2023 American Cup - Day 7 Recap
Wesley So and Alice Lee both earned a spot in the American Cup finals after emerging victorious in their Elimination matches today, knocking out Levon Aronian and Nazí Paikidze to advance to the American Cup finals. Next they will both face the top seeds and winners of the Champions Bracket, Hikaru Nakamura and Irina Krush, in a rematch of their earlier encounters.
OPEN SECTION - ELIMINATION BRACKET
SO - ARONIAN | 2.5-1.5
The first set of rapid games were drawn, with So missing huge chances to win in Game 1, as he had a decisive advantage in the middlegame, then could have won in the resulting rook endgame..
This took the players to a playoff–in the first game Aronian went for the Berlin Endgame and played extremely aggressively out of the gate, first sacrificing multiple pawns, then an exchange, and even a full rook in order to attack So's king. But his bluff was called, as Wesley accepted the material and survived the onslaught, eventually forcing Aronian to resign as his initiative ran out.
After 24.g6, White’s pieces look menacing, but have no threats. So played 24…Nd5 and calmly dissolved the attack.
The second game featured yet another Modern Defense, a common choice for players in the event when needing to bounce back. But So controlled the situation well, not allowing Aronian any serious counterplay while making several trades. There was only so much Levon could do as Wesley eventually forced a dead drawn endgame, sealing the match.
So will get another shot at Nakamura in the finals. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams
Aronian took out Caruana and Dominguez, but couldn’t outplay So. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams
WOMEN’S SECTION - ELIMINATION BRACKET
LEE - PAIKIDZE | 3-1
The first Elimination game ended abruptly as Paikidze overlooked a pin against her king and essentially blundered the game away in one move. But she managed to win on-demand in the second game, after launching a successful pawn storm attack against Lee's king.
17…g5?? was an unfortunate blunder, as Lee won immediately with 18.Qxc5+! (if 18…Kd7 19.Ba4+ is decisive)
In the playoff, despite getting a much worse position out of the opening Alice won the first game as Black, after Paikidze sacrificed her queen for a rook and minor piece but ended up with too weak a king. In the second game Lee would just need a draw to advance, but she managed to reach a fantastic endgame which she simply ended up converting, winning the match.
After 41.b6, White’s endgame advantage was decisive, with Black’s rook simply struck on c4.
In a repeat of last year’s finals, WIM Alice Lee will get a second chance to overcome Krush. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams
A third place finish for IM Nazí Paikidze. | Photo Courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams
The 2023 American Cup continues Friday, March 24 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.