GMs Hans Niemann and Sam Sevian were the two winners on the opening day of the US Championship in St. Louis as Niemann looked to put to bed any speculations about his over-the-board play. The women’s section saw four decisive results, including a shock win for 12-year-old FM Alice Lee over FM Ashritha Eswaran.
Round two of the event will start October 6 at 11 am PT/8 pm Central European.
How to watch the 2022 US Chess Championship
You can find the games on these pages: Open | Women, who are part of our live events platform.
The most prestigious chess event in America began on Wednesday featuring 28 of the country’s best male and female players across the two divisions. The US Championship, which was famously won by GM Bobby Fischer a record eight times, has a history of providing some of the highest quality chess in the calendar, and this year’s lineup promises to provide scintillating action. Heading the field is 2021 champion GM Wesley So, followed by stalwarts of top-level chess, GMs Fabiano Caruana and Levon Aronian, who is making his debut.
Meanwhile, Niemann will certainly draw the attention of viewers throughout the event and will look to join the tournament’s youngest participants, GM Christopher Yoo and Awonder Liang, in a bid to shake up the expected results.
In an early battle among the youngest participants, Niemann took down 15-year-old Yoo with the black pieces.
The increasingly-popular Jobava London was the weapon of choice for Yoo though things quickly turned around as the young GM was repelled through the centre.
Despite the healthy advantage, Niemann found himself with seconds left on the clock and needed to make several precise moves to make it to the time control at move 40. On move 36, Yoo helped his opponent with the blunderous 36.e6?? and was punished for the error once Niemann gained extra time on the clock. The exciting encounter was our game of the day today and GM Rafael Leitao has provided expert commentary on the game below.
The post-game interview at the Saint Louis Chess Club provided another twist to the ongoing Niemann saga as the 19-year-old GM gave his comment in weeks. The victor cut his interview short after giving a brief statement, leaving the interview room without further questioning. Host GMs Cristian Chirilla spirit Yasser Seirawan were confused by the response.
“I think that this game is a message to everyone. You know, this entire thing started with me saying ‘chess speaks for itself’ and I think this game spoke for itself and showed the chess player that I am and also showed that I am not going to back down and I’m going to play my best chess here regardless of the pressure that I’m under. That’s all I want to say 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.”
“It was such a beautiful game I don’t need to describe it.”
— Saint Louis Chess Club (@STLChessClub) October 5, 2022
The Olympiad teammates So, Aronian, and GM Sam Shankland were not in the mood for fighting on the opening day, with So and Aronian both agreeing to quick draws with the black pieces. Shankland’s game was a little testier against puzzle rush legend GM Ray Robson who provided some entertainment, castling queenside and pawn storming Shankland’s king. The Olympiad board five’s defense was adequate though and they agreed to split the point.
Caruana found himself in troubled waters against GM Leinier Dominguez who garnered the bishop pair early and began pressing his advantage. Timely activation of his rooks was the only thing that saved Caruana who was able to liquidate into a drawn ending soon after.
Sevian picked up a full point in round one after toppling GM Elshan Moradiabadi, courtesy of a move 47 gaffe from the Iranian-born competitor. The position looked 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 heroics from last year’s championship where he finished equal first, before losing the playoff to So.
After a stellar introduction to super-GM chess this year, GM Jeffery Xiong almost broke through against GM Dariusz Swiercz but had to settle for a draw in round one.
US Championship | All Games Round 1
Round One Open Standings
The US Women’s Championship this year will see GM Irina Krush vie for her ninth title (the first of which came back in 1998!). Given that the 2021 champion IM Carissa Yip is not taking part in this year’s championship, Krush holds a 50 rating point advantage over the second seed IM Anna Zatonskih. The youngest player in the field at only 12 years old, Lee, will look to prove her prodigy status with a big result in the event.
The Women’s Championship started with three decisive results, with the young Lee, WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova, and WIM Megan Lee all winning their respective games.
Lee made a huge statement after knocking over the third seed, WIM Ashritha Eswaran, with black. Employing the Caro-Kann, Lee survived an early kingside onslaught and proceeded to launch a central barrage of her own that paid dividends.
Flashy tactics were the theme in Tokhirjonova’s game against WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki and several brilliant moves helped the fifth seed score a win. See if you can spot the brutal attacking finish below.
The most anticipated game 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.
The final game to finish in round one was a long battle between Zatonskih and FM Jennifer Yu. Yu looked poised to upset the tournament’s second seed with the black pieces before her experienced opponent fought back to an equal rook and pawn ending. With time slipping away on both player’s clocks, Yu clutched up and tricked Zatonskih to shoot to the top of the leaderboard.
US Women’s Championship | All Games Round 1
Round One Women’s Standings
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The 2022 US Chess Championships take place October 4-20, 2022 in St. Louis to determine the next chess champions of the United States. The 2022 US Women’s Championship is being held concurrently. Both events have the same format: 14 players, 13-round tournament with a $250,500 prize fund for the US Championship, and $154,000 for the US Women’s Championship.