So the final round. Caruana finished the event with an exclamation mark. His top result was indirectly due to Hikaru Nakamura and especially Wesley So, who pressed Alexander Lenderman to the last minute, but could not do more than draw.
It was somewhat surprising to see the tame finish by the usually uncompromising Naka. Already on move 28 the players began to repeat moves. One can congratulate Ray Robson on an excellent result, and he certainly deserves a place in the Olympiad team. But all attention in the playing hall was on the following encounter:
Chandra - Caruana
For a long time, Akash had held his top opponent, but as the time control approached and time shortage became a factor, he began making at first minor, then more serious errors. 33.Bf1?! – There was no need to retreat the bishop. 33… Rb8 34.Rb4 Ra8 35.Rb7 Raa2 36.Nh1 c5 37.Rc7 Ra5 38.Ng3 Rc2 39.c4 g6
40.Rb1 – The last move of the time control. Maybe he should have tried 40.Nf5!? 40…Kg7 41.Rcb7 Raa2 42.Nh1 Bxc4 43.Bxc4 Rxc4 44.Re7 Rb4 45.Rd1 Rd4 46.Rb1 Ne6 47.Rbb7 Nd8 48.Rbc7 Kf6
49.f4? – Ritual suicide! The youngster finally cracks. 49…Rd1 50.Kh2 exf4 51.e5 Kg5 52.Rxc5 Ne6 53.Rc3 Rdd2 – White resigns (0:1). Fabi has not only gained the moral (and formal) right to be regarded as the top American player, but has also now moved to number two in the live rating list. Perhaps I can be accused of being too emotional, but the situation in the chess world is such that a world championship match-tournament between Carlsen-Karjakin-Caruana-Anand looks like it would be great. There would be enormous interest.
The final round brought together the oldest and youngest players. Xiong was close to winning, very close, but Alexander held (the Riga Chess School!) and was congratulated on his defence. The drawing mechanism deserves a diagram.
Xiong - Shabalov
Jeffery was upset, of course, as he so wanted to end the tournament on a plus score. But there is no doubt about his brilliant chess future. The only small "but" is the one which has blighted so many promising chess careers here. America is a country with so many possibilities and chess has difficulty competing on equal terms with them. Tal Shaked, Ilya Gurevich and countless other young talents have been lost to the game. But let's be optimistic and believe in a great (chess) future for Xiong!
Tatevik Abrahamian was the most dramatic figure in the women's championship...
Abrahamian's task in clinching the title did not look so hard, as her main rival Paikidze had Black against Krush and so a draw would serve the leader for outright first place. But the leader's plans were thwarted by Ashritha Eswaran, who was not interested in just making up the numbers. Already on move 32, Black had to resign:
The disappointed leader left the hall, under the glances of her rivals. Now the fate of the championship would be decided in this game:
Krush - Paikidze
22…f5 – Nazi plays very actively, but the more restrained 22…N7f6 (bringing the cavalry to the area of battle), recommended by Stockfish, was probably stronger. 23.e5 g5! – Showing ambition. 24.fxg5 Nxe5 25.Rf2? – It seems Irina was stumbling.
She could take the queen with 25… Nd3, but the ex-Georgian champion was obviously nervous, when so close to the aim. . 25…Ne3?! 26.Nb3 Nxg2 27.Rxg2 f4 28.Qc3 Nc4 29.Qf3 Qf5 30.Nxc5 Qxc5 31.b4 Qf5 32.Rf2 Re4 33.Rg1 Rae8
The position is very difficult with flags hanging: 34.Bc7?? Re3 35.Qxf4 Rxh3 36.Kg2 Ne3 37.Qxe3 Qg4 38.Qg3 Rxg3 – It is all over, although Nazi played the most solid, rather than the quickest way to wrap things up. But who would have done differently in her position? But the result was the same. Black won (0:1). Nazi is Champion!
Once again, spectators can congratulate the organisers on a briliant tournament. And now attention turns again to Norway. But today in St Louis there will be a special show...
The 13th world champion joins the commentators. His mood before the blitz event looks excellent!
St Louis, US Championships 11th round. Hopes fulfilled, hopes unfulfilled