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Black triumphs, as NorCal's own Sam Shankland Takes Lead at US Chess Championships (with Analysis)

Posted: 2 years, 2 months ago

By IM Vignesh Panchanatham


For prior coverage, see days one, two, three, five, and four (with analysis of the win by BAC coach GM Zviad Izoria over world championship challenger, GM Fabiano Caruana.) 


Halfway through the tournament, the 2018 US Championships have completely smashed any notion of the first-mover advantage. Once again, the two decisive games in this round were both won by black!

GM Nakamura won a pawn, but was drawn into an opposite-color bishop endgame by GM Xiong, which ended in a draw. GM Onischuk held a slight advantage against GM Liang, but could make nothing of the queen and bishop endgame. GM Zherebukh and GM Lenderman engaged in a series of trades that resulted in a symmetrical rook endgame that was quickly drawn. GM Izoria overcame complications against GM So to enter a drawn opposite colored bishop position.

GM Caruana sacrificed a pawn early for the two-bishops advantage against GM Robson, and used those bishops to launch a successful attack against the white king. GM Shankland made the most of GM Akobian’s inaccurate middlegame play to subsequently outplay him in the endgame, claiming possession of sole first place just before the rest day. The California delegation is doing extremely well!