Krush Wins Crucial Match Against Yu, Takes Sole Lead
Krush will now play for her ninth U.S. Women's Chess Championship title. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Krush Wins Crucial Match Against Yu, Takes Sole Lead

| 43 | Chess Event Coverage

Tuesday's penultimate round of the U.S. Chess Championship saw leader GM Fabiano Caruana draw his fifth game straight against GM Sam Shankland and move to 8/12. GM Ray Robson, his closest challenger, trails by half a point with the two players playing with the white pieces in the final round.

In the women's event, the all-important clash between FM Jennifer Yu and GM Irina Krush went the way of eight-time champion Krush. The clutch result with the black pieces allowed her to leapfrog her opponent and produce a half-point lead over Yu and FM Thalia Cervantes, who won her fifth straight game.

The 2022 U.S. Chess Championship will conclude with round 13 on October 19 at 11 a.m. PT/20:00 Central European.

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Caruana played in a controlled manner in round 12, drawing with Shankland after repelling two brilliant moves from his Olympiad teammate. Shankland tried his best to shake his opponent with a move 10 novelty in the English Opening. However, with his eyes on the prize, Caruana stabilized the position and repeated moves.

Caruana was unwavering against Shankland on Tuesday. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

GM Christopher Yoo tried his best to confuse Robson with a fascinating exchange sacrifice on the white side of a Ruy Lopez. Robson showed his intentions immediately by playing the solid Berlin, although Yoo had other ideas.

Backed by statistics (a 67 percent win rate for White in master games) but noted as an inaccuracy by Stockfish, Yoo's 10.Bd3 didn't seem to surprise Robson and he was able to liquidate and reach a drawn ending soon after.

With half a point splitting the main title contenders, Caruana will take on GM Levon Aronian in round 13, while Robson will play against GM Jeffery Xiong. Robson will undoubtedly play for a win and attempt to steal the title from Caruana in what will make for blockbuster viewing. To make matters more interesting, GMs Awonder Liang and Leinier Dominguez are only one point off the lead and have an outside chance of winning the event.

Liang proved his endgame strength today, winning an awkward (tablebase draw) rook and two pawns versus rook ending. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Liang, not content with his impressive plus-one score, found the strength to knock over GM Dariusz Swiercz from a drawn rook endgame in a 105-move grinder to move to 7/12. The young star has performed well over 2700 this tournament and will play against GM Hans Niemann in the final round.

19-year-old Niemann was able to win his game again on Tuesday as Black against GM Sam Sevian, leaving the latter out of title contention. Niemann's win required precision in a tricky rook and pawn ending and featured an odd moment where Sevian picked up his opponent's king during Niemann's turn (a player may not adjust pieces on their opponent's time) and removed the cross from its head. After a brief discussion, the clocks were stopped and the misunderstanding was clarified before play resumed.

GM Wesley So and Aronian added to the pot of wins on Tuesday, though the victories had little bearing on the upper standings. 

With a win to lift his spirits, So analyzed his game in front of a particularly high-rated audience. Photo: Crystal Fuller.

U.S. Championship | All Games Round 12

Round 12 Open Standings

Krush took the "Defense" out of the King's Indian on Tuesday by lashing out at Yu in a must-win game in round 13. Yu's four-pronged attack flipped quickly as the position opened up but after putting herself in a position to play for a win, Krush got too tricky.

Yu arrives for the most important game of the tournament. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Suddenly, Yu looked as though she was about to take an unassailable lead but instead played the heartbreaking blunder 31.Ba4, which lost a piece for free and allowed Krush to cruise to victory. Our Game of the Day, which has left Krush half a point ahead of Yu, is presented by GM Dejan Bojkov below. Game of the Day Dejan Bojkov

Despite Yu's slip-up against Krush, she will still be in with a shot at the title as her opponent in the next round is none other than Cervantes, with whom she shares her score. Both players will be aiming to win against each other on Wednesday and Cervantes will be hoping to serve up her sixth straight win after yet another tactical masterclass against WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova.

FM Ruiyang Yan, WGM Tatev Abrahamyan, and WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki also won their games, taking the total number of decisive games in the tournament to 47/84 (approximately 55%).

U.S. Women's Championship | All Games Round 12

Round 12 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.

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