2022 U.S. CHESS & WOMEN’S CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP – OPENING CEREMONY AND DAY 1 RECAP by NM Vanessa West
America’s strongest chess players enter to find fish swimming through a giant mechanical clock. Sharks loom above grandmasters. Chess celebrities are photographed before colossal projections of octopuses and jellyfish. Where are we? The opening ceremony for the 2022 U.S. Chess Championships held at the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, a space of wonder and imagination, fitting to celebrate the ultimate game of the mind.
In round 1, young grandmasters Sam Sevian and Hans Niemann took the lead as the only winners in the U.S. Championship. In the U.S. Women’s Championship, many of the players were out for glory, kicking off the tournament with four decisive games.
Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. The time control for the event is 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game; with a 30-second increment starting from move 1.
The opening ceremony began with a speech from Rex Sinquefield, co-founder of the Saint Louis Chess Club, welcoming US Chess to the city for their new headquarters. Rex went on to announce an ongoing expansion of the chess club, which parallels the current state of growth of American chess overall with GM Levon Aronian making his first appearance at the U.S. Championships, four players who’ve ranked within the world’s top ten competing, and a host of talented up-and-comers fighting for the crown.
Three notable chess figures were inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame: Daniel Willard Fiske, GM James Tarjan, and GM John Watson. Additionally, grandmasters Miguel Najdorf and Eugene Torre were inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame. Tarjan and Torre gave sincere speeches offering insight into the history of chess. Lastly, to commence the U.S. Championships, the players drew lots by choosing from rows of stuffed otters and sharks.
2022 U.S. Championship
Sam Sevian vs Elshan Moradiabadi 1-0
Samuel Sevian reached the middlegame having a clear advantage. However, the game developed into a drawish endgame though Sam refused a repetition draw offer vs. GM Elshan Moradiabadi. Sevian pressed on for a win, provoking black’s crucial mistake 47…Rf2? and scored afterwards.
Hans Niemann vs Christopher Yoo 1-0
Niemann got the better of GM Christopher Yoo in a highly dynamic and chaotic middlegame. Going through time trouble, Niemann managed to keep his advantage throughout when 15-year-old made a decisive mistake with 36.e6?? Hans grabbed his chance and scored a victory that secured him an early co-lead in the tournament.
A 19-year-old grandmaster who is in limelight for the last couple of weeks joined the live studio for the post-game interview, sending a short but strong message: “Chess speaks for itself”.
All of the other games ended peacefully.
2022 U.S. Women’s Championship
FM Alice Lee vs FM Ashritha Eawaran 1-0
Newcomer and youngest competitor, FM Alice Lee, gained the very first victory of the event in a thrilling game vs. FM Ashritha Eswaran.
In the opening, Eswaran delayed development to push her kingside pawns up the board toward Lee’s castled king. Lee responded by running her king back towards the center, allowing Eswaran to break into her kingside and gain a rook on the seventh. With both kings in the center, the game spun into chaos with both sides attacking each other when Lee discovered a beautiful tactical sequence.
WGM Begim Tokhirjonov vs WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki 1-0
WGM Begim Tokhirjonov trapped WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki’s bishop in the middlegame and then capped off her victory with a picturesque mating combination.
WGM Jennifer Yu vs IM Anna Zatonskih 1-0
The last game to finish was well worth the wait. Jennifer Yu displayed stunning endgame technique with just seconds left on her clock to defeat second seed IM Anna Zatonskih after over five hours of battle.
WIM Megan Lee vs FM Rochelle Wu 1-0
WIM Megan Lee scored an upset victory against FM Rochelle Wu while the rest of the games ended in draws.
Round 2 of the 2022 U.S. & U.S. Women’s Chess Championships will take place today, October 6. Watch the action live at 1:20pm CT with commentators GM Yasser Seirawan, WGM Anastasiya Karlovich, and GM Cristian Chirila here.