Pusillanimous Play at the 2021 US Women’s Chess Championship

We begin with the following position:

Draw by repetition

The last move played was 34 Kh3-g2. White has the better position. I know this, you know this, and every Chess player who has made it to class ‘B’ knows this, and possibly every player who has made it to class ‘C’ and no longer plays the Queen’s Raid knows this fact. If you are teaching the Royal game to a neophyte it could be explained by beginning with the fact that white has more space. In addition, each and every white piece is better placed than each black counterpart. Then there is the fact that the white Queen and Rook are working together whereas the black Queen and Rook are separated while being tied down to the defense of the weak a-pawn. Even the white King is better placed than its counterpart. Even after suffering a brain cramp the World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fmedia.voltron.voanews.com%2FDrupal%2F01live-166%2Fstyles%2Fsourced%2Fs3%2F2019-04%2F77278705-011C-4158-A988-6CBB59D439F9.jpg%3Fitok%3DRxCq66Xj&f=1&nofb=1
Norway’s Magnus Carlsen Retains World Chess Title | Voice …
voanews.com

would win this position 99 44/100 percent of the time against the other nine elite players in the top ten. The decision to repeat the position three times, thereby forcing the game to end in a draw was one of the most pusillanimous ever made considering it came in the third round of the 2021 US Women’s Chess Championship, played Friday, October 8, 2021.

Lee, Megan (USA) – Yip, Carissa (USA)

U.S. Women’s Chess Championship 2021 round 03

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. O-O Nc6 6. c3 Nf6 7. d4 e6 8. Qe2 cxd4 9. cxd4 d5 10. e5 Ne4 11. Be3 Be7 12. Ne1 f5 13. f3 Ng5 14. Nd3 O-O 15. Nd2 Nf7 16. Rfc1 b6 17. a3 a5 18. Rc3 Rfc8 19. Rac1 Nfd8 20. g4 fxg4 21. fxg4 Nf7 22. Nf3 Bd8 23. Kg2 Na7 24. h4 Rxc3 25. Rxc3 Nc6 26. Nf4 Ne7 27. Nd3 a4 28. Qc2 Qb5 29. Nf4 Qd7 30. Nd3 Rb8 31. Kh3 Qe8 32. Nf4 Qd7 33. Nd3 Ra8 34. Kg2 ½-½
    https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-us-womens-chess-championship/03-Lee_Megan-Yip_Carissa

The Stockfish program at ChessBomb shows white with an advantage of 1.41. This can be found at Chess24:

1.53 White is much better Stockfish 14 | Cloud | Depth: 22 |
https://chess24.com/en/watch/live-tournaments/us-womens-championship-2021/3/1/3

At FollowChess we find the ratings of the players and the available time left to each player so you can see the lack of time was not a factor:

Lee, Megan 2211 00:16:55 v Yip, Carissa 00:26:07 2402

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bxd7+ Qxd7 5. O-O Nc6 6. c3 Nf6 7. d4 e6 8. Qe2 cxd4 9. cxd4 d5 10. e5 Ne4 11. Be3 Be7 12. Ne1 f5 13. f3 Ng5 14. Nd3 O-O 15. Nd2 Nf7 16. Rfc1 b6 17. a3 a5 18. Rc3 Rfc8 19. Rac1 Nfd8 20. g4 fxg4 21. fxg4 Nf7 22. Nf3 Bd8 23. Kg2 Na7 24. h4 Rxc3 25. Rxc3 Nc6 26. Nf4 Ne7 27. Nd3 a4 28. Qc2 Qb5 29. Nf4 Qd7 30. Nd3 Rb8 31. Kh3 Qe8 32. Nf4 Qd7 33. Nd3 Ra8 34. Kg2 1/2-1/2
    https://live.followchess.com/#!us-championship-w-2021/999510158

Carissa Yip

https://www.uschesschamps.com/sites/default/files/styles/player_bio_photo/public/headshots/2021%20carissa_yip.jpg?itok=lKivAw48

is higher rated by almost 200 points, and is one of the favorites to win the tournament. Knowing little about Megan Lee I went to the website of the US Championships to find this:

https://www.uschesschamps.com/sites/default/files/styles/player_bio_photo/public/headshots/megan_lee.jpg?itok=8B4wWqWD

“Megan Lee is a chess Woman International Master. She completed her BFA in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design with a minor in Art History. Most recently, she won the 2020 Washington State Championships and the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open. Other highlights include winning the 2013 North American Youth U18 Girls Championship and the 2009 Kasparov All-Girls Nationals Championship. Outside of chess, Megan runs two small businesses, an embroidery shop and a lifestyle brand, Snippet Studios. She also enjoys playing board games, skating, clam digging, and making things.” (https://uschesschamps.com/bio/megan-lee)

I can only speculate as to why Megan Lee let her clam get away… What I can say is that this game vividly illustrates why the three time repetition rule MUST BE ABOLISHED! It is terribly sad that any Chess player must be forced to attempt winning a game when having a huge advantage, but something, anything, must be done to at least mitigate the slow death by draw that is plaguing the Royal Game. There is no three time repetition rule in the game of Wei Chi, or Go, as it is called in the West, which is the main, or at least one of the major reasons Go is a better game than is Chess. Go is played to WIN. A draw in Go is anathema, as it should be in Chess. Any Chess player repeating the position for the third time should LOSE THE GAME! Period. What makes this even worse is that during the game Anna Sharevich

versus Irina Krush

played the previous day in the second round, after Irina lost her mind in a completely won position and blundered horribly when playing 66…Bf7, the two players battled until each had only a Rook and pawn left on the board. Then they shook hands, agreeing to a draw, but because of the rules in force during the tournament the women were forced to sit there and play many moves until finally finding a position in which a three fold repetition could be played, thus ending the game which should have ended long earlier. This is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. To be taken seriously in the world of games and ideas Chess needs to get its act together.

One thought on “Pusillanimous Play at the 2021 US Women’s Chess Championship

  1. H says:

    You’re on fire (or at least a writing streak)! I’d link to Alicia Keyes’ “Girl on Fire,” but that seems problematic in many ways…

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