Yoo Shocks U.S. Champion So With Black

Yoo Shocks U.S. Champion So With Black


The second day of the 2022 U.S. Chess Championships was a day of upsets as GM Christopher Yoo stunned 2021 champion GM Wesley So with the black pieces in a remarkably aggressive clash. Several results went the way of the underdogs in the Women’s event as well where three players; WIM Megan Lee, FM Jennifer Yu, and FM Alice Lee, maintained perfect scores.

Round three of the event will start on October 7 at 11 a.m. PT/20:00 Central European.

15-year-old Yoo had cause for celebration in round two after toppling So in what is now his highest-rated victory in classical chess. So seemed to have quelled the young GM’s play on the white side of the Petroff Defense before a move 26 mistake spun the initiative in favor of Yoo. GM Rafael Leitao has unpacked our game of the day below.

In his post-match interview, Yoo bluntly stated that there was anger in his game today, ignited by Niemann’s interview after their first-round matchup. Yoo declared that he felt “disrespected on every level”, further stating, ” I did feel like I channeled in a little bit of my anger from that to play some aggressive chess today.”

It is worth noting that the Executive Director of the Saint Louis Chess Club Tony Rich made a statement on Wednesday explaining updated security measures for this year’s championship given recent events.

“This year we implemented additional security measures. We have always had metal-detecting devices. We have added to that the radio frequency scanners that check any signaling that is happening in the room. We have implemented the additional scanners that check for any silicon devices. That would be any electronics on the person, regardless of whether they are powered on or off, regardless of whether they are transmitting a signal or not”

Meanwhile, in a less emotionally-charged encounter, another first-time winner in GM Elshan Moradiabadi was crowned. Moradiabadi had a rough loss to GM Sam Sevian on day one but bounced back to beat wildcard GM Awonder Liang on Thursday. Moradiabadi dubbed himself “lucky” post-victory, admitting that he had “misplayed” his opening. Fortunately, the engines smiled upon the position Moradiabadi had stumbled into and he slowly converted the win.

GM Hans Niemann looked as though he was cruising towards another win against GM Jeffery Xiong but missed several chances to liquidate into a winning ending. After Xiong steadied the ship, it suddenly appeared as though he had gained some chances due to an annoying passed e-pawn though. After some thought, Xiong and Niemann decided to repeat moves as progress could not be made.

The remainder of the games were fairly drawish throughout, with none of the other tournament favorites breaking through. GM Levon Aronian had reasonable winning chances against GM Leinier Dominguez but was held by some resolute defense during the middlegame.

Aronian’s two draws see him move to 1/2 in the event so far. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

U.S. Championship | All Games Round 2

Round 2 Open Standings

The Women’s Championship continued to surprise on Thursday as the three winners from the first day all managed to win again.

Special guest and hall-of-famer GM Eugenio Torre would have been pleased to see the fighting chess in the Women’s section today. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

12-year-old Lee is the talk of the event, having overcome WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova in an endgame masterclass. The runner-up of the 2022 American Cup has risen impressively this year and after consecutive wins, has positioned herself as an early frontrunner in the event.

It is a well-known strategy in chess circles that the best way to beat a talented junior player is to swap into an endgame and beat them from there but Lee proved exactly why this is a dangerous philosophy to follow.

Not to be confused with Alice (who has the same surname but is not related), WIM Megan Lee also moved to 2/2 and obliterated her opponent with the black pieces in 28 moves. Staring down WGM Nazi Paikidze‘s stranded king, Lee found all the right moves to blast open the center and rout the tournament’s fourth seed.

Yu and FM Rochelle Wu were the other winners in round two and both had to squeeze out slightly better bishop and rook endings. For Wu, it was a relief to score her first point after a tough loss at the hands of Lee on Wednesday.

“Queens Gambit” vibes today at the Saint Louis Chess Club. Wu (left) picked up her first win. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Right behind the leaders sits eight-time champion GM Irina Krush who will look for her opportunity to ascend during the next few rounds which promise to provide ample entertainment for the many chess fans captured by the game’s renewed thrust into popular culture. 

U.S. Women’s Championship | All Games Round 2

Round 2 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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