Halftime at US Juniors: Carissa Yip and Advait Patel Lead

At the halfway point, two clear leaders have emerged at the U.S. Girls' Junior and the U.S. Junior Championships, Carissa Yip and Advait Patel.
Photo: Austin Fuller
Carissa Yip won a critical game in round 5 to maintain her lead over the field.

Puzzle #1

Nastassja Matus vs. Carissa Yip

Black to move.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "U.S. Girls' Junior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.07.18"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Matus, Nastassja"]
[Black "Yip, Carissa"]
[Result "0-1"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2r3k1/pp3p2/2p2bp1/2P2b2/PP1rN3/1R6/6BP/5RK1 b - - 0 0"]
[PlyCount "17"]1... Rxe4 2. Bxe4 Bd4+ (2... Bxe4 3. Rxf6) 3. Kg2 Bxe4+ {With two bishops and
a pawn for a rook, White is winning. The game soon finished with} 4. Kg3 Bd5 5.
Rbb1 Be5+ 6. Kh3 Kg7 7. Rbe1 Rh8+ 8. Kg4 f5+ 9. Kg5 Rh5# 0-1[/pgn]
Photo: Austin Fuller
A sheer heartbreaker occurred for Jennifer Yu, who was fighting to stay in 2nd place when she blundered against Thalia Cervantes. At the end of a hard-fought and very long game, Yu had a two pawn advantage in a queen ending, but both players were in time trouble, and the game seemed likely to finish in a draw by perpetual check. Then, Yu blundered with 94...Kg3??, allowing Cervantes an opportunity to win the game.

Puzzle #2

Thalia Cervantes vs. Jennifer Yu

White to move and win.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "U.S. Girls' Junior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2018.07.17"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Cervantes, Thalia"]
[Black "Yu, Jennifer"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/5p2/6p1/p1Q3q1/6k1/6P1/6K1 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "5"]1. Qc7+ $3 Qf4 (1... Kh4 2. Qh2+) 2. Qc3+ Kg4 3. Qh3# *[/pgn]
Yip's victory and Yu's loss extends Yips lead a full point with 4 rounds to go.
.

Junior Section

Photo: Austin Fuller
Advait Patel has been leading from the start and is currently the sole leader by a half point. His key victory was in round 4 when he defeated his closest rival, Alex Bian.

Puzzle #3

Alex Bian vs. Advait Patel

Black to move.
Show Solution
[pgn][Event "U.S. Junior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Bian, Alex"]
[Black "Patel, Advait"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "4r1k1/5pbp/b1p3p1/7q/1QP2Bn1/6P1/1P2N1B1/4R1K1 b - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "7"]1... c5 $1 {The queen cannot defend both the pawn on c4 and the Rook on e1 to
prevent Bd4+.} 2. Qd2 Bxc4 3. b3 Bd4+ {and White resigned. If} 4. Nxd4 (4. Kf1
Nh2#) 4... Qh2# *[/pgn]
In round 5, Defending Champion Awonder Liang won against Mika Brattain as black to decrease Patel's lead to only half a point. Brattain tried an ambitious knight sacrifice to open up Liang's kingside and had his king under considerable pressure for a while. Liang defended precisely, even rushing his king to the center to evade the attack.
[pgn][Event "U.S. Junior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Brattain, Mika"]
[Black "Liang, Awonder"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "rn1qr1k1/1bp2pb1/p3p2p/1p2P1pP/3PN3/3Q1N2/PP3PP1/3RKB1R w K - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "40"]1. Nfxg5 $5 hxg5 2. h6 Bh8 3. Rh5 (3. h7+ Kf8 4. Qa3+ Qe7 5. Nc5 {was stronger}
) 3... Bxe4 4. Qxe4 Nd7 5. Rd3 f5 6. exf6 Nxf6 7. Rxg5+ Kf8 8. Rf3 Ke7 9. Qh4
Rg8 10. Rxg8 Qxg8 11. a4 Qg4 12. Qxg4 Nxg4 13. Rc3 Bxd4 14. Rxc7+ Kd6 15. Rf7
Nxh6 16. Rh7 Ng4 17. axb5 axb5 18. Bxb5 Bxf2+ 19. Ke2 Rb8 20. Ba4 Rxb2+ *[/pgn]
Don't miss round 6 at 1 p.m. CDT today! Watch games and commentary by GM Robert Hess and Tatev Abrahamyan.  In addition, follow the Saint Louis Chess Club Twitter account (@STLChessClub) for live updates by Vanessa West on-site from Saint Louis. Ask questions, make predictions, and share opinions using the official U.S. Junior Championship hashtag: #USJuniorsChess
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vanessa West is a regular writer and digital assistant for US Chess News. She won the 2017 Chess Journalist of the Year award. You can follow her on Twitter: @Vanessa__West  

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In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] a half point lead in the US Junior Girls Championship. Yip had been leading by even more at the halfway point, but she lost to Sophie Morris-Suzuki in round six, blasting the chances wide open in the […]

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