U.S. Championships - Round 6 Recap

Today was the day after the free day. The day for which players have the most time to prepare. The day where the biggest volume of opening novelties get released. That was what everybody expected going into round 6 of the 2017 U.S. Championships, and that was the product that was delivered! Wesley So fell under severe pressure after Akobian unleashed a deep and dynamic opening idea; in the women’s section, Nazi mastered the endgame and outplayed her biggest rival, Irina Krush, in the battle of the leaders. Both Wesley and Nazi stand half a point ahead of the pack. The last five rounds of the 2017 U.S. Championships will be explosive!(The full recap on the official site)

U.S. Championship

So vs Akobian was one of the most anticipated games of the day, especially given their personal rivalry that has been brewing over the past couple of years. Both players were having an extraordinary event, and Var surely came into this round with a great deal of hope and confidence as he was trying to avenge last year’s brutal defeat.

Wesley prepared a very sharp line of the QGD but was surprised when Akobian improved on a game between Caruana and Melkumyan with 12…Bg4! Akobian’s great opening preparation paid off as he quickly gained the initiative and forced his opponent on the defensive, but Wesley is not the hottest player in the circuit for no reason, and he managed to save the half point with precise calculation right before the time control.

A great save by Wesley, and a disappointing miss by Akobian who knows that he missed a great chance at becoming the new leader and the legendary player that stops Wesley’s historic no-loss streak.

Caruana vs Kamsky was another noteworthy affair. Fabi’s theoretical prowess was quickly on display as he managed to amass a significant time advantage after the opening. The pressure was too much for Gata to handle and he decisively blundered early with 16…Be6?? Fabiano did not forgive his opponent’s misstep and obtained a decisive advantage which he converted with swift precision.

The reigning champion is now only a half a point behind the leader, coupled with the easier schedule, it is the perfect ingredient for an upcoming, highly disputed second part of the tournament. The race is heating up!

U.S. Women’s Championship
Krush vs Paikidze might prove to be the decisive game of the tournament. Irina was placing early pressure on the reigning champion, however, Nazi defused her opponent’s attempt at an advantage and managed to secure the equality around move 20. Despite that, Irina slowly started to outplay her opponent and if she would have found 36.e4! then the story of the game would have been a completely different.

Unfortunately for her, that was exactly the moment of the blunder! Her 37.Nge4 allowed Nazi to win a pawn and the rest was history. With sublime confidence and technique, Nazi increased her advantage and forced Irina to capitulate. This is the third time in a row Nazi out powered Irina, and her bid for a second consecutive title is contouring nicely!

Yip vs Zatonskih was definitely the shocker of the round. With that being said, there are only as many times you can get away with murder. Anna once again fell into a severe time trouble. Coupled with her unpleasant defensive task, the 4 time U.S. champion was forced to surrender soon after the first time control.

Zatonskih failed to sustain the tempo imposed by her rivals and is now standing one point behind the leader. Her title run is starting to fade and she is the only person who can change that perception. Yip is back on 50% and will surely pose a serious threat for her future opposition.

The 2017 U.S. Championships are officially fired up and we are in for a treat in the last days of this exciting event!

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