American Chess

American Chess

Hikaru Junction

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American Chess

Both the Men’s Candidates Tournament and the Women’s Chess Championship happened a few weeks ago, setting up, for Caruana and Nakamura, the Men’s US championship.

On the women’s side, Hou Yifan scored a decisive victory, destroying Mariya Muzychuk 6-3. The players were from China and Ukraine respectively, and no American player participated in 2013-14 Grand Prix, through which the challenger qualified. The key game from this match, I believe was game six, shown below:

Mariya Muzychuk–Hou Yifan Women’s World Chess Championship 2016

In the Candidates tournament, Karjakin narrowly defeated Caruana, with, extremely luckily for spectators, a climactic game scheduled in the last round, wherein the scenarios were extremely complicated: As chess24 put it in one article (
“Let's sum up:
If either Karjakin or Caruana win they qualify
If they draw and Anand doesn't beat Svidler then Karjakin qualifies (on the 2nd tiebreaker of most wins)
If they draw and Anand beats Svidler then Caruana qualifies (he wins a 3-player direct encounter mini-league due to his plus score against Anand)”
In essence, Caruana had to win as Black unless Anand beat Svidler in order to qualify, which produced an exciting final battle which decided the tournament.

Sergey Karjakin–Fabiano Caruana Candidates Tournament 2016

Please don’t leave–I won’t express my political views here (or, at least, I will certainly try to be neutral.) The reason for which I bring up the hotly contested election cycle this year is to determine how each candidate currently still in the race has related to chess, if at all. has been a useful source for this section.

Donald Trump: He frequently uses chess as a metaphor for clever, strategic thinking, referencing it multiple times, especially as an analogue to business. He wrote in one of his books, Think Like a Champion, that "We all know that chess is a game of strategy. So is business." First of all, I would posit that while they have certain shared elements of strategy, it is ridiculous to compare business chess, but, unfortunately, many do, saying Trump “plays chess while everyone else plays checkers.” As far as I can tell, he has never actually played chess. A scour of the internet reveals nothing, and a search of the USCF lookup tables for “trump” yields 12 players, none of them Donald J. Another occasionally controversial figure (in chess,) Nigel Short, has mentioned him on several occasions, but, sadly for Trump, none of them good, as seen below (I put three twitter comments and one facebook comment into a picture for easier viewing.)

Hillary Clinton: As with all the candidates, there is the popular line that “X plays chess while Y plays checkers.” This is sometimes said about Hillary Clinton. While I concede that chess is more complicated than checkers, this is just not a good analogy, so I will stop mentioning it. Instead, please enjoy this clip:

Ted Cruz: Here is one of the articles which claims he plays chess, albeit maybe not at a very high level (I can’t find the game anywhere.
Unfortunately, perhaps he doesn’t understand how the pieces are set up; he Twittered a picture of a chess board set up incorrectly:

Bernie Sanders: He has, apparently played a game against NM David Carter in a simul: it is fairly famous, on the internet, that this occurred a few years ago, but I can’t get the score of the game, as it was likely not recorded. Here’s the article:
And here is former WC and all-time great Garry Kasparov criticizing Bernie Sanders’ philosophy, which I think is an interesting perspective, although I won’t comment on it.

John Kasich: Actually, I can’t find anything on Kasich in regard to chess, which may be a good thing, as I don’t generally like to mix up my chess with the ugly state of American politics right now.

Conclusions: Politicians should record their chess games so I can put them on my blog. Or, better yet, have a round-robin chess tournament and everyone will actually know who to vote for.

New news:

The Men’s and Women’s U. S. championships are taking place currently, which I alluded to in the opening section. Unfortunately, the women’s field is not very strong, with an average current rating of 2283.5 among the twelve participants. However, there have still been some very interesting games and results. Three of the youngest players, Carissa Yip, Jennifer Yu, and FM Akshita Gorti have all asserted themselves, though faltered slightly with a 3/8 start.

From Jennifer Yu–Agata Bykotsev US Women’s Championship

She had earned this advantage by trapping a knight early on after a few missteps by Black (below.)

[fen]r3nrk1/5pbp/p1pp2p1/qp2nb2/2P2P2/1PN1B1PP/P2QN1B1/3R1RK1 b KQkq -[fen]

On the men’s side (quite strong, with three of the top ten players in the world,) GM Jeffery Xiong, one of the two youngest in the field along with IM Akshat Chandra, has 4.5/8, an impressive score, his win (among seven draws) coming against Kamsky, when Kamsky blundered.

From GM Jeffery Xiong–GM Gata Kamsky US Championship

On the other side of the spectrum, Chandra has only a dreadful 1.5/8, but I remain inspired by his blog at So what is the future of American chess? I think it’s bright. The U. S. has plenty of young prodigies on both sides, and although they’re not posing a serious threat to the women’s title, they have a solid chance at stealing the men’s.

Lastly, I am mailing this (below) today. We’ll see what happens.


–Best of chess,
Radish Uh Ikon[/center]

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Hikaru Junction
Last Post
30 Jun 19
Blog since
27 Mar 15