Round 5 Recap - U.S. Junior, Girls' Junior & Senior Championship

All three sections had their share of interesting games, though the Juniors were definitely the most bloodthirsty. In a day of all decisive results, Nicolas Checa maintained his lead by winning a nice game. Awonder Liang and Joshua Sheng also won, and remain tied for 2nd just half a point back. Carissa Yip and Rochelle Yu both drew their games, and thus maintain their positions of clear first and 2nd respectively. Alex Goldin won again, allowing him to tie for first with Alex Shabalov, who failed to convert a promising position against Larry Christiansen.  Let’s take a look at what happened.

U.S. Junior Championship

Hans Niemann got a difficult opening position against Awonder Liang, then found himself with a weak king after his fianchettoed kindside bishop got traded. Awonder delivered checkmate soon after, moving him up to an impressive four out of five. 

Jennifer Yu’s woes continued today, as she lost a rather one-sided game to Atulya Vaidya. To his credit, Atulya played quite well and capped off his first win of the tournament in devastating fashion. Craig Hilby and Nicolas Checa got involved in a highly theoretical duel in a Bb4+ Nbd2 Catalan. Checa seemed to know the line better, and after Craig prematurely captured a rook on a8 instead of continuing his initiative, Black seemed to have an excellent position. Nico converted his edge in accurate fashion.  

Andrew Tang had Brandon Jacobson under pressure for a long time, but Brandon was defending admirably. He ended up losing in a tricky king and pawn ending, however, which allowed Andrew to take his first point of the tournament. Joshua Sheng won a wild game against John Burke, one in which the commentators and players alike were highly unsure of what went on. In the end, Joshua staved off pressure to his king, then zoomed in on his opponent’s to finish off a nice victory.  

Joshua Sheng outcalculated John Burke in a wild game, allowing him to stay tied for 2nd

U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

The girls had one of their more peaceful days of the tournament, but you wouldn’t know it by the positions they got. Agata Bykovtsev sacrificed a piece against Maggie Feng, and seemed to get very promising compensation. Maggie managed to navigate towards an ending where she held Black to a draw.  

Carissa Yip wandered her king into the center in a complex ending against Thalia Cervantes.  Thalia could find nothing better than giving a perpetual, however, in a position that looked completely crazy. Emily Nguyen got a favorable isolated pawn position out of the opening against Veronika Zilajeva, then won a pawn and traded into an endgame. While she was disappointed with her conversion, she never really let her opponent back into the game, and in the end got a smooth victory.  

Ruiyang Yan had an extra piece against Martha Samadashvili’s pawns, and the piece proved to be stronger in this game. While the conversion was never easy, a late game slip by Martha allowed her to win more easily. Rachael Li, with 0/4, played against the 4/4 Rochelle Wu this round. You wouldn’t know it by her play, however, as she absolutely took it to the tournament leader. In the end, however, Rochelle found a way to sac two exchanges to complicate the game. The players agreed to a draw in a position that could have really gone either way.  

Rochelle Wu looked nervous today, but only gave up half a point, allowing her to stay ahead

U.S. Senior Championship

The seniors played a lot of sharp games, but only some ended in a decisive result. Alex Yermolinsky had what looked like an unpleasant position against Jaan Ehlvest’s King’s Indian, but the players agreed to a draw at move 30 in a position with much life left in it. Maxim Dlugy played a sharp variation of the London against Igor Novikov, and played an interesting queen sacrifice that led to a promising position. Igor navigated the complexities better, however, and ended up raking in his first full point.  

Gregory Kaidanov got a dominating center against Joel Benjamin, and it looked as if he might score his first win. Joel found some nice defensive resources, however, and they agreed to a draw in an ending where neither could make progress. Alex Goldin had a dubious-looking opening position against Alex Fishbein, but Fishbein made a few missteps, which allowed Goldin to trade into an endgame up two pawns. As was the case yesterday, he made no mistakes in the conversion.  

Alex Shabalov and Larry Christiansen are both known for their attacking play, and their game did not disappoint. After Larry C surprised Shabba in the opening, Alex navigated his way into a very strong attack. Larry showed his defensive prowess, however, and was able to finagle a draw after a sharp tussle.


Alex Shabalov put Larry Christiansen under heavy pressure, but in the end let him escape

Round 6 Pairings:


Round six starts on Wednesday at 1pm. Tune in at 12:50pm central time for live commentary by GMs Robert Hess, Jesse Kraai, and WGM Tatev Abrahamyan on