US Chess Championships R8: Lenderman Survives Scare, Everyone Draws
One of the leaders, Aleksandr Lenderman, survived a lost position against Dariucz Swiercz with heroic defense. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

US Chess Championships R8: Lenderman Survives Scare, Everyone Draws

| 22 | Chess Event Coverage

Round eight of the 2021 U.S. Chess Championship was very peaceful, as all six games ended in a draw. GM Aleksandr Lenderman saved a lost position versus GM Dariusz Swiercz, which enabled him to stay in lead alongside GMs Wesley So and Sam Sevian. GMs Ray Robson and Leinier Dominguez Perez are following them with 4.5/8.

In the U.S. Women's Championship, IM Carissa Yip won again and is leading with 6/8. WGM Katerina Nemcova also won her round-eight game and is half a point behind, while GM Irina Krush is in third place with 5/8.

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

Even though all the games were drawn in round eight, there were still many interesting encounters. Chief amongst them was the encounter between Sweircz and Lenderman.

Dariusz Swiercz kept the leader Aleksandr Lenderman under pressure for the whole game. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Swiercz repeated the same variation with the white pieces in the Rossolimo against Lenderman that Robson tried versus him two rounds ago. However, instead of the more aggressive 5.d4 that was employed by Robson, he continued in a more positional style. The opening was clearly a success, as he got a considerable amount of pressure. Black tried to escape by going for a rook endgame a pawn down but soon found himself balancing between a lost and a nearly lost position. However, both due to tenacious defense and opponent's errors, Lenderman managed to bail out and scoop up half a point.

In the interview, Lenderman said: "I guess, I misplayed it slightly, and maybe I didn't go for the right idea and ended up having to suffer, and I thought somehow I'd still get drawing chances. In a lot of lines, I was surviving by a tempo. Obviously, it didn't go according to the plan, but all things considered, obviously at this point I'm very happy with the draw.

It didn't go according to the plan, but all things considered, I'm very happy with the draw.
—Aleksandr Lenderman

Another one of the leaders, So, made a rather easy draw with the black pieces versus GM Sam Shankland. White chose the main endgame line of the Berlin and harassed Black on the kingside rather quickly.

However, So knows the Berlin extremely well and he reacted precisely and never had any real issues. On move 42, the players agreed to a draw, as the material was exhausted.

One of the leaders, Wesley So, had no problems making a draw with Black against Sam Shankland in round eight. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Another leader, Sevian, faced the rock-solid Petroff Defense against Dominguez, who was half a point behind and never had a chance to cause the opponent problems. It was an even game, and by move 40, the players took a draw by repetition in a dead-drawn rook endgame.

Robson, who was half a point behind the leaders after his yesterday's loss, had the white pieces against GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista. This game also featured the Petroff Defense, but this time, White did manage to get some pressure in the opening. However, Black defended carefully, and eventually swapped all the pieces to split the point.

GM Fabiano Caruana, who partially recovered from two consecutive losses by winning yesterday, was facing Jeffery Xiong today with Black. The players followed a long theoretical line in the Ragozin, but the interesting observation is that even after Xiong's 14th move they both had an hour and thirty minutes left on the clock. Caruana took twenty minutes to make the next move, and Xiong responded by spending nearly forty. This can be explained by claiming that the top seed was looking for a way to deviate from well-known theory that leads to a draw, while his opponent did not expect this particular move and was either recalling his preparation or already improvising. 

However, there was not much to improvise on: the position still required a forcing sequence, where Black temporarily sacrifices a piece, then gets it back and obtains a slightly inferior, but holdable endgame. That's exactly what happened, and on move 40 the players shook hands and agreed to a draw.

A similar scenario repeated in the game between GM Daniel Naroditsky, who had the white pieces, and GM John M.Burke. White chose a positional variation against the Semi-Tarrasch setup, which normally involves White getting an isolated queen's pawn. However, Burke held off and did not resolve the tension in the center, which soon resulted in a symmetrical position. 

Naroditsky was pressing as his pieces were more active, and soon enough, he converted that pressure into a superior pawn structure. However, this advantage was not enough to pose significant problems and Burke generated sufficient counterplay by pushing the a-pawn down the board. The game resulted in a forced repetition on move 39.

In this round, defense was stronger than offense, and in most gamesnBlack's world-class preparation left the opponents with no chances whatsoever.

 U.S. Championship All Games Round 8

Round 8 Standings

2021 US chess championships round 8 standings

In round eight of the U.S. Women's Chess Championship, two players made enormous steps towards success in the final standings by winning their games and increasing their leads in first and second place. The rest of the field will be hard-pressed to catch up with only three rounds left.

Yip scored another phenomenal win: this time, she outplayed WGM Sabina-Francesca Foisor with the black pieces in a completely one-sided affair. By the end of the game, the leader still had an hour and twenty-four minutes on her clock.

The leader Carissa Yip is unstoppable: she has won four games in the last five rounds! This time, with Black against Sabina Foisor. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Nemcova, who led the tournament for most of the early rounds, continued the chase: she beat WIM Megan Lee in a technical style with the white pieces, having chosen the rare 4.d4 variation of the Two Knights Defense.

Krush, who was sharing second place before the round started, is now in clear third after drawing IM Nazi Paikidze with Black. The game was even, for the most part, even though in the end it was Black who tried to put a bit of pressure on her opponent.

IM Anna Zatonskih, who has not had a good tournament so far, made her situation somewhat better by playing a great positional game versus WGM Anna Sharevich with the black pieces in a typical position that can arise from both the London System and the Caro-Kann. She outplayed White completely and scored a deserved full point.

Anna Zatonskih has had a difficult tournament, but she won a great positional game with Black versus Anna Sharevich in round eight. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

WGM Thalia Landeiro Cervantes and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan played a very solid equal game. Cervantes, who was White, had a little bit of pressure but Black played very accurately which resulted in simplifications and a drawn rook endgame. 

WIM Ashritha Eswaran had the white pieces versus WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova. For about 25 moves, White had a fair amount of pressure, but then made a few inaccuracies and suddenly found herself in a very uncomfortable situation. At some point, Tokirjonova was winning, but then the players arrived at a drawn endgame where Black had an exchange for a pawn.

The position was a relatively straightforward fortress, but White made a clumsy decision and lost the crucial pawn. At that point, it looked like Black would win. However, White managed to prevent her opponent from moving the pawns or trading anything for 45 moves—and as we know, there is a 50-move rule. If nothing was traded and no pawns moved for five more moves, White could claim a draw! However, all of a sudden Eswaran got her rook trapped and resigned after a 148-move-long fight, which allowed Tokhirjonova to climb to clear fourth place with 4.5/8.

Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova won a 148-move-long marathon and is now in a chase for the top three positions with 4.5/8. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

U.S. Women's Championship All Games Round 8

Round 8 Standings

2021 US Women's chess championships round 8 standings

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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