Round 7 Recap - U.S. Junior, Girls' Junior & Senior Championship

This round was another exciting affair in all three sections. Awonder Liang made a move on the leaders by winning a nice game, but Nicolas Checa outplayed Joshua Sheng in a balanced ending to maintain a half point lead. Rochelle won her nicest game of the event against Thalia Cervantes, but Carissa Yip also managed to win, leaving her in the lead by half a point. Alex Shabalov drew against Alex Yermolinsky, while Gregory Kaidanov won a nice game against Alex Goldin to catch up to Shabba in the lead. Let’s look at what happened.

U.S. Junior Championship

John Burke was putting strong pressure on Hans Niemann in a Maroczy Bind position. Hans muddied the waters with some tactics, and while it was doubtful that it was tactically sound, it caused John to stumble and pass the advantage to Black. John managed to limit the damage, and the players agreed to a draw in an opposite bishop endgame. 

Awonder Liang surprised Brandon Jacobson with a Nc3-d4 idea against the Sicilian, an idea championed by Magnus Carlsen. 

Andrew Tang got a strong attack against Atulya Vaidya’s King’s Indian when Atulya chose the wrong moment to play f5. While Atulya managed to survive to an endgame, Andrew had a simple plan of pushing his queenside pawns, and Black was unable to defend against it.  

Joshua Sheng traded off pieces against Nicolas Checa, but in the resulting position his rook ended up out of play, and it looked as if Black might take over. White made the dubious decision to give Black a passed h-pawn, and after that Nicolas won a pawn. Nicolas was merciless after that, and moved into clear first place with his win. 

Craig Hilby played an unusual opening against Jennifer Yu, but managed to navigate into an extremely pleasant rook and bishop endgame. Craig sacrificed a pawn to create play against Black’s king, a decision which paid off, as Jennifer ended up walking into a mating net in time pressure.  

Jennifer Yu continues to struggle, this time going down in an endgame against Craig Hilby.

U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

Agata Bykovstev sacrificed a pawn in a complex King’s Indian Defense against Veronika Zilajeva. She followed it up with pointed play on the dark squares, and finished off the game nicely using her passed d-pawn.

Carissa Yip traded into a pawn down ending as Black against Martha Samadashvili, but she had great compensation in the form of two bishops and piece activity. She eventually won an exchange, and while the road to victory was not the smoothest, eventually the top seed got the job done. 

Rochelle Wu recovered from yesterday’s loss with a fine win over Thalia Cervantes. She gained control of the d-file using a bishop on g5 and finished off her opponent ruthlessly.

Maggie Feng played a nice positional game against Rachael Li, and won a pawn in the middlegame. She made no mistakes in her conversion. 

Emily Nguyen was dominating her game against Ruiyang Yan, but an ill-timed rook check left her pieces on unfortunate squares, and she had to surrender a piece to her young opponent.  Yan made no mistakes, and moved to 5/7 with this victory.  

Emily Nguyen was outplaying Ruiyang Yan, but blundered a piece, and with it, the game.

U.S. Senior Championship

Igor Novikov initiated an early queen exchange against Joel Benjamin, hoping to cause problems in a symmetrical endgame with a slight development edge. Black had no weaknesses, however, and Joel was able to navigate towards a draw with ease.

Alex Shabalov played a Benoni reserved against Alex Yermolinsky, and while Yermo got a lot of space, the piece trades made it hard to do much. The players repeated moves in a complex position where neither was sure of what to do.

Alex Fishbein and Jaan Ehlvest had an interesting positional battle, and the advantage seemed to pass back and forth a couple of times. In the end, despite Fishbein having an extra pawn, the opposite colored bishops made it impossible to win. 

Gregory Kaidanov got a powerful initiative in a Reti against Alex Goldin, then cashed it in to get a queen against a rook and knight. Goldin resisted for a long time, but Gregory eventually reeled in the point.

Maxim Dlugy played a London Defense against Larry Christiansen, and the game became quite sharp. Larry chose a Qc8-Ba6 plan that was probably too slow, and Maxim got an initiative that he rode to his first victory.  

Jesse Kraai congratulates Maxim Dlugy on his first win of the tournament.

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