U.S. Juniors and Senior Championship: Day 5 Recap

It was another exciting day at the office as GM Gregory Kaidanov continued his dominant performance in the U.S. Senior, defeating GM Alexander Shabalov to reach 4.5/5 heading into the rest day tomorrow. Meanwhile GM Hans Niemann was held to a draw by GM John Burke, and IM Annie Wang bounced back from her loss yesterday to win against the No. 2 seed in the U.S. Girls’ Junior, FM Thalia Cervantes.

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. Each event features a 10-player round-robin format, with a time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes with a 30-second increment added from move one.

U.S. Senior Championship

Faced with an early h2-h4 push in the Scotch Game, Kaidanov fought back against Shabalov’s highly aggressive play, aiming to create counterplay against White’s king in the center. A double-edged struggle saw chances for both players, but eventually it was Shabalov’s king that ended up in danger, allowing Kaidanov to win thanks to a vicious counter-attack.

39...Rxd2! capped off a highly complicated battle that resulted in Kaidanov’s favor. 0-1, 39 moves

A second straight win for Kaidanov, who has only ceded one draw so far in the event. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Bryan Adams

GM Larry Christiansen also won his second straight game, defeating GM Melikset Khachiyan in fine technical style. After winning a pawn in the early middlegame, Christiansen pressed for a long time, eventually converting in a rook + opposite colored bishop endgame.

Standings after Round 5

U.S. Junior Championship

The game between GMs Niemann and Burke featured a typical anti-Grunfeld line, with Niemann also pushing an early h2-h4 and opting for a queen exchange right out of the opening. Burke came well prepared, however, sacrificing a pawn early on for long-term positional pressure. Black had enough to maintain dynamic equality, and soon the players traded down into a drawn rook endgame, agreeing to a draw shortly after move 30.

After sacrificing the c7-pawn, Black continued with e7-e5 and Bc5, playing to create quick counterplay in the center. ½-½, 32 moves 

The battle between two of the favorites ended peacefully. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller

While Niemann kept his half-point lead ahead of Burke with 4.0/5, IM Praveen Balakrishnan was able to tie for second place in the standings, defeating previous co-leader IM Christopher Yoo to reach 3.5/5.

Black’s powerful pawns in the center allowed IM Balakrishnan to soon launch a decisive attack against White’s king. 0-1, 42 moves

Standings after Round 5

U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

In the U.S. Girls’ Junior, top seed IM Annie Wang bounced back from her loss yesterday to defeat the No. 2 seed in the event, FM Thalia Cervantes. The players engaged in a classic 7.Bc4 variation of the Grunfeld Defense, debated heavily in the Kasparov-Karpov World Championship matches from the 1980s, when after the opening Cervantes quickly went wrong, eventually getting her rook trapped on the kingside:

Here White played 23.g3!, preparing to win the trapped rook with Nf2 next. | 1-0, 27 moves

IM Annie Wang recovered nicely from her loss yesterday, defeating one of her top rivals in the event. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller

Co-leader WCM Ruiyang Yan kept pace with Wang, winning a long game against WFM Sanjana Vittal, while WIM Rochelle Wu was upset by Susanna Ulrich, after the latter made great use of her strong pawn on h6:

25.Qd6!! secured Ulrich a decisive edge, taking advantage of Black’s weak back-rank. | 1-0, 47 moves

14-year-old WCM Ruiyang Yan continued her excellent performance and is currently tied for the lead with 4.0/5. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Austin Fuller

Standings after Round 5

Round 6 of the 2021 U.S. Juniors and Senior Championships will take place Thursday, July 22nd, starting at 2:50 PM CDT. Catch all the action live with host Sharon Carpenter and grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan and Cristian Chirila on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.