US Junior Championship 2015

by Priyadarshan Banjan
7/14/2015 – The US Junior Closed Championship 2015 takes place from 7th July, 2015 to 15th July, 2015 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center St. Louis. It is a ten-player round robin event, in which the best juniors of the USA take part. After seven rounds IM Akshat Chandra and FM Arthur Shen lead with 5.0/7, half a point ahead of IM Jeffery Xiong. Pictures, games, analyses.

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The US Junior Championship is a prestigious tournament with a long history. Among the past winners are former World Champion Bobby Fischer, Arthur Bisguier, Yasser Sairawan, and Hikaru Nakamura. Since 1966 the US Juniors are played as an invitational, separating it from the US Junior Open tournament.

For the sixth consecutive edition, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis hosts this tournament. The time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game plus 30 seconds increment per player per move.

The games in progress

(from left to right) FM Awonder Liang, IM Jeffery Xiong, IM Luke Hermon-Vellotti, FM Michael Bodek, NM Mika Brattain

The line-up for the 2015 edition is led by GM in waiting Jeffery Xiong (2523), followed by IM Akshat Chandra (2495), FM Michael Bodek (2425), IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti (2430), FM Ruifeng Li (2394), IM Yian Liou (2417), FM Arthur Shen (2339), Mika Brattain (2357), FM Awonder Liang (2404), Curran Han (2079).

A short biography of the players

Awonder Liang and Akshat Chandra

Akshat Chandra had a good start: he won with Black against IM Luke Hermon Vellotti, one of the tournament favorites.

Luke Vellotti during his game against Akshat Chandra

 

Awonder Liang

One of the biggest talents in the US is the 12-year old FM Awonder Liang. In the first round he came to an easy victory against NM Curran Han. Liang first restricted the opportunities of his opponent and then infiltrated the enemy position with his rook.

Arthur Shen

Arthur Shen used the first two rounds to debate the pros and cons of the Sicilian. In the first round he lost a sharp Sicilian with Black against Liou Yian, in the second round he won a sharp Najdorf against Ruifeng Li. Shen tried the variation with 6.h3, which these days is Vishy Anand’s main weapon against the Najdorf.

 

In round two Akshat Chandra won against Curran Han but his winning streak ended in round three against Liou Yian.

Liou Yian (left, with White) during his game against Akshat Chandra

This was another Sicilian. Liou Yian attacked on the kingside but Akshat Chandra easily parried the attack and the game ended in a draw.

 

Awonder Liang continued the Sicilian discussions by beating Michael Bodek in round three with White in a Sicilian Dragon and thus Akshat Chandra and Awonder Liang were off to a flying start with 2.5/3.

But in round four Akshat Chandra won again: after some unusual
play in the opening he reached a won rook endgame.

 

Awonder Liang could not keep pace with Akshat Chandra. He played too ambitiously against Shen and lost.

Thus, after four rounds Akshat Chandra took the sole lead.

 

After his loss in round four Awonder Liang also lost against IM Vellotti in round five.

Ruifeng Li had a more than promising attack against Akshat Chandra
in round five but spoiled it to a draw. Here he is just about to play 45.Rc6,
after which the game soon ends with a stalemate trick.

 

Jeffery Xiong

After five rounds Jeffery Xiong’s solid chess had brought him 3.5/5 and place two. In round six he was a bit lucky that Li Riufang missed a winning computer move.

 

After a bad start Arthur Shen got going and in round six he won his third game in a row by dismantling Mika Brattain’s Caro Kann.

Winning against the Caro-Kann: Arthur Shen vs. Mika Brattain

 

With a win against Akshat Chandra in round seven Jeffery Xiong could have taken the lead but he missed a couple of good chances and the game ended in a draw.

The focus was on the game between the top two seeds.

 

Arthur Shen had more luck. With some help of his opponent FM Michael Bodek he won his fourth game in a row.

After starting with 1.0/3, Shen now has 5.0/7.

After seven rounds Akshat Chandra and Arthur Shen lead the field with 5.0/7. As luck would have it, they meet in the eighth and penultimate round. Jeffery Xiong follows on place three with 4.5/7.

 

Standings after seven rounds

Games

 

Photos: Austin Fuller

Annotations to the games: Mackenzie Molner

Official website



Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.
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gmwdim gmwdim 7/14/2015 04:46
It should be mentioned that the ratings shown here are USCF ratings, not FIDE ratings. Hence FMs and IMs rated in the 2500-2600 range.
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