Shankland Brilliantly Retreats To Victory

Shankland Brilliantly Retreats To Victory


GM Sam Shankland was the sole winner in round nine of the 2022 U.S. Championships on Friday after he defeated a struggling GM Christopher Yoo. Besides this game, the remainder of the encounters were drawn with remarkably high accuracy, with an average CAPS score of 97.3 across the board. Friday’s results meant that GM Fabiano Caruana kept his half-point lead over GM Ray Robson at the top of the standings.

The women’s event produced three decisive results on Friday in favor of FM Jennifer Yu, WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova, and FM Thalia Cervantes. Yu’s victory today allowed her to leapfrog WIM Megan Lee who lost with black against Tokhirjonova.

Round 10 of the event will start on October 15 at 11 a.m. PT/20:00 Central European.

All eyes were on Caruana and Robson who were both playing white against some of the lower-rated players in the field. Both failed to fire. Their opponents, GMs Awonder Liang and Alex Lenderman were up to the task of holding with black and stopped the leaders from running away with the event.

Caruana’s unbeaten run continued but the world number five was left longing for more on Friday. Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Caruana was able to win a pawn against Liang heading into a slightly better endgame but missed a serious winning chance when Liang played the dubious 31.Nb4. Robson also procured a small edge in his game but it was less clear cut which made it easier for Lenderman to steady the ship.

Perhaps sensing that all of the other results were heading for draws, Shankland took his opportunity to scoot up the leaderboard with a clinical win over Yoo. Shankland piled misery on Yoo with some clever middlegame play that encouraged Yoo to overplay his hand in a similar fashion to his tough loss in round eight.

In his post-match interview, Shankland expressed his “frustration” after missing wins against GMs Hans Niemann and Sam Sevian in the previous rounds but was pleased to capitalize after Yoo’s blunder, stating: “It felt like I was winning but it was never trivial,” despite the approving engine evaluation.

A toppled king signified Yoo’s resignation. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

After nine rounds there are six players on 5/9 in equal third place meaning that should Caruana falter, the tournament will be blown wide open.

U.S. Championship | All Games Round 9

Round 9 Open Standings

Unlike in the open tournament, the players in the women’s event kept up the multiple decisive games per round trend and there were some crucial changes at the top. Having had an extraordinary run so far, the pre-round tournament leader Lee (Megan) fell to Tokhirjonova in 56 moves after selecting the incorrect defensive plan in the late middlegame.

Tokhirjonova later explained to the Saint Louis Chess Club commentary team that Lee’s seemed “very nervous,” which was understandable given the weight of the match.

Playing chess is not the only career prospect for Lee, who, backed by her background in design co-founded Snippet Studios which is a “multi-disciplinary collective focused on inspiring joy” through a series of webcomics and products. It is astonishing that Lee and many of the other participants manage to perform at such a high level in chess yet still work and study full-time in other areas.

The multi-talented Lee! Photo: Bryan Adams/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Lee’s loss opened the floodgates for her nearest chasers to overtake her and Yu took full advantage, winning with black against FM Ashritha Eswaran and finishing the day on 6.5/9. Yu bravely employed the Caro-Kann defense just two days after Eswaran beat WGM Sabina-Francesca Foisor in the same opening and quickly gained an advantage when Eswaran weakened her own pawn on d4.

Although her tournament has been topsy-turvy so far, Cervantes’ efforts in round nine deservedly earned her the game of the day. Analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao, check out Cervantes’ swashbuckling attack that featured three brilliant moves en route to victory.

U.S. Women’s Championship | All Games Round 9

Round 9 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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