Can You Wow Like Awonder and Sam?

Awonder at the Saint Louis Chess Club

Congrats to 14-year-old Awonder Liang, who earned his second GM norm on the way to winning his section of the 2017 Spring Chess Classic. A trio of strong round robins were hosted from May 16-24 in Saint Louis.  Awonder won the “B” group with 7.5/9, a full point ahead of his nearest rival Cristian Chirila, who also had an outstanding performance. Awonder earned his first GM norm last year in El Salvador. He gained over 30 rating points at the Spring Classic, which will boost him over 2500, leaving just the final norm between him and the Grandmaster title.

Liang started the Classic off with a bang. How did he seize the upperhand in round one against GM Tamaz Gelashvili?

Black to Move

Awonder went into the fifth round with a perfect 4-0 and faced pre-tournament favorite Aleksandr Lenderman. What’s Awonder’s best move in this position?

White to Move

Play through the full game here to see how Awonder sacrificed to expose Lenderman’s king.

Another nice game by Awonder featured the positional pawn sacrifice 30…e4!

16-year-old Sam Sevian, the youngest Grandmaster in US Chess history, also crushed at the Spring Classic. Sam won the highly competitive double round robin “C” section with 6.5/10.

GMs Ruifeng Li vs Sam Sevian, Photo STL Chess Club

How did Sevian, playing White, change the character of the position and seize the initiative against GM Alejandro Ramirez?

White to Move

Now suppose you are Sevian’s opponent in round 3, Andrey Stukopin- What would you do after Sevian moved his queen from …c4 to d4, resulting in the following position?

White to Move

White captured on d4, which gives black better chances. 36. Rxa7 was a better try, giving Black the option to capture on e4. Sevian was again able to use the dynamism of his position to pressure his opponent, who eventually erred and allowed the d-pawn to crash through.

Sevian was also just featured in a video hosted by Jen Shahade, throwing back to a famous game he played six years ago at the US Chess School.

GM Varuzhan Akobian, a fan favorite at the US Chess Championships, won the A-section of the Spring Chess Classic. Here’s a nice squeeze Akobian put on against the Millionaire Chess Champ, Dariusz Swiercz.

GM Varuzhan Akobian, Photo STL Chess Club

Find more details on the Spring Chess Classic, including full pgn downloads and recap videos at Next up at the Saint Louis Chess Club: The US Junior Championships and US Junior Girls Championships.


  1. To the JENNIFER: wonder woman media survivor….Our proud loud online media chief (Can’t bow..don’t know how) and world chess fashionista… THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE WORLDWIDE / TOTALLY UNCENSORED COVERAGE suddenly rolling like a mighty fierce train. Freedom excels where freedom dwells. Freedom is not free. You have to use it to prove it…Sometime you have to die for it. St. Louis , your siren, your reward and great treasure, beckons. Glad you survived the horrendous US chess Nazi era. How you do dat magic Jennifer Shahade? Good winds always… Jude Acers/ New Orleans ps Dear editor:do not forget please the ongoing 2017 Capablanca Memorial with our many wonderful Cuban chess friends , American world Olympiad gold medal team champion player Shankland plus the immortal Ivanchuk.

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