second seeds in their respective tournaments.

 

 

So, who celebrated his 28th birthday with a draw against World No. 2 GM Fabiano Caruana in the fourth round, is the current World No. 6 GM and notches back-to-back U.S. Champion titles after winning last year’s first-ever online national championship during the height of the global pandemic. The Philippine-born prodigy has transformed into one of the world’s most-complete players since transferring to US Chess in 2014 as a recruit to Webster University. Among other achievements, So graduated from multiple collegiate titles to hoisting Olympic gold for the U.S. on the international stage, and now after earning his U.S. citizenship in Minnesota earlier this year, claims his third national championship over one of the strongest all-GM fields to date. 

 

 

So was one of three 2700-rated super-GMs competing in St. Louis this October, and after two weeks needed to fight through an extra day of high-pressure chess before locking down this latest title. Undefeated and plus-2 after 11 classical games, So finished regulation tied with two others, the World No. 2 Caruana and 20-year-old GM Samuel Sevian, all at 6.5/11 and forced into a three-way, round-robin playoff of rapid games to determine the next national champion.  

In his round of thanks during Tuesday’s closing ceremony, the humble So gave a shout to GM Sam Shankland, for the California GM’s last-minute draw against Caruana in the 11th and final round. Up to that point, both So and Sevian had idled in first place with four consecutive draws, while Caruana had staged a monster comeback with a fire 4.0/5 effort to rejoin for a share of the lead. During that final round, So admitted to turning off the championship broadcast and beginning to pack his suitcase, certain that Caruana was winning the game and would complete his improbable comeback. Shankland, however, who finished seventh place at 50-percent, held off the World No. 2 and sent the 2021 national championship to a playoff. There, So won both of his games. 

[pgn][Event "2021 US Chess Championship Playoff"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.10.19"] [Round "1"] [White "Caruana, F."] [Black "So, W."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A28"] [WhiteElo "2800"] [BlackElo "2778"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2021.10.19"] {[%evp 9,91,0,-6,-11,-11,-14,-16,-16,-21,-17,13,7,13,14,14,7,7,0,8,8,29,17,12, -13,-8,-7,-11,-45,-46,-45,-45,-48,-8,-62,-74,-84,0,-7,1,-7,-14,-27,-27,-64,0, -39,0,0,2,2,53,47,72,77,77,69,76,77,78,63,130,141,140,88,60,52,103,28,28,28,13, -43,-41,-41,-42,-91,-73,-127,-131,-142,-17,-222,-222,-390]} 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e4 Bb4 5. d3 d6 6. a3 {A28: English Opening: Four Knights Variation.} Bc5 {With the idea ...Ng4.} 7. b4 Bb6 8. Be3 {The position is equal.} O-O 9. Be2 Bxe3 10. fxe3 Ne7 11. O-O Ng6 12. Qd2 Re8 $5 $146 {[%mdl 8] An interesting novelty.} ({Predecessor:} 12... c6 13. a4 a5 14. b5 Be6 15. Ng5 Nd7 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Bg4 Qe7 18. g3 c5 {1/2-1/2 (37) Matyukhin,S (2504) -Wunderlich,H (2596) ICCF email 2017}) 13. Rae1 a5 14. b5 c6 15. Bd1 h6 16. d4 Qe7 17. Bc2 Bd7 18. d5 cxb5 19. cxb5 Rec8 20. Bd3 a4 21. Qb2 {[%eval -62,17]} ( {White should play} 21. Rb1 $1 $11 {[%eval -8,18]}) 21... Qd8 $1 $15 22. Qb4 Qa5 {[%eval -7,17]} (22... Qb6 $1 $17 {[%eval -84,17] Hoping for ...Nf4.} 23. Nd2 Qc5 24. Qxc5 Rxc5) 23. Qxa5 $11 Rxa5 24. Rc1 Raa8 25. Na2 Ng4 26. Rfe1 Kf8 {[%eval 0,20]} (26... Rxc1 $15 {[%eval -64,19]} 27. Rxc1 Nxe3) 27. Nb4 Ke8 { [%eval 2,18]} (27... Rxc1 $15 {[%eval -39,19] was preferrable.} 28. Rxc1 Rc8 29. Rxc8+ Bxc8) 28. h3 Nf6 29. Nd2 Ke7 {[%eval 53,19]} (29... Rxc1 $1 $11 { [%eval 2,19]} 30. Rxc1 Ne7) 30. Nc4 $1 $36 {[%mdl 2048] White is more active.} Rc5 31. Nb6 Ra5 32. Rxc5 ({Of course not} 32. Nxd7 Nxd7 33. g4 Rxc1 $15) 32... dxc5 {[#]} 33. Nc6+ bxc6 34. bxc6 Bxc6 {[%eval 130,16]} 35. dxc6 $16 {And now c7 would win.} Kd8 {[#]} 36. Nd5 {[%eval 88,21]} (36. Rb1 $142 $1 {[%eval 140, 20]}) 36... Nxd5 37. exd5 {[%mdl 4096] Endgame aiming for d6. KRB-KRN} Ne7 { [%eval 103,20] [#]} (37... c4 $1 $14 {[%eval 52,21]} 38. Bxc4 Rc5) 38. e4 { [%eval 28,20]} (38. Rf1 $1 $16 {[%eval 103,20][%cal Rf1f7]} c4 39. Bxc4) 38... Nc8 $1 $11 39. Rb1 Nd6 40. Kf2 {[%eval -43,21]} (40. g4 $11 {[%eval 13,20]}) 40... c4 $15 41. Bc2 f5 $1 42. Ke3 {[%eval -91,20]} (42. Rb8+ $15 {[%eval -42, 19]} Kc7 43. Rg8 fxe4 44. Rxg7+ Kb6 45. c7 Rxd5 46. Bxa4) 42... Kc7 43. Rb4 { [%eval -127,20]} (43. exf5 $142 {[%eval -73,17]} Rxd5 44. Rb4) 43... fxe4 $17 44. Bxe4 c3 {[%eval -17,18]} (44... Rb5 $17 {[%eval -142,20] Threatens to win with ...Rxb4.} 45. Rxb5 Nxb5) 45. Bc2 $2 {[%eval -222,17]} (45. Kd3 $11 { [%eval -17,18] and White is okay.}) 45... Rxd5 $19 46. Rxa4 $2 {[%eval -390,18] (46. Bxa4 {[%eval -222,17] was worth a try.} Rd2 47. h4) 0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "2021 US Chess Championship Playoff"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.10.19"] [Round "2"] [White "Sevian, Samuel"] [Black "Caruana, F."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C28"] [WhiteElo "2654"] [BlackElo "2800"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "98"] [EventDate "2021.10.19"] {[%evp 9,98,-13,3,-18,-9,-25,-24,-23,-21,-24,-24,-29,-26,-26,-4,-5,-5,-22,-9, -9,-13,-33,4,-7,14,-9,-9,-14,-8,-13,-8,-14,-12,-13,0,-7,0,-68,-68,-68,-68,-68, -66,-68,-67,-68,-68,-68,-68,-68,-68,-68,-68,-68,-58,-65,-58,-58,-63,-58,-58, -65,-65,-141,-65,-65,-65,-69,-58,-87,-87,-87,-39,-74,-76,-87,-41,-117,-118, -225,-222,-627,-628,-957,-983,-582,-957,-927,-988,-1000,-997]} 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Na5 5. Nge2 Bc5 6. h3 {C28: Vienna Game: 2...Nf6 3 Bc4 Nc6.} d6 7. Ng3 Nxc4 8. dxc4 {Black has an edge.} Be6 9. Qd3 O-O $146 ({ Predecessor:} 9... Nd7 10. O-O g6 11. b3 Qh4 12. Be3 O-O 13. Nf5 gxf5 14. exf5 e4 15. Qd2 Bxf5 {0-1 (48) Skliarov,V (2360)-Belyakov,B (2500) Pardubice 2019}) 10. b3 a5 11. O-O h6 12. Be3 Nd7 13. Nb5 Bxe3 14. Qxe3 Nc5 15. Rad1 b6 16. a4 Kh7 17. Rd2 Bd7 18. Nc3 (18. Re1 {seems wilder.} f5 19. exf5 Bxf5 20. Qc3 Qe7 21. f4) 18... Qg5 19. Qxg5 hxg5 20. Nd5 Rac8 21. f3 Be6 22. Nf5 Bxd5 23. Rxd5 { [%eval -68,21]} (23. cxd5 $11 {[%eval 0,17]} g6 24. Ne7) 23... g6 $15 24. Ne3 f5 25. exf5 gxf5 26. Rd2 Kg6 27. g4 f4 28. Nd5 Rf7 29. Re1 Re8 30. Nc3 Rh8 31. Kg2 Nd7 32. Nb5 Nf6 33. Nc3 $1 Rfh7 34. Rh1 Kf7 35. Re2 Ke6 36. Nb5 {[%eval -141,18] [#]} (36. Ne4 $15 {[%eval -65,21]} Nxe4 37. Rxe4) 36... Kd7 {[%eval -65,19]} ({Black should play} 36... e4 $1 $17 {[%eval -141,18] Hoping for ... Kd7.} 37. Nd4+ Kd7) 37. Nc3 Kc6 38. Rd2 Kc5 39. Rdd1 Re7 40. Rhe1 Rhe8 { [%eval -39,17]} (40... c6 $17 {[%eval -87,20]}) 41. Rd2 c6 42. Red1 e4 { [%eval -41,18]} (42... Rd8 $17 {[%eval -87,19]}) 43. Rxd6 {[%eval -117,17]} ( 43. fxe4 $15 {[%eval -41,18]} Nxe4 44. Nxe4+ Rxe4 45. h4) 43... exf3+ $17 44. Kf2 {[%eval -225,18] [#]} (44. Kf1 $17 {[%eval -118,19] was necessary.} Re3 45. Rxf6 Rxc3 46. Rd2) 44... Re2+ $1 $19 {[%mdl 512]} 45. Nxe2 $2 {[%eval -627,17]} (45. Kf1 {[%eval -222,18]}) 45... fxe2 {Black is clearly winning.} 46. Rxc6+ Kxc6 47. Re1 Re3 {( -> ...Ne4+)} 48. Rxe2 Ne4+ 49. Ke1 Kc5  0-1 [/pgn]

[pgn][Event "2021 US Chess Championship Playoff"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2021.10.19"] [Round "3"] [White "So, W."] [Black "Sevian, Samuel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A40"] [WhiteElo "2778"] [BlackElo "2654"] [Annotator "Tactical Analysis 4.1 (5s)"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2021.10.19"] {[%evp 15,65,41,81,23,65,66,82,71,113,115,113,106,119,50,133,142,145,133,75,88, 141,132,180,165,213,209,221,219,217,217,247,245,245,209,200,192,195,223,264, 263,305,308,633,633,983,900,1678,1706,29996,29997,29997,29998]} 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 Nd7 5. e4 e5 6. Be2 Ne7 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 h6 9. Bf1 { [%eval 23,16] A42: Modern Defence: Averbakh Variation.} (9. dxe5 $16 {[%eval 81,16]} dxe5 10. Be3) 9... f5 {[%eval 65,14]} (9... exd4 $11 {[%eval 23,16] is more appropriate.} 10. Nxd4 Ne5) 10. dxe5 $14 dxe5 11. b4 $146 {[%cal Bb2b4, Bb4b5][%mdl 32] White is better.} ({Predecessor:} 11. b3 b6 12. Bb2 Bb7 13. Qe2 c5 14. Nd5 Nc6 15. Rad1 Rf7 16. Rd2 Rc8 17. Red1 {1-0 (43) Brondt,N (2226) -Thybo,J (2573) Svendborg 2020}) 11... Nc6 {[%eval 113,14]} ({Better is} 11... Nf6 {[%eval 71,14]}) 12. b5 $1 $16 {[%cal Rb5c6]} Nd4 13. Ba3 Rf7 14. c5 { [%eval 50,16]} (14. exf5 $1 $16 {[%eval 119,14] Black must now prevent Nxd4.} Nxf3+ 15. Qxf3) 14... fxe4 {[%eval 133,14] [#]} (14... Nf8 $1 $14 {[%eval 50, 16]}) 15. Nxd4 $1 ({Don't do} 15. Rxe4 $6 Kh7 $14) 15... exd4 {[#]} 16. Bc4 $1 $36 {[%cal Rc4f7][%mdl 2048] Black is under strong pressure.} Ne5 17. Bxf7+ Nxf7 {[%eval 141,17]} ({Black should play} 17... Kxf7 {[%eval 88,14]} 18. Nxe4 (18. Rxe4 Bf5 $11) 18... Qd5) 18. Nxe4 {[%cal Bc3e4,Be4d2,Bd2f3,Bf3d4][%mdl 32] } Be6 {[%eval 180,17]} (18... d3 $16 {[%eval 132,16]}) 19. Bb2 $18 Bc4 { [%eval 213,17]} (19... a6 {[%eval 165,13] was worth a try.} 20. a4 Kh7) 20. a4 a6 21. Nd2 axb5 22. axb5 Rxa1 23. Bxa1 Bxb5 24. Nf3 d3 25. Bxg7 Kxg7 26. Qa1+ Kg8 27. Nd4 Bc4 28. Qc3 b5 {[%eval 633,16]} (28... Bd5 {[%eval 308,17]} 29. Qxd3 Kh7) 29. cxb6 $1 Nd6 30. Nc6 Qg5 31. b7 Bd5 32. b8=Q+ {[%mdl 64] Double Attack} Kf7 33. Qxc7+ 1-0 [/pgn]

 

 

Yip, who maintains the record as the youngest American female to achieve the IM title, left no endgame drama in St. Louis after clinching the U.S. Women’s tournament with a round to spare. The Massachusetts 18-year-old finished at 8.5/11 and a point-and-a-half over the field, showcasing a wonderfully dangerous attacking style and distancing herself from the pack with a five-game win streak that saw several opponents broken well before 40 moves. 

A true product of the chess boom seen in American youth over the past decade, the largest strides seen in girls, Yip’s first title as U.S. Women’s Champion continues an impressive storyline arc that began with her being taught the moves at six years old. Ranked nationally by 8, Yip became the youngest female expert at 10 and was a US Chess National Master by 11. Her speedy climb continued through the ranks of international titles, a WGM by 2019 and an IM the following year, and today is ranked by FIDE as the World’s No. 8 rated girl in Classical chess; No. 1 in Rapid. 

She was invited by the Saint Louis Chess Club as a wildcard to her first U.S. Women’s Championship in 2016, and back again among the first-ever U.S. Girls Championship field in 2017. And while she began a string of three consecutive titles as the U.S. Girls Champion, Yip continued to chip away at the Women’s field, slowly but surely rising through the ranks with each passing invite, all the way up to a second-place finish in 2020

 

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IM Carissa Yip
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IM Carissa Yip accepts her first title as the 2021 U.S. Women's Champion in St. Louis. // photos Lennart Ootes, Saint Louis Chess Club

 

At Tuesday’s closing ceremony, Yip described memories of watching the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship in her early years, and then getting “smashed” by her idols in that first 2016 appearance, star struck by living legends GM Irina Krush, IM Anna Zatonskih and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan. Fittingly, Yip earned her first crown as America’s 2021 Queen after defeating a record four former Women’s champions in St. Louis this October, all but one of the female titleholders for the past 15 years. 

Along with So in 2016, Yip is the current recipient of the Samford Fellowship, which has awarded more than two million dollars in annual scholarships to the nation’s most-promising players for over 30 years, with the goal of bringing a World Chess Championship back to the USA. Out of 24 participants, this year’s national chess championship fields contained nine previous Samford recipients. 

The 2021 US Chess Championships were sponsored by philanthropists Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield, who were inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame during this year's opening ceremonies. Since opening the Saint Louis Chess Club in 2008, the Sinquefield’s have donated millions of dollars into the game and turned the city into an international chess hub. Nearly $300,000 in prizes were awarded to this year’s national championship participants, including top prizes of $50,000 for So and $25,000 for Yip. 

 

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2021 US Championships Closing Ceremony
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From left: Saint Louis Chess Club executive director Tony Rich, US Chess Champion GM Wesley So, and US Chess Hall of Fame members Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield at the closing ceremonies of the 2021 US Chess Championships. // photo Crystal Fuller

 

Announced on Tuesday evening, the Saint Louis Chess Club will host the US Chess Championships again in 2022. 

 

 

 


Quick Links:

2021 U.S. Championships Main Page

2021 U.S. Championship Crosstable and Results

2021 U.S. Women's Championship Crosstable and Results

Comments

Appreciate very much the instant download ready to save games with commentary. Entire thriller diller event should have been down load ready like this wrap up article as annotative notes were really classic must read material throughout ..plus the games are fabulous chess history .....no matter....NEXT TIME! REMEMBER US CHESS IS ABOUT TO BECOME THE WORLD CHESS SOURCE...I am not joking...your entire crew is in get serious about chess mode...
evolving with marvelous speed now. Oh how sweet it is!
Jude Acers/ New Orleans

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