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.
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)
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)
Jacobson crashed through Jennifer Yu’s defenses, sacrificing his knight to win in short order.
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.
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.
Rochelle Wu (photo Austin Fuller)
Rui Yang Yan (photo Austin Fuller)
Carissa Yip watches Yan-Wu (photo Austin Fuller)
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)
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.
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)
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
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.
Benjamin-Shabalov (photo Austin Fuller)
Benjamin-Shabalov (photo Austin Fuller)
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.
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.