More Fighting Chess in Saint Louis

With 10 decisive results in the 15 games played in yesterday’s Round 4, no one can say that fans attending the U.S. Junior, Girls, and Senior Championship are not getting their money’s worth! (Never you mind that there’s not an admission fee for these three tournaments…)

STLCC patrons watching the stream (photo Austin Fuller)

Let’s take a look at what happened in Round 4. Junior

courtesy STLCC

Nicolas Checa defeated Andrew Tang in the Exchange Variation of the Queen’s Gambit, finishing the game with a nice flourish. At 3.5/4, he leads the field by a half point going into today’s Round 5 play.

Nicolas Checa (photo Austin Fuller)

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.14"] [Round "4.4"] [White "Checa, Nicolas"] [Black "Tang, Andrew"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D35"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 c6 7. Bd3 Nbd7 8. Qc2 Nf8 9. Nge2 Ne6 10. Bh4 h6 11. f3 O-O 12. O-O b6 13. Rad1 Bb7 14. Kh1 Qc7 15. Bf5 {Controlling g4, and preparing e3-e4.} c5 $6 16. dxc5 Qxc5 17. Bxe6 fxe6 18. Nf4 Qc8 (18... Qxe3 19. Ng6 Rfe8 20. Rfe1 Qc5 21. Rxe6) 19. Ng6 Re8 20. Nxe7+ Rxe7 21. Bxf6 gxf6 22. Qg6+ Rg7 23. Qxf6 {Winning, but Black is "surprisingly solid." (Checa)} Kh7 24. e4 dxe4 25. fxe4 Qc6 26. Rd3 Rag8 27. Rh3 Rg6 28. Qe7+ R8g7 29. Rf7 Rxf7 (29... Qc5 $142 30. Rxg7+ Rxg7 31. Qxc5 bxc5 32. Rd3 $16) 30. Qxf7+ Rg7 31. Qf4 Rg6 32. Rd3 b5 33. Rd8 b4 34. Qf8 Rg7 35. Qh8+ Kg6 36. Rd3 Qc4 37. Ne2 $1 (37. Rg3+ Kh5 38. Qe8+) 37... Rf7 (37... Qxd3 $2 38. Nf4+) 38. Qg8+ 1-0 [/pgn]
Three players – Awonder Liang, Joshua Sheng, and Brandon Jacobson – are tied for second place with 3/4. Liang bounced back from his Round 3 loss to win a tense attacking game against John Burke.

Burke-Liang (photo Austin Fuller)

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.14"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Burke, John Michael"] [Black "Liang, Awonder"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B15"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. Qc2 h5 9. Ne2 Re8 10. O-O h4 11. h3 Nd7 12. Be3 Nf8 13. Rad1 Be6 14. c4 Rc8 15. Qa4 $6 {Liang was surprised by this move, the idea being that after c5 and d5, the queen can pick up the h4-pawn.} g5 $5 (15... a6 16. d5 (16. c5) 16... Bd7 17. c5) (15... Bb8 16. d5 Bd7 17. c5) 16. d5 cxd5 17. cxd5 Bd7 18. Qxa7 Qe7 19. Nd4 (19. Bd4 b5 $5 {and the queen might get trapped with ...Ra8-b8}) (19. Qd4 { looks like it loses the queen after} Bc5 {but White has} 20. d6 $1 $13) 19... f5 $1 20. Rfe1 (20. Qxb7 Qf6 $36 21. Nf3 $140 $2 g4 22. Bg5 Qg7) 20... Bc5 21. Qa5 b6 $1 (21... Bb4 22. d6 Qxd6 23. Nxf5) 22. Qa6 (22. Qd2 $2 Bb4 23. Qe2 Bxe1 24. Rxe1 f4 $19) 22... Bxd4 23. Bxd4 Qxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Rxe1+ 25. Bf1 Rcc1 26. Bxb6 f4 (26... Ng6 $5) 27. Bd8 Bf5 28. g4 hxg3 29. fxg3 Bxh3 30. gxf4 gxf4 0-1 [/pgn]
Jacobson crashed through Jennifer Yu’s defenses, sacrificing his knight to win in short order.
[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.14"] [Round "4.5"] [White "Jacobson, Brandon"] [Black "Yu, Jennifer"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A35"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r2r2/p2q1bkp/1pnpppp1/2PN4/PP2PP2/4Q3/4B1PP/R2R3K w - - 0 25"] [PlyCount "9"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 25. Nxf6 $1 Kxf6 26. Qc3+ Ke7 27. cxd6+ Kd8 28. Rac1 Be8 29. Ba6 1-0 [/pgn]
Hans Niemann was the beneficiary of a ‘mouseslip’ in his game against Craig Hilby. Hilby mixed up his preparation and hung his bishop on move 16. And Joshua Sheng was held to a draw by Atulya Vaidya. Girls

courtesy STLCC

Rochelle Wu’s streak continues, as she battled back from a busted position to win her fourth consecutive game against Rui Yang Yan. Wu understood that her position was critical, as she told Jesse Kraai in the post-game interview, but she held strong and pounced when Yan made a key error. After Yan eschewed the draw via repetition, Wu found a neat shot to win the game.

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.14"] [Round "4.4"] [White "Yang Yan, Rui"] [Black "Wu, Rochelle"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B92"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nf3 Be7 8. Bg5 Be6 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Bxf6 Nxf6 11. Ng5 O-O (11... Rc8 $5 12. Nxe6 fxe6 {and there's no Bc4.}) 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. Bc4 {Engines think this is equal, but the commentary team was aghast at this structure for Black.} Qc8 14. Bb3 Kh8 15. a4 {with the idea of a4-a5, Na4-b6} (15. Qd3 {was the choice of the commentary team, swinging the queen to the kingside.}) 15... Rd8 16. Qe2 Qd7 17. a5 Bf8 18. Na4 Qf7 19. Nb6 Rab8 20. Rfd1 g6 21. f3 (21. Rd2 {and doubling is probably better than the game continuation.}) 21... Bh6 22. Kh1 Nh5 23. Nc4 Qe7 24. g3 Bg7 25. Nb6 Rf8 26. Rd3 Rbd8 27. Rad1 Qg5 28. Qd2 Qf6 29. Qe3 Qe7 30. Nc4 d5 31. exd5 exd5 32. Rxd5 Rxd5 33. Rxd5 Nf6 34. Rxe5 Qd7 {[#]} 35. Nb6 $2 { Kraai: "Isn't she winning after 35.Qe2?" Wu, deadpan: "Yes! She's winning after everything except what she played!"} (35. Qe2 $18) 35... Qd1+ 36. Kg2 $4 (36. Qg1 Qxf3+ 37. Qg2 Qd1+ 38. Qg1 Qf3+ $11) 36... Ng4 37. Qe2 Bxe5 (37... Bxe5 38. Qxd1 Ne3+) 0-1 [/pgn]
Wu enters today’s Round 5 in clear first with 4/4. Carissa Yip is right behind her at 3.5/4, having won yesterday against Rachael Li. Li played an interesting pawn sac on move 16, and for some time the commentators thought that she had the edge. Yip’s 23. … Qf6, however, changed their minds, and the way she hemmed in the white rook in the endgame is very instructive.

Carissa Yip (photo Austin Fuller)

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.14"] [Round "4.5"] [White "Li, Rachael"] [Black "Yip, Carissa"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B26"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "114"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 d6 6. Be3 e6 7. Qd2 Rb8 8. Nge2 Nd4 9. O-O Ne7 10. Bh6 O-O 11. Bxg7 Kxg7 12. Nd1 f5 {Still in prep for Yip!} 13. f4 (13. c3 Nxe2+ 14. Qxe2 f4 $36) 13... b5 14. Ne3 Re8 15. c3 Qa5 16. b4 $5 {An interesting pawn sacrifice.} Nxe2+ 17. Qxe2 cxb4 18. exf5 gxf5 19. Qh5 Ng6 20. cxb4 Qxb4 21. Rae1 Bd7 22. Kh1 Qd4 23. g4 Qf6 {Here the commentators changed their minds, now thinking that White's attack was not sound and that Black was in charge.} 24. gxf5 exf5 25. Bd5 Re7 26. Be4 fxe4 27. Nd5 Qf5 28. Qxf5 Bxf5 29. Nxe7 Nxe7 30. dxe4 Bh3 31. Rf3 Bd7 32. Rg3+ Kf7 33. Kg2 Ng6 34. Kf3 Re8 35. Rg5 Rc8 36. Rd5 Nh4+ 37. Kf2 Ke7 38. e5 Rc2+ 39. Re2 Rxe2+ 40. Kxe2 dxe5 41. Rxe5+ Kd6 42. Ke3 {[#]} h6 {Setting up a very crafty trap.} 43. Rh5 $2 Nf5+ $1 44. Ke4 Ke6 $1 {and the rook is nearly trapped!} 45. Kf3 (45. Rxf5 Bc6+ ) (45. Rh3 Bc6+ 46. Kd3 Bg2 47. Rh5 Kf6 $19 (47... Bf3 48. Rh3 Bg4)) 45... Kf6 46. Kf2 b4 47. Rh3 Be6 48. Rd3 Bxa2 49. Rd8 b3 50. Rd2 a5 51. Ke1 a4 52. Kd1 Ne3+ 53. Kc1 Nc4 54. Rg2 a3 55. f5 b2+ 56. Kc2 Ne3+ 57. Kc3 Nxg2 0-1 [/pgn]
In other games, Veronika Zilajeva got on the board with a solid win over Maggie Feng. Martha Samadashvili continued her hot streak, downing Agata Bykovtsev to get to 2.5/4 and a share of third place. Emily Nguyen is also at 2.5 after drawing against Thalia Cervantes. Senior

courtesy STLCC

Alex Goldin may have been in semi-retirement before this year’s Senior Championship, but his endgame knowledge and technique are still razor sharp. Here, in his win over Alex Yermolinsky, Goldin displayed impressive skill in a tricky rook ending. His explanation"> of the key plans and ideas in the post-game interview with Jesse Kraai was dazzling.

Goldin-Yermolinsky (photo Austin Fuller)

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Senior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.14"] [Round "4.5"] [White "Goldin, Alexander"] [Black "Yermolinsky, Alex"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A46"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "95"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 b6 4. Bd3 Bb7 5. O-O Be7 6. b3 O-O 7. Bb2 c5 8. Nbd2 Nc6 9. a3 Rc8 10. Qe2 d5 11. dxc5 bxc5 12. c4 Re8 13. Rfe1 Bf8 14. Rad1 g6 15. cxd5 exd5 16. Ba6 Rb8 (16... Bxa6 17. Qxa6 Bg7 {with the idea of ...Qb6}) 17. Bxb7 Rxb7 18. Qd3 {Black has the hanging pawns, but Goldin thought that Black's pieces were misplaced for this structure.} Bg7 19. Rc1 Ne4 20. Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Nxe4 dxe4 22. Qc3+ Qf6 23. Qxf6+ Kxf6 24. Rxc5 exf3 25. Rxc6+ Re6 26. Rxe6+ fxe6 27. b4 fxg2 28. Rc1 a5 29. Rc4 {Very long, in-depth discussion of the rook endgame here.  (29. Rb1 $5) 29... axb4 30. axb4 Ra7 31. Kxg2 Ra2 32. Rc8 Rb2 33. Rb8 e5 34. b5 Kg5 35. Kg3 (35. Kf3 $2 Kh4 $11) 35... e4 36. h4+ Kh5 37. b6 Rb4 38. Rb7 h6 39. Rb8 Rb2 40. b7 Rb4 41. f3 exf3 42. e4 $1 (42. Kxf3 $4 Kxh4 $11) 42... f2 43. Kxf2 Kxh4 44. e5 g5 (44... Rf4+ 45. Ke3 Rf7 46. Ke4 g5 47. e6 Re7 48. Kf5 g4 49. Kf6 g3 50. Kxe7 g2 51. Rg8 $18) 45. e6 g4 46. e7 g3+ 47. Kf3 Rb3+ 48. Ke2 1-0 [/pgn]
Jaan Ehlvest seems to have recovered from his debacle on day one, defeating Max Dlugy with a well-timed central break and well-calculated attack.

Ehlvest and Kraai in the post-game interview

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Senior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.14"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Ehlvest, Jaan"] [Black "Dlugy, Maxim"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A30"] [Annotator "Hartmann,John"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 4. e3 Nf6 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Qb3 e6 9. Bc4 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Bg7 11. Ba3 {Afterwards Ehlvest said he was following an old Tal game he'd learned in his youth!} Bf8 12. O-O (12. Bd3 $5 { might improve, per Ehlvest, as it avoids the 12. ... Na5 line and follows the same basic plan.}) 12... Bxa3 (12... Na5 13. Bb5+ Bd7 14. Qa4 Bxa3 15. Bxd7+ Qxd7 16. Qxa3 Nc4 17. Qb4 Rc8 18. Rab1 b6 $11) 13. Qxa3 Qe7 14. Qc1 O-O 15. Qh6 Na5 (15... Qf6 16. Ng5 Qg7 {1-0 (33) Tal,M-Pohla,H Viljandi 1972}) 16. Bd3 b6 17. Rae1 f6 18. Nd2 Bd7 19. Re3 (19. d5 $5) 19... Rac8 20. c4 Qg7 21. Qh4 f5 { "Positionally very risky." (Ehlvest)} 22. Rfe1 Qf6 (22... g5 23. Qh5 Be8 24. Qd1 Qxd4 $2 25. Nf3 $44) 23. Qf4 $16 {"Now I need to push the standard move d5 at a certain moment." (Ehlvest)} Rfd8 24. h4 Bc6 25. Re5 (25. Rxe6 $2 Qxd4 26. Re8+ Bxe8 27. Rxe8+ Kf7 28. Qxd4 Rxd4 29. Rxc8 Rxd3 $11) 25... Rd6 (25... Bb7 $2 26. Rxe6 (26. d5 exd5 27. Re7 dxc4 28. Qh6) 26... Qxd4 (26... Rxd4) 27. Re8+ Kf7 $2 28. R1e7+ $18) 26. d5 $1 exd5 27. Re7 Rd7 (27... dxc4 $5 {(SF)} 28. Qh6 cxd3 29. Qxh7+ Kf8 {and there's no mate!}) 28. Rxd7 Bxd7 29. cxd5 b5 (29... Nb7 $2 30. Ba6) 30. Nf3 (30. d6 Re8) 30... Nc4 31. h5 gxh5 (31... Nd6 32. hxg6 hxg6 33. Ne5 Re8 34. Qd4 {"must be very good for White, but it's not winning right away." (Ehlvest)}) 32. Nd4 Qd6 33. Qh4 Re8 $2 34. Ne6 (34. Rxe8+ Bxe8 35. Ne6 { is a better version}) 34... Bxe6 35. Qg5+ Kh8 36. Qf6+ Kg8 37. Qg5+ Kh8 38. Qf6+ Kg8 39. Rxe6 Rxe6 40. dxe6 Ne5 41. Bxf5 a5 (41... Qd1+ 42. Kh2 Qd4 43. e7 Qf4+ (43... Nf3+ 44. Kg3 $18) 44. Kh3 $18) 42. Qh6 Qd1+ 43. Kh2 Ng4+ 44. Bxg4 Qxg4 45. Qf6 Qg6 46. Qd8+ Kg7 47. e7 Qf5 48. Qb8 $1 (48. e8=N+ {wins too!}) 48... Qxf2 49. Qe5+ 1-0 [/pgn]
The draw between Joel Benjamin and Alex Shabalov, who led going into yesterday’s round, was titanic, and certainly worthy of deeper analysis. Shabalov’s attack fizzled after Benjamin found good (if not best) responses, but somehow Shabba conjured just enough resources to save the half point.

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Senior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.14"] [Round "4.3"] [White "Benjamin, Joel"] [Black "Shabalov, Alexander"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C78"] [PlyCount "109"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Bc5 6. c3 O-O 7. d4 Ba7 8. Bg5 h6 9. Bh4 exd4 10. e5 g5 11. Bxc6 gxh4 12. Ba4 Ne4 13. cxd4 d5 14. Nc3 h3 15. g3 Be6 16. Bc2 f5 17. Ne2 f4 18. Nxf4 Rxf4 19. gxf4 Qf8 20. Kh1 Qxf4 21. Rg1+ Kh8 22. Bxe4 Qxe4 23. Rg3 Rg8 24. Qd2 Rxg3 25. Qxh6+ Kg8 26. Qxe6+ Kh7 27. Qf7+ Rg7 28. Qh5+ Kg8 29. Qe8+ Kh7 30. Qh5+ Kg8 31. Qxh3 Bxd4 32. Qe6+ Kh7 33. Qh3+ Kg8 34. Re1 Qg4 35. Qxg4 Rxg4 36. Re2 Ba7 37. e6 Kf8 38. Ne5 Rg7 39. h4 Ke7 40. h5 Kxe6 41. Nc6+ Kd7 42. Nxa7 Rg5 43. f4 Rxh5+ 44. Kg2 Rh8 45. Kf3 Ra8 46. f5 Rxa7 47. f6 Ra8 48. Re7+ Kd6 49. Kf4 Rh8 50. Re2 d4 51. Kf5 d3 52. Re6+ Kc5 53. Re5+ Kd4 54. Re4+ Kd5 55. Re5+ 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Both remaining games – Christiansen-Fishbein and Novikov-Kaidanov – were also drawn. This leaves Shabalov in clear first place with 3/4 as today’s Round 5 begins, while Christiansen and Goldin are tied for second place with 2.5/4.


The 2019 Junior, Girls, and Senior Championships will be contested daily from July 10th-20th at the Saint Louis Chess Club, with a rest day on July 16th. Rounds start at 1pm CDT, except for July 20th, when play begins at 11am. US Junior/Senior/Girls Quick Links:  Official STL Chess Club YouTube Live on uschesschamps.com  Pairings & Results US Junior Pairings & Results US Senior Pairings & Results US Girls  Winners of the US Junior Championship and US Junior Girls Championship will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship to be used at the institution of his or her choice. The scholarship is generously jointly funded by the Dewain Barber Foundation and US Chess.

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In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Enjoying the broadcast coverage of Hess, Abrahamyan, and Kraai. Great to see human analysis done without machine help.

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