Round Robins End, Arnold & Getz Enter Playoff
The 2012 U.S. Junior Closed Championship field has narrowed to just two as the Round Robins ended with some excitement.
Despite his half point lead heading into the final round, Victor Shen was unable to get much from the opening against Atulya Shetty’s a6 Slav. In fact, Shetty was able to surprise everyone with the sacrifice 14… Bxh3! As Bobby Fischer would call it, “a bolt from the blue”. Clearly Shen was feeling the pressure and missed a chance to equalize around move 20 after some inaccurate play by Shetty. Victor’s 22. Nxd5 was a big mistake and Atulya went on to win quickly.
Shen’s only hope would be for both Conrad Holt and Alec Getz to draw or lose, but neither was feeling particularly accommodating. Each went on to win against their opponents – Will Fisher and Jeffrey Xiong respectively. Adding insult to injury, it turns out that Shen would have won the spot in the championship matchs over both Getz and Holt had he tied for first.
As it turns out, it was FM Alec Getz whose tiebreaks were best; he advanced into the championship match as the winner of the A group. Missing out by the narrowest of margins, Conrad Holt was equal on the first two tiebreaks (direct encounter and most blacks), losing out only on his Koya System score. The fateful result was Getz’s victory over FM Jeffrey Xiong in round four, whereas Holt was only able to draw him.
Joining Getz in the championship match was IM Marc Arnold. His victory in the B group was smooth sailing as he maintained his first-place position from round one. Marc drew with Kayden Troff quickly in the last round to clench first and to rest before round one of the match.
Even with first place out of reach for the remainder of the field, the games continued to be exciting and uncompromising. Justus Williams scored again – this time with the black pieces against Eric Rosen. Williams broke Rosen’s Maroczy Bind, and with his superb activity, was able to drum up unstoppable threats against Eric’s king.
Saint Louis’ own Kevin Cao also won the longest game of the round against Raven Sturt. True to style, Kevin played tactically and was rewarded on move 51 when Sturt cracked under the pressure. Kevin wove his pieces around the black king until the mating net was tight and Sturt resigned on move 56. This victory left Kevin with 3.5 points from 7 games and tied for 4th.
The championship match between Alec Getz and Marc Arnold began shortly after round seven. Getz drew for colors and secured white in the first game and employed the sharp Keres Attack in a Sicilian Scheveningen. The players followed a rapid game between Ivanchuk and Morozevich from the Melody Amber tournament in 2008 until Getz played the relatively unknown 9. Qf3. A tense position was reached just before move 14, where it appeared a typically swashbuckling attack would ensue; however, Alec released the tension on the kingside with 14. Bxg5, and after a few trades, he reached an equal endgame that was drawn by move 41.
Tune in tomorrow morning at 11am CST to see the exciting finale of the 2012 U.S. Junior Closed Championship at uschesschamps.com.