Liu and Wang Top US Junior Open, Liu Snags 2017 Closed Seat

20160619_150356 Bovey Liu-- Atulya Vaidya, Photo Brian Yang
The biggest battle at the Junior Open every year is for the coveted spot in the next year’s Junior Invitational Championship. And so it was at the Hilton in Kenner, Louisiana (a New Orleans suburb) June 17-19. Four masters had their sights set on the prize and other players dreamed of lightning striking (not so implausible, give the erratic weather conditions!). Second seed Michael Chen came from Michigan. The other three represented adjacent (but not necessarily close, what with the driving distances) Texas: Atulya Vaidya from Dallas and Bovey Liu and Justin Wang of Houston. Wang, who recently turned 11 and reached 2300, was the slight favorite. Liu and Wang met after sailing through the first two rounds. The result was a fairly quiet draw, but Liu had reason for optimism if the final result came down to tiebreak, as Wang had received a forfeit win in the first round.
[Event "US Junior Open, New Orleans"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.06.18"]
[White "Liu, Bovey"]
[Black "Wang, Justin"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C55"]
[PlyCount "91"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Be7 5. O-O d6 6. a4 Na5 7. Ba2 c5 8. Re1
O-O 9. Nbd2 Be6 10. Nc4 Nxc4 11. Bxc4 Ne8 12. Nd2 Nc7 13. c3 Qd7 14. Qe2 Rae8
15. Nf1 Kh8 16. Ne3 g6 17. Nd5 Bxd5 18. exd5 f5 19. Bb5 Nxb5 20. axb5 Bf6 21.
f3 Qxb5 22. Rxa7 f4 23. c4 Qb6 24. Ra3 Ra8 25. Qc2 g5 26. Bd2 Qc7 27. Rb1 h5
28. Rxa8 Rxa8 29. Qd1 Rg8 30. b4 g4 31. Kf1 Bh4 32. Qe2 b6 33. Bc3 Bf6 34. Qe4
Qd7 35. b5 h4 36. fxg4 Qxg4 37. h3 Qd7 38. Ra1 Rg3 39. Be1 Rg8 40. Ra6 Bd8 41.
Qf3 Qf7 42. Ra8 Qg6 43. Ra7 Rg7 44. Ra8 Rg8 45. Ra7 Rg7 46. Ra8 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Vaidya meanwhile had given up two draws, while Chen had one. Liu’s key win came against Chen in Round 5, a testimonial to the power of opposite colored bishops in an attacking position. The opening was equal, but Black was a bit slow with counterplay (19…b4 improves), and 22…Kh7 would have held up White’s attack. When White finally recaptures on d4, another avenue for a possible lift of the Ra1 is opened. After 32.axb5, the light squared bishop and powerful queen and rook insure the win.
[pgn][Event "US Junior Open, New Orleans"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.06.19"]
[White "Liu, Bovey"]
[Black "Chen, Michael"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C54"]
[PlyCount "77"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. O-O h6 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. h3
Bd7 9. Bb3 b5 10. Re1 Bb6 11. a4 a6 12. Nf1 Na5 13. Bc2 c5 14. Ne3 Qc7 15. Nh4
Nc6 16. Qf3 Ne7 17. Nef5 Nxf5 18. Nxf5 Bxf5 19. exf5 Rad8 20. Qg3 Kh8 21. Qh4
Qe7 22. d4 cxd4 23. Bxh6 Rd7 24. cxd4 Rc8 25. Re3 Nh7 26. Bxg7+ Kxg7 27. Rg3+
Kf8 28. Qxh7 Qf6 29. Rg8+ Ke7 30. Rxc8 Rd8 31. Rxd8 Kxd8 32. axb5 a5 33. Be4
exd4 34. Qg8+ Ke7 35. Bd5 Qxf5 36. Re1+ Kf6 37. Qxf7+ Kg5 38. h4+ Kg4 39. Bf3+
1-0 [/pgn]
Wang drew with Vaidya in the fifth round, leaving him a half point behind Liu. Confident of the tiebreak, Liu drew quickly with Vaidya (who trailed him by a point). Wang scored against Virginia Expert Isaac Steincamp, who defended well until he missed 28.Qd3. In the final position White either loses his Nd2 or trades it, setting up a crushing queen and bishop battery.
20160619_150413 Issac Steincamp vs. Justin Wang Photo Brian Yang

[Event "US Junior Open, New Orleans"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.06.19"]
[White "Steincamp, Isaac"]
[Black "Wang, Justin"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E05"]
[PlyCount "58"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4
Bd7 9. Qxc4 Bc6 10. Bg5 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 h6 12. Bxf6 Nxf6 13. Rfc1 Rc8 14. Nb3 Bd5
15. Qc2 Bb4 16. a5 b6 17. e3 c5 18. axb6 c4 19. Nbd2 Qxb6 20. Bf1 c3 21. bxc3
Bxc3 22. Rxa6 Qb7 23. Qd1 Bxd2 24. Nxd2 Rxc1 25. Qxc1 Rc8 26. Qa3 Qc7 27. Ra7
Qc2 28. Qe7 Rf8 29. Qb4 Ne4 0-1[/pgn]
Liu, 14, indeed won the tiebreak. He’ll be playing in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions at the US Open; he took third in the Barber Junior High tournament last year. The effort to up his game now starts in earnest, as he’s well aware that this year’s Junior Invitational comprises all 2500+ players for the first time. Co-champion Wang is already an experienced international competitor (third place Under 10 in the World Youth in Greece and a perfect 9-0 in the North American Under 10 in Mexico last year), and was equal first in the World Open Under 2200, also in 2015. He enjoys basketball and math as well as chess! Steincamp displayed an astute ability to switch his attack from one weak point to another in his Round 4 game.  

[Event "US Junior Open, New Orleans"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2016.06.18"]
[White "Xu, Arthuir"]
[Black "Steincamp, Isaac"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B38"]
[Annotator "Hough,Randall"]
[PlyCount "118"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. c4 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Nc3 d6 8. Qd2
O-O 9. Be2 a5 10. a4 Nd7 11. Nb3 b6 12. O-O Nc5 13. Nxc5 bxc5 14. Bh6 Nd4 15.
Bxg7 Kxg7 16. Qd1 Bb7 17. f3 Qb6 18. Nb5 Rfc8 19. Qd3 Ba6 20. Nxd4 cxd4 21. b3
e5 22. Kh1 Rab8 23. Rab1 Qc5 24. Qc2 Rc6 25. f4 f6 26. f5 g5 27. Qd1 Bc8 28.
Rf3 Bd7 29. Rh3 Rh8 30. Bh5 Rcc8 31. Rg3 Kf8 32. Qd2 h6 33. Rh3 Ke7 34. Rf1 Rb8
35. Bd1 Be8 36. g4 Rb4 37. Bc2 Qc6 38. Rb1 Qb7 39. Rf3 Bf7 40. Rff1 h5 41. gxh5
Rxh5 42. Kg2 Qa8 43. Rh1 Rh4 44. Qd3 Be8 45. Rbe1 Bd7 46. Kg3 Rb8 47. h3 Bc6
48. Kg2 Rbh8 49. Bb1 Qg8 50. Qf3 Rf4 51. Qg3 Qa8 52. h4 Bxe4+ 53. Bxe4 Rxe4 54.
Rxe4 Qxe4+ 55. Qf3 Qxf3+ 56. Kxf3 Rxh4 57. Rf1 Rf4+ 58. Ke2 d3+ 59. Ke1 d2+ {
and White was mated after 17 more moves.} 0-1[/pgn]
Another Texan, Ranon Huo, was first in the Under 15 section at 5-1, a half point ahead of Ray Yu and Jason Wang.
under15topboard Ranon Huo as Black beat Mohak Agarwalla to win Under 15, Photo Brian Yang
The big favorite, 1759-rated Hersh Singh of Illinois, scored 5½ in Under 11 to finish a half point ahead of Mihir Relan.
undeer11topboard Hersh Singh as White beat Karlee Padilla to win Under 11, Photo Brian Yang
And Kai Forbach of North Carolina took the Under 8 tiebreak over fellow five-pointers Pulak Agarwalla of Alabama and Sunil Amitha Ardyan Surya from Tennessee.
u8winners Sunil Amitha Aryan Surya, Pulak Argawalla, and Kai Forbach (TB winner and champion) in U8 Photo Brian Yang
The Junior Open, with an even 100 players, was ably directed by Korey Kormick and Brian Yang. Organizer Jean Troendle of Cajun Chess was attentive to all the needs of players and parents, and the theme was “Chess is the best form of entertainment,” with Oscar-like trophies and a red carpet for the winners to step forward and collect the hardware! Find the full crosstables on MSA. In the US Senior Open, Stephen Stoyko won on tiebreak over IM Mark Ginsburg. Story coming shortly.


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Tiebreaks are not a good way to break ties. A fast playoff is much fairer and a treat for the spectators too. Especially true if national titles and/or spots in future elite tournaments are at stake.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I agree mark's comments on tie-breaker. Especially in this case, Justin Wang got an unwanted gift in the 1st round, which gave him a very unfavorable tie-breaker position. A fast playoff is more entertaining to the audiences and may help more people watch chess tournament in the long run. Also TD should make every effort to make the pairing more fair. Bovey Liu received 4 whites and 2 blacks. Even this is allowed in FIDE pairing rule, efforts should be made to make it white/black more even.

In reply to by HalfTrap (not verified)

Hi HalfTrap! I actually played in the event and going into the last round, it was inevitable that Bovey would get a 4th white. His opponent had already had two Whites in a row, so by rule Bovey got White. If they tried another pairing, there would either have to be a rematch or there would be even more distortion of colors. While the tiebreak system has its flaws, I believe the TD told me that they drop the lowest tie-break, so this would not have counted against Justin as much as you make it out to be. A playoff would be nice, but some players have to fly home that night, so adding a playoff at the conclusion of the tournament could be extremely inconvenient since some parents have to be at work the next day, and it could mean players needing to book an extra night at a hotel in advance for a playoff they might not even qualify for... There's no perfect system, but all the players agreed to this particular tiebreaker by registering for the tournament.

In reply to by Isaac Steincamp (not verified)

Well said, Isaac. Thank you for shedding more light on the situation.

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