Yu Expands Lead; Dominguez Makes His Move

Round 8 of the 2019 U.S. Championships featured critical matchups in both the Open and Women’s events. Jennifer Yu continued her astonishing run in the Women’s Championship, defeating Akshita Gorti to move to +7 (7.5/8) and a one point lead in the standings. Leinier Dominguez took advantage of a stolid draw between Hikaru Nakamura and Sam Shankland to grab a share of first place in the Open Championship. Dominguez downed Sam Sevian in a beautiful rook and pawn ending, and stands at at the top of the leader board with +3 (5.5/8) along with Nakamura. OPEN SECTION

Leinier Dominguez had to sacrifice two years of active classical play, reportedly as part of his transfer in FIDE registration from Cuba to the U.S. That sacrifice is beginning to bear fruit. Dominguez, currently ranked 21st in the world, is having an excellent debut in the U.S. Championships. With his eighth round victory over Sam Sevian, part of a series of impressive technical efforts, Dominguez goes into Friday’s play tied for first place.

[pgn] [Event "63rd ch-USA 2019"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2019.03.28"] [White "Sevian, Samuel"] [Black "Dominguez Perez, Leinier"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D41"] [WhiteElo "2642"] [BlackElo "2739"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "124"] [EventDate "2019.03.20"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 c5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 cxd4 8. cxd4 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 O-O 11. Bc4 Nd7 12. O-O b6 13. Rad1 Bb7 14. Rfe1 Rc8 15. Bb3 Re8 16. d5 exd5 17. exd5 Nc5 18. d6 Bxf3 19. Rxe8+ Qxe8 20. gxf3 Qc6 $146 {The game now centers on the d6 pawn. Is it a weakness or a thorn in Black's side?} (20... Qd7 21. Re1 Ne6 22. f4 Rc5 23. Ba4 b5 24. Bc2 h6 25. f5 Ng5 26. Re3 Rc6 27. h4 Nh7 {1/2-1/2 (49) Jaeckel,C (2394)-Kveinys,V (2131) ICCF email 2011}) 21. Bd5 Qd7 22. Qf4 Rd8 23. Be4 g6 (23... Ne6 $5) 24. h4 Qe6 (24... Qa4 25. Rd2 Ne6 26. Qe5 Qc4 {is Leela's choice, but again, the position is very equal.}) 25. h5 Nd7 26. Bd5 (26. h6 {Leela (of course!)}) 26... Qf6 27. Qe3 Nc5 28. Rd4 {White is getting a little pressure here, so it's interesting to see how Dominguez dries things out.} gxh5 {Looks crazy, but there's a precise tactical reason for this move - it allows Black ...Qg6+, and White can't swing the rook to g4 so long as the h5-pawn lives.} 29. Rf4 Qg6+ 30. Kh1 Ne6 31. Rc4 (31. Bxe6 Qxe6 (31... fxe6 32. Qe5 Rc8 $132) 32. Rg4+ hxg4 33. Qg5+ Kf8 34. Qxd8+ Qe8 35. Qc7 Qe1+ 36. Kg2 gxf3+ 37. Kxf3 Qh1+ 38. Kf4 {probably drawn}) 31... h6 {Stopping Qg5 as in the previous note.} 32. Bxe6 Qxe6 33. Qxe6 fxe6 {Dominguez initially thought that the game would be drawn after all the exchanges on e6, but soon suspected that he might have some "slight chances."} 34. Rc7 a5 35. Rc6 b5 36. Rb6 a4 37. Kg2 (37. Rxb5 Rxd6 38. Rxh5 Rd2 39. Rxh6 Kf7 40. Kg2 Rxa2 $11) 37... Kf7 38. a3 Rg8+ {An important idea (...Rd8-g8-g5), and one that Dominguez said Sevian might have missed in the interview.} 39. Kf1 Rg5 40. d7 Ke7 41. Rxe6+ Kxd7 42. Rxh6 Rc5 43. f4 Kc7 { Key.} (43... Rc3 44. Rxh5 Kc6 45. Ke2 Rxa3 46. f5 {and Black's poor coordination (Dominguez) gives White good drawing chances. If} Rc3 47. f6 $11) 44. f5 (44. Ke2 {(trying to activate)} Rc2+ 45. Ke3 (45. Ke1 b4 $1 ({and not} 45... Rc3 {as Dominguez gave in the post-game chat. White draws this with} 46. Rxh5 $1 Kb6 (46... Rxa3 47. Rxb5) 47. f5 Rxa3 48. Ke2 $1 $11)) 45... Rc3+ { is difficult for White to hold.}) 44... Rxf5 45. Ke2 Kb7 46. f3 b4 $1 47. axb4 a3 48. Rd6 ({If} 48. Rg6 h4 49. Rg1 h3 50. Ra1 h2) 48... Rf8 $1 ({The commentators were arguing for} 48... Rg5 49. Kf2 a2 50. Rd1 h4 51. f4 (51. Ra1 h3) 51... Rg8 52. Kf3 h3 {where ...h2 and ...Rg1 wins, but the game continuation also works.}) 49. Kf2 (49. Rd1 Kb6 50. Ra1 Ra8 $19) 49... Ra8 50. Rd1 Kb6 51. Kg3 Kb5 52. Kh4 Rf8 $1 ({Black can't get greedy: if} 52... Kxb4 53. Kxh5 a2 54. Ra1 Kb3 55. f4 Kb2 56. Rf1 a1=Q 57. Rxa1 Rxa1 {leaves him one tempo short, i.e.} 58. Kg6 Rf1 59. f5 Kc3 60. f6 Kd4 61. Kg7 Ke5 62. f7 Rg1+ 63. Kh7 $11) 53. Rf1 Rf5 54. f4 Kxb4 55. Rf2 Ra5 56. Ra2 Kb3 57. Ra1 a2 58. Rf1 a1=Q 59. Rxa1 Rxa1 60. Kxh5 Rf1 61. Kg5 Kc4 {The king can't bodycheck the other king away.} 62. f5 Kd5 0-1 [/pgn]
Dominguez is tied with Hikaru Nakamura, who could not overcome Sam Shankland’s solid defense and had to acquiese to the draw. Nakamura was philosophic about the result after the game, telling Maurice Ashley that such was the nature of modern chess. With modern preparation being so deep and fireproofed, sometimes the best you can hope for is a slight pull that may nor may not lead anywhere.

[pgn] [Event "63rd ch-USA 2019"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2019.03.28"] [White "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Black "Shankland, Samuel"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D16"] [WhiteElo "2746"] [BlackElo "2731"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2019.03.20"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 e6 6. e3 c5 7. Bxc4 cxd4 8. exd4 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. d5 exd5 11. Nxd5 Nxd5 12. Bxd5 Nd7 13. h3 Nf6 14. Bc4 b6 15. Qb3 Bb7 16. Bf4 Bd5 17. Rfe1 Re8 18. Re5 Bxc4 19. Qxc4 Qd7 20. Be3 Bd6 21. Rxe8+ Rxe8 22. Qb5 Bb8 23. Qxd7 Nxd7 24. a5 bxa5 25. Rxa5 Ne5 26. Nxe5 Rxe5 27. Ra1 h5 28. Kf1 Rb5 29. Bxa7 Bxa7 30. Rxa7 Rxb2 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Two other players who aspire to the top spot, Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, battled to a draw. Caruana and So are both experts in the Catalan, so it was a bit of a surprise (or perhaps not?) to see the game head into a bit of a sideline in the system. So managed to get a bit of play for a pawn, but Caruana gave it back and the game soon wound its way to a completely equal position.

Caruana-So (photo Ootes)

[pgn] [Event "63rd ch-USA 2019"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2019.03.28"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "So, Wesley"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2828"] [BlackElo "2762"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "70"] [EventDate "2019.03.20"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 dxc4 5. Nf3 c5 6. O-O Nc6 7. Ne5 Bd7 8. Nxc4 (8. Na3 {is the main move by some distance.} cxd4 9. Naxc4 Be7 10. Qb3) 8... cxd4 9. Bf4 Nd5 (9... Be7 {was tried by Swiercz in the World Teams:} 10. Nd6+ Kf8 11. Nxb7 Qb6 12. Nd6 Qc5 13. b4 Qxb4 14. a3 Qc5 15. Qb3 {1/2-1/2 (88) Adhiban,B (2683)-Swiercz,D (2655) Astana 2019}) 10. Nd6+ Bxd6 11. Bxd6 Nde7 { Out of book for Caruana.} 12. Nd2 O-O 13. Qb3 b6 (13... Bc8 {is an old Karpov game.}) 14. Nc4 Rc8 (14... Re8) 15. Qa3 (15. Rfd1 Kh8 16. Qa3 Re8 17. Bxe7 Rxe7 18. Nd6 Rc7 19. Nb5 Rc8 20. Nxd4 Nxd4 21. Rxd4 e5 22. Rd2 Rc7 23. Rad1 Kg8 24. Qd6 Re6 25. Qxc7 Qxc7 26. Rxd7 {1-0 (26) Krasenkow, M-Shestakov,S Moscow 1987}) 15... b5 16. Nd2 b4 17. Qa6 e5 18. Rac1 Be6 19. Bxe7 Nxe7 20. Qxa7 Nd5 21. Rc5 Qb6 22. Qxb6 Nxb6 23. Rb5 Rc2 24. Nf3 Nd7 25. Rxb4 Bxa2 26. Re1 Be6 27. h3 f6 28. e3 d3 (28... dxe3 29. Rxe3 Ra8 30. Re1 {"and I am suffering a bit, but objectively it should be a draw." (Caruana)}) 29. Rd1 Rb8 (29... Rfc8 $1 30. Rxd3 e4 31. Rxe4 Nc5 32. Rdd4 Nxe4 33. Rxe4 Ba2 {and with the exchange for two pawns, one of which will fall, Black might have winning chances.}) 30. Rxb8+ Nxb8 31. Ne1 Rxb2 32. Nxd3 Rb5 33. Nc5 Rxc5 34. Rd8+ Kf7 35. Rxb8 Rc1+ 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
The three remaining games in the Open were drawn: Lenderman-Xiong, Liang-Robson, and Gareyev-Akobian. Dominguez has White against the lower rated Liang in Round 9, which puts a bit of pressure on Nakamura (Black against Robson) and Caruana (Black vs. Akobian) to match Dominguez’s result. It should make for an interesting ninth round. WOMEN’S SECTION Jennifer Yu’s amazing tournament continues for another day. Her Round 8 win against Akshita Gorti is exclusively annotated for CLO by IM Kostya Kavutskiy.

[pgn] [Event "U.S. Women's Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2019.03.28"] [White "Gorti, Akshita"] [Black "Yu, Jennifer"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D03"] [WhiteElo "2272"] [BlackElo "2273"] [Annotator "Kostya"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. d4 d5 2. Bg5 $5 {The 'Pseudo-Trompowsky', where White throws the bishop out on g5 to mess with Black's development.} Nf6 {Not fearing the doubled pawns after Bxf6 exf6 (or gxf6).} 3. e3 g6 {A second invitation to double Black's pawns in exchange for the dark-squared bishop.} 4. Nf3 {Akshita declines, and by transposition we've reached the Torre Attack.} Bg7 5. Nbd2 O-O 6. Bd3 Nbd7 7. O-O b6 {A fairly classical setup, fianchettoing both bishops.} (7... c5 { is perfectly possible as well.}) 8. c4 {Typically White plays with c2-c3 in this kind of structure, keeping the position closed and the light squared bishop somewhat passive on b7.} dxc4 9. Bxc4 Bb7 10. Qe2 c5 11. Rfd1 Rc8 { The position now resembles a classical Queen's Gambit Declined, where White's knight is slightly worse on d2 compared to its usual square on c3.} 12. Rac1 cxd4 13. Nxd4 {Despite the trades in the center, Black has not solved all their opening problems just yet, as the rooks still need to be connected.} Rc5 {A neat idea, gaining a tempo against the bishop on g5 while preparing to slide the queen over to a8.} (13... Ne5 $5 {would perhaps equalize more comfortably, as Black can force a trade of rooks and then play Qa8, as in the game.}) 14. N2f3 Qa8 15. b4 Rcc8 {The rook has done its job and now Black's setup is quite harmonious.} 16. Bb5 Rfd8 ({It's actually not clear if White is even equalizing after} 16... Rxc1 17. Rxc1 Rc8 $1 18. Rxc8+ Qxc8 $15 {where a future Nd5 will harass the b4-pawn as well as the c3-square.}) 17. Rxc8 Qxc8 18. Qe1 Nb8 $2 {An interesting moment. This move seems to feint at Qg4, which turns out to have more bark than bite. Akshita believes the threat and spends a tempo to prevent it, but in the process misses a chance to exploit Black's bravado.} ({It's clear that Jennifer thought she was under pressure, but something like} 18... Qa8 19. Rc1 h6 {followed by Rc8 seems to hold quite comfortably for Black.}) 19. h3 $2 {This was the key tempo Black needed to regroup.} ({Instead} 19. Rc1 $1 {effectively calling the bluff would have really put Black's position to the test.} Qg4 20. h3 {and the queen just cannot accomplish much against White's solid position.} Qe4 (20... Qh5 21. Qc3 $18) 21. Ba4 $1 $36 {With ideas of Bc2 and possibly e4, as Black's queen runs short on squares.}) 19... Be4 $1 {Now Black gets the b7-square for her queen and the pieces again become coordinated.} 20. Ne5 a6 21. Ba4 b5 22. Bb3 Bd5 23. Rc1 Qb7 {Although things seems balanced for the moment, the trend is in Black's favor. Once the light squared bishops come off the board, Black will have the better minor pieces for the structure.} 24. Bxd5 Qxd5 25. Nec6 Nxc6 26. Nxc6 {The knight on c6 is actually not that strong here. A bigger issue is White's passive queen on e1.} Rd7 {According to Stockfish, it was already time to try and force a concrete draw for White.} 27. Bf4 (27. Ne5 $1 {was a nice way to keep the balance.} Rd8 ({The point is} 27... Qxe5 $2 28. Rc8+ Bf8 29. Bh6 $18) 28. Nc6 {Black could play on with} Re8 {where after} 29. Bxf6 Bxf6 30. Qe2 $11 {White is basically all right.}) 27... Qxa2 $1 {An absolutely correct grab. White's pieces are not active enough to provide compensation here.} 28. Nb8 ({Against the immediate} 28. Ra1 {best would be} Qc2 $1 $15 {where Rxa6 is answered with Rd1.}) 28... Rd8 29. Nc6 {Offering a repetition.} Re8 $1 { The mark of a champion. While leading the tournament, many players would repeat here as Black, as a draw would be a solid result, but Jennifer avoids the repetition, understanding that her position is better and should be played for the win.} 30. Ra1 Qe6 (30... Qc2 31. Rxa6 Nd5 $17 {was stronger than the text, as Black is playing Rc8 and Bc3, but it is hard to criticize given how things turn out in the game.}) 31. Rxa6 Nd5 {It seems like this move simply threatens Nxf4, but there's a second, much more hidden threat as well!} ({ Note that the immediate} 31... Qc8 {would be met with} 32. Qa1 Nd5 33. Be5 $11) 32. Bg3 $2 {Saving the bishop, but missing the veiled threat.} ({The best way to defend against Black's threats was} 32. Qf1 $1 {where Qc8 is met with Qxb5.} Nc3 33. Qd3 $13) ({Or} 32. Qb1 {planning to meet} Qc8 {with} 33. Qa2) 32... Qc8 $1 {All of a sudden White's pieces are loose and unable to keep each other defended. The dark-squared bishop prevents Qa1, which would otherwise save White.} 33. Qd2 {Giving up the exchange, but White ends up without much compensation for it.} (33. Nb8 {would be met with} Qb7 $1 $19 {winning two pieces for the rook .}) 33... Qxa6 34. Qxd5 Bf6 35. Be5 Bxe5 36. Nxe5 Rf8 { No special technique is needed to win with the extra exchange. Just defend against the immediate threats and then look to push White's queen back with offers of a queen trade.} 37. h4 Qd6 38. Qe4 (38. Qxb5 {would likely be met with} Rb8 39. Qc5 Rxb4 $19 {where the endgame is hopeless for White.}) 38... Rc8 39. g3 Rc1+ 40. Kh2 Kg7 41. h5 f5 $1 {A strong find, White's queen is unable to keep both the knight and the h1-square defended.} 42. Qf4 Qd1 { White cannot stop Qh1# without allowing a queen trade with Qf3, and instead resigned.} 0-1 [/pgn]
A half point behind Yu going into the round, Anna Zatonskih could only draw against Emily Nguyen, leaving her a full point off the lead going into Friday. Zatonskih could have tried to play on on the final position with 47.Kg4, but a player of Nguyen’s caliber should be able to find the right moves without much difficulty.

[pgn] [Event "59th ch-USA w 2019"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2019.03.28"] [White "Zatonskih, Anna"] [Black "Nguyen, Emily"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D11"] [WhiteElo "2430"] [BlackElo "2143"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2019.03.20"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nbd2 Bf5 5. Nh4 Be4 6. Qb3 Qb6 7. f3 Qxb3 8. Nxb3 Bc2 9. Bd2 e6 10. g4 h6 11. e3 Be7 12. Ng2 Nbd7 13. Na5 Rb8 14. Rc1 Bh7 15. Kf2 e5 16. cxd5 Nxd5 17. e4 N5b6 18. dxe5 Nxe5 19. Be2 O-O 20. Rhd1 f6 21. Nf4 Kf7 22. Be3 ({After the game Zatonskih and the commentators investigated} 22. a3 {when Zatonskih gave the strong retort} Na4 $5 23. b3 (23. b4 g5 24. Nd3 Nxd3+ 25. Bxd3 Nb2 26. Bc4+ Nxc4 27. Nxc4) (23. Rc2 $5) 23... Nb2 24. Re1 g5 25. Rc2) 22... Bb4 23. Nc4 Nbxc4 24. Bxc4+ Nxc4 25. Rxc4 Be7 26. Rd7 Rfd8 27. Rc7 Rdc8 28. Rxc8 Rxc8 29. Bxa7 Ra8 30. Bc5 Rxa2 31. Nd3 Bxc5+ 32. Rxc5 Ke7 33. Ke3 Kd6 34. Rc2 Bg8 35. f4 Ra4 36. Rd2 Be6 37. h4 Ra1 38. g5 hxg5 39. hxg5 fxg5 40. f5 Bc4 41. Nf4+ Kc5 42. Ne6+ Bxe6 43. fxe6 Re1+ 44. Kf3 Rf1+ 45. Ke3 Re1+ 46. Kf3 Rf1+ 47. Ke3 (47. Kg4 {requires Nguyen to be precise in holding:} Rf4+ 48. Kxg5 Rxe4 49. Kf5 Re1 50. Rd7 Re2 (50... b5 51. Rxg7 Kd5 52. Rd7+ Kc5 53. e7 Kc4) 51. Rxb7 g5 52. e7 g4 53. Kxg4 Kd6 $11) 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Tatev Abrahamyan and Annie Wang drew in their battle for third place, and with the split point, both remain there as Round 9 begins.

[pgn] [Event "59th ch-USA w 2019"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2019.03.28"] [Round "8.3"] [White "Abrahamyan, Tatev"] [Black "Wang, Annie"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B56"] [WhiteElo "2377"] [BlackElo "2304"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2019.03.20"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. f3 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. Be3 O-O 9. Qd2 a5 10. Bb5 Na7 11. Bxa7 Rxa7 12. a4 Be6 13. O-O-O Ra8 14. Kb1 Qb6 15. g4 Rfd8 16. Qe2 Ne8 17. Nd5 Bxd5 18. exd5 Nc7 19. c4 Nxb5 20. cxb5 Bg5 21. h4 Bf4 22. Nd2 Rdc8 23. Ne4 Rc7 24. g5 Rac8 25. h5 Rc4 26. b3 R4c7 27. h6 g6 28. Rhe1 Kh8 29. Kb2 Kg8 30. Nf6+ Kh8 31. Ne4 Kg8 32. Nf6+ Kh8 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Other results in the Women’s Championship: Irina Krush won with Black against Carissa Yip, Maggie Feng defeated Sabina Foisor, and Anna Sharevich and Ashritha Eswaran drew. The leaders play against each other in Round 9: Yu has White against Abrahamyan, and Wang takes White against Zatonskih. STANDINGS Open Women’s Find full pairings for the tournament and follow along on uschesschamps.com with commentary from GMs Maurice Ashley, Yasser Seirawan and WGM Jennifer Shahade starting at 12:50 CT/1:50 ET. 

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