Wednesday, June 12

US Junior Kicks Off on Friday

IM Daniel Naroditsky
FM Yian Liou
IM-elect Sam Sevian

For yet another year, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will generously host many of the top juniors in the country, including a trio from Northern California.  The 2013 US Junior Closed returns to its traditional format of a 10-player round-robin at the leisurely pace of one round each day.  The players compete for a $10,000 prize fund and a coveted spot in the next US Championship.

The 10 invitees comprise quite a competitive field, with average rating of 2469 USCF and 2361 FIDE.  Three hold the International Master title, plus another 2 are IM-elect after fulfilling the norm requirements without the minimum 2400 FIDE rating.  The top 9 players are separated by only 120 points, meaning that literally anyone could catch fire and finish first.  Recent history even supports that possibility, since NM Greg Young dominated in 2011 as the eighth seed.

Participants in 2013 US Junior Closed
  1. IM Daniel Naroditsky (CA-N, age 17) 2558 USCF, 2494 FIDE
  2. IM Kayden Troff (UT, 14) 2528, 2443
  3. NM Robert Perez (FL, 17) 2521, 2359
  4. IM Victor Shen (NJ, 20) 2511, 2411
  5. IM-elect Jeffery Xiong (TX, 12) 2496, 2370
  6. FM Yian Liou (CA-N, 15) 2469, 2385 
  7. FM Atulya Shetty (MI, 17) 2465, 2320
  8. IM-elect Sam Sevian (CA-N, 12) 2464, 2390
  9. FM Luke Harmon-Vellotti (ID, 14) 2441, 2340
  10. WFM Sarah Chiang (TX, 16) 2234, 2101
This championship features a diverse crop of young chess masters.  Two attend prestigious universities (Robert at MIT and Victor at Columbia) and a third (Luke) has been admitted to UCLA for the fall.  Two more (Daniel and Atulya) will begin their senior year of high school.  On the other hand, the two 12-year old prodigies (Jeffery and Sam) have yet to start high school.  Of course, age and education make little difference once the games begin.

Three Bay Area stars were invited for this national championship.  Top ranked Daniel Naroditsky brings vast experience to the board for every round.  Two GM norms leave him on the cusp of the highest title in professional chess.  Incredibly, 17-year old Daniel also authored two chess books, which have received positive reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.  Yian Liou begins his first US Junior in the middle of the field, both by age and rating.  He won the 2010 US Cadet and, more recently, earned his second IM norm at North American Open last December (scoring 50% against 4 GMs and 2 IMs).  The youngest California representative, Sam Sevian, has amassed experience far beyond his years.  In addition to winning World Youth U12 last November and completing all three IM norms, Sam participated in the US Championship itself just a month ago!   Will one of the local boys bring home the Bay Area's second Junior title in three years (after Greg in 2011).

The tournament kicks off with an Opening Ceremony on Thursday evening and round 1 on Friday.  All rounds begin at 11:00am Pacific time, except the last one on Sunday, June 23.  The organizers plan to offer live coverage with commentary by Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan and Ben Finegold Stay tuned for plenty of crazy tactics and even some subtle positional play!

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