Nation’s Top Chess Prodigies Head to Saint Louis for 2016 U.S. Junior Closed Championships

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Nicole Halpin



 For Immediate Release

Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hosts seventh consecutive Junior Closed tournament


SAINT LOUIS, June 16, 2016 -- The nation’s elite junior chess players are coming back to Saint Louis, the nation’s Chess Capital, this summer as the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) hosts the U.S. Junior Closed Championship July 7-18, 2016. The event is the most prestigious chess tournament in the country for junior players under the age of 21, and the 2016 lineup features the strongest field by rating for the U.S. Junior Closed to date.

“For students here in Saint Louis and students across the nation, it’s incredibly inspiring to see these top juniors compete,” said Tony Rich, Executive Director of the CCSCSL. “These players are proof that hard work, commitment and study can produce successful results. We are thrilled to again host these students during this prestigious chess event.”

Ten players are competing in the 2016 U.S. Junior Closed Championship (invitational rating):

  • GM Jeffery Xiong (2723)—Coppell, Texas

  • GM Kayden Troff (2639)—West Jordan, Utah

  • IM Ruifeng Li (2608)—Plano, Texas

  • IM Akshat Chandra (2583)—Inselin, N.J.

  • IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti (2527)—Boise, Idaho

  • IM Michael Bodek (2523)—New Rochelle, N.Y.

  • IM Awonder Liang (2515)—Madison, Wis.

  • IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (2508)—Brooklyn, N.Y.

  • FM Michael Brown (2506)—Trabucco Canyon, Calf.

  • FM Nicolas Checa (2502)—Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Players are competing for more than $20,000 in prizes, and the winner will also receive an automatic invitation to the 2017 U.S. Championship, the nation’s top invitational chess event. Two players from this year’s field, defending U.S. Junior Champion, Akshat Chandra, and Jeffery Xiong, competed in the 2016 U.S. Chess Championship.

The opening ceremony will take place Thursday, July 7 at the Chess Club and Scholastic of Saint Louis at 6:00 p.m. The round-robin tournament will begin on Friday, July 8 with the rounds starting daily at 1:00 p.m. CT.

Each round of the 2016 U.S. Junior Closed Championship will feature live commentary from Grandmaster Ben Finegold and FIDE Master Aviv Friedman. Viewers can watch in-person at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis or online at

Previous winners of the Junior Closed Championship include the legendary GM Bobby Fischer, as well as GM Larry Christiansen, GM Patrick Wolff, IM Joshua Waitzkin, GM Tal Shaked, GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Robert Hess, GM Ray Robson, GM Sam Shankland and IM Akshat Chandra.

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About The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that is committed to making chess an important part of our community. In addition to providing a forum for the community to play tournaments and casual games, the club also offers chess improvement classes, beginner lessons and special lectures.

Recognizing the cognitive and behavioral benefits of chess, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center is committed to supporting those chess programs that already exist in area schools while encouraging the development of new in-school and after-school programs. For more information, visit

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