Six White Wins Shake Up Standings
Caruana joined the leaders with a win in round three. Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Six White Wins Shake Up Standings

| 73 | Chess Event Coverage

GMs Fabiano Caruana, Christopher Yoo, and Awonder Liang all won their third-round games at the 2022 U.S. Championships on Friday, with the former two joining GMs Sam Sevian and Hans Niemann atop the leaderboard on 2/3.

Players with the white pieces had a good day in the women's event with three decisive results for FM Ruiyang Yan, WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova, and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan. The 12-year-old FM Alice Lee and WIM Megan Lee still lead after drawing their respective games.

Round four of the event will start on October 8 at 11 a.m. PT/20:00 Central European.

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The Yoo train kept on rolling in round three with the 15-year-old picking up another win, this time against GM Elshan Moradiabadi. Our game of the day from Friday has been analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao.

The two players are the only ones who have not yet drawn games in the event and although Yoo claimed that he "didn't know what was going on" on Friday, his play was clearly good enough to scrap his second straight victory.

Yoo fitting right in among the best players in the U.S. Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Caruana also won his first game and propelled himself to the pole position in the tournament. Against GM Dariusz Swiercz, Caruana looked shaky at times as the evaluation bar rocked back and forward but eventually capitalized on a mistake in a rook-and-pawn endgame, winning in 60 moves.

One of the tournament's youngest participants, Liang, managed his first win against GM Alex Lenderman, soundly outplaying his opponent after creating irreparable structural damage before converting the advantage.

The remainder of Friday's games ended drawn but weren't without incident. Wesley So's words about Niemann quickly became the news of the round with the 2021 U.S. champion stating, "He’s disrespected pretty much everybody in the chess world at this stage, calling other players idiots and stuff. And also beating the great Magnus, everybody knows that Hans is probably the most disrespectful teenager in chess."

So didn't mince words when it came to discussing Niemann. Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club.

Having started the tournament with a resounding triumph and garnering plenty of attention, Niemann has remained relatively quiet on and off the board. In round three, he drew with the U.S. Olympiad board-five, GM Sam Shankland. As White, Shankland had minor chances throughout but never enough to put serious pressure on Niemann.

The sixth and seventh-ranked U.S. players faced off in round three. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

GM Levon Aronian had a close shave playing black against Sevian, who built a one-pawn advantage heading into the endgame but missed his opportunity to press with 67.d6!. Aronian is yet to score a win in the open yet but has been solid throughout.

Sevian knew he was close to beating Aronian on Friday. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

U.S. Championship | All Games Round 3

Round 3 Open Standings

In the women's event, fortissimo is a more accurate way to describe Abrahamyan's statement game in round three, contrasting the Giuco Pianissimo Opening she opted for. Abrahamyan threw punch after punch as she derailed FM Jennifer Yu's winning streak and knocked her off the top of the standings.

Like Abrahamyan, Tokhirjonova also won her second game, employing the Grand Prix Variation against FM Rochelle Wu's Sicilian Defense. Wu was in major trouble after 12 moves, and her issues were compounded as inaccuracies began to creep in. On the verge of victory, Tokhirjonova misplayed and gave Wu a glimmer of hope to draw. The complications were too difficult to overcome under time pressure, and the Uzbek-born WGM soon traded into a winning endgame.

Yan was the third winner in the women's section on Friday, knocking over the tournament's bottom seed WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki in a slow burner.

Yan's win has positioned her on the sixth-ninth tiebreak. Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Although the other four games were drawn in round three, there were plenty of instructive moments. Co-leader (Megan) Lee had to play a perfect endgame to hold against the top seed, GM Irina Krush, carefully declining a poisoned pawn on move 30, a decision that saved the game.

Rising star (Alice) Lee also scored an important draw with the black pieces against WGM Thalia Cervantes to move to 2.5/3. Lee will likely look to press for a win with white in her match against Yan in round four to potentially grab the sole lead.

U.S. Women's Championship | All Games Round 3

Round 3 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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