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  • Writer's pictureJames Neal

2022 US Women's Chess Championship Round 1

My adjusted Power Rankings after the first round.

In my previous post, I had given a general idea of who I thought would win this event (Begim Tokhirjonova). I thought it could have been Begim or Thalia since they both were from St. Louis until I realized they recently played each other. Thalia got the black pieces against Begim and opted for a Slav instead of a Grunfeld. If Thalia is in the process of rebuilding her repertoire, she wont be consistent to win this event.

Here are the adjusted Power Rankings based upon the results of the first round.

Ranked 1st (was 1st) – Irina Krush

Irina played the Kann Sicilian against Tatev Abrahamyan which was an indication of her will to fight. She played quickly and had opportunities to pick up an advantage. Ultimately, she ended up accepting a repetition in a position that could have easily gone south for her. She probably wants decisive games with black, but her defensive choice might prove to be too volatile.

Ranked 2nd (was 8th) - Jennifer Yu

I was a bit unsure how a college level Jennifer would perform but I like what I see. She was in control for most of the game and wore down Anna.

I have a feeling this could be the harder version of the 2019 Jennifer…

Ranked 3rd (was 4th) - Nazi Paikidze

I don’t have much to say about her game. She played a flexible defense that would give her opponent’s ample opportunity to go wrong. Her opponent did go wrong but the punishes were hard to catch. I think she has a good chance to win this event.

Ranked 4th (was 5th) – Begim Tokhirjonova

Begim was paired against Sophie who is ranked at the bottom. Sophie put up a fight, but she was already within a position Begim should have found comfortable (being a Grunfeld player). Begim played energetically and showed that she was in good shape for the event.

Ranked 5th (was 10th) – Alice Lee

I assumed Alice would have the disadvantage of being the youngest participant in the event but that did not appear to be the case. Alice had a few tough moments early in the game that might implicate some serious weaknesses but when she was challenged to simply play chess she was a machine.

She is still a little volatile but she definitely moves up after this performance.

Ranked 6th (was 7th) - Tatev Abrahamyan

Tatev chose the most punishing choice against Irina’s Kann Sicilian and was nearly beaten. I feel I should lower her rank for this, but it is too early to tell.

Ranked 7th (was 2nd) - Anna Zatonskih

This round might be devastating for her tournament prospects. She had an advantage and that advantage quickly evaporated. She was outplayed with the black pieces. I have a feeling this loss will be bad for her morale. There is a good chance she will play overly cautious for the remainder of this event.

Ranked 8th (was 9th) – Thalia Cervantes

I was more impressed with Riuyang because she plays the same defense as myself but otherwise I did not like Thalia’s performance. She had a better position, but she did not seem like she was stronger than Ruiyang. This game dashes any advantage I assumed she would have from living in St. Louis.

Ranked 9th (was 3rd) – Ashritha Eswaran

Ashritha missed her chance to wipe Alice Lee off the board. What is worse is that she acquired a completely lost position less than 10 moves after here initiative fizzled out. This could mean she might continue to lose her patience when things do not go according her plans.

Ranked 10th (was 12th) – Megan Lee

I was impressed with Megan’s performance this round. She deliberately chose a line that would avoid walking into Rochelle’s preparation. I was impressed that she felt she was the stronger player and proved the case over 45 moves. I am not impressed with her preparation. I am not giving her a massive boost because I do not think she can sustain her results over 13 rounds.

Ranked 11th (was 13th) – Sabina Foiser

This round was indicative of someone who is simply playing not to lose. She is playing defenses with the white pieces to make sure her opponents cannot prepare for her and probably something like the Queen’s Indian with black. She really has her sights set on the 8th place prize…

Ranked 12th (was 6th) – Rochelle Wu

Rochelle prepared a dynamic defense against the king’s pawn. It was a great choice for her to try and control the opening but maybe she didn’t quite expect Megan to willingly enter a statistically unfavorable line of the 2 knights sicilian.

Rochelle was simply outplayed…

Ranked 13th (was 11th) – Ruiyang Yan

She played a solid defense and was able to secure a draw against Thalia Cervantes. I was impressed with her opening choice but not with her strength of play. My assessment so far is that she will continue to play at her rating.

Ranked 14th (was 14th) – Sophie Morris-Suzuki

Sophie is honored to be part of such a great event. She knows her place in the field and will enjoy her time playing until her opponents tell her play time is over…


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