U.S. Juniors’ and Senior Championship: Day 7 Recap

by IM Kostya Kavutskiy

Round 7 of the 2023 U.S. National Championships saw clear leaders emerge in all three fields as GM-elect Arthur Guo defeated key rival GM Andrew Hong to take the sole lead in the U.S. Junior, while IM-elect Alice Lee survived a dangerous endgame to score an important victory over IM Carissa Yip. Meanwhile in the U.S Senior, GM Melik Khachiyan drew with GM Gregory Kaidanov, moving him closer to clinching the title outright.

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

The runaway leader Khachiyan was finally slowed down with a draw against the 2021 U.S. Senior Champion, Kaidanov. After giving up the bishop pair in the opening to spoil White’s structure, Khachiyan was under a bit of pressure due to his space disadvantage. But solid defense allowed him to equalize, and the game ended in a draw by repetition.

Kaidanov-Khachiyan: After 20.Nf5, White’s attack looked dangerous, but 20…Ng7 allowed Black to quickly neutralize. | ½-½, 25 moves

GM Gregory Kaidanov | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Scoring victories in the round were Shabalov, Wolff, and Root, with Shabalov defeating the 2020 champion GM Joel Benjamin:

Shabalov-Benjamin: After 27.f4, Black had a lot of activity, but was forced to give up a knight. | 1-0, 47 moves

The reigning champion Shabalov sits in second, 1.5 points behind, with two rounds to go. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

2023 U.S. Senior Championship - Standings after Round 7

U.S. Junior Championship

The gridlock at the top was finally broken in a key battle between two of the leaders, GM-elect Arthur Guo and GM Andrew Hong. Excellent preparation by Guo put Hong under pressure in a 3.Bb5 Sicilian Moscow. After a few inaccuracies by Hong, Guo’s position was already overwhelming, as he managed to win Black’s entire queenside in the endgame:

Guo-Hong: After 20.Ncd5, Black's position was falling apart. | 1-0, 54 moves

After losing in Round 1 GM-elect Arthur Guo now leads the event for the very first time. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

The other leader, Mishra, could not achieve more than a draw against IM Justin Wang, who defended well in a Petroff Defense, while GM Brandon Jacobson leaped into shared second place with a late endgame grind against Stearman:

Stearman-Jacobson: After 45…f5, White was under nagging pressure in the endgame. | 0-1, 85 moves

Along with Mishra, Jacobson is just a half-point behind. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

2023 U.S. Junior Championship - Standings after Round 7

U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

A huge match-up in Yip-Lee turned out to be an incredible struggle as Yip chose the rare Center Game (1.e4 e5 2.d4) in what was a must-win situation. Despite the surprise Lee was well-prepared, as a sharp endgame with two pieces against a rook with passed pawns for both sides appeared on the board. Yip had her chances, but a late blunder allowed Lee to win the crucial game:

Yip-Lee: After 40…f3 both sides had passed pawns, but Black's f-pawn would soon cost White a piece. | 0-1, 60 moves

A full point lead with two rounds to go for Alice Lee. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

In the meantime FM Zoey Tang, the current second place, could only score a draw with Black against NM Kelsey Liu, leaving Alice Lee a full point ahead going into the final two rounds.

Yip went all-out for the win, but slipped in the second time control. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

2023 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship - Standings after Round 7

The 2023 U.S. Juniors’ and U.S. Senior Championships continue tomorrow, July 23rd, starting at 1:15 PM CDT. Catch all the action live with grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan, Cristian Chirila, and Katerina Nemcova on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.