US Chess Championships R6: Leaders Draw, Sevian Beats Caruana
Sam Sevian scored a sensational win versus Fabiano Caruana and is now half a point behind the leaders with 3.5/6. Photo: Bryan Adams/Saint Louis Chess Club.

US Chess Championships R6: Leaders Draw, Sevian Beats Caruana

| 36 | Chess Event Coverage

In round six of the 2021 U.S. Chess Championship, the two leaders, GM Aleksandr Lenderman and GM Ray Robson played each other and drew—they maintain their shared first place with 4/6. GM Sam Sevian defeated GM Fabiano Caruana and now shares third place with GMs Wesley So and Leinier Dominguez Perez with 3.5/6.

In the U.S. Women's Championship, three decisive games were played in the sixth round. IM Carissa Yip and WIM Ashritha Eswaran won their games to join the leader WGM Katerina Nemcova, as they all now have 4/6. IM Nazi Paikidze and GM Irina Krush are half a point behind with 3.5/6.

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The games of the U.S. Chess Championship can be found here: Open | Women.
2021 US Chess Championships

Two decisive games were played in round six. The top seed and world's second-best player, Caruana, unexpectedly lost in the previous round and did not recover. In the sixth round, he took a lot of risks with the black pieces versus Sevian and got a very dangerous-looking position. Instead of defending carefully, he opted for opening the game up even more, which resulted in a disaster.

Caruana still had a chance to survive later on, but did not find it and lost his second game in a row, allowing Sevian to get back to chasing the leaders. In all fairness, White played very well and did not give the opponent too many opportunities to create counterplay, which makes it a huge victory for Sevian. It is even more incredible that he managed to play so well after his exhausting 140-move loss in the previous round.

When asked by the interviewer GM Maurice Ashley if he felt he had energy for today's round, Sevian answered: "Yeah, for sure. I came for a fight. I mean, I come for fighting every day, so I was ready." 

... I came for a fight. I come for fighting every day, so I was ready.
— GM Sam Sevian

GM Sam Shankland was the hero of the other decisive game of the round, as he scored his first win after losing two games in a row in the previous rounds.

He got a very comfortable position with White against GM John M.Burke, but then misplayed it, missed a tactical shot, and had to work hard to equalize. Surprisingly, Burke's position started collapsing very quickly after some inaccurate moves. White had a nearly winning endgame and eventually converted it into a full point.

Sam Shankland lost two games in a row but managed to strike back in round six. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

The two leaders, Robson and Lenderman, played each other and drew. It was a very complex and interesting game in the Rossolimo variation of the Sicilian defense. Black was somewhat better but with precise defense, Robson managed to save half a point. As he admitted in the interview, his opponent had out-prepared him in the opening and seemed a lot more familiar with the arising positions.

The leaders, Robson and Lenderman, played a very interesting game which ended peacefully. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

GM Jeffery Xiong, who had a rough start with 0.5/4 but then won in the last round, played some rather amazing chess today against GM Dariusz Swiercz. He was much better and even went on to win a pawn, but failed to convert a winning position as Swiercz showed great defensive skills in the rook endgame.

Finally, there were two rather quiet draws: So got a slight advantage versus Dominguez in the Queen's Gambit Accepted, but never had a real chance to win, while the hero of the previous round GM Daniel Naroditsky surprised GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista with the rare Ponziani opening and got a large advantage on the clock but no advantage on the board and the players eventually drew their game. This was Naroditsky's first draw in the six rounds!

 U.S. Championship All Games Round 6

Round 6 Standings

2021 US Chess Championships round 6 standings

In the sixth round of the U.S. Women's Chess Championship, there were three decisive games that significantly reshaped the standings.

Carissa Yip, who suffered a tough loss yesterday, managed to strike back today as she beat WGM Anna Sharevich with the black pieces after choosing an extremely dubious variation of the Modern Defense. This win enabled her to get back to sharing first place with 4/6.

Carissa Yip recovered from yesterday's loss by beating Anna Sharevich to share first with 4/6. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Eswaran played the Reti/King's Indian Attack kind of setup versus WIM Megan Lee. Black decided to accept a very dangerous-looking pawn sacrifice and ended up unable to develop any of her pieces. By move 20, Lee could barely move and on move 26 Eswaran made the opponent resign and now shares first place with 4/6.

The final decisive game of the day was between IM Anna Zatonskih, who had the white pieces, and WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova. Zatonskih showed some really impressive preparation in the Grunfeld and quickly got an entirely winning position. While Black kept resisting until move 47, the evaluation was never in question and Zatonskih scored the full point.

Anna Zatonskih showed very impressive opening preparation and defeated Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Nemcova, who has been leading the entire tournament, made yet another draw. She played the ambitious variation of the Italian versus WGM Thalia Landeiro Cervantes, but Black reacted rather well and the game soon reached an equal ending with the rooks and opposite-colored bishops. The draw was a fair result, as neither side was ever actually better.

WGM Sabina-Francesca Foisor, who won two games in a row, had a great position versus Krush but the latter defended stubbornly and managed to save half a point.

Finally, Paikidze, who has arguably shown the most solid performance so far with a win and four draws, drew one more game. This time with the White pieces versus WGM Tatev Abrahamyan. White was somewhat better during the entire game but was never winning and with careful play, Black saved the slightly inferior position.

U.S. Women's Championship All Games Round 6

Round 6 Standings

US Women's Chess Championship

The 2021 U.S. Chess Championships take place October 5-19, 2021 in St. Louis to determine the next chess champions of the United States. The 2021 U.S. Women's Championship is being held concurrently. Both events have the same format: 12 players, 11-round tournament with a $194,000 prize fund for the U.S. Championship and $100,000 for the U.S. Women’s Championship.

Earlier reports:

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