U.S. Championship, Round 7: Caruana Wins, Catches Up to Shankland
Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 12:25AM
Dennis Monokroussos in 2018 U.S. Championship, Fabiano Caruana

Sam Shankland entered the day in first, and exited in a tie for first. He had White against Wesley So, who was only half a point behind, and the game finished in a well-played draw. Perhaps it was more well-played by So, who wound up with an extra pawn in a rook ending, but Shankland stayed cool and drew with ease.

Like So, Fabiano Caruana started the day half a point out of first; like Shankland, he ended it in a tie for first. He had some fine preparation ready for Varuzhan Akobian's French, and Akobian was heartlessly crushed. Caruana played a great game, and has apparently made a complete recovery from his loss to Zviad Izoria in round 4.

Speaking of Izoria, today he defeated Hikaru Nakamura. He's only at 50%, but there are very, very, very few players in the world who wouldn't take 50% in such a field, especially if it came with wins over Caruana and Nakamura! As for Nakamura, it's almost unbelievable to think that he is winless and -1 through seven rounds. This doesn't happen to him in Grand Chess Tour events, never mind a tournament where only two players are his full peers (neither of whom he has played) and everyone else is more than 100 points lower rated than he is.

The day's other winner was Aleks Lenderman, who defeated Alexander Onischuk in what looked like a nearly dead drawn ending. It wasn't quite, and when Onischuk failed to find the only move to stay out of trouble on move 31, he was defeated with surprising ease.

The day's other games were drawn, though not always easily. You can replay the three decisive games mentioned above, plus Liang-Robson, with my comments, here. And now for the round 8 pairings:

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