Clutch Draw Eliminates Hess At U.S. Championship Online Qualifier
Day five of the U.S. Championship Online Qualifier was relatively quiet, with GMs Daniel Naroditsky, Aleksandr Lenderman, Timur Gareyev, Dariusz Swiercz, Elshan Moradiabadi, and IM Christopher Yoo all drawing their games.
The game between GMs Robert Hess and Andrew Tang was an amazing battle full of tactics and danger, but it also ended as a draw. The result for his fans was that Hess is no longer in the running for first place, leaving seven people competing for the chance to qualify for a spot at the 2021 U.S. Chess Championship.
Every round will be streamed live at Chess.com/tv starting at 2 p.m. Pacific time, December 11-18. The games can also be found here as part of our live games platform.
The live broadcast of the fifth round.
Tang vs. Hess (0.5)
Hess shared an apt description of this game during his appearance on the Chess.com/tv stream after the game: “This game was anything but solid, it was chaotic.”
Tang went for a grounded London System in the opening, but Hess had other plans for this game and adopted a setup where he had pushed seven of his pawns by move 10. So of the 10 moves he made, seven were pawn moves and three were knight moves. The game got quite crazy after that, and Hess went on the attack with a queen check that took away Tang’s castling rights.
By move 23, there were four pieces hanging on the board, along with two pins against each side’s queens. With each move, viewers’ evaluations of the position also changed and it seemed to be anyone’s game. Hess was on the attack and Tang’s king was quite exposed; on the other hand, Tang was up the exchange and it seemed as though his king might be able to escape.
The attack eventually died down, and a result that seemed unlikely before started to look quite probable. After trading down queens and some minor pieces, the players got to an endgame where Tang was still up the exchange but the position was holdable for Hess. Although the game indeed concluded as a draw, it was still extremely entertaining.
Lenderman vs. Naroditsky (0.5-0.5)
Naroditsky went for a Trompowsky Attack in this game, but solid play by both sides resulted in the game being drawn.
An interesting moment in this game was 9…dxc4 by Naroditsky, allowing the bishop to capture the pawn on its first move instead of waiting for it to waste a move before. With this, he established a bishop on e4, and four moves later he achieved his c5 break. However, this lead to a series of trades, and the players entered a rook and queen endgame.
The position still had some tricks hidden in it, but the players avoided them with solid play. After everything besides their rooks was traded off, the game ended as a draw.
Gareyev vs. Yoo (0.5-0.5)
A 20-move draw was not what many people would have expected from the game between these two players, but that was the result.
It was interesting to see how Yoo combated Gareyev’s rather eccentric style, though. This marked the first game where the young IM spent a considerable time in the opening and fell behind on time. However, after his longest think before move 10 in this event, he came up with 10…d5! and shut down Gareyev’s chances of creating a Maroczy Bind structure.
After some trades, the tournament leader had healthier development versus Gareyev’s bishop pair. The players agreed to draw the game on move 20, shortly after the queens were also traded off.
Moradiabadi vs. Swiercz (0.5-0.5)
Swiercz seemed to achieve a slight advantage out of the opening in this game, but it did not prove enough for a decisive result.
Moradiabadi played three queen moves early in the game, and Swiercz devised an idea to punish this with 12…a5, after which he gained full control of the c-file. In fact, he was able to force White’s pieces all back to the first two ranks. Even so, neither player made any clear mistakes and the game was drawn by repetition.
The U.S. Championship Online Qualifier is an eight-player round robin played Dec. 11-18 on Chess.com, with a rest day on Dec. 15. The time control is 90 minutes for the whole game with a 30-second increment from move one. The total prize fund is $10,000. The winner will secure a spot in the 2021 U.S. Chess Championship.
Watch the sixth round live at Chess.com/tv. Play will begin at 2 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday, December 17.