Round 6 Recap - U.S. Junior, Girls' Junior & Senior Championship

Round six was a mixed affair, as some of the leaders maintained their positions while others got knocked off. Nicolas Checa and Awonder Liang drew their game, which allowed Joshua Sheng to move into a tie for first with Nico after a nice win, with Awonder half a point behind. Carissa Yip won a nice game against her friend and competitor Rochelle Wu, and thus leapfrogged her into the clear lead. Alex Goldin put a lot of pressure on Alex Shabalov and missed a couple of key chances, but in the end they drew, maintaining a half point lead over the field. Let’s recap the action in each section.  

U.S. Junior Championship

Awonder Liang played aggressively on the black side of a Dutch against tournament leader Nicolas Checa. Nico seemed to have good chances for an edge, but the players ended up trading a lot of pieces, and the game fizzled out into a draw soon thereafter.

Joshua Sheng continued his excellent form, and punished Hans Niemann for a risky queen move after the opening. Once Josh’s rook got to the 2nd rank, it cut through White’s position like a machete, and Hans resigned when his position was in absolute ruins.

Brandon Jacobson played 1. B4 against Craig Hilby, and neither side made a move on the kingside for a long time. They eventually traded into a bishop and knight endgame where neither side could do much, and they agreed to a draw after mass simplifications.

Jennifer Yu had a nice edge, but let it slip against Andrew Tang, who proceeded to put a lot of pressure on the U.S. Women’s Champion. It looked like she was going to go down in a rook endgame, but she found a neat defensive resource involving a perpetual check, and ended up drawing the game as a result.

Atulya Vaidya found himself with his king in the center against John Burke, but he withstood a lot of pressure in the middlegame. He traded into a queen endgame where he comfortably held a draw.  

Tournament Director Mike Kummer is happy to ring the bell before a critical round six.

 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

Maggie Feng played a risky line of the Winawer French where Black’s king comes under an all-out assault, and ran into some impressive preparation by Ruiyang Yan.  White’s position was completely winning before Yan even had to start thinking, and she finished off the game with style.

This win gave Ruiyang an impressive 4/6. Emily Nguyen expertly fended off Agata Bykovtsev’s attack on the Black side of a sicilian, then initiated an attack of her own when the kingside became locked. Emily then penetrated with her queen and won in exemplary fashion.

Thalia Cervantes advanced her central pawns in a Queen’s Gambit Declined against Veronika Zilajeva, and eventually opened up Black’s king with e6 and exf7+. After that Black’s position was unenviable, and Thalia moved to a plus score with a nice win.

Rochelle Wu got a beautiful Black knight on d4 against Carissa Yip, but allowed her king to be opened up in the process. Carissa is deadly with the initiative, and proved it by sacrificing a knight for a ferocious attack, one which she capped off in fine style.

This allowed her to leapfrog over Rochelle into the tournament lead. Rachael Li and Martha Samadashvili found themselves in a rook and bishop endgame which looked drawish, but still had some chances for both sides. Martha outplayed Rachael, however, and ended up in a pawn-up rook endgame. Martha made no mistakes in her conversion, and thus moved up to a +1 score.  

Maggie Feng, Ruiyang Yan, and Agata Bykovtsev enjoy some banter before an intense game.    

U.S. Senior Championship

Igor Novikov ended up with a king on f7 in a sharp Najdorf, but he outmaneuvered Jaan Ehlvest in the ensuing complications. He won the endgame in fantastic style, sacrificing a rook for a bishop in order to go after Jaan’s king and force him to shed a rook to stop it.

Joel Benjamin found himself with an endgame advantage against Maxim Dlugy, and he improved his pieces in exemplary fashion. Maxim has proven to be a resourceful defender, but he found no way to protect all his weaknesses, and lost without being able to trouble Joel a whole lot.

Larry Christiansen sacrificed a pawn for initiative against Gregory Kaidanov, but his offsides knight on h4 simply never found play. He sacrificed an exchange out of desperation, but was never able to generate play, and he went down soon after entering an endgame. This was Gregory’s first win of the tournament after five straight draws, surely a great sign for the rest of his event. 

Alex Goldin had a very promising edge against Alex Shabalov, but he was unable to find a win in mutual time pressure. Goldin navigated his way to a knight for two pawns endgame, but it wasn’t enough, and Shabba held the position expertly.

Finally, Alex Yermolinsky got a nice positional edge against Alex Fishbein’s King’s Indian, and converted it into a pawn up endgame. While Fishbein resisted until the very end, eventually Yermo converted a piece up ending with his lone h pawn.  

Jaan Ehlvest scopes out the competition during his complicated game with Igor Novikov.

Round 7 Pairings

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