Words simply cannot describe today's epic round 5 game at the US Junior between NM Gregory Young and NM Tyler Hughes. Both competitors are known fighters at the chess board, but I doubt that they had this in mind. The opening went poorly for the California kid after he naively allowed the central break 20... d5 against the Maroczy bind (20.Qf2 was better). However, thanks to some tenacious defense, Gregory managed to equalize by the time control on the 40th move.
The conclusion of this game will no doubt get both competitors in hot water with their chess teachers. After 48.Kf4 Bxb7 49.Nxb7 Rxb7 50.Rxa3, the position is a theoretically drawn rook endgame of 3 pawns versus 2. Instead, white tried 48.Kd4, overlooking that his king gets cut off by 50... Re7! Now black could have won easily with the greedy variation 64... Rg1 65.Ra3 Kg4 66.Ra6 g5. After a few more inaccuracies, the players reached a winning endgame of rook and pawn versus rook, until 71... Kf3 threw away the win (Re3+ was necessary). The game finally ended in stalemate after more than 100 moves. Rumor now is that Gregory will have several endgame books waiting in the mail when he returns home.
(Photo in front of the building for the Anatoly Karpov School of Chess in Lindsborg, Kansas.)
US Junior after Round 5 (everyone has played 4 games): Gregory Young 3.5, Tyler Hughes 2.5, Daniel Yeager 2.0, Edward Lu 1.0, Bradley Sawyer 1.0
US Cadet after Round 6: Conrad Holt 4.5/5, Darwin Yang 3.5/5, Deepak Aaron 3.5/6, Andrew Shvartsman 2.0/5, Alex Markovitz 2.0/5, Richard Tuhrim 1.5/5, Patrick Tae 1.0/5
The other stunning news this afternoon was that Bradley Sawyer dropped out of the US Junior due to illness. That leaves the tournament with merely four (!) players, truly sad for a national championship. The second half of the double round-robin will be played as a quad with the colors alternating from the first half. There will be two rounds on Tuesday and the last one on Wednesday morning. Is it possible that there are even more logistical surprises in store on the final two days?
Good luck to Gregory as he defends his lead as white against FM Daniel Yeager and as black versus NM Edward Lu on Tuesday! The games are available live on the MonRoi website and I will attempt to arrange for coverage on ICC too.
Update on Tuesday afternoon: Gregory survived another completely lost position, down an entire piece, to draw FM Yeager in 68 moves. Thus, he maintains his 1.0 point lead.
Update on Tuesday evening: Gregory Young 4.5, Tyler Hughes 3.5, Daniel Yeager 3.0 Edward Lu 2.0. Gregory carefully protected his lead with a short draw as black against NM Lu. In the other game, NM Hughes had a small advantage against FM Yeager, but they also drew without much of a fight. Kudos to Conrad Holt of Kansas for winning the US Cadet!