Monday, June 17

US Junior Middle Rounds

IM-elect Sam Sevian
IM Daniel Naroditsky
FM Yian Liou

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

(All photos have been borrowed from CCSCSL.)

Round 7:  Friday turned out to be a California day!  Yian, who struggled all week, crushed the leader Luke in 27 moves, snaring the black queen in a gambit line of the French Tarrasch.  Top rated Daniel took care of business against bottom rated Sarah, thereby occupying the lead with only two rounds left.  Can he overcome the curse on first place?  The wizard Luke remains in second place just 0.5 behind, joined by 12 year old whiz kid Sam.  In a battle of World Youth gold medalists, Sam sacrificed both knights on consecutive moves to rip open Kayden's defenses in a topical Najdorf.  Victor outplayed Atulya from the white side of a semi-Slav while Robert and Jeffery played a peaceful middlegame from the Chigorin variation.  Any of six players could win or tie for first place depending on how the chips fall in the final two rounds.  Stay tuned!

Round 6:  After a day of relaxation and basketball, Luke the Magician struck to seize the lead again.  He overcame a dangerous passed pawn and three pawns down to play a decisive combination.  While objectively losing, the wizard from Utah cherishes complicated positions and never gives up.  The other joint leaders after round 5 were unable to keep pace.  Daniel seemed content to force a draw after some adventures against the Taimanov essayed by fellow IM Victor.  Robert lost his queen and eventually the game out of a Benoni-like opening, allowing his young opponent Kayden to move into a share of second with Daniel.  Sam won the exchange versus Atulya's English opening, and played energetically to bring home the point.  The last board saw a short but tense Ruy Lopez draw between Jeffery and Yian.

Round 5:  For the first time in three days, the leader(s) did not lose.  Daniel defended the black side of the Ruy Lopez against fellow Northern California native Sam.  Although white won a pawn, black's activity and bishop pair provided compensation. The draw allowed two competitors to catch up to the lead, although both can thank their lucky stars.  Luke got outplayed in a Queen's Indian, but kept fighting for counterplay until Victor blundered.  Robert lost a pawn in the middlegame, but managed to activate his king when Yian went astray.  Jeffery converted two connected passers into a win against fellow Texas native Sarah.  In the last game, Kayden had an advantage as black in the English, but Atulya found enough weaknesses to save half a point.

Round 4:  The musical chairs continue in the US Junior Closed.  Yesterday's hero Luke fell victim to 12 year old Sam's superior piece activity against the Worrall Attack, facing checkmate after just 30 moves.  A few feet away, Daniel took care of business with white in a French Tarrasch, first picking off the IQP and then winning the exchange.  At 3.0 out of 4, the top rated International Master now occupies the pole position.  Three would join Luke in second place with 2.5 points.  Kayden nursed an advantage against Yian, and eventually cashed in the rook endgame.  Sarah showed her attacking skills by nearly upsetting Robert from the black side of a Nimzo, but the tables turned and the MIT student escaped with a full point.  Jeffery and Victor danced for nearly 80 moves in a queen endgame with 7 pawns each before shaking hands peacefully.

Commentary by GMs Ben Finegold and Yasser Seirawan.
The biggest chess news today did not involve the US Junior.  The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis announced a four player super Grandmaster event this September.  The participants will be World #1 Magnus Carlsen and World #2 Levon Aronian against USA #1 Hikaru Nakamura and USA #2 Gata Kamsky.  All four are currently ranked in the Top 10 overall.  W-O-W!!!

Important links for the 2013 US Junior:

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