By Ken West
Gregory Young is the 2011 U.S. Junior Champion, taking the title before the final round of play even began.
Of the 10 people playing, Young's 2384 rating entering the tournament was seventh in the field. His performance rating will be much higher as he finished the tournament with a final score of 7.5/9. He said he did not have high expectations because he had not played chess in six months.
"I'm practically speechless," he said after clinching the title. "Even getting invited is incredible enough to play at this incredible chess club in Saint Louis. I wasn't even thinking about results. I was thinking about it as a tournament to get back into rhythm and play."
Young's rhythm threw most players out of step. In round 8, he played another Sozin Bc4 against Warren Harper's Najdorf Sicilian. Young used the line in his earlier win over John Bryant only to choose another line against Harper on move 13, f4 instead of Nf3. After Young's 15.f5, Harper moved his king to h8, breaking the pin on his g-pawn. Young gave up his bishop on h6 by playing fxe6.
"This piece sacrifice may determine first place," said Grandmaster Ben Finegold, who provided commentary on the games with FIDE Master Aviv Friedman.
Young,Gregory (2327) - Harper,Warren (2310) [B87]
US Junior Championship Saint Louis USA (8), 24.06.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.0-0 Be7 9.Qf3 Qc7 10.Qg3 0-0 11.Bh6 Ne8 12.Rad1 Bd7 13.f4 Nc6 14.Nxc6 Bxc6 15.f5 Kh8
16.fxe6. 16.f6 has been the norm here. Now everything depends on how successful he is with the piece sac. 16.f6 gxh6 17.fxe7 Qxe7 18.Qf2 Ng7 19.Qd4 Rac8 20.a3 Qg5 21.Qxd6 Nf5 22.Qe5+ f6 23.Qxe6 Ne3 24.Qh3 f5 25.Be6 Rce8 26.Bxf5 Rg8 27.Kh1 Nxf1 28.Rxf1 Qd2 29.g3 Rg7 30.Qg2 Rd8 31.Rf2 Qe1+ 32.Rf1 Qe3 33.Nd5 Qd4 34.c3 Qe5 35.Ne3 Re7 36.Rf4 Rde8 37.h4 Qd6 38.Kh2 Qd3 39.Ng4 Bxe4 40.Bxe4 Rxe4 41.Nf2 1-0 (41) Rublevsky,S (2688)-Bu Xiangzhi (2676)/Ningbo 2010/CBM 137 Extra 16...gxh6 17.Rxf7 Rxf7 18.exf7 Ng7 19.Rf1 Qa7+. 19...Rf8 20.Qd3 Bg5 21.Nd5 Bxd5 22.Bxd5 Qe7 23.Qg3 Qe5 24.Qxe5 dxe5 25.g3 Nh5 26.Rf5 Nf6 27.Be6 Nxe4 28.Rxe5 Nd6 29.h4 Bc1 30.b3 Nxf7 0-1 (30) Kelleher,W (2445)-De Firmian,N (2563)/USA 1994/EXT 2004 20.Kh1 Rf8 21.Nd5 Bxd5 22.Bxd5 Qd4 23.c3 Qd2
The plans are pretty straightforward: Black wants to exchange as many pieces as possible, to neutralize any threats White might have planned. The idea is 24...Qg5. 24.Qg4 h5 25.Qd7 Qg5 26.g3 h4 27.Rg1 Qe5 28.gxh4 Bxh4 29.Qg4 Bf6 30.Rg3
30...h5?? 31.Qg6 Qf4
32.e5! Bxe5 33.Be4 Qxe4+ 34.Qxe4 Rxf7 35.Rf3 Re7 36.Rf8# 1-0 [Click to replay]
"What a game," Friedman said.
"It's all due to his pawn on f7," Finegold said.
With the 2011 title, Young wins $3,000 for first and entry into the 2012 U.S. Chess Championship. He said he his next stop is the World Open in Philadelphia that begins June 28. Alec Getz came in second by virtue of tiebreak, tied with Conrad Holt and Victor Shen.
The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.