U.S. Championship Round 1 & 2 Update

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 5/10/14, 12:47 AM.

Two rounds underway the U.S. Championship in St Louis is a tight affair, as ten of the twelve games played so far ended in draws. But hard-fought draws they were! Ray Robson and Aleksandr Lendrman are the ones who have 1.5 points. The women's section, on the other hand, saw only three draws out of ten games, and there Irina Krush is tied for first place with Sabina-Francesca Foisor - both are on 2.0/2.

This report was co-written by Brian Jerauld 

Round 1

Lights! Camera! Quick-draw?? Before the first round was well underway, one of the games in the U.S. Championship had already finished. Timur Gareev and Gata Kamsky played a Chebanenko Slav, White traded pawns in the center, some pieces were developed and then the two grandmasters started repeating moves. Not an ideal start for such a prestigious tournament, but what to do?

Kamsky, the reigning champion, clearly didn't mind too much that he lost his chance to win the $64,000 special prize for repeating Bobby Fischer's 11-0 win at the 1963-4 U.S. Championship. “I consider it like football: you have to know where to save energy, and you have to know where to spend it and go for a win,” he said. “The way I played it, I forced him to make a decision right there on the spot whether he wanted to spend time and energy to win this game. He has to make this decision early on, without being able to see the final result or the position that may arise later.”

“I don’t have to beat Kamsky to get first place,” Gareev said. “The possibilities I saw were more double-edged, rather than necessarily better for me. I figured instead of gambling, I might as well just take it slow and be better in the next round.”

Kamsky & Gareev after the game | Photo © Lennart Ootes

Out of the six games played, a total of four would end in a draw. The two winners were Ray Robson, who defeated Sergey Erenburg, and Aleksandr Lenderman, who won against Josh Friedel.

Robson's game was probably the best of the round. The 19-year-old grandmaster convincingly dismantled his opponent's Petroff's Defense for the full point. In one of the more quiet lines, where both sides castle queenside, Robson found a nice pawn sacrifice on move 25 that allowed his rook to the seventh file and a fast track to Erenberg’s king.

“A critical moment was g6, and I think it was a pretty good sacrifice - he just can’t get rid of my rook on the seventh,” Robson said. “I’m going to put one rook on it, and eventually another rook, and he’s going to have big problems. I was a little worried that he might try to play something like Rg1 - he’d still be worse, but he could try to exchange one pair of rooks. I wanted to keep both of my rooks on the board, because eventually the other one is going to come to the seventh as well. He probably still had some chances to defend, but it was very difficult, especially with low time.”

Robson-Erenburg in the early phase of the game | Photo © Lennart Ootes

In the Women's Championship the youngest participant, 13-year-old (!) Ashritha Eswaran, stole the show. After a back-and-forth pendulum of a game, the 50th move saw Ni with considerable control into the endgame, including a rook to Eswaran’s bishop and a king well-positioned to defend black’s passed pawns.

But Ni’s 56. a4, with intentions to spring her b-pawn toward promotion, was incorrectly calculated and did little more than tie up her major piece in defense against Eswaran’s own a-file passer. Both players could have declared draw-by-repetition by move 70, though the back-and-forth only served to build clock time by way of the 30-second increment. Eventually Eswaran found the winning 70...e5, which created a shield to any checks by the white rook, and released the black bishop from a pin -- threatening a surprise checkmate-in-one after 71...Bc4.

Ni was quickly forced into submission as her rook failed to defend Eswaran’s passed connectors and pesky bishop, ultimately seeing her king smothered in the corner.

“I just try to relax and think about the position,” Eswaran said. “No matter what happens, I just try to do my best.”

Round 1 video commentary

Round 2

The second round of the Championship showed even more that it's a rather tight event: all six games ended in draws! Sam Shankland had his chances against Ray Robson thanks to excellent preparation, but then he made a typical mistake: but continued playing fast. “I didn't slow down when I had to,” he said. 

Shankland: close, but no cigar
A fascinating game was the one between Lenderman and Gareev, where White sacrificed his queen but Black found a good defense, only to spoil a winning ending later on.

Ashritha Eswaran couldn't repeat her success in the second round of the women's section. Against top seed Irina Krush it already went wrong in the opening and so it was never a real fight. 

Round 2 video commentary, part 1

Round 2 video commentary, part 2

Round 2 video commentary, part 3

U.S. Championship 2014 | Round 2 Standings

# Name Rtg Pref 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 Robson,Ray 2631 2824 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1.5/2 1.00
2 Lenderman,Aleksandr 2582 2769 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1.5/2 1.00
3 Gareev,Timur 2653 2648 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 1.25
4 Shankland,Samuel L 2634 2613 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 1.25
5 Kamsky,Gata 2713 2624 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 1.00
6 Akobian,Varuzhan 2643 2533 phpfCo1l0.png ½ ½ 1.0/2 1.00
7 Ramirez,Alejandro 2595 2673 ½ ½ phpfCo1l0.png 1.0/2 1.00
8 Molner,Mackenzie 2522 2655 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 1.00
9 Onischuk,Alexander 2668 2578 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 0.75
10 Naroditsky,Daniel 2543 2574 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 0.75
11 Erenburg,Sergey 2633 2459 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/2 0.50
12 Friedel,Joshua E 2505 2372 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/2 0.50

U.S. Women's Championship 2014 | Round 2 Standings

# Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts SB
1 Krush,Irina 2489 2930 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 2.0/2 1.50
2 Foisor,Sabina-Francesca 2238 3009 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1 2.0/2 0.50
3 Zatonskih,Anna 2469 2498 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1 1.5/2
4 Zenyuk,Iryna 2249 2375 ½ phpfCo1l0.png ½ 1.0/2 1.00
5 Eswaran,Ashritha 1979 2347 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1.0/2 0.50
6 Abrahamyan,Tatev 2366 2310 0 phpfCo1l0.png 1 1.0/2 0.00
7 Nemcova,Katerina 2282 2179 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/2 0.50
8 Baginskaite,Camilla 2267 2032 0 phpfCo1l0.png ½ 0.5/2 0.25
9 Ni,Viktorija 2206 1933 0 ½ phpfCo1l0.png 0.5/2 0.25
10 Melekhina,Alisa 2151 1502 0 0 phpfCo1l0.png 0.0/2

You can find a complete listing of the standings and pairings here.

Thanks to Mike Wilmering of the St Louis Chess Club. Tune into live play-by-play of round 3 on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT, 2 p.m. ET, 20:00 CET with GMs Yasser Seirawan and Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade at Chess.com/TVphpfCo1l0.png

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9223 reads 31 comments
3 votes


  • 2 years ago


    It's been over a month not enjoying a live chess with top faces since candidate tournament. But where is Nakamura here ?

  • 2 years ago


    What a pity Nakamura aren't playing. 

  • 2 years ago



    I agree, FIDE weaved through some very questionable loopholes to give Irina the GM title, using a loophole that she once crossed 2501, some 10yrs ago or something of the sort. This was done mostly to placate the USCF. Politics does triumph over rules sometimes - thats the way the world is unfortunately. Irina is a very strong IM in many peoples opinion but a GM she is not.

    However she is still a very strong player and a great ambassador for the sport and sometimes concessions like these are made once in a while. So don't hate too much.



  • 2 years ago


    where's nakamura?

  • 2 years ago


    @johnrwebber After the game is finished, illegal moves stand. See FIDE rules of chess; only illegal moves made during the game are corrected. 

  • 2 years ago


    LegoPirateSenior's answer to me concerning exact position occurring three times in a game is not an automatic draw but only if either player notices and/or claims a draw leads to a another question. Suppose at the end of a game(at any level) the game is being analysed by the two players and it is noticed that an illegal move had been made in that game e.g.castling across a checked square and at the time was not noticed then does the game result stand or is the game void.

  • 2 years ago


    I was just watching an old (really old I think) GM Roman video on the Petroff and he recommends the line that Robson played.  Pretty cool to see it in action. 

  • 3 years ago


    "johnrwebber The game between Ni,Viktorija and Eswaren, Ashritha surely was actually a draw by repetition of the position three times."

    Draws are not automatic; they need to be claimed, and neither player did.

  • 3 years ago


    2 Foisor,Sabina-Francesca 2238 3009   phpfCo1l0.png           1   1 2.0/2 0.50

    3009 Perf. Rating?!?! Surprised

  • 3 years ago


    and Gareev's rating shows 2653 in round 2 while it's 2751 in round 1.

  • 3 years ago


    Gata Kamsky's rating is showing up at 2526 in the game with Gareev.

  • 3 years ago


    The game between Ni,Viktorija and Eswaren, Ashritha surely was actually a draw by repetition of the position three times. After move 64 the exact position is repeated three times.

  • 3 years ago


    good luck to all who enter

  • 3 years ago


    Actually no, the ratings are correct....I neglected to take into account USCF Ratings ...so the 2 ratings for Ashritha are correct, but her USCF Rating is showing here for her game against Ni, instead of her FIDE Rating.



  • 3 years ago


    Some ratings are not correct it seems.

  • 3 years ago


    A bunch of awesome games!

    What I want to know is why we didn't have a "Who do you think will win the US Championship?" poll.

    (Although at the moment my Naroditsky pick wouldn't be winning)

  • 3 years ago


    Melekhina seems to be pure beauty only.

  • 3 years ago


    Ricardoruben, Ashritha Eswaran's 1979 rating is her FIDE rating, while her 2231 rating is her US rating.  It is possible for US players to have two different ratings.

  • 3 years ago


    yeah, saw that as well Richard...think it's a misprint.

  • 3 years ago


    Krush, Irina (2489) vs. Eswaran, Ashritha (1979)

    Ni, Viktorija (2302) vs. Eswaran, Ashritha (2231)

    Is that a mistake or she can have two different ratings? (I am so much of an outsider to this game so I am truly asking).

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