Caruana Topples Niemann, Takes Sole Lead

Caruana Topples Niemann, Takes Sole Lead


The 2022 U.S. Chess Championship continued on Saturday with electric games across the board in round four. GMs Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So, and Alex Lenderman won their respective games with the former rising above the rest of the field by half a point.

In the Women’s event, the pattern of winning with white continued with four wins in favor of co-leaders FM Jennifer Yu and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan, as well as GM Irina Krush and IM Anna Zatonskih.

Round five of the event will start on October 9 at 11 a.m. PT/20:00 Central European.

Caruana set the board alight in round four, toppling GM Hans Niemann and ascending to outright first. Caruana has now scored two wins and two draws heading into a critical match against So.

Caruana won the most important clash of the day against Niemann. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

GM Rafael Leitao has given his expert analysis of the clash with Niemann in our game of the day below.

Following a horror start, So managed to win against Olympiad teammate GM Sam Shankland. Taking on an opening theoretician like Shankland on his home turf is always a risky task but So looked unstoppable on the white side of the Najdorf Sicilian on Saturday. Once the defending champion gained a spatial advantage he pounced, sacrificing a rook and pulverizing Shankland’s King. 

Lenderman’s triumph over GM Christopher Yoo was the only other result that had a significant impact on the standings, leaving a nine-way tie for third place.

Lenderman’s win against Yoo on Saturday propelled him to equal third alongside eight other players. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Yoo appeared to have stamped out Lenderman’s initiative out of the Closed Catalan but overestimated his own chances with the bewildering 41.g5?? that left his king vulnerable. Lenderman didn’t need to be asked twice and converted after the error.

The remainder of the games ended drawn in round four, leaving four players; GMs Levon Aronian, Leinier Dominguez, Jeffery Xiong, and Ray Robson, yet to find a win with one round remaining before the first rest day.

U.S. Championship | All Games Round 4

Round 4 Open Standings

After a tough loss in round three, the 2019 U.S. Women’s champion Yu rebounded and recorded a third win against WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki. Yu delivered a kingside butchering to her opponent after the queenside locked up and capped off the game with a blunt rook sacrifice, resulting in a checkmate several moves later.

Zatonskih was able to score a key win against co-leader WIM Megan Lee and removed her from the top of the standings. Lee was likely hopeful that she could capitalize on Zatonskih’s slow start to the event but the Ukrainian-born IM snapped into form in round four.

Zatonskih clawed her way back into contention. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Krush scored her first win of the event after a relatively slow start, defeating the struggling FM Ashritha Eswaran on the white side of the Nimzo-Indian Defense. Krush’s victory pushed her into the equal fourth position. With so many decisive results in the Women’s event, she will need to win a few more games to compete with the tournament leaders.

Taking full advantage of three whites out of four games, Abrahamyan surged to victory against WGM Sabina Francesca-Foisor, demonstrating clinical technique in a rook and bishop ending.

Abrahamyan will take on Lee (Megan) in a high-octane round-five clash. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

U.S. Women’s Championship | All Games Round 4

Round 4 Women’s Standings (updated results from Lee-Yan will be added shortly)

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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