IM Li Ruifeng wins North American Junior Open U20

9/16/2016 – Chess is on the rise in the US, symbolized by the gold medal the US team won at the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku. And there seems to be no lack of talent in the US. Jeffery Xiong is the top rated player in the world born in or after 2000 and he recently became World Junior Champion. Li Ruifeng is the top rated player in the world born in or after 2001 and he recently won the North American Junior Open U20. After a dramatic last round.

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Fireworks in the Final Round of the 2016 North American Junior U20 Open

By IA William J. Broich

Upsets on boards one and two in the final round of the 2016 North American Junior U20 Open produced a four-way tie for first. The 2016 North American Junior U20 Open Chess Championship was held at the Airport Double Tree Inn in Irving, Texas, USA. The event began September 1 and concluded September 5.

The field consisted of four IMs, three FMs, one WIM, seven NMs, and one CM with the remainder of the field untitled. IM Ruifeng Li topped the field with an impressive FIDE rating of 2555.  The remaining IMs were Akshat Chandra (2483), Awonder Liang (2477) and Michael Bodek (2403). Nicolas Checa (2421) was the highest rated FM and he is an IM-elect.

Notably missing from this field was GM Jeffery Xiong (2647). Xiong recently won the World Junior Championship. While Xiong is the top rated chess player in the world born in 2000 or after, Li is the highest rated player in the world born in 2001 or after, based on the list of the top 100 juniors posted on the current FIDE website.  Li won the prestigious National Open held annually in Las Vegas, USA.  IM Liang is the top rated player in the world born in 2003 or after.  These young competitors represent a new generation of talented players from the United States.

There were numerous upsets throughout the tournament. Going into the ninth and final round five players had five points, one player had five and a half points and top seeded Li had six points. In the final round Li had black against Sheng on board one and Liang had black against Advait Patel on board two.

The first place winner receives the Gold metal, a GM norm and the IM title in this event.  Equal first after the tiebreak earned the IM title. Li, an IM, could earn a GM norm with a first place finish.  Liang, also am IM, had an opportunity to earn a GM norm if he won and Li lost. 

Both players, Li and Liang, kept a close eye on the game next to them. If Liang drew, Li could secure first place with a draw. If Liang won, Li would also have to win to claim first place.  

GM Timur Gareev annotates the games on the two top boards of the final round with the help of FM Advait Patel.  Did IM Liang push for a win forcing IM Li to also play for a win to get a GM norm?

Board one


IM Ruifeng Li (2555) of the USA is the highest chess player in the
world born in or after 2001 (Photo: Oren Eliezer).

Board two


IM Awonder Liang of the USA is the top rated player in the world
born in or after 2003. (Photo: Oren Eliezer)

As you can see from the annotated games above, Sheng defeated Li and Patel defeated Liang. As a result of these upsets four players tied for first place. The first tie-break was head to head competition. After some discussion it was determined this tie-break didn’t “break the tie.” Since all players in the four-way tie had not played each other, this tie-break became moot.  The second tie-break was the modified Buchholz. On the second tie-break Li won first, Sheng finished second, Chandra won third, and Petal finished fourth. Li won gold and made a GM norm. Sheng won silver and became an IM. Chandra won bronze.

Final Standings

Rk. SNo   Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 1 IM Li Ruifeng USA 2555 6,0 0,0 38,0 4,0
2 7 FM Sheng Joshua USA 2385 6,0 0,0 37,0 4,0
3 2 IM Chandra Akshat USA 2483 6,0 0,0 36,0 4,0
4 6 NM Patel Advait USA 2391 6,0 0,0 35,0 4,0
5 5 IM Bodek Michael H USA 2403 5,5 0,0 38,0 2,0
6 4 FM Checa Nicolas D USA 2421 5,5 0,0 37,5 3,0
7 3 IM Liang Awonder USA 2477 5,5 0,0 36,5 3,0
8 14   Song Ziyuan (sam) CAN 2146 5,0 0,0 32,0 4,0
9 11 NM Pamatmat Jarod M USA 2189 5,0 0,0 30,0 4,0
10 9 NM Hong Andrew Z USA 2230 4,5 0,0 39,5 3,0
11 8 NM Wang Justin USA 2277 4,5 0,0 32,0 3,0
  13 CM Guo Arthur USA 2177 4,5 0,0 32,0 3,0
13 16 NM Capocyan Sam L USA 2098 4,5 0,0 27,0 4,0
14 18 NM Easton Jack R USA 2045 4,0 0,0 36,0 3,0
15 15 NM Vaidya Atulya USA 2102 4,0 0,0 30,0 3,0
16 10 FM Song Guannan Terry CAN 2226 4,0 0,0 29,0 3,0
  17   Metpally Jason USA 2058 4,0 0,0 29,0 3,0
18 22   Kung Thomas USA 1783 3,5 0,0 28,0 2,0
19 12 WIM Bykovtsev Agata USA 2181 2,5 1,0 30,5 2,0
20 20   Tsuei Kai USA 1537 2,5 0,0 27,0 2,0
21 19   Weisberg Mark L USA 1691 1,0 0,0 22,5 0,0
22 21   Ramapriya Sudharsan USA 590 0,0 0,0 20,0 0,0

Tie Break1: Direct Encounter (The results of the players in the same point group)
Tie Break2: Buchholz Tie-Breaks (variabel with parameter)
Tie Break3: The greater number of victories (variable)

Source: chess-results

The results of this tournament demonstrate that the competition among young chess players in the United States is so fierce that two of the world’s top players for their group lost to lesser known up and coming players in the final round who are also from the United States. Congratulations to all who competed in this wonderful event.

Tournament site

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dixondeuxyeux dixondeuxyeux 9/18/2016 02:03
First of all let's stop the ignorant racist taunts. You are defined by your culture and your country. Your complexion color means absolutely nothing. If you live in sub-Saharian Africa and you don't have dark skin, you will suffer. if you live in Northern Scandinavia and you have a lot of melanin, you will suffer. We have all evolved to survive our environments. But we need not live and die where we were born. There is no such thing as white or black people. I dare anyone to place their hand on a sheet of copy paper. If you can't see your hand from the paper, you may call yourself white. If not, accept that the term you are using for yourself was socially constructed to make one group feel superior to another. For anyone to consider themselves more American than another belies the history of my country. If you don't have feathers in your headdress, your family immigrated from somewhere else. So why are you closing the door after you got in? As for Raymond, above, I believe he would best be considered a person of pink.
Camembert Camembert 9/17/2016 05:00
Oh! By the way, Raymond Labelle,
Did you noticed that in the USA team of the International Maths Olympiads there is always 3 to 4 ABC and that even the delegation leader is Chinese, only thanks to them you can keep your rank !
In the 2009 edition, North Korea was even ahead of the US !

Camembert Camembert 9/17/2016 04:43
Raymond Labelle,
Mind you, I'm like Robson a "Half-breed" Chinese/Vietnamese-European.
I cannot forget, will never forget "Opium Wars", "Korea War", "Vietnam War".
Sorry for you, it's History, and due to your poor education, you can call it "racism" if you want or whatever.
In Asia, we are called ABC :America Born Chinese.
Oh! one chinese saying for you "Eye for eye, blood for blood"
blackdranzer 27 blackdranzer 27 9/17/2016 03:05
@D Jones
America has great talent and we have seen that in the Olympics....No comments there... I am talking about chess talent...have a look at the list above, user two Chinese and two Indians at the top, and if am right , they are the minorities!....all I am saying is that, chess needs to be advertised more in US, the last time we had a prodigy was Bobby....we can't just project him for decades to come.....we need homegrown superstars
and a happy new year and a happy new year 9/17/2016 11:43
I think we should applaud the tremendous work ethic of those US citizens who can trace their ancestry back to south or southeast asia. If you want to stay a great country you should be inspired by them, not- as are some posters on here- jealous of their achievements.
DJones DJones 9/17/2016 08:28
I'd like to see these internet bullies tell our olympic chess team that they aren't real Americans to their faces. That would be a laugh riot. I'd like to see Carlsen repeat his tweet about Wesley and Fab to their faces. Sorry, Russian internet trolls and european white nationalists don't get to determine who is and who is not a real American. Go Li!
Laikor_21 Laikor_21 9/17/2016 07:22
Very well said blackdranzer!! Respect!! 👍
Feeling sorry for swettting Mr. Raymond Labelle and for k2h66p26... but appreciate the effort 😂😂😂😂😂... nice try bitches!!
blackdranzer 27 blackdranzer 27 9/17/2016 04:55
In modern times such as now, it is wrong to say that any national team should consists only of native homegrown players. And especially in the US, where many people migrate due to better opportunities. But then again, i am sure that the Americans would feel much more proud if the players were native. one cant ignore how all the top players of US are not from US and iam not taking about citizen ship. #race matters ! ;)
k2h66p26 k2h66p26 9/16/2016 08:59
Laikor, Americans keep clarifying the roots of their players because ignorant trolls like yourself keep rehashing the same old racist arguments that are so naive and so blatantly wrong. Stay salty my friend.
gmwdim gmwdim 9/16/2016 07:49
Raymond wouldn't need to "clarify beforehand" if not for all the bigots spewing their hateful comments on other recent articles. I imagine these are the same folks who spread conspiracy theories about Obama not being an American.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 9/16/2016 07:10
"it's really funny that nowadays US people are so cautious about the roots of their players and they tend to clarify about it before hand."

"Beforehand" in this page. After many, many, many comments by many, many, many people, following the articles on the Baku Olympiads, very recently, stating that the US team was not made of "real" Americans. With many, many, many ironic congratulations implying that the team was not "really" American.

Many racist comments like "Robson is half-Chinese" for example, by "Camembert" (implying Robson is not "really" American).

This can be verified easily. Just go to the articles and judge by yourself the immense quantity of that scrap you will find.

But, damned if you do, damned if you do not.

If you answer to these unfounded anti-American racist comments, then some people find it "funny" (on my part, no laugh at all) and you admit you are wrong because you denounce these racist affirmations. But if you just say nothing, you risk letting these racist attacks be taken as truths.

In a way, justifying and trying to present a point of view may be a real mistake. Trying to dialogue with that kind of people is a waste of time. I will rest on the judgment of the sensible readers.

LOL Laikor?
Laikor_21 Laikor_21 9/16/2016 05:16
Lol.... it's really funny that nowadays US people are so cautious about the roots of their players and they tend to clarify about it before hand like Mr. Raymond Labelle 😂😂😂. On the other hand, we usually go to a shop and buy what we don't have.... I think you all know what I mean... 😉😉😉
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 9/16/2016 04:02
In a prophylactic way, I mention that Jeffrey, Awonder and Ruifang were born and raised in the US.

Only those who are of the position that only a Caucasian with an Anglo-Saxon name, born and raised in the US, could be a true American could contest the legitimacy of these players representing the US. Anyone daring to show that they agree with that racist position?

After all, we did see many persons reflecting this shameful position in commenting the Baku Olympiads, by contesting the legitimacy of the American representativity of the following players, raised in the US, and most of them also born in the US such as Caruana, Robson, Nakamura, Xiong and others.