Caruana & Nakamura can't break each other, Paikidze regains her momentum
by Cristian Chirila
Round 2 of the U.S. Championships was once again filled with great battles. Despite the fact that none of the top three players in the open section produced any decisive results, there were plenty of other encounters that grabbed our attention and successfully kept our interest throughout the day. In the open section, the game of the day was definitely the encounter between Caruana and Nakamura, while in the women section the clash between Nazi Paikidze and Katerina Nemcova definitely produced fireworks. Let’s get into the recap!
Caruana vs Nakamura can’t be denied as the game of the day. The two pillars of American chess once again clashed over the board in what was announced as an extremely heated affair. The start of the game saw Nakamura choosing to follow the game Caruana vs Eljanov from the Baku Olympiad. Fabiano seemed surprised early on and spent a lot of time trying to figure his way out of the theoretical maze.
Fabiano brushing off his early dust…or rain
Nakamura had his chance to grab the initiative with 15…f4! But instead, he allowed the white dark square bishop to occupy that square and shift the balance in Fabi’s favor. Despite a long grind by the champion, Nakamura neutralized his opponent’s extra pawn in a rook + opposite color bishop endgame and secured the draw with ease. Fabiano's difficult early schedule continues tomorrow as he will face the top seed, Wesley So, as black.
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. O-O Bg7 6. Re1 Nh6 7. c3 O-O 8.
h3 f5 9. e5 Nf7 10. d3 Ba6 11. c4 d6 12. e6 Ne5 13. Nc3 Nxf3+ 14. Qxf3 Rb8 15.
Re2 Bc8 16. Bf4 Rxb2 17. Rxb2 Bxc3 18. Rab1 Bxb2 19. Rxb2 Qc7 20. Bg5 Bxe6 21.
Re2 Qd7 22. Qe3 Bf7 23. Qxe7 Qxe7 24. Rxe7 Ra8 25. Rc7 d5 26. Rxc6 dxc4 27.
dxc4 Bxc4 28. a3 Bf7 29. Rxc5 Kg7 30. Rc7 a6 31. h4 Re8 32. Ra7 Re6 33. f3 h6
34. Bd2 Rc6 35. Kh2 g5 36. hxg5 hxg5 37. Bxg5 Kg6 38. Be3 Bc4 39. a4 Kf6 40.
Rb7 Bd3 41. Rd7 Bc4 42. Kg3 Ke6 43. Rd4 a5 44. Bd2 Bb3 45. Bxa5 Rc4 46. Rd8
Rxa4 47. Bc7 Ra2 48. Rd6+ Ke7 49. Rb6 Bc4 50. Be5 Rc2 51. Rb1 Ke6 52. Bb8 Kf6
53. Re1 Kf7 54. Rg1 Kg6 55. Kf4 Ba2 56. Ba7 Rb2 57. Bd4 Rb1 58. Rxb1 1/2-1/2
Kamsky vs Akobian showed once more how important tactics are in chess. Kamsky has stated quite often that the sharpness of youth is slowly fading, in his case. Despite that, he is still one of the strongest chess players in the U.S. and today’s accident will hopefully be a wakeup call for future rounds. The game started off quite low-key and was heading towards a fairly quick draw when Kamsky blundered with 22.Bxd8?? allowing a fairly easy tactic that ended the game, literally, on the spot.
Naroditsky vs Zherebukh gave us the most unexpected opening move of the round when Daniel decided to test his opponents nerves by playing 6.h4!? against the Najdorf.
The provoking move allowed white to build quite a sizable time differential, as well as a very nice position, if he would have made the correct recapture with 11.Nxd5! instead of the soft 11.exd5?. After that, it was black who had the best winning chances. In the end, Daniel’s good defensive stamina proved to be too much for Zherebukh to overcome. This exciting draw left us wanting more chess material from these two prospects!
U.S. Women’s Championship
Nemcova vs Paikidze is always one of the highlights of this event. The two ladies know each other very well and have always produced extremely entertaining games when facing each other. Unfortunately for Nemcova, she did not manage to settle the score after last year’s defeat as she again succumbed to Paikidze’s precise play.
Nazi’s confident demeanor has helped her gain a lot of fans around the world.
Nazi slowly built her advantage after a successful opening and never let go. Her bishop pair was swiftly revived when she blasted the center open with her powerful 21…f5! It was all downhill for white after that, and Nazi claimed her first win of her U.S. Women’s Championship return.
[White "Nemcova, Katerina"]
[Black "Paikidze, Nazi"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Be2 g6 5. O-O Bg7 6. Re1 O-O 7. d3 Nc6 8. h3 a6
9. Be3 e5 10. Qd2 b5 11. Na3 Rb8 12. Bf1 Qc7 13. Nc2 Ne7 14. Bg5 Bb7 15. Rad1
Rbd8 16. Qe2 Nh5 17. g4 Nf4 18. Bxf4 exf4 19. d4 Rde8 20. Bg2 Nc8 21. Nh2 f5
22. gxf5 gxf5 23. f3 Qf7 24. b3 b4 25. cxb4 d5 26. e5 cxd4 27. e6 Qc7 28. Nxd4
Ne7 29. Kh1 Nc6 30. Nxc6 Qxc6 31. Rc1 Qd6 32. b5 Re7 33. Bf1 axb5 34. Qxb5 Bd4
35. Rcd1 Bf2 36. Re2 Ba6 37. Rxd5 Bxb5 38. Rxd6 Bxe2 39. Bxe2 Rg7 40. Rd1 Kh8
41. e7 Rfg8 42. e8=Q Rxe8 43. Bc4 h5 44. a4 Ree7 45. a5 h4 46. a6 Rg5 47. b4
Rd7 48. Rf1 Be3 49. b5 Rdg7 50. Ng4 fxg4 51. hxg4 Rc7 52. Bd3 Rd5 0-1
Krush vs Foisor was a very sad affair for Foisor. After playing a brilliant game and putting the 8 time champion on the ropes, Sabina completely lost her way in the final moments of the game when her position went from winning to completely losing after several time induced inaccuracies. Irina kept her cool and, when given the opportunity, closed the game with a sequence of precise moves that forced Sabina to resign.
A somehow fortunate game for Irina, but as the saying goes, there is no luck in chess!
The live broadcast of the third round of the U.S. Championships starts tomorrow at 12:50 PM Central Time and can be followed at www.uschesschamps.com . Make sure not to miss the action!