U.S. Championship: So On The Brink of Title
A great score for So so far. Image: Saint Louis Chess Club.

U.S. Championship: So On The Brink of Title

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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43 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Wesley So is on the verge of winning his second U.S. Championship title. With two rounds to go, he is a point ahead of the pack. GM Hikaru Nakamura shockingly lost two more games on Wednesday.

With two rounds to go, So is on a highly impressive plus-seven score. "Everything is going right in this tournament," he said. "I am trying to squeeze my games and somehow my opponents are making mistakes. It's definitely a dream tournament."

It's not decided yet though. On the final day, So will be facing GM Ray Robson before clashing with Nakamura in the final round.

On the third day, So drew with GM Sam Sevian and then beat GM Elshan Moradiabadi. His third game, another win, was a fantastic fight with the up-and-coming GM Jeffery Xiong, who had caught up with the leader the round before.

For this crucial encounter, So used a very concrete line in the Sveshnikov that surprised Xiong, who burned lots of time on his clock in the middlegame and then missed a draw deep in the endgame. It's instructive to see how Black draws there:

Both Robson and Xiong continue to be tied for second place as both players won their game against a struggling GM Hikaru Nakamura. Xiong did so in one of the main lines of the Pirc where Nakamura was surprisingly helpless:

Hikaru Nakamura 2020 U.S. Championship
It's not Hikaru Nakamura's tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Robson's win vs Naka was just spectacular. The fireworks started right after the opening when Robson sacrificed both his knights. When the dust was settled, White had a queen, rook, and five pawns vs. a queen, bishop, knight, and three pawns for Black.

That should have been a draw, but practically it was tough for Nakamura, who couldn't avoid losing material when his king got exposed.

U.S. Championship | Round 9 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts SB
1 So, Wesley 2741 2975 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 8.0/9
2 Xiong, Jeffery 2730 2856 0 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 7.0/9 29.25
3 Robson, Ray 2605 2852 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 7.0/9 25.5
4 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2786 2629 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4.5/9 18.25
5 Shankland, Sam 2609 2637 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 4.5/9 15.75
6 Sevian, Samuel 2571 2642 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 4.0/9 18.25
7 Nakamura, Hikaru 2829 2571 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 4.0/9 14
8 Liang, Awonder 2397 2646 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 4.0/9 13.25
9 Swiercz, Dariusz 2649 2485 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 3.0/9 9.75
10 Lenderman, Aleksandr 2642 2516 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 3.0/9 9.75
11 Ramirez, Alejandro 2579 2482 0 ½ 0 0 1 0 0 ½ ½ 2.5/9 10.5
12 Moradiabadi, Elshan 2566 2519 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 2.5/9 10

Games rounds 7-9

The 2020 U.S. Championship is played October 26-29 on lichess. It is a 12-player single round-robin with a time control of 25 minutes plus a five-second increment. The total prize fund is $150,000.


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