A Fun Round One at the 2022 U.S. Senior and Juniors

Many chess events that we once took for granted have either disappeared or morphed in these last few years. But one certainty remains: a trio of national championships — the U.S. Junior, Girls’ Junior, and Senior — have returned once more to the Saint Louis Chess Club.


2022 US Senior and Juniors opening round
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC / Austin Fuller


All three tournaments are 10-player single-round-robins, played at a luxurious pace of one game a day. As might be surmised from their names, these are some of the most prestigious tournaments on the American calendar, and the competition is brutal. Thursday’s first round kicked off the event nicely. If the rest of the tournament is anything like it, then we are in for a treat.

U.S. Junior Championship


2022 US Junior Ch Rd1 Standings
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC / Spectrum Studios


The first round of the Junior Championship resulted in four decisive games out of five played. For such a high-level tournament, this is quite incredible, and I wonder if any future round will match this.

Obviously, there is no shortage of games to choose from, but for once the story of the day was clear: less than two hours after play began, GM Andrew Hong had already built up a won position on the white side of a Najdorf Sicilian against IM David Brodsky. This was not due to poor play on the part of the latter, but rather due to exceptionally strong preparation brought to the board by Hong.


IM David Brodsky
Brodsky was suffering! (courtesy SLCC / Bryan Adams)


In a well-known position, Andrew came up with the poisonous novelty 15. Qf2!?, which promises white no objective advantage but forces black to balance on the edge of survival. Brodsky’s initial reaction was correct, but on move 17, after thinking for more than half an hour, he made an decisive, but far from obvious mistake:



Hong thrilled the commentary team, including GMs Cristian Chirila and Yasser Seirawan, with the depths of his preparation.

Other winners were IM Balaji Daggupati (over Pedro Espinosa), IM Justin Wang (over GM Awonder Liang), and GM Christopher Yoo (over GM Brandon Jacobson). As this is the first round, it’s much too early to draw any conclusions from these results. Tomorrow a very different crowd of players may very well win.

U.S. Girls' Junior Championship


2022 Girls Jr Rd1 Standings


Here the action was no less lively, with three decisive games. Interestingly, two games featured a version of the Benoni defense. The white players chose (essentially) the same system both times -- and both won! One of these games, between WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki and WFM Zoey Tang, reached a position which could make a good exercise:



FM Thalia Cervantes
Image Caption
courtesy SLCC / Crystal Fuller


However, the game that I think was most interesting from a strategic point of view was played between WFM Anne Marie-Velea and FM Thalia Cervantes Landeiro, won by Cervantes Landiero in fine style:



The other decisive game was a win by WIM Ellen Wang against WFM Gracy Prasanna.

U.S. Senior Championship


2022 US Senior Rd1 Standings


This round saw four draws in five games, but not for lack of trying by the players. IM Igor Khmelnitsky, GM Dmitry Gurevich, and GM Gregory Kaidanov all managed to save difficult positions with arduous defense.



In the sole decisive game, played between top seed (and newcomer) GM Vladimir Akopian and GM Igor Novikov, the defending player even won:



How to summarize the first day? Well, some players won, and some players lost! There are no clear leaders or breakout performances just yet. We will have to await Round 2 for that, starting on Friday at 1 PM Central time with live commentary on the St. Louis Chess Club YouTube Channel.

Quick links:

Event info (pairings, standings, and scholarship information) at uschesschamps.com

STL YouTube – daily stream at 1 p.m. Central

STL Twitch – daily stream at 1 p.m. Central

Live games at lichess.org:

Annotated games from US Chess (lichess study)