A day of decisive results with the black pieces ruled the sixth round of the 2022 U.S. Chess Championship on Tuesday. GM Fabiano Caruana was able to extend his lead to a full point after beating GM Elshan Moradiabadi while GMs Ray Robson and Dariusz Swiercz scored their first wins of the tournament.
In the women’s championship, another victory for GM Irina Krush allowed her to join FM Jennifer Yu in equal first after the latter drew her game with 12-year-old FM Alice Lee. Four other winners in FMs Ruiyang Yan, Ashritha Eswaran, WIM Megan Lee, and WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki rattled the standings ahead of several nail-biting matchups.
Round seven of the event will start on October 12 at 11 a.m. PT/20:00 Central European.
A rest day in St. Louis was unable to slow the momentum of a rampaging Caruana, who picked up his third win of the tournament and his second with the black pieces. Caruana selected the Sicilian Defense: Taimanov Variation to combat Moradiabadi’s 1.e4 in an attempt to get his opponent out of theory. Caruana later admitted: “I didn’t know how to prepare this opening, because Elshan isn’t really an e4 player.”
It turned out that Caruana’s decision-making was spot on despite his own criticisms and the result allowed him to stretch into a comfortable lead. GM Rafael Leitao has analyzed our game of the day below.
Two first-time winners were crowned in the open event on Tuesday, one of which was the rock-solid Robson who remains undefeated in the event so far. Robson played impeccably to take down GM Hans Niemann on the black side of the Indian Game: East Indian Defense after Niemann played the move eight novelty 8.dxc5.
GM Levon Aronian found himself in trouble early and was forced to sacrifice the exchange in his game against Swiercz. The resulting position was completely lost for the Armenian-born GM but remarkably, he was able to defend and drum up enough counterplay to last another 50 moves!
In the end, Swiercz was able to find the correct moves to win a pawn race in the endgame with seconds left on his clock and converted the point. It must be said that Aronian fought tooth and nail to stop the ruining of his tournament however two loses and no victories means he is unlikely to contest his first championship this year.
The four other games ended in draws with the most instructive finish going to GM Alex Lenderman who managed to force a draw against the higher-rated GM Sam Shankland. Can you spot the brilliant drawing sequence that Lenderman found?
U.S. Championship | All Games Round 6
Round 6 Open Standings
The women’s championship continued to provide electrifying chess on Tuesday. Impressively, close to 60% of the event’s games have ended decisively so far and tournament leader Krush is one of the players heavily contributing to this statistic.
Krush played the English Opening against FM Thalia Cervantes Landeiro and wore her opponent down after capturing a commanding center. Eventually, Landeiro blundered with 28.Nf8??, leaving her f-pawn exposed and was swiftly overpowered by Krush’s queen, bishop pair, and connected passed pawns.
Morris-Suzuki was relieved to find her first win of the tournament against FM Rochelle Wu and expressed this in her post-match interview declaring: “finally I have a game in this tournament that I can look back and say, hey, I actually played good chess.” Morris-Suzuki, who had scored only two draws before this round, pounced on an opportunity to punish Wu for a middlegame mistake and compelled her opponent to bring her king to the center.
Yu had a major scare against Lee who missed consecutive winning moves in a double-edged endgame and eventually settled for a draw. If Lee had found the moves, she would have risen to equal first alongside Krush but is instead positioned on 4/6, leaving Yu on 4.5/6.
Resilience is a key facet in major chess tournaments such as this and credit must go to Eswaran for picking up her second straight win after starting with a disappointing 0.5/4. Her wins over WGM Tatev Abrahamyan and four-time champion IM Anna Zatonskih may be a sign of a big comeback story.
FM Ashritha Eswaran won her first game at the #USChessChamps vs. four-time champion IM Anna Zatonskih! pic.twitter.com/19hEVgQjes
— Saint Louis Chess Club (@STLChessClub) October 9, 2022
U.S. Women’s Championship | All Games Round 6
Round 6 Women’s Standings
The 2022 U.S. Chess Championships take place October 4-20, 2022 in St. Louis to determine the next chess champions of the United States. The 2022 U.S. Women’s Championship is being held concurrently. Both events have the same format: 14 players, 13-round tournament with a $250,500 prize fund for the U.S. Championship, and $154,000 for the U.S. Women’s Championship.