2020 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship - Day 1 Recap


It was an eventful first day of the 2020 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship as #2 seed IM Annie Wang scored 2.5/3 points to grab the early lead in the 10-player rapid (25+5) round-robin. Tied for second and third place with 2.0/3 are top seed IM Carissa Yip and WIM Thalia Cervantes, but with six more rounds to go everything can still change in this national title event.

After the first day the current standings are as follows, and all of the games from the tournament can be viewed here.



Round 1

The first round of the event saw all decisive games, starting with IM Annie Wang defeating another one of the favorites, reigning U.S. Women’s Champion WGM Jennifer Yu, using her advantage in piece activity and her edge on the clock. 

The position after 27...Rc6! which won material for Black and earned Annie her first point.

Meanwhile IM Carissa Yip also won her first game, defeating WCM Alice Lee in a nice positional grind, while WIM Emily Nguyen, WIM Rochelle Wu, and WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki also gained victories over WFM Martha Samadashvili, WIM Thalia Cervantes, and WCM Ruiyang Yan, respectively, as the players got used to the 25+5 rapid time control.

Round 2

The second round continued to see lots of exciting action, with IM Carissa Yip unleashing a thematic Bxb5 sacrifice in the Sicilian against WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki, though she was unable to find a clear win and eventually had to settle for a draw.

The only decisive result of the round went to WIM Thalia Cervantes, who was able to win a nice technical game against WCM Alice Lee. In the most emotionally stirring game of the day, WFM Martha Samadashvili fought back from an early mouseslip to achieve a completely winning position against WGM Jennifer Yu, only to blunder a three-fold repetition while in a famous Lucena endgame!

A clearly relieved Jennifer Yu after snagging a three-fold repetition from a completely lost game.

Round 3

In the third round IM Annie Wang started to pull away, unleashing a double-pawn sacrifice against WFM Martha Samadashvili that quickly gave her an overwhelming initiative. IM Carissa Yip drew with Black against WCM Ruiyang Yan, while WGM Jennifer Yu scored her first win of the event over WIM Rochelle Wu.

But the most interesting game of the round took place between WIM Thalia Cervantes and WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki, as with no time on her clock, and being down a full rook on the board, Thalia played the stunning 31...Rd2!! to avoid a repetition and instead win an amazing attacking game:

The position after WIM Thalia Cervantes’ 31...Rd2!, where Black is winning after 32.Rxd2 Bxd2, as White will have to give up the queen to avoid getting mated.


In the post-round interview, IM Annie Wang was pleased to be in the lead and said her strategy was to stay ahead on the clock as much as possible, citing how much easier it is to play when the opponent has less time.

Rounds 4-6 of the 2020 U.S. Girls’ Junior will take place tomorrow, October 10, with WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Cristian Chirila calling all of the action live starting at 12:50 PM CDT on USChessChamps.com, YouTube, and Twitch.

The 2020 US Championships features a series of five national events, all taking place online, starting with the 2020 U.S. Girls Junior Championship. For full details, pairings, and results of the event, make sure to check out USChessChamps.com.