2020 U.S. Junior Championship - Day 2 Recap

The second day of the 2020 U.S. Junior Championship experienced chaos at the top of the standings as both of the event’s early leaders, GM Jeffery Xiong and GM Brandon Jacobson ended up losing in the final round of the day, allowing multiple players to catch up within striking distance. With only three rounds left to go, Xiong and GM John Burke are in the lead with 4.0/6 points, Jacobson and IM Christopher Yoo are on 3.5/6, while GM Sam Sevian, IM Praveen Balakrishnan, and IM Joshua Sheng are just a point behind with 3.0/6.

Check out all the games from the second day of action here, and you can watch a video replay of the event’s live coverage featuring WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Maurice Ashley here.

Standings after Day 2

Round 4

The first round of the day saw GM Jeffery Xiong face off against the other Day 1 leader, GM Brandon Jacobson. In a sharp Open Sicilian Xiong tried a nice pawn sacrifice to seize the initiative and eventually cashed in to reach a promising endgame. But Jacobson defended well and was able to hold the U.S. #5 ranked player to a draw.

Meanwhile GM Sam Sevian managed to start to turn his fortune around, taking advantage of a late blunder by IM Praveen Balakrishnan to come back and win from a lost position:

After 60.Rxf7!, netting Sevian an extra piece and a winning position.

IM Christopher Yoo also won his first game of the day against FM Christopher Shen, demonstrating a nice positional squeeze that decided the battle in 40 moves.

Round 5

In the second round of the day GM Jeffery Xiong grabbed the sole lead with a nice endgame win over IM Praveen Balakrishnan, while co-leader GM Brandon Jacobson could not get an opening advantage and drew the game by agreement with IM Josh Sheng. This allowed GM John Burke to start catching up to the top with a nice technical win over GM Sam Sevian:

After 49.Ra7!, which finished a powerful game for the ‘Burkenator’.

Round 6

In the final round of the day all mayhem broke loose, as GM Sam Sevian played his best game of the event to take down the tournament’s sole leader, GM Jeffery Xiong. The game started out with a quiet Italian Opening that ended in a long endgame grind which Sevian was ultimately able to convert, completely turning the event around for the young star.

The start of a difficult endgame for Black, which the World #2 Junior was unable to hold.

Opening up the field even further, IM Christopher Yoo made a somewhat speculative piece sacrifice against GM Brandon Jacobson, but quickly got the better of his opponent who wasn’t able to deal with the threats in the position: 

After IM Yoo’s 24.Re7!, which made things very problematic for Black’s king.

The volatile Round 6 results, leaving seven players within a point of first place.

Rounds 7-9 of the 2020 U.S. Junior Championship will take place tomorrow, October 15, with live coverage from WGM Jennifer Shahade, GM Yasser Seirawan, and GM Maurice Ashley starting at 12:50 PM CDT on USChessChamps.com, YouTube, and Twitch.

The 2020 U.S. Championships features a series of five national title events, all taking place online from Oct 8-29, starting with the 2020 U.S. Girls Junior Championship. For full details, pairings, and results of the events, make sure to check out USChessChamps.com.