Friday, June 14

US Junior Early Rounds

Daniel wears light blue shirt in foreground. Sam plays white vs Yian in the back.
Photo credit: Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

Current Standings
  • 2.5 Luke Harmon-Vellotti
  • 2.0 Daniel Naroditsky, Victor Shen, Atulya Shetty
  • 1.5 Kayden Troff, Robert Perez, Yian Liou
  • 1.0 Sam Sevian
  • 0.5 Jeffery Xiong, Sarah Chiang

Round 3: The co-leaders Victor and Atulya both won with black yesterday and, predictably, they promptly lost with white today.  Victor and Robert played a back-and-forth Najdorf, where two knights proved more important than a second queen.  Speaking of the black cavalry, Atulya seemed fine in the English until one of Luke's knights landed on e3.  The sudden change in fortunes allows Luke to climb to the top of the leaderboard.  The three California boys found themselves uncomfortably close to losing, but all managed to split the point.  The highly anticipated pairing of favorites Daniel and Kayden saw black dominate the center, but the veteran Daniel escaped into a double rook endgame.  The two 12 year old IM-elects Sam and Jeffery battled in a French, and Sam should count his lucky stars as his king escaped certain demise.  Finally, bottom-rated Sarah got on the board by drawing against Yian.

Round 2: After four white wins in round 1, black achieved a plus score today.  The early leaders at 2-0 both triumphed with the black pieces.  Atulya won when Jeffery failed to find the critical moves after sacrificing a queen in a French.  And Victor took full advantage of an inopportune moment of blindness by Yian.  The other two first round winners, Luke and Danya, drew after white got exactly nowhere against the Nimzo.  Robert and Sam blitzed out 25 moves of theory in the Botvinnik, then drew by repetition just a half dozen moves later.  Kayden found himself in a scintillating battle worthy of a James Bond film, and the 007 predictably escaped with a subtle combination to force a pawn promotion.

Round 1: The tournament kicked off with a bang.  All five games ended decisively, and two California boys won.  The most exciting game of the day was the Najdorf battle between Luke and Kayden that saw white milk an endgame win out of a small middlegame advantage.  Yours truly closely watched the pairing of Bay Area talents Sam and Yian, which ended in favor of black after a positional struggle in the Accelerated Dragon.  Top seed Daniel punished Jeffery's unusual treatment of the Bogo Indian while Victor showed no mercy to bottom rated Sarah, the US Junior Open qualifier.  Robert gifted a free point to National High School champion Atulya by blundering his queen out of the blue.  Friday saw four white wins and one black win on a day of youthful fighting chess.

The San Francisco Bay Area has become one of the premiere locations in America for talented young chess players.  Indeed, 6 of the 10 participants in the US Junior have sharpened their skills in regional tournaments.  In addition to the three local residents (Daniel Naroditsky, Yian Liou and Sam Sevian), the two Mountain Time Zone stars (Kayden Troff and Luke Harmon-Vellotti) and one from Texas (Jeffery Xiong) traveled here to play.  Indeed, Jeffery earned an IM norm at the Golden State Open five months ago.

Important links for the 2013 US Junior Closed:

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