2017 U.S. Junior Championships - Round 6 Recap

by Denes Boros

A dramatic round where rivals clashed in both sections!

U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

The two big games of the Girls’ Section was between Annie Wang and Akshita Gorti, and Emily Nguyen and Maggie Feng.

Gorti was only a half point ahead of the field, so her game against her rival Annie Wang was crucial. It didn’t look great for Gorti at first, as Annie Wang managed to get a nagging advantage with White. Wang could have tried increasing her advantage with 20.Nb5! preparing a potential sacrifice on d6; instead, she played 20.a5!?, which let Gorti off the hook. Gorti then managed to reorganize and she slowly took control of the game. Annie Wang had one last chance with 25.Nxe5!, but after that Gorti was unstoppable.

Emily Nguyen against Maggie Feng started out as a Dutch Stonewall. Nguyen seemed to have slight pressure, but in the end it wasn’t enough, so the players agreed to a draw.

This draw and Gorti’s win stabilized the situation, as Gorti has a comfortable one point lead ahead of both Emily Nguyen and Maggie Feng!

It is clear that the fighting spirit is high in both sections as Bykovtsev-Yip featured a wild Fisher/Sozin variation, which was won by Yip with precise play; the game between Eswaran-Ulrich, won by Eswaran, was also a classical hybrid of the Bartel/ Keres Attack!

U.S. Junior Championship

Speaking of fighting spirit, it was clear that the players came here today to challenge, the leader, Kayden Troff!

Liang played the Nimzo-Indian as Black against Troff, but neither side could make any progress, and so a draw was agreed after move 30. This was a decent result for Troff as he stabilized his lead, but it was quite a disappointing result for Liang.

Kayden’s rivals Checa and Chandra were given a chance to sneak closer to the leader.

Checa had an unpleasant task in the opening against Mika Brattain. Suffering in a slightly worse position, he repeated moves, but Brattain, justifiably, avoided repetition. Then, out of the blue, Checa had an amazing attack with 24…Ng5 and after the move 26 b5, he played the near-decisive Bxg3! sacrifice. Checa was clearly winning after that point, but Brattain kept on fighting. Checa started to lose his grip, and that was enough for Brattain, who managed to draw the game after a long fight!

Chandra, the hometown favorite, was playing Michael Brown who had a decent showing in this tournament. Brown chose the deferred Steinitz against Chandra, but Akshat was very comfortable with the arising positions, and he slowly outplayed his opponent!

Ruifeng Li, even though not in contention for first place, played a wonderful tactical masterpiece against Bovey. Clearly in the style of Tal, he sacrificed a piece with 11.fxe6! and after 33. move he checkmated his opponent in a very convincing game!

Kayden Troff is clear first in the Open Section after round 6, he is followed by Checa, Liang and Chandra they are trailing him by one point. Akshita Gorti leads the Girls’ Section after 6 rounds and she is followed by Emily Nguyen and Maggie Feng, both one point behind her.