Robson and Burke score
A year after the pandemic forced U.S. championships organizers to put together online tournaments, the strong national event returns to over-the-board chess in Saint Louis. Three days before the kick-off of the Russian championships in Ufa, chess fans will see the two strongest national tournaments in the world almost simultaneously.
Of the country’s top 10 players, only Hikaru Nakamura and Gata Kamsky are missing from the line-up, while Lazaro Bruzon (currently number 11 in the national rankings) makes his debut following his transfer from the Cuban federation.
Fabiano Caruana got into trouble early on against Lazaron Bruzon | Photo: Lennart Ootes
In round 1, the top three rated players had to work hard to save half the points. Fabiano Caruana ran into trouble early in his game against Bruzón; Wesley So was worse but kept things under control against Jeffery Xiong; while Leinier Dominguez only managed to draw after 62 moves with Black against Aleksandr Lenderman.
The day’s winners were Ray Robson and 2020 U.S. Junior Champion John Burke. While Robson had no major problems making the most of Daniel Naroditsky’s below average game, Burke survived a lost position before taking the full point against Dariusz Swiercz.
Swiercz missed his chance on move 24.
Here White had to start with 24.axb5 when Black is in trouble, no matter how he hits back. The tactical idea that gives White the advantage is to move the queen to a3, which creates threats against the king while the knight on e7 is attacked.
Swiercz played instead 24.exf6, and then 24 … Rxf6 25.axb5 cxb5 26.Qa3, Black can play 26 … Qd6 keep everything under control. Moving order is important.
Burke won the game after his opponent played wrong again in an endgame with rook, bishop and knight against rook and two bishops.
Dariusz Swiercz and John Burke | Photo: Lennart Ootes
Tables after round 1
In the women’s category, Irina Krush (8-time winner) and Anna Zatonskih (4-time winner) are once again the top seeds and meet a line-up of young up-and-coming stars who want to leave their mark. 18-year-old Carissa Yip is third seeded and the only player other than Krush and Zatonskih with a rating of 2400 or higher, while two-time champion Nazi Paikidze arrives fourth seeded – Paikidze won the event for the last time in 2018 and did it at the do not participate in the following two events.
Four players started the tournament with a win. The biggest surprise came from Katerina Nemcova, who defeated Zatonskih with the white pieces in 31 moves. The latter came to a decisive halt in an armed position on the 28th train.
Black’s best move here is 28 … Qb4 and is preparing to react to 29.Nxf7 with 29 … Qxd4 +, and the connected central pawns give enough counterplay for the exchange. Instead, Zatonskih played 28 … R7f6what does not succeed 29Nd3
Retreating jumpers’ moves are always difficult to predict – 29 … R6f5 30.Rxf5 Rf1 + 31.Rexf1 and Black stepped back.
Katerina Nemcova | Photo: Crystal Fuller