2023 American Cup - Day 5 Recap
The finals of the American Cup Champions Bracket kicked off today with two draws, as the first game of both Nakamura - So and Krush - Lee ended peacefully. In the Elimination Bracket, Dominguez knocked out Shankland, while Caruana - Aronian went the full distance to Armageddon. In the Women’s Section, Paikidze and Tokhirjonova were able to win their Elimination Matches without a playoff, sending Abrahamyan and Pourkashiyan home.
Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes plus 30 seconds increment for all games in the Champions Bracket, with a rapid time control of 25+10 for the Elimination Bracket and a 10+5 time control for all playoff matches.
In this unique double-elimination format, the losers of each match will get relegated to the Elimination Bracket, where they will get a second chance to continue the tournament.
OPEN SECTION - CHAMPIONS BRACKET
NAKAMURA-SO | ½-½, 34 moves
The first game of the final saw a solid Berlin where the players traded almost all the pieces off rather quickly. By move 25 an equal knight endgame was reached, and a draw by repetition was soon found.
Nakamura tested So a bit but didn’t push much as White. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
OPEN SECTION - ELIMINATION BRACKET
CARUANA - ARONIAN | 3-4 (ARMAGGEDDON)
The first set of rapid games were split, with both players winning as White to take the match to a playoff. The players then continued to trade chaotic wins, first in the faster rapid playoff games, then in the blitz, before finally heading to an Armageddon.
15.Ne6! was a fantastic desperado tactic from Caruana, giving up the knight on e6 in order to expose Black’s king after 15…fxe6 16.Bh5+
In the Armageddon, Caruana would get White and start with five minutes versus Aronian’s four, with Levon getting draw odds in return. Caruana played a unique version of the Catalan and launched a kingside attack early in the middlegame with 14.g4. However Fabiano missed his chance for a large advantage and his attack ended up backfiring, with Aronian launching a decisive counter on the h-file and soon forcing resignation, winning the match and knocking Caruana out.
Aronian looked quite relieved to win the Armageddon. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller
DOMINGUEZ - SHANKLAND | 1.5-0.5
The first game saw Dominguez exchanging queens early to go into a favorable endgame with a slightly better structure. But his task was made simpler when Shankland blundered, getting his knight trapped on the side of the board, which Dominguez cleverly exploited to win the first game.
20.Bb6! was a precise kill shot by Dominguez, winning the knight on h3.
In the second game Shankland struggled to get much against Dominguez’s Petroff Defense, as Dominguez calmly forced trades to take things into an equal endgame. After pushing hard for the win, Shankland eventually ended up down a pawn in a rook endgame and had to acquiesce to a draw, eliminating him from the tournament.
Dominguez will next face Aronian in the Elimination Bracket. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
WOMEN’S SECTION - CHAMPIONS BRACKET
KRUSH - LEE | ½-½, 41 moves
In a bit of a surprise Irina started with 1.e4, and chose the Accelerated Panov Attack (2.c4) against Lee’s Caro-Kann defense. Alice chose a line where Black gives up the d5-pawn in exchange for long-term positional compensation, often winning the pawn back. Eventually she did manage to put enough pressure to get her pawn back and the players repeated moves in a balanced middlegame with a queen, rook, and bishop each.
Alice Lee drew quite comfortably in the first game as Black. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
WOMEN’S SECTION - ELIMINATION BRACKET
PAIKIDZE - ABRAHAMYAN | 1.5-0.5
In the first game Abrahamyan chose 4…h6 against Paikidze’s Catalan, but Nazí was well prepared and achieved a very pleasant edge out of the opening, much thanks to a thematic tactical trick. From there Tatev soon got into time-trouble, and a nice flurry of tactics decided the game for Paikidze.
14.Nc4! left White with a large strategic advantage, taking advantage of two pins against the d-pawn.
Needing to win in the second game, Abrahamyan only got a small edge out of the opening and decided to sacrifice a pawn in exchange for a positional grip. But Paikidze was able to defend well, holding the position for a draw and clinching the match.
After her win Paikidze will advance to the finals of the Elimination Bracket. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
TOKHIRJONOVA - POURKASHIYAN | 2-0
The first game was quite close out of the gate, with Tokhirjonova eventually prevailing in an endgame as she found a way to activate all of her pieces. The second game forced Pourkashiyan to play aggressively, as she castled queenside early on and looked to attack on the kingside. But Tokhirjonova’s counterplay was simply faster, as Begim was able to open up White’s king and end the game with decisive threats, knocking Atousa out of the competition.
A clean 2-0 sweep for Tokhirjonova, who will face Paikidze in the Elimination Bracket finals. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller
The 2023 American Cup continues Wednesday, March 22 with tournament action live starting at 1:20PM CT with Grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Cristian Chirila, and IM Jovanka Houska on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.