IM Li Ruifeng wins North American Junior Open U20

by ChessBase
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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