US Chess Championships R1: Robson and Burke take the lead

One of America’s most anticipated tournaments, the US Chess Championships, had its first round on Wednesday, October 6. This event is, as usual, organized by the Saint Louis Chess Club. Twelve players compete for the $ 194,000 prize fund in the US Championship, while twelve women play for the $ 100,000 prize fund in the US Women’s Championship.

How to look?
US Chess Championship games are available here: Open | Women.

In the American championship, the seeds are GM Fabiano Caruana (2800 FIDE), Wesley So (2778) and Leinier Dominguez Perez (2760). It is home to a number of other extremely strong players, such as the best young American talent GM Jeffery Xiong, the former American champion GM Samuel Shankland and many more. It should be noted that GM Lazaro Bruzon Batista is participating in the American championship for the first time since the change of federation of Cuba.

In the US Women’s Championship event, the top players are GM Irina Krush (2429 FIDE), MI Anna Zatonskih (2422) and MI Carissa Yip (2402).

With this introduction behind, let’s see how the tournament started. And by no means did it start as many expected!

General manager John Burke became one of two leaders after the first round
General manager John Burke became one of two leaders after the first round
Photo: Crystal Fuller / Saint Louis Chess Club.

GMs John M. Burke and Ray Robson were the only players to win their matches in the first round, against GMs Dariusz Swiercz and Daniel Naroditsky respectively. Burke and Robson took the lead in the tournament, while seeds Caruana, So and Dominguez drew.

Another first-round hero was GM Ray Robson (left). Note that the CEO who graduated from the SPICE program at Webster University wears a SPICE mask. Photo: Crystal Fuller / Saint Louis Chess Club.

It is quite astonishing that two of the favorites, Caruana and Dominguez, were in great danger today. Caruana was dominated by Bruzon and miraculously survived as the former Cuban Grandmaster struggled with time.

This is GM Bruzon’s very first American championship. In the first round, he gave seed Caruana a hard time and almost beat him with Black. Photo: Lennart Ootes / Saint Louis Chess Club.

In the Dominguez match against GM Alex Lenderman, Dominguez mixed something up in the opening and struggled to find active moves after Lenderman advanced his d-pawn. However, the Whites misinterpreted the position and gave the top seed a break.

Interestingly, both Robson and Burke were members of the famous SPICE chess program at Webster University. Robson graduated a few years ago, while Burke has just started his freshman year. The same is true of a few other players, such as Bruzon and Lenderman. In the women’s section, WGM Katerina Nemcova also graduated from Webster and was a member of SPICE.

United States Championship All Games, Round 1

1st round ranking

# fed Player Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 pts SB
1 Robson, Ray 2669 1 1.0 / 1 0
2 Burke, John M 2554 1 1.0 / 1 0
3 Caruana, Fabiano 2800 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
4 So, Wesley 2778 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
5 Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2760 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
6 Shankland, Sam 2714 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
7 Xiong, Jeffery 2700 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
8 Sevian, Samuel 2654 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
9 Bruzon Batista, Lazaro 2645 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
ten Lenderman, Alexander 2607 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
11 Swiercz, Dariusz 2647 0 0.0 / 1 0
12 Naroditsky, Daniel 2623 0 0.0 / 1 0

In the US Women’s Championship, four matches ended decisively: Krush dominated WIM Megan Lee, Nemcova defeated Zatonskih, WIM Ashritha Eswaran won against WGM Anna Sharevich and finally, WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova defeated WGM Tatev Abrahamyan in a match absolutely crazy, where at one point the engine was showing +75 (!) for his opponent.

Another debutant of the American championships, WGM Tokhirzhonova, achieved a victory and became one of the leaders. Photo credit: Lennart Ootes / Saint Louis Chess Club.

The first round gave us a number of surprising results. There is no doubt that the next rounds will be even more exciting, so be sure to follow the online feeds and read the reports from the next tournaments!

U.S. Women’s Championship Every Game, Round 1

1st round ranking

# fed Player Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 pts SB
1 Krush, Irina 2429 1 1.0 / 1 0
2 Nemcova, Katerina 2331 1 1.0 / 1 0
3 Tokhirjonova, Gulrukhbegim 2322 1 1.0 / 1 0
4 Eswaran, Ashrita 2244 1 1.0 / 1 0
5 Yep, Carissa 2402 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
6 Paikidze, nazi 2374 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
7 Foisor, Sabina-Francesca 2205 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
8 Cervantes Landeiro, Thalia 2175 ½ 0.5 / 1 0.25
9 Zatonskih, Anna 2422 0 0.0 / 1 0
ten Abrahamyan, Tatev 2344 0 0.0 / 1 0
11 Sharevitch, Anna 2276 0 0.0 / 1 0
12 Lee, Megan 2211 0 0.0 / 1 0

The 2021 US Chess Championships will be held October 5-19, 2021 in St. Louis to determine the next US Chess Champions. The 2021 United States Women’s Championship is running concurrently. Both events have the same format: 12 players, 11 round tournament with a prize of $ 194,000 for the US Championship and $ 100,000 for the US Women’s Championship.


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