Both GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Irina Krush managed to qualify to the finals of the American Cup, after drawing the second game and avoiding a playoff in their Champions Bracket matches against GM Leinier Dominguez and FM Alice Lee.
In the Elimination Bracket, GM Levon Aronian defeated GM Ray Robson 2-0, while WGM Tatev Abrahamyan ended up winning a playoff against WGM Begim Tokhirjonova. Taking place tomorrow will be the finals of the Elimination Bracket, with Aronian facing Dominguez and Lee taking on Abrahamyan for one more chance at overall tournament victory.
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.
DOMINGUEZ - CARUANA 1/2-1/2
After winning the first game, Fabiano Caruana needed just a draw to win the match, but a good preparation by Dominguez in the Italian Game earned him a serious advantage on the clock, as well as a clearly better position where he could play against Black’s isolated pawn. But a very practical pawn sacrifice by Caruana changed the character of the game, not letting Dominguez to simply improve his position. Dominguez was then unable to keep his edge as the players entered a rook and knight endgame where Black always had enough counterplay to survive. Further good defense by Caruana allowed him to hold the game, clinching the classical match 1.5-0.5.
23…e3! threw a wrench into White’s plans, as there was no comfortable way to capture the pawn. | ½-½, 56 moves
GM Fabiano Caruana | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
LEE - KRUSH 1/2-1/2
Also needing just a draw to clinch the match was Krush, who opted for the solid Cambridge Springs Variation against her young opponent. Lee played quite solidly in the middlegame, but wasn’t able to outplay Krush, who slowly managed to trade down into a drawish heavy piece endgame. Krush even ended up with an extra pawn in a rook endging, but the position offered no winning chances for Black and the players soon repeated moves to draw the game.
GM Irina Krush | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
ARONIAN - ROBSON | 2-0
In a rematch of the Champions Bracket, Aronian started out the first playoff game with an interesting setup in a Reverse Benoni, forcing Robson to burn a lot of time in the opening. Unfortunately for Robson, his time-trouble would end up being the deciding factor in the match, as he eventually went down to 1 minute versus 15 and couldn’t maintain his accuracy. A few moves later, Aronian setup a nice tactic to win the exchange and converted the first game with ease.
37.Nxc5! was Aronian’s winning trick, with idea 37…Qxc5 38.d4 and 37…Qxf4 38.Nxd7+ | 1-0, 45 moves
In the second game Robson again started spending a lot of time out of the opening, looking to keep the position as complicated as possible. But Aronian played quickly and confidently, even sacrificing an exchange for a strong initiative on the kingside. Robson was then forced to enter a position with two rooks for the queen, but his king was too exposed and a further blunder allowed Aronian to win the second game as well.
GM Levon Aronian | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes
TOKHIRJONOVA - ABRAHAMYAN | 1-3
The initial two games in the Elimination Match both came down to a complicated rook endgame. First Abrahamyan missed a serious chance to win as Black, allowing a draw–then Tokhirjonova was better in the next game but couldn’t make anything of her advantage, leading to a 1-1 tie and forcing a playoff.
The first game of the playoff was quite a sharp struggle in the Italian Game, with very few pieces getting traded before the players entered time-trouble. As the clocks ticked down, the position opened up, with many possible tactics under the surface. A strategic blunder by Tokhirjonova allowed Abrahamyan to trade off the light-squared bishops, leaving Black’s kingside extremely vulnerable. Abrahamyan pounced on the chance and immediately decided the game with a powerful attack.
34.Qc2+! was the game-winner, taking control over the light-squares on the kingside. After 34…f5 35.Ne5+ Black could not go 35…Kf6 in view of 36.Nh5 mate! | 1-0, 36 moves
In the second game Tokhirjonova got a bit of pressure as White out of the opening, but it was quickly neutralized as Abrahamyan generated decent counterplay on the queenside. The players then traded down into a heavy-piece endgame where only Black (Abrahamyan) had chances to push for the win. In the ensuing time scramble Tokhirjonova ended up blundering her queen, and was forced to resign on the spot.
Abrahamyan vs. Tokhirjonova during their Elimination Match | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller
Day 7 of the 2022 American Cup will take place Tuesday April 26 starting at 12:50 PM CT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Cristian Chirila, and Alejandro Ramirez on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.
Watch all the action LIVE at USChessChamps.com
Text: IM Kostya Kavutskiy
Photo credit: Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes and Austin Fuller
Dates & Location:
April 20 - 29, 2022, Saint Louis Chess Club
Photos and appropriate credits available on Flickr
Rebecca Buffington email@example.com
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