Yu is Women’s Champion; Open Up for Grabs

17 year old Jennifer Yu is the 2019 U.S. Women’s Champion, defeating former champion Anna Zatonskih to take the crown with a round to spare. She wins $25,000 for her efforts.

Yu has impressed throughout the Championship, but never so much as in her game with Zatonskih. She soaked up the pressure of the situation and took her chance when, in a worse position, Zatonskih allowed Yu a tactic that ended the game.

The Open Championship remains unsettled as the final round approaches. Three players – Caruana, Dominguez, and Nakamura – are at 7/10, and the fourth placed player, Wesley So, is a full point behind the leaders. Do playoffs on Monday loom?

YU GOTTA BELIEVE

Jennifer Yu (photo Fuller)

Jennifer Yu entered the 2019 Women’s Championship as the fourth seed based on US Chess ratings, and eighth based on her FIDE rating. Her result in the National High School Championships, contested earlier this month in Schaumburg, Illinois, were decent if uninspiring.

But Yu has shown growth and character over the years, making her a bit of a dark horse favorite in Saint Louis. The 2019 Women’s Championship is her fifth bite at the apple, with improved results each step of the way. In 2018 she finished with 6.5/11, tied for fourth/fifth place with Anna Zatonskih. She also played on the Women’s team in the 2018 Batumi Olympiad, earning a bronze medal for her individual performance.

The 2019 Championship will be remembered as Yu’s coming out party. And what a performance it was! She played solid, attacking chess (vs. Eswaran and Feng) , took her chances in difficult positions (vs. Abrahamyan, Foisor, and Krush), and showed excellent positional intution (vs. Gorti and Nguyen). Her calculative nous was a constant, and we see it on full display in the game that clinched the title, presented here with exclusive notes from IM Kostya Kavutskiy.

THE RACE FOR SECOND PLACE

With Yu’s victory, attention now turns to second place.

Zatonskih remains at 7.5/10 after her loss, a half-point ahead of Abrahamyan (who defeated Foisor) and a full-point ahead of Wang (who won against Yip.)

Today’s Round 11 pairings:

Zatonskih has Black against the struggling Foisor, while Abrahamyan also has the Black pieces against Gorti. Wang plays White against Sharevich.

OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

With the draw between Nakamura and Dominguez, coupled with Caruana’s win over Lenderman, the Open Championship comes down to a three-person race.

Nakamura and Dominguez drew by repetition on the 29th move. Nakamura’s control of the center was never enough to seriously trouble Dominguez, and the result was a finely balanced draw.

Caruana entered his game with Alex Lenderman with the belief that it was a virtual “must-win situation.” He produced the win on demand, taking Lenderman’s Petroff Defense down in 47 moves.

While Wesley So can dream of forcing his way into a playoff on Monday, it would take losses by all three leaders to bring those dreams to reality. More likely is that one or more of Caruana, Dominguez, and Nakamura will be on the winner’s podium when all is said and done.

Looking into the crystal ball, Dominguez appears to have the most favorable pairing, taking White against Timur Gareyev. Dominguez was quick to downplay this advantage, but Gareyev, the U.S. Open qualifier and lowest rated player in the field, has been a target throughout the event, and both Nakamura and Caruana noted that they’ll have to keep this pairing in mind as they prepare for their games.

Caruana has Black against fellow Olympian Sam Shankland, while Nakamura also takes Black against Jeffery Xiong. It should make for an exciting final round.

TANI AND FRIENDS

NY State K-3 champ and media darling Tani Adewumi visited the Saint Louis Chess Club and U.S Championships yesterday. He made the ceremonial opening move in the Nakmaura-Dominguez game, chatted with Maurice Ashley, and tried his hand at Puzzle Rush on the touchscreens. Tani also made time for blitz with players like Nakamura and Yu. Here are some photos of his visit.

STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 10

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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