Liang “Ecstatic” After Defeating Aronian

Liang "Ecstatic" After Defeating Aronian

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The fifth round of the 2022 U.S. Chess Championships saw a new contender, GM Awonder Liang, rise to challenge GM Fabiano Caruana after a scintillating win over one of the pre-tournament favorites, GM Levon Aronian.

In the Women’s event, four decisive games produced clear leaders at the top. FM Jennifer Yu leads with a commanding 4/5, while GM Irina Krush trails by half a point in pursuit of her ninth U.S. Championship title. 

Following a rest day on Monday, round six of the event will start on October 11 at 11 a.m. PT/20:00 Central European.


Liang was undoubtedly the hero of day five after he blew Aronian off the board. Employing a rare line of the Scotch Gambit, Liang was self-admittedly “ecstatic” that the gamble paid off and was visibly buoyant in his post-match interview. A deserving choice for our game of the day, GM Rafael Leitao has broken down the action below.

Birthday boy GM Wesley So had the tall order of facing the tournament leader Caruana and chose to play the Berlin Defense. Perhaps hoping for a quick draw so he could celebrate his birthday away from the board, So did not get his wish and was forced to play out an endgame that lasted until the 75th move!

GM Hans Niemann was particularly energetic on Sunday during an interview with the Saint Louis Chess Club broadcast team after a draw against GM Leinier Dominguez. Niemann took the time to analyze the Berlin endgame with GM Cristian Chirila, stating “I think this is something you can study your entire life and still not understand”. 

Niemann later recounted a humorous moment where he went to place an order at a local restaurant he had been frequenting only to be told by the staff that “the order speaks for itself”. 

GM Sam Shankland looked as though he was headed for a regulation draw against GM Elshan Moradiabadi but found a brilliant trick in the endgame to liquidate into a winning king and pawn ending. The extraordinary 41.Rxe5!! took Shankland only four minutes to calculate and the result was a study-like ending.

The remainder of the games ended drawn with a few missed chances from GMs Christopher Yoo and Jeffery Xiong in their respective games. GMs Ray Robson and Dariusz Swiercz played out a 116-move draw where impressively, the position remained close to equal for the entire game.

Five draws in five rounds! Robson is not someone you want to play needing a win in the final round. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Heading into the rest day, Caruana leads the pack on 3.5/5 followed by Liang and GM Sam Sevian, who trail by half a point.

U.S. Championship | All Games Round 5

Round 5 Open Standings

Two leaders have emerged above the pack in the Women’s championship with Wu leading on 4/5 and Krush hot on her heels with 3.5/5. Both former winners won their games on Sunday and can use the rest day to prepare to play with the white pieces in round six.

Yu just can’t stop winning! Will she be able to beat FM Alice Lee in round six though? Photo: Bryan Adams/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Yu continued her rampant run through the field, defeating WGM Sabina-Francesca Foisor with some clean endgame play. Yu has proven to be extremely versatile so far and is on track to replicate her imperious 10/11 in the 2019 championship (although with 13 rounds this year the exact score will not be possible).

Krush won her second game on the fly, this time against WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova with her trusty Sicilian Defense. After both players castled queenside, Krush was able to break open the center and soon came crashing down on Tokhirjonova’s King.

Yesterday Krush waited for her opponent to compromise her own position, today Krush went for the throat. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

The most stunning moment of the round occurred when FM Alice Lee missed a win against WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki that would have led to several fascinating lines. The miss cost Lee a spot alongside Krush on the standings heading into round six.

FMs Ashritha Eswaran and Rochelle Wu also scored wins in round five that planted both players mid-table heading into the rest day.

U.S. Women’s Championship | All Games Round 5

Round 5 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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