The third round of the 2018 U.S. Champions once again was a delight to watch, as the players came well prepared and put up a great show for the fans. Their competitive spirit should be praised, as this round was peppered with great victories in both sections. Let’s get right into the recap!
Liang vs So
The young prodigy from Pittsburgh has been making waves all year long with his incredible victories against extremely strong opposition. In his games, he has showed many times that he is never phased by the status of his opponents, and he will always look to bring the heat to the board. In this game, he was playing one of the best chess players in the world, yet the young Liang was the one dictating the game from the beginning to the end.
White got an almost decisive advantage after a few careless middlegame moves by So, but failed to lock in the full point when he missed the powerful 31.f3! which would have denied the black knight access back into the game, essentially allowing white to claim an almost decisive advantage. After the miss, the game soon petered into a draw.
Lenderman vs Akobian
A very tense battle, but one in which none of the players actually managed to fully tip the scale in their favor. Akobian spent a lot of time in the early middlegame and by the 25th move he was already in severe time trouble. Nonetheless, he made all the right moves and managed to stabilize the game. Lenderman could not find a way to complicate matters and the game soon entered a peaceful path. With this draw, Akobian maintains his co-leader status but is now joined at the top of the table by none other than Fabiano Caruana.
Zherebukh vs Robson
A very instructive game by Zherebukh, who slowly but surely outpaced Robson in a symmetrical structure. Zherebukh managed to use his slightly superior Bishop after finding the right way to destabilize the pawn structure in his favor by planting his “c” pawn all the way to c5. The endgame is worth studying, as this structure is a typical one that will surely be found in some of your games one day! Zherebukh’s technique was immaculate and he takes the full point home. Both players are now on 50% after 3 rounds.
Izoria vs Shankland
Shankland has been having a solid event so far, without much problems in any of his games. And this was not different, as he equalized without much problems out of the opening. Despite the balanced position, Izoria started burning a lot of time on seemingly easy decisions. This allowed Shankland to put pressure on the U.S. Championship newcomer, and complicate matters at the right moment. The pressure of having to find accurate moves in time trouble was too much for Izoria, who simply crumbled right before making time control.
Shankland scores his first victory of the tournament and is now sitting at a comfortable +1, Izoria needs to change something in order to get back into the competition.
U.S. Women’s Championship
Derakhshani vs Paikidze
Paikidze has been playing stellar chess, and today was no different. The game started off extremely tame as the players quickly hurried into an equal endgame. But that’s when the maneuvering game began, and it was the former champion that came on top. Derakhshani seemed to not be at ease finding good squares for her pieces, and despite managing to double Paikidze’s pawns, she had no answer to her opponent’s swift piece play.
Paikidze accurately built the pressure, and it was only just a matter of time before Derakshani crumbled. With this victory, Paikidze moves on +2 and is now co-leader with the fierce Wang. Derakhshani failed to recover after yesterday’s tragic loss against Krush, and is now forced to score heavily if she wants to get back into title contention.
Goletiani vs Wang
Wang has been making waves this tournament, and she had not disappointed once again. Today’s game was an accurate depiction of what this talented junior brings to the table: grit, determination, and tenacity. Goletiani started off well and even managed to build a long lasting strategic advantage due to her passed ‘d’ pawn and active bishop pair. It was her lack of patience, when she lounged into the attack without firstly securing his pawns on the queenside, that spelled disaster for her.
Wang calmly collected her opponent’s pawns and then accurately defended her king against her opponent’s menacing attack. Once white’s bullets were done, Wang made use of her extra material to win the game. Wang is now tied with Paikidze at the top.
Abrahamyan vs Feng
This was one of those games in which your dynamic play only allows for a very short window of opportunity. If missed, the player that has put all the eggs in the dynamic basket usually has to deal with the consequences. Abrahamyan aggressively attacked her opponent’s king, but failed to find the beautiful 17.Nd6! which would have allowed her to continue her attack.
After the move in the game, Feng had enough time to regroup her pieces, and her extra material was used to perfection throughout the rest of the game.
Yu vs Foisor
The reigning champion, Foisor, did not have a lot of trouble finding equality out of the opening. But the endgame proved to be a complete disaster for her as she did not manage to contain Yu’s minimal advantage. After a series of inaccurate moves, Yu managed to increase her advantage and transition into a theoretically draw situation.
Unfortunately for Foisor, it was her defensive technique that failed her when she played the unfortunate 53…h4?? This pawn push immediately lost the game, as Yu was able to easily pick the overly advanced pawn and secure a second passed pawn. Yu scores her first victory, while Foisor struggles to maintain pace in her bid at a title defense.
The Saint Louis Chess Club acknowledges Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, whose generous support makes our tournaments possible.
The STLCC and WCHOF admit students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.