Yoo, Lenderman To Play Tiebreaker In U.S. Championship Online Qualifier


Day seven of the U.S. Championship Online Qualifier yielded a result that perhaps many did not expect, but one that is sure to please anybody who has enjoyed the high-quality chess in this event. With GM Elshan Moradiabadi and IM Christopher Yoo drawing their game, and GM Aleksandr Lenderman securing a win against GM Timur Gareyev, a clear qualifier did not emerge out of this round. Instead, Yoo and Lenderman will battle it out in a tiebreaker for all the marbles. 

How to watch?
The tiebreaker will take place at 2 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday, December 19 and streamed live at Chess.com/tv. The games of the tournament can also be found here as part of our live games platform.


The live broadcast of the seventh round.

Only one game will be played in the armageddon format, where the player with white has to win, while a draw is sufficient for the player with black to win the coveted spot at the 2021 U.S. Chess Championship.

White will have 10 minutes to fight for a win, and the players will bid the amount of time they would like to play with as black; the player with the lowest bid will be given the black pieces and will play with the time they bid.

On his 14th birthday, the young IM, who is so far undefeated in this event, will be facing a more experienced opponent rated over 100 points higher than him, and all eyes will be on them during this game that will decide it all.

As for the other games, GMs Dariusz Swiercz and Robert Hess played an interesting game from which Swiercz emerged victorious, while GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Andrew Tang took a draw after the shortest game of the event

Lenderman vs. Gareyev (1-0)

It was clear that both players were gunning for a win right from the opening, from which a game full of tactics and complexity emerged.

Gareyev went for an Old Indian Defense, and started launching his kingside pawns at Lenderman, who had taken control of the d-file by doubling his rooks. This aggression on the kingside paid off, as Gareyev was able to gain a significant advantage and trap Lenderman’s bishop on move 26. However, he erred by not taking the piece. This gave Lenderman the necessary breathing room to find the impressive move 28.Na7!. 

From there, Lenderman gained the initiative and placed a rook on the seventh rank, leaving his bishop hanging; despite the material deficit, his attack was too strong to withstand after that. Although the position was already lost for Gareyev, he surprised everybody by allowing (or blundering?) a mate in two and resigning before Lenderman delivered the final blow.

Timur Gareyev. Photo (archive): Maria Emalianova/Chess.com.

Moradiabadi vs. Yoo (0.5-0.5)

It could have been Moradiabadi who was in first after this game, had he not missed the one chance he got to win. 

Moradiabadi “had a great position really early on,” said Hess when he joined the stream at Chess.com/tv after his game. “He had a bishop against the knight, and the knight didn’t have any stable place to get to.” Hess also pointed out that Moradiabadi was playing quickly in the Catalan Opening he opted for, whereas Yoo was taking his time. 

Despite playing timely, accurate moves and reaching a position close to winning on move 30, Moradiabadi went astray with 30.Qd8+? instead of the near-winning 30.Qd7. The advantage was lost after that, and the game soon concluded as a draw.

Swiercz vs. Hess (1-0)

Although neither player was in the running for first place, the players played out quite a long game where both of their clocks got down to two minutes.

Hess chose to play an odd line in the Najdorf, and Swiercz was able to capitalize on this to gain a healthy advantage; he was up a clean pawn on move 18. From there, Swiercz did not give Hess any chance at recovery and gradually converted his advantage. Hess himself commented on this saying he “was mentally resigned pretty early on.”

Even so, the GMs played the game out until move 64 and gave the viewers a chance to see how a professional converts the advantage of a protected passed pawn.

Tang vs. Naroditsky (0.5-0.5)

What started out as a sharp-looking position very quickly fizzled out into a draw, making this the shortest game of the event.

Naroditsky went for a dangerous capture on b2 with his queen, and in just a few moves Tang’s rook was staring it in the face. After the queen moved to the only safe square, Tang’s rook came after it and chased it back to its previous location. The players repeated this process two times more, and the game was drawn by theoretical repetition on move 10.

Final Standings








# Fed Name Username Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts SB
1 Christopher Yoo @ChristopherYoo 2803 2796 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4.5/7 14.75
2 Aleksander Lenderman @AlexanderL 2793 2796 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 4.5/7 14.75
3 Elshan Moradiabadi @Elshan1985 2810 2743 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 4.0/7 13.25
4 Dariusz Swiercz @daro94 2659 2763 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 4.0/7 12.25
5 Timur Gareyev @TimurGareyev 2452 2743 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 3.5/7 11
6 Daniel Naroditsky @DanielNaroditsky 2626 2718 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 3.5/7 10.5
7 Andrew Tang @penguingm1 2849 2585 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 2.5/7
8 Robert Hess @GMHess 2664 2488 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 1.5/7

*Chess.com ratings

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 tiebreaker live at Chess.com/tv. Play will begin at 2 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday, December 19.


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