2022 U.S. Championship: Fabiano Caruana and Jennifer Yu clinch titles

Text: NM Vanessa West

GM Fabiano Caruana is the 2022 U.S. Champion, clinching his second title with a draw in the 13th and final round of the tournament against GM Levon Aronian, a first-time competitor in the U.S. Championship.

The U.S. Women’s Championship was decided in a playoff between GM Irina Krush and WGM Jennifer Yu. Krush drew a hard-fought game vs. IM Anna Zatonskih. Meanwhile, Yu scored a must-win victory vs. WGM Thalia Cerventes, tying with Krush and getting a rematch for the title.

U.S. Championship –  Final Standings

U.S. Women’s Championship – Standings after Round 13

2022 U.S. Championship

GM Fabiano Caruana vs. GM Levon Aronian ½-½

Twelve minutes into the game, the opponents had already played 34 moves into a repetition draw. However, this was not your typical quick GM draw. As Caruana later explained: “Normally I would’ve liked to play, at least a little bit. Of course a draw is a good result in the last round, considering the tournament situation… It’s a big day for Levon, and I thought it would be wrong for me to play this game.” Catch his full post-game interview on our YouTube Channel.

Caruana and Aronian drew before the delayed broadcast even began but for an atypical reason. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

GM Ray Robson vs. GM Jeffery Xiong ½-½

Ray Robson fought for the win and his chance at a playoff for the title but lost his advantage when Jeffery Xiong counterattacked on the kingside.

Robson pressed with a small edge for over 30 moves, but with 38…f5 Xiong took over the advantage after 39.Bxf5 Qxh4 40.Bxd7 Nxd7. The players fought for 72 moves before drawing. | ½-½, 72 moves

Though they drew, Robson and Xiong came ready for a fight and dueled for over five hours. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

GM Dariusz Swiercz vs. GM Christopher Yoo 0-1

The youngest player in the U.S. Championship, Christopher Yoo, finished on a victory, winning a tactical game vs. GM Dariusz Swiercz.

Yoo sealed the victory with 33…b4! breaking the pin on his queen with a double attack against the Swiercz’s queen and rook. | 0-1, 33 moves

GM Leinier Dominguez vs. GM Sam Shankland ½-½

Though both players were hoping to have a chance to play for the win, Leinier Dominguez vs. Sam Shankland ended in a 10 move draw. Shankland explains his disappointment with this result in his interview after the game: “I’m sorry for how this ended. I’ve been one of the most vocal critics of people making this Qe4-Qd4 draw in the Berlin. I wrote in my Chessable course that anyone who does this more than once with white just shouldn’t be invited to tournaments. I just felt like I owe the world an apology…”

GM Elshan Moradiabadi vs. GM Aleksandr Lenderman 0-1

Aleksandr Lenderman finished his tournament on a victory, battling for the upper hand vs. GM Elshan Moradiabadi for 72 moves.

The rest of the games ended in draws.

2022 U.S. Women’s Championship

WGM Thalia Cervantes vs. WGM Jennifer Yu 0-1

Jennifer Yu won a critical game with the black pieces vs. her closest competitor, Thalia Cervantes.

Yu recaptured with 42…cxd4 when she has great pressure on her opponent between her active rooks on kingside outposts and passed d-pawn. After 43.Rc4 d3 44.Ra4 Ne5 45.Rxa5 Ng6, Black’s knight joined the attack, and Yu soon crashed through on the kingside. | 0-1, 57 moves

Yu came through in the last round, giving her the opportunity at a rematch vs. Krush for the championship. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

GM Irina Krush vs. IM Anna Zatonskih ½-½

Irina Krush and longtime rival Anna Zatonskih fought a close game to a king vs. king draw.

Though Krush pressed her edge with white for a while, Zatonskih consolidated and after 56…Qc5, the players traded into a balanced ending, drawing on move 87. | ½-½, 87 moves

Krush will fight for her ninth U.S. Women’s Championship title in the playoff vs. Yu. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

FM Alice Lee vs. WIM Megan Lee 0-1

Megan Lee capped off her tournament with a king attack victory.

Megan Lee ripped open Alice Lee’s kingside with 17…Nxg3! and won material to boot after 18.cxd5 (if 18.hxg3 Qh1+ 19.Kf2 Ne4+ 20.Bxe4 fxe4 21.Ne5 Bxe5 22.dxe5 Qf3+ 23.Kg1 Rh1#) 18…Nxf1 19.Bxf1 exd5  | 0-1, 60 moves

Megan Lee finishes her tournament with an attacking victory. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

FM Rochelle Wu vs. WGM Sabina Foisor 1-0

Rochelle Wu defeated Sabina Foisor with a clever interference tactic to win material.

Wu played 30.Bd6! cutting off the defense of the d2-rook to win the exchange after 30…R2xd6 31.cxd6 Qxd6 Qxf5  | 1-0, 60 moves

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan and Sophie Morris-Suzuki also finished their tournaments with victories while Begim Tokhirjonova and Ruiyang Yan drew.

With the U.S. Women’s Championship hanging in the balance, the playoff between WGM Jennifer Yu and GM Irina Krush was a thrilling fight between these fierce competitors from start to finish. In the end, Yu won the playoff in an armageddon tiebreak, gaining her second title, and becoming the 2022 U.S. Women’s Champion.

Jennifer Yu, our 2022 U.S. Women’s Champion | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

U.S. Women’s Championship – Final Standings

Playoff Game 1: Jennifer Yu vs. Irina Krush 1-0

In an incredibly close game with both clocks down to mere seconds, the players repeated the position twice. Jennifer Yu paused. Her 13 seconds began to tick away when she declined the repetition draw offer and found the key checkmating idea.

Yu played 45.Qf7!, and there’s no way for Black to escape the checkmate threats on g8 and h7. The game finished with 45…Qxf8 46.Qxh7#  | 1-0, 46 moves

Yu wins the first game to gain the match lead. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Playoff Game 2: Irina Krush vs. Jennifer Yu 1-0

In a must-win position, Irina Krush countered with her own attacking victory, sending the match into an Armageddon tiebreak.

Krush played 37.Bh8! showing her dominance of the dark squares and creating a checkmate threat on g7. Yu had to give up a pawn to prevent mate: 37…f6 38.Qxf6 Qf7. The game continued 39.Qc3 Bb5 40.Rd1 and soon won material with her king attack. | 1-0, 48 moves

Krush makes a comeback in game 2. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Armageddon Game: Irina Krush vs. Jennifer Yu 0-1

Krush had the white pieces with five minutes while Yu had the black pieces with four minutes and draw odds. The time control had no increment unless the game lasted past the 60th move.

Shockingly, Yu blundered a bishop. Despite this, the players fought on, and Yu defended against Krush’s extra material. In the final position, with two bishops and a rook vs. a queen and two pawns, Krush ran out of time.

With 47…h4, Yu had nearly equalized on the board, and then Krush’s flag fell. | 0-1, 47 moves

The moment that Yu became the 2022 U.S. Women’s Champion. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Dates & Location: 
September 14 – September 16, 2022
Saint Louis Chess Club

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