2016 U.S. Junior Closed- Round 4

by GM Robin van Kampen

The fourth day at the U.S. Junior Chess Championship signified a peaceful day of chess. With four draws and only one win, fairly little change took place in the overall standings. The key clash of the day was bound to be Alexandr Ostrovskiy against tournament leader Jeffery Xiong, who found himself on the wrong side of the only deceive result of the day.

Ostrovskiy vs. Xiong: 1-0

Alexandr Ostrovskiy opted for the same Sicilian sideline that he had previously used to get an opening advantage against Michael Bodek. The New York-based International master who was born in Moscow, displayed deep knowledge of the variation at hand and soon got a slight advantage. Xiong never really got into the game as Ostrovskiy brilliantly limited the top junior’s counter play and gradually increased the White  advantage. The Texas grandmaster tried to confused his opponent by sacrificing a knight in the time trouble phase, but once the smoke cleared Black’s compensation was nowhere to be found. A more detailed take on the game here:

Troff vs. Bodek: 1/2-1/2

Michael Bodek challenged Kayden Troff’s 1.d4 by playing the ultra-solid Vienna variation. On move twelve the-18-year- old International master from New Rochelle, NY, introduced a novel way of dealing with a well-known pawn sacrifice. Although the arising position was bearable according to the computer engines, the commentators disapproved of Bodek’s preparation due to a lack of piece development. Not much later Kayden launched an attack and it seemed that the Utah-based Grandmaster was on his way to win his first game. Once the Grandmaster got low on time, several inaccuracies diminished White’s initiative and the game was drawn by a move repetition right before the time control.

Chandra vs. Liang: 1/2-1/2

Akshat Chandra was hoping to clinch his first victory after having played three  consecutive draws. In a solid Grunfeld Indian the defending champion got a slight advantage, but it never proved to be enough for a tangible advantage. After a series of exchanges Awonder Liang got the desired draw, keeping the International Master from Madison, Wisconsin in striking distance from the tournament leader.

Checa vs. Li: 1/2-1/2

If there was one game that was pinpointed to end in a White win, it was the game between Nicolas Checa and Ruifeng Li. After the Texan opted for a questionable opening, he lost a pawn by missing an important intermezzo, leaving him with a scattered position. Nicolas Checa seemed to be on his way to converting the extra pawn once an ending was reached, but due to a series of clumsy moves Li had a chance to create a passed pawn. Once given the chance, Li played tenaciously in order to secure the draw.

Brown vs. Harmon-Vellotti: 1/2-1/2

The Nimzo-Indian opening between Michael Brown and Luke Harmon-Vellotti lead to complicated middle game position which was popularized by World Champion Boris Spassky in the 70’s. After a tactical sequence that lead to the exchange of several minor pieces, the material was still balanced, but Brown had a clear advantage due to his advanced d-pawn. When both players got low on time,  inaccuracies were made on both sides which ultimately lead to a serious chance for Harmon-Vellotti  to obtain a large advantage by winning a pawn right before reaching the time control. When Luke did not capitalize on this opportunity the position was roughly equal and a draw was agreed shortly after move 40.