Fall season heats up with US title tournaments, Washington Chess Congress

The fall chess season is in full swing, with strong national and local events coming up in the coming days and a world title match to be expected in November.

The US Championship and US Women’s Championship kick off this week at the St. Louis Chess Club, with reigning US title holder GM Wesley So and eight-time GM women’s champion Irina Krush looking to defend their titles for another year. Thankfully, both 12-player events will be played over the board after migrating to the internet last year in the depths of the COVID-19 shutdown.

So, who just lost to world champion Magnus Carlsen last week in the season-long Meltwater Champions Chess Tour quick final, will face a formidable lineup of challengers, including world No.2 GM Fabiano Caruana, the 2019 American champion GM Sam Shankland and hot red GM Leinier Dominguez Perez.

On the women’s side, local heroine IM Jennifer Yu of Ashburn, the 2019 Women’s Champion, will not be on the pitch this year. But three former US champions – IM Anna Zatonskih, IM Nazi Paikidze and WGM Sabina Foisor – will compete, as will three-time US junior girls champion IM Carissa Yip, who many believe will win multiple US crowns before the end of the season. his career. on.

Both events will start on Wednesday and run through October 19. The tournament also offers the toughest bonus prize in the game: Any contender who can match Bobby Fischer’s legendary 11-0 unbeaten streak in the 1963-1964 U.S. Championship wins a $ 64,000, awarded by benefactors. of the Saint Louis Chess Club Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield.

Closer to home, the 12th Annual Washington Chess Convention has been relocated but is still underway as of Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City. The floods forced the four-day Swiss event, one of the highlights of the local chess calendar, to leave its original host, the Sheraton Reston.

Masks will be compulsory for all players. The show is free and there will be books, boards and other props for sale. To verify www.chesstour.com/wacc21.htm for more details.

We will have some action and color in all three events over the next few days, as well as a 12-game world title match between Carlsen and Russian challenger GM Ian Nepomniachtchi which kicks off on November 24 in Dubai.

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Winning a world title – I’m told – is nice, a quick guarantee of immortality in chess.

But it takes grandeur just to knock on the door, even if you don’t come in. England GM Nigel Short lost a one-sided title match to one of his best Garry Kasparovs in 1993, but he continues to be an active and dangerous presence on the international stage almost three decades later.

At the recent 26th annual Sigeman & Co. chess tournament in Malmö, Sweden, Short had a solid 4-3, good for a three-way tie for second place. His only loss was against tournament winner GM Jorden van Foreest of the Netherlands. Short’s best game in the event was against veteran French GM Etienne Bacrot on the white side of a tense, double-edged Sicilian.

With 16. Nd2 Qc6 17. b3, Short reinforces his queen side, but the developmental lead and the activity of Black’s pieces give him a very playable position from the opening. Bacrot’s promising positional pawn bag with 22. Re2 b5! 23. axb5 Bc3 + gives him attack lines deep in white position and threatens to turn Short’s queen flank with the white king still trapped in the center of the board.

White retaliates just in time with 27. g4! Nxb3! 28. kg2! (Qxb3 ?! Qd3! 29. Qc2 Rxb1 + 30. Kg2 Qxc2 31. Rxc2 Rxh1 32. Rxh1 Bd4 seems much more pleasant for Black), winning the exchange of two pawns after 28… Nc5 29. Nd5 Qxc4 30. Ne7 + Kf8 31. Nxc8 Bxc8 32. Ba2 Qxb5 33. Rxa1 Bxa1, and suddenly it’s White with the initiative and the forces to exploit the file opened.

A nice one-two tactic opens the game: 35. Bxc5! (an unexpected exchange, but Black’s takeover is forced as 35… Qxc5 36. Da2 Bd4 37. Bxf7 wins a pawn) dxc5 36. Da2 Bd4 37. Da8 Qb7 38. Ra2! Ke8 (see diagram) 39. Bxf7 +! Kxf7 (Qxf7 40. Qxc8 + Ke7 41. Ra7 + Rd6 42. Qa6 mate) 40. Ra7, pinning and winning the queen.

Black’s bishop pair and passed queen’s pawns make it more difficult to win, but Short navigates the tactical benches to bring the point back while preventing Black’s b-pawn from making a queen. After 50. g6 Bd3 51. g7 !, 51… Bxg7 loses to 52. Qd5 + Ke7 53. Qxd3.

White’s moving queen and the advancing h pawn turn out to be too much at the end, even with Bacrot’s pawn moved to a square of glory: 56. Qd6 + Kc8 (K8 57. e6 Bb5 58. Qb8 + Ke7 59. Qxb5 and wins) 57. Qxc5 + Kb7 58. Qb4 + Ka7 59. h4 Fe6 60. h5 Ka6 61. h6 Bf5 62. h7! force resignation like 62… Bxh7 63. Qd6 + Ka5 64. Qc7 + Kb4 65. Qxh7 takes the piece while keeping control of queen’s square b1.

Short-Bacrot, 26th Sigeman & Co. Tournament, Malmö, Sweden, September 2021

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. f3 e5 7. Nb3 Fe6 8. Cd5 Fe7 9. Fe3 OO 10. c4 a5 11. Bb6 Qd7 12. a4 Tfc8 13. Bf2 Bd8 14. Bf2 Nb4 15. Nxb4 axb4 16. Nd2 Qc6 17. b3 Bb6 18. Nf1 Cd7 19. Bd3 Bc5 20. Ce3 Bd4 21. Ra2 Qc5 22. Te2 b5 23. axb5 Bc3 + 24. Kf1 Ra1 25. Bb1 Qd4 26. Qc2 Nc5 27. g4 Nxb3 28. Kg2 Nc5 29. Nd5 Qxc4 30. Ce7 + Rf8 31. Nxc8 Bxc8 32. Ba2 Qxb5 33. Txa1 Bxa1 34. Bc4 Qb6 35. Bxc5 dxc5 36. Da2 Ke8 377. Bxf7 + Rxf7 40. Ra7 Qd7 41. Qd5 + Ke7 42. Qxd7 + Bxd7 43. Qg8 Rd6 44. g5 Be6 45. Qxg7 b3 46. Qxh7 b2 47. Qb7 Bf7 48. f4 exf4 49. Rf3 Bd3 50. 51. g7 Bc4 Qb6 + Rd7 53. Rxf4 Bxg7 54. e5 Bh6 + 55. Kg3 Bc1 56. Qd6 + Rc8 57. Qxc5 + Kb7 58. Qb4 + Ka7 59. h4 Fe6 60. h5 Ka6 61. h6 Bf5 62. h7 Black quits

• David R. Sands can be reached at 202 / 636-3178 or by email at [email protected]

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