2022 U.S. National Championships - Day 3 Recap

 by WGM Sabina Foisor

Day 3 was certainly the most exciting day so far in the 2022 U.S. Senior, U.S. Junior, & U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships. Although the Senior Championship saw a peaceful day with only one decisive game, the Girls’ and Junior Championships brought unexpected and heartbreaking results. 

GM Maxim Dlugy joined GM’s Larry Christiansen and Igor Novikov in the lead of the Senior championship section with 2/3. Christopher Yoo won his game after his opponent NM Espinosa did not play in the right move order. The win ensured GM Yoo to tie for first with GM Andrew Hong, after the latter drew his game against IM Justin Wang. In the Girls’ Junior Championship WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki, maintains the sole lead with 100% (3/3), being followed by FM/WGM Thalia Cervantes, with 2.5.

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. Each event features a 10-player round-robin format, with a time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes with a 30-second increment added from move one.

U.S. Senior Championship

Senior Results of Round 3

Yesterday, the Senior Section saw the most number of  decisive games among the three sections, however today, all but one game ended peacefully. The only decisive result came in the game between GM Maxim Dlugy and IM Igor Khmelnitsky. The latter may have been somewhat flustered by Dlugy’s 3.Nc3 in the London, and chose the Steinitz Countergambit. However, in the ensuing position after 5. dxc5 , IM Khmelnitsky played the unexpected 5…Bg4?? which is a losing mistake as it allows White to trade the queens, castle long and win the e4 pawn without having to give up anything in return.

Position after 5. dxc5

After winning the pawn, although the game continued for a while, Dlugy didn’t have any trouble converting to his decisive advantage. 

 GM Maxim Dlugy  - pictured in Round 1 - with a win today catches up with the leaders | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

Though there were some interesting opening choices among the other games in the Senior Championship, all stayed balanced throughout and resolved without much fanfare.

GM Larry Christiansen maintains the co-lead | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

Senior Standings after Round 3

Senior Round 4 Pairings

U.S. Junior Championship

Junior Results of Round 3

 GM Christopher Yoo - focused to bring home the win against NM Pedro Espinosa  | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

The Junior Championship on the other hand, had some very interesting fighting moments in most of the games. IM Justin Wang was able to stop GM Andrew Hong’s onslaught with a draw after the latter’s brilliant wins in the first two rounds.  GM Christopher Yoo made the most out of his chances to win his game against NM Pedro Espinosa and ultimately caught up to Andrew Hong in the standings. Despite the quiet opening choice, the Exchange Variation of the Slav Defence, it was Pedro Espinosa who seemed to be trying to ramp up the battle, by opening up the f-file and trying to take advantage of his opponent’s weak king.  It is in the following position that Espinosa’s effort went astray:

Position after 29.exd5

This may be an unpleasant position at first sight for Black given the opening of the e-file that catches Black’s king in the center. However, if Black makes the prophylactic 29… Kd8!, his king, seems to be perfectly safe, while the attack with Qf4 is following. White has to find a way to keep his king safe instead. In the game, Black played 29…Qf4 immediately, which proved a blunder as after 30. Qxe6 Kd8 31. Ne4 , White’s king is safe. The game continued 31…Rg3 + 32. Nxg3 Qf3+ 33. Kh3 Bxg3 34. Nd2 Qd3

Position after 34…Qd3 where White continued 35. Qe3, which keeps White’s king safe after which Black resigned due to material deficiency 

The heartbreaking game of the day was certainly the one between GM’s Abhimanyu Mishra against the top seed GM Awonder Liang. After a hard fought battle in the Classical Variation of the Giuoco Piano, where Black pushed his g and h pawns to create an attack and then gave up his light square bishop for White’s knight in f3, similarly to the classical game Winter-Capablanca, Awonder kept pressing and eventually got a decisive advantage. Inexplicably, though he had sufficient time remaining on his clock, maybe due to pressure, he played 67…Qg3?? .

Position after 67…Qg3

As he stated in his post-game interview, Abhimanyu, had seen the move, but didn’t think it could happen. He couldn’t believe his eyes when the move was played and immediately capitalized on his opponent's blunder, turning the table around.

Position after 68. Qxf2!

The difference between 68. Bxf2 and Qxf2, is that the latter doesn’t allow Qg2+ followed by Qh1 +. The game continued a little longer, and finished with a win by Abhimanyu.

GM Andrew Hong pictured giving a “killer look” to his opponent; shares the lead for first | Photo: Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

Junior Standings after Round 3

Junior Round 4 Pairings

U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

Girls’ Results of Round 3

The Girls’ Championship brought a day of all decisive results along with interesting games. Local FM/WGM Thalia Cervantes played a beautiful game, where she capitalized on her opponent’s pawn weaknesses.

Position after 39. Qg4

From here on it was clear that Thalia was on her way to bring home the full point as Black’s e6 pawn is falling and with that the entire defense is collapsing.

Another interesting moment in this section happened in the game between WFM Anne-Marie Velea and FM Rochelle Wu. 

Position after 38…Bd1

Time trouble has been a decisive factor in some of the games in both the Junior and Girls’ Junior Championships. With only a minute on the clock Anne-Marie went for 39. Qe3?? , a move that lost her the queen after 39…Bh4 + and she resigned a move later. Instead she could have played 39. Qe1 and after 39…Qxb2 + she could continue with 40. Kf1. She would still have to be careful of Black’s bishop pair, but by that time should would have made the time control, giving her the much needed time to keep the game balanced.

 FM Rochelle Wu keeps her calm as she takes home her first victory in the event | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

FM Ruiyang Yan had a dominating performance against FM Alice Lee, winning in a beautiful double rook endgame. WIM Ellen Wang had a better position against FM/WGM Jennifer Yu, but misplayed it and spoiled all of her advantage in time trouble. This is probably the only game of the round that could have ended in a draw, but after a grueling game yesterday against FM Alice Lee, where she missed her winning opportunity and another long game today, Ellen, must have felt some pressure and unfortunately, for her, blundered in a bishop vs knight endgame and lost. 

Position after 49…b5

In this position Ellen played 50. Bf8?? which allowed 50…Ne3+ losing the f5 pawn after which, with two far away passed pawns it was impossible for her to hold. Instead 50. d5 would have been a good waiting move and bringing the bishop to c1 to give it away for the b-pawn, while going with the king to take out the h-pawn.

FM/WGM Jennifer Yu brings home the first win in the event  | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

Lastly, the leader of the event with 3/3 WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki, had a dominating game against her opponent WFM Gracy Prasanna. Sophie sacrificed an exchange on move 35 in order to take advantage of her opponent’s unprotected king. Her pressure paid off, as her opponent in an attempt to defend against the mating threats weakened it more. It didn’t take long until her exchange down turned into an extra piece. She almost spoiled the win with her final move 65. Qg2??. Instead 65. Ng2 had to be played. 

Position after 62. Qg2??

To everyone’s surprise in this position, her opponent resigned. Of course this is an easy thing to say for the spectators, who also have access to the engines to double check their calculation. This is not to take any credit from the dominating game Sophie played, but I found this a beautiful exercise worth sharing. In this position Black has the chance to save the game after 62…Qxf4 . White would continue with 63. g7 Qc1+ 64. Qg1 and now the brilliant 64…Qh6!!. This allows White to promote another queen, but after that, despite having two queens on the board, Black has a perpetual check, allowing her to draw the game.  65. g8=Q Qxh3+ 66. Qh2 Qf1+ 67. Qgg1 Qf3+  and Black keeps checking on the d1-h5 diagonal.

WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki maintains her 100% score going into Round 4.

Girls’ Standings after Round 3

Girls’ Round 4 Pairings

The live coverage with grandmasters Alejandro Ramirez, Cristian Chirila and Yasser Seirawan continues tomorrow with Round 4 on Sunday, July 10 at 12:50PM CDT on uschesschamps.com or our YouTube and Twitch.