Moradiabadi Beats Naroditsky In U.S. Championship Online Qualifier
Elshan Moradiabadi is still in the run for first place. Photo: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0.

Moradiabadi Beats Naroditsky In U.S. Championship Online Qualifier

| 18 | Chess Event Coverage

The penultimate round of the U.S. Championship Online Qualifier featured exciting, double-edged games as it was the last chance for some players to stay in the running for first place. The game of the day was between GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Elshan Moradiabadi, where Naroditsky went full-throttle on the attack.

GM Dariusz Swiercz found a nice tactical finish against GM Andrew Tang, and GM Timur Gareyev defeated GM Robert Hess after a gutsy exchange sacrifice in the endgame. IM Christopher Yoo and GM Aleksandr Lenderman drew their game and remained in competition for first place along with Moradiabadi and Gareyev. 

The final round will decide who will get to earn a spot at the 2021 U.S. Chess Championship and secure a $3,000 reward. Moradiabadi will face Yoo in a must-win situation, and will have to do everything in his power to defeat the current leader. Gareyev and Lenderman will also face-off in round seven, and neither can qualify with anything less than a win. 

How to watch?
Every round will be streamed live at starting at 2 p.m. Pacific time, December 11-18. The games can also be found here as part of our live games platform.

The live broadcast of the sixth round.

Naroditsky vs. Moradiabadi (0-1)

It is always entertaining to see Naroditsky on the attack, and he was out for blood in this hectic game. 

Naroditsky achieved a nice advantage with a Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack early on, but did not go for the slow conversion and instead started lining up his pieces for a kingside attack. Although both sides played some slightly dubious moves, it is hard to criticize the GMs for prioritizing more aggressive moves in such a critical game. 

With both sides castling in opposite directions, the game was on; however, Naroditsky fell behind quite soon with 17.Bb1?. The position was still extremely sharp after that, but Moradiabadi found a strong continuation with 17...f5! and 18...Bb7. Slowly but surely, Moradiabadi's grip on the position increased and it became clear that Naroditsky was lost.

Moradiabadi found a beautiful finish to the game: sacrificing his queen for a rook, only to win Naroditsky's queen next move by underpromoting to a knight!

Swiercz vs. Tang (1-0)

Swiercz and Tang showcased why engine evaluations do not always reflect the human reality of the position, and also gave the viewers a great puzzle-rush moment.

The players played the first Ruy Lopez of the tournament, and White was able to accomplish one of its traditional goals in such positions: playing 18.Nf5!. Even though Tang immediately captured the knight, Swiercz was able to find more active squares for each of his pieces. After move 28, even though Black was doing fine according to the engine, his position was very hard for a human to play.

Indeed, Tang soon slipped up with 29...f6? and the invasion began. Swiercz immediately took over on the light squares around Tang's king, and finished the game off with a neat tactical sequence where he sacrificed his queen and won by force.

Dariusz Swiercz wins with the Ruy Lopez. Photo (archive): Maria Emalianova/

Hess vs. Gareyev (0-1)

Hess had yet another solid start; but as his time got less, the position did not get any less tricky, and Gareyev was able to apply the necessary pressure to induce errors.

Similar to other games, Hess was able to achieve a clear advantage out of the opening. After some theoretical moves in the Queen's Indian, Hess spent over half an hour on the move 20.cxd5, and was able to follow it up with moves that grew his advantage; in fact, Hess was up a clean pawn for a dozen moves. Despite that, both players started to get low on time and Gareyev seemed to nearly achieve equality when his queen got active on move 33.

Hess clearly wanted the queens off the board as he made several attempts to trade, but Gareyev declined every time; he wanted to push for more. On move 40, Gareyev showed that in addition to skydiving and surfing, he also seeks thrills on the chess board with gutsy moves such as 40...Rxd3+, sacrificing the exchange with 65 seconds on his clock.

Although it was holdable for Hess, he went on to lose the subsequent endgame, likely due to the time pressure he was under. In the end, Hess sealed his own fate with 57.Rd2?, where he could have forced a draw with 57.a7 Bxa7 58. Rc4 instead.

Yoo vs. Lenderman (0.5-0.5)

Lenderman chose to fight for a win with the Dutch Defense, but Yoo's solid, principled moves did not allow for any real threats.

Shortly after the opening, the players went for a series of trades. Yoo then expanded in the center and established aesthetic pawns on c4, d5, and e5. In fact, he also captured on f4 to establish a pawn there as well, but it seemed quite flimsy. 

In the end, Yoo did not want to give the pawn back with tempo and the players drew the game by repetition on move 28.


# Fed Name Username Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Christopher Yoo @ChristopherYoo 2803 2795 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4.0/6
2 Elshan Moradiabadi @Elshan1985 2810 2733 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 3.5/6 9.5
3 Aleksander Lenderman @AlexanderL 2793 2793 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 3.5/6 9.5
4 Timur Gareyev @TimurGareyev 2452 2793 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 3.5/6 9.25
5 Dariusz Swiercz @daro94 2659 2722 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 3.0/6 9
6 Daniel Naroditsky @DanielNaroditsky 2626 2696 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 3.0/6 8.25
7 Andrew Tang @penguingm1 2849 2577 0 1 0 ½ 0 ½ 2.0/6
8 Robert Hess @GMHess 2664 2532 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1.5/6

* ratings

The U.S. Championship Online Qualifier is an eight-player round robin played Dec. 11-18 on, with a rest day on Dec. 15. The time control is 90 minutes for the whole game with a 30-second increment from move one. The total prize fund is $10,000. The winner will secure a spot in the 2021 U.S. Chess Championship. 

Watch the final round live at Play will begin at 2 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, December 18.

Earlier reports:

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