Niemann: “This game is a message for everyone”

General managers Hans Niemann and Sam Sevian were the two winners on Day 1 of the U.S. Championship in St. Louis as Niemann sought to end any speculation he was playing excessively. The women’s section saw four decisive results, including a surprise win for 12-year-old FM Alice Lee over FM Ashritha Eswaran.

The second round of the event will begin on October 6 at 11:00 a.m. PT/8:00 p.m. Central Europe.

How to watch the 2022 American Chess Championship
You can find the games on these pages: Open | Women, who are part of our live event platform.

America’s most prestigious chess event kicked off Wednesday with 28 of the nation’s top male and female players in both divisions. The U.S. Championship, which has been won by GM Bobby Fischer a record eight times, is accustomed to providing some of the highest quality chess on the calendar, and this year’s lineup promises to deliver some scintillating action. Leading the pack is 2021 GM champion Wesley So, followed by high-level chess mainstays GMs Fabiano Caruana and debuting Levon Aronian.

Wesley So (pictured with legendary Filipino general manager Eugenio Torre) is looking to add a fourth US title to his trophy cabinet. Photo: Lennart Ootes/St. Louis Chess Club.

Meanwhile, Niemann is sure to grab viewers’ attention throughout the event and look to join the tournament’s youngest entrants, GM Christopher Yoo and Awonder Liang, in an effort to shake up the expected results.

In an early battle between the younger participants, Niemann defeated 15-year-old Yoo with the black pieces.

Niemann posed with chess fans and staff during the opening ceremony. Photo: Crystal Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

The increasingly popular Jobava London was Yoo’s weapon of choice, although things quickly turned around when the young general manager was pushed back by the centre.

Despite the healthy advantage, Niemann was left with seconds on the clock and had to make several precise moves to achieve time control at move 40. At move 36, Yoo helped his opponent with the clumsy 36.e6 ?? and was punished for the error once Niemann gained extra time on the clock. The thrilling encounter was our Match of the Day today and GM Rafael Leitao provided expert commentary on the game below.

The post-match interview at the Saint Louis Chess Club put another spin on the ongoing Niemann saga as the 19-year-old general manager made his comment within weeks. The Victor cut his interview short after giving a brief statement, leaving the interview room without further question. GM hosts Christian Chirila and Yasser Seirawan were taken aback by the response.

“I think this game is a message for everyone. You know, it all started with me saying ‘chess speaks for itself’ and I think this game speaks for itself and showed the player chess that I am and also showed that I am I’m not going to back down and I’m going to play my best game of chess here no matter how much pressure I’m under That’s all I want to say to About this game. You know, chess speaks for itself, that’s all I can say. You can leave it to your own interpretation, but thank you. That’s all I’d like to say, yes If it was such a beautiful game, I don’t need to describe it.

Olympiad teammates So, Aronian and general manager Sam Shankland were in no mood to fight on opening day, with So and Aronian both accepting quick draws with the black pieces. Shankland’s game was a little tougher against GM puzzle legend Ray Robson who provided entertainment, castling to queenside and pawn storming Shankland’s king. The Olympiad five board defense was adequate, however, and they agreed to split the point.

Caruana found himself in troubled waters against GM Leinier Dominguez who got the bishop pair early and started pushing his advantage. The timely activation of his towers was the only thing that saved Caruana who was able to wind up in a draw ending soon after.

Caruana survived a first-round scare. Photo: Lennart Ootes/St. Louis Chess Club.

Sevian picked up a full point in the first round after knocking down GM Elshan Moradiabadi, courtesy of a blundering 47 move from the Iranian-born contender. The position appeared to be heading for a draw, but Moradiabadi’s sense of danger was a little off, allowing Sevian to capitalize. Sevian will be hoping to repeat his championship exploits from last year where he tied for first before losing the playoffs to So.

After a great introduction to super-GM chess this year, GM Jeffery Xiong came close to breaking through against GM Dariusz Swiercz but had to settle for a draw in the first round.

American Championship | All Round 1 games

Open classification of the first round

# fed Player Evaluation Total
1 Samuel Sevian 2684 1
2 Hans Niemann 2699 1
3 Alexander Lenderman 2535 0.5
4 Levon Aronian 2755 0.5
5 Awonder Liang 2608 0.5
6 so wesley 2774 0.5
seven Jeffrey Xiong 2690 0.5
8 Dariusz Swiercz 2652 0.5
9 Sam Shankland 2712 0.5
ten Ray Robson 2690 0.5
11 Fabien Caruana 2763 0.5
12 Leinier Dominguez 2747 0.5
13 Elshan Moradiabadi 2534 0.5
14 Christopher Yoo 2563 0.5

This year, the US Women’s Championship will see GM Irina Krush fight for her ninth title (the first of which came back in 1998!). With 2021 IM champion Carissa Yip not competing in this year’s championship, Krush holds a 50-point advantage over second-seeded IM Anna Zatonskih. The youngest player on the board at just 12 years old, Lee, will be looking to prove her prodigy status with a big result in the event.

Krush is chasing his ninth title! Photo: Lennart Ootes/St. Louis Chess Club.

The Women’s Championship began with three decisive results, with young Lee, WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova and WIM Megan Lee winning all of their respective matches.

Lee made a huge statement after knocking down third seed WIM Ashritha Eswaran with black. Employing the Caro-Kann, Lee survived an early kingside assault and launched his own center barrage which paid dividends.

Flashy tactics were the theme of Tokhirjonova’s match against WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki and several brilliant moves helped the fifth seed to a victory. See if you can spot the brutal attack finish below.

The most anticipated match of the round was the clash between Olympiad teammates Krush and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan which ended in a draw after both players missed small chances.

Abrahamyan attended the opening ceremony and drew top seed Krush as his first-round opponent. Photo: Lennart Ootes/St. Louis Chess Club.

The last match to end in the first round was a long battle between Zatonskih and FM Jennifer Yu. Yu looked set to upset the tournament’s second seed with the black pieces before her experienced opponent battled to an end of equal rook and pawn. As time ticked down on both players’ clocks, Yu latched on and tricked Zatonskih into shooting up the leaderboard.

US Women’s Championship | All Round 1 games

Women’s first round standings

# fed Player Evaluation Total
1 Jennifer Yu 2297 1
2 Megan Lee 2226 1
3 Alice Lee 2263 1
4 Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova 2336 1
5 Tatev Abrahamyan 2308 0.5
6 Irina Krush 2432 0.5
seven Sabina Francesca Foisor 2203 0.5
8 Nazi Paikidze 2354 0.5
9 Thalia Cervantes Landeiro 2272 0.5
ten Ruiyang Yan 2220 0.5
11 Anna Zatonskih 2368 0
12 Rochelle Wu 2317 0
13 Ashritha Eswaran 2365 0
14 Sophie Morris-Suzuki 2126 0

The 2022 USA Chess Championships will be held October 4-20, 2022 in St. Louis to determine the next USA Chess Champions. The 2022 U.S. Women’s Championship takes place simultaneously. Both events have the same format: 14 player, 13 round tournament with a prize pool of $250,500 for the US Championship and $154,000 for the US Women’s Championship.

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