Who Will Win the 2022 American Cup?

After seven days of non-stop action at the 2022 American Cup, it has all come to this.

GMs Fabiano Caruana and Irina Krush have come through the Championship section unscathed to claim their seats in the Finals.

Meanwhile, after crashing out of the Championship to GMs Leinier Dominguez and Irina Krush respectively, GM Levon Aronian and twelve-year-old FM Alice Lee have battled through the Elimination section and are looking for redemption.

The American Cup boasts a double-knockout format, meaning that a player must lose two matches to be eliminated. With Aronian and Lee both having already lost matches, the pressure is on them to win the two-game match played on Wednesday and Thursday, and then force Caruana and Krush into a one-day rapid showdown on Friday.

Here’s how we got to today.


Championship Brackets

 

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2022 American Cup Championship Bracket
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC

Caruana’s path through the Open Championship was not easy. After “overtime wins” against GMs Jeffery Xiong and Sam Sevian in rounds one and two, Caruana defeated Dominguez 1½-½ to win the Championship. The key game was the first, where it took a slip by Dominguez in an even endgame to provide the margin of victory.

[pgn][Event "American Cup Champ"] [Site "Saint Louis, United States"] [Date "2022.04.24"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A33"] [WhiteElo "2781"] [BlackElo "2756"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6R1/8/7k/1bp1B3/4P1P1/1P3K1p/4r3/8 b - - 0 47"] [PlyCount "12"] [EventDate "2022.??.??"] [EventType "k.o."] {[#]} 47... Rd2 $2 48. g5+ Kh5 49. Rh8+ Kg6 50. Rh6+ Kf7 (50... Kxg5 $2 51. Bf4#) 51. g6+ Ke7 52. g7 Rg2 53. Rxh3 1-0 [/pgn]

In the women's section, Irina Krush preferred to handle her business in normal operating hours, defeating FM Ruiyang Yan, WGM Gulrukhbegin Tokhirjonova, and FM Alice Lee all by scores of 1½-½, thereby avoiding any rapid playoffs. Here are both games from her match with Lee, which may provide some insight into their Finals match beginning today.

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2022 American Cup Women's Championship Bracket
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC

[pgn][Event "American Cup Champ w"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2022.04.24"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Krush, Irina"] [Black "Lee, Alice"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A13"] [WhiteElo "2421"] [BlackElo "2334"] [PlyCount "99"] [EventDate "2022.04.20"] [EventType "k.o."] 1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. b3 Nf6 4. e3 a6 5. Bb2 Nbd7 6. d4 b6 7. cxd5 exd5 8. g3 Bb7 9. Bg2 Bd6 10. Ba3 Bxa3 11. Nxa3 Qe7 12. Nc2 a5 13. O-O O-O 14. Qc1 Ba6 15. Rd1 Ne4 16. Qb2 Be2 17. Rdc1 Rfc8 18. Nce1 Bb5 19. a4 Ba6 20. Rd1 c6 21. Rac1 Qe6 22. Nd3 Bxd3 23. Rxd3 Rc7 24. Rdd1 f6 25. Ne1 Rb8 26. Nd3 g5 27. b4 axb4 28. Nxb4 Rbc8 29. Qb3 Kg7 30. Rc2 Nd6 31. Bf1 Nb8 32. Rdc1 Ne8 33. Rc3 Qd6 34. Bh3 Rd8 35. Nd3 Ra7 36. Qxb6 Qc7 37. Qxc7+ Nxc7 38. Nc5 Kg6 39. Rb3 Nca6 40. Nb7 Re8 41. Rb6 h5 42. Nd6 Rd8 43. Bf5+ Kg7 44. Nb7 Rf8 45. Na5 Nb4 46. Rxb4 Rxa5 47. Rb7+ Kg8 48. Rcb1 Ra8 49. Be6+ Kh8 50. Re7 1-0 [Event "American Cup Champ w"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2022.04.25"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Lee, Alice"] [Black "Krush, Irina"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D52"] [WhiteElo "2334"] [BlackElo "2421"] [PlyCount "132"] [EventDate "2022.04.20"] [EventType "k.o."] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 e6 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. e3 Qa5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Rc1 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Ba3 10. Rc2 b6 11. Bd3 Ba6 12. O-O Bxd3 13. Qxd3 O-O 14. c4 Rfe8 15. e4 e5 16. d5 cxd5 17. cxd5 Rac8 18. Nd2 Qa4 19. Nc4 Nc5 20. Qe2 Nxe4 21. Qxe4 b5 22. d6 bxc4 23. Rd1 Qd7 24. Rxc4 Rxc4 25. Qxc4 Bxd6 26. Qd5 Qf5 27. Qxd6 Qxg5 28. Qd7 Ra8 29. h3 h5 30. Qb7 Re8 31. Qxa7 e4 32. Kh1 e3 33. fxe3 Rxe3 34. a4 Qe5 35. Rf1 f6 36. Qb6 Ra3 37. Qd8+ Kh7 38. Qd1 Re3 39. Kg1 Qc5 40. Kh2 Qe5+ 41. Kh1 Kg8 42. Qd8+ Kh7 43. Qd1 Kg8 44. Qc2 Re1 45. Qa2+ Kh8 46. Qf2 Ra1 47. Qf3 Rxa4 48. Qd1 Re4 49. Qd8+ Kh7 50. Qd3 Kh8 51. Qb1 Kh7 52. Qd1 Re2 53. Qd3+ Qe4 54. Qxe4+ Rxe4 55. Kh2 h4 56. Rf5 Kg6 57. Ra5 f5 58. Ra7 Kf6 59. Ra6+ Re6 60. Ra7 g5 61. Ra4 Re4 62. Ra5 Re5 63. Ra6+ Re6 64. Ra5 Re5 65. Ra6+ Re6 66. Ra5 Re5 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]

Elimination Brackets

While classical chess sometimes has the reputation of being drawish, especially at the highest levels, rapid time controls usually lead to fighting chess of a relatively high quality. The elimination brackets were proof positive of this, with plenty of exciting games for fans to savor.

 

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2022 American Cup Final Elimination Bracket
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC

 

After losing to Dominguez in round two of the Championship, Aronian has torn through the Open Elimination bracket, defeating GMs Wesley So, Ray Robson, and Leinier Dominguez to advance to the Finals.

 


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2022 American Cup Final Women's Elimination Bracket
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC

 

After defeating WGM Tatev Abrahamyan 1½-½ in the second round of the Women’s Championship bracket, Alice Lee met Abrahamyan once more in the final Elimination round. The result was an instant classic, with five sharp, exciting games, all with decisive results. It all came down to the Armageddon game, won by Lee after Abrahamyan had to burn all bridges in search of victory.

 


The Finals

So it’s a pairing that most would have predicted, and one that the odds were squarely against, in the American Cup Finals.

Top seed Levon Aronian meets second seed Fabiano Caruana in the Open final, while sixth-seed Alice Lee takes another shot at GM Irina Krush in the Women’s final.

Will Aronian stake his claim to the top spot in American chess? Will Lee complete her breakout performance with an upset victory?

We’ll find out beginning Wednesday at 1pm Central.


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