Liang wins Junior in Playoff; Yip takes Girls, Shabalov wins Senior

Final Update: (note updates are in reverse order) Awonder Liang has won the 2019 U.S. Junior Championship, earning a $6000 first place purse and a $10,000 scholarship to the college of his choice, courtesy of the Dewain Barber Foundation and US Chess. Carissa Yip is the 2019 Girls Champion, winning $3000 and also taking home a $10,000 scholarship from the Dewain Barber Foundation and US Chess. And finally, Alex Shabalov has won the inaugural Senior Championship. He walks away with a cool $12,000 first place prize. You can relive all the action at, and CLO will have a full report up here tomorrow. 5:40 Update: Liang wins the 2019 Junior and the $10,000 scholarship!

[Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.20"]
[Round "11.1"]
[White "Checa, Nicolas"]
[Black "Liang, Awonder"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D41"]
[PlyCount "114"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 cxd4 8.
cxd4 Bb4+ 9. Bd2 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 O-O 11. Bd3 Nc6 12. Qc3 Qd6 13. Rd1 Rd8 14. Bc4
Bd7 15. O-O Qb4 16. Qc2 Na5 17. Bb3 Rac8 18. Qb1 Nxb3 19. axb3 Be8 20. d5 h6
21. Rd4 Qd6 22. e5 Qb6 23. d6 Bc6 24. Rfd1 Bd5 25. Rxd5 exd5 26. Nd4 Rc3 27.
Qb2 Qb4 28. h3 a5 29. Qe2 a4 30. bxa4 Qxa4 31. Rd2 Rc1+ 32. Kh2 Qa1 33. Rd3
Rh1+ 34. Kg3 Re1 35. Qh5 Re4 36. Nf3 Qc1 37. Qf5 Qc4 38. Ra3 Qc8 39. Qh5 Qe6
40. Rb3 Qd7 41. Rd3 Qe6 42. Rb3 Qd7 43. Rc3 Rc8 44. Rd3 Qe6 45. Rb3 Qd7 46. Kh2
Re8 47. Rc3 Rc8 48. Rd3 Qe6 49. g4 f6 50. Rb3 fxe5 51. Rxb7 Rf8 52. d7 Qf6 53.
g5 Qf4+ 54. Kg2 Re2 55. gxh6 Qe3 56. Qh4 Qxf3+ 57. Kf1 Rxf2+ 0-1

5:28pm Update:
Checa is giving it his all in the second game, sacrificing the exchange with 25. Rxd5 exd5 26.Nd4! 5:12pm Update: Liang wins the first game with a sham rook sac that ends up winning the queen. Checa will have to win on demand to force the Armageddon game!

[Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.20"]
[Round "10.1"]
[White "Liang, Awonder"]
[Black "Checa, Nicolas"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C16"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 b6 5. Qg4 Bf8 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Ne7 8. b4 c5
9. bxc5 bxc5 10. Bb5+ Bd7 11. O-O Nf5 12. Bd3 Nxd4 13. Nxd4 cxd4 14. Ne2 Nc6
15. Qg3 Qc7 16. Bf4 Nb4 17. Nxd4 Nxd3 18. cxd3 g6 19. Rfc1 Qd8 20. h5 gxh5 21.
Be3 h4 22. Qg4 h5 23. Qh3 Rg8 24. a4 Rg4 25. Nb5 Bxb5 26. axb5 Be7 27. Bxa7 Bg5
28. Be3 Rxa1 29. Rxa1 Rb4 30. Qf3 Bxe3 31. Qxe3 Rxb5 32. Qh6 Rb7 33. Ra8 1-0

5:01pm Update: And we're off with the Checa-Liang playoff!
LIang-Checa start the playoff! (photo Eric Rosen)
Liang has White in the first game, and the game has moved into Winawer 4. e5 b6 waters. Saint Louis Chess Club founder Rex Sinquefield is parked in his usual spot here on the first floor of the Club, directly in front of the big screen that is showing the live broadcast. Also here: Veronika Zilajeva, Var Akobian, Jaan Ehlvest, and Alex Yermolinsky. (In order of proximity to Your Humble Writer.) 4:25pm Update: Zilajeva knows the right technique and has checkmated Rachael Li in 131 moves! 4:20pm Update: We're 40 minutes from the Checa-Liang playoff. Who will get first place and the $10,000 scholarship from the Dewain Barber Foundation and US Chess? Christiansen has just defeated Benjamin in a long, complex ending. The Zilajeva-Li game is the only one remaining, and Zilajeva is still trying to mate Li with knight and bishop against king. 3:20pm Update: Lots of results are in: In the Junior, Hilby defeated Vaidya, and Sheng won against Yu. Liang and Tang drew, as did Burke and Jacobson, and Niemann and Checa. Four games are over in the Girls: Samadashvili-Cervantes was drawn, as was Nguyen-Yip. Rochelle Wu defeated Maggie Feng, and Agata Bykovtsev took the full point against Rui Yang Yan. The Zilajeva-Li game is ongoing. Only Benjamin-Christiansen is still going in the Senior Championship. Shabalov drew with Ehlvest, as did Kaidanov and Fishbein. Max Dlugy continued his second-half rebirth with a win over Yermolinsky, while Goldin won his final round game against Novikov. 2:44pm Update: Carissa Yip drew her game against Emily Nguyen, making her the 2019 U.S. Girls Junior Champion and earning her a seat in the 2020 U.S. Women's Championship. She has also earned the $10,000 scholarship from the Dewain Barber Foundation and US Chess. Congratulations to Carissa! 2:36pm Update: Liang-Tang is drawn. Checa and Liang will contest a playoff at 5pm CDT! 2:07pm Update: Shabalov-Ehlvest is drawn, and my prediction has come true. Alex Shabalov is the 2019 U.S. Senior Champion! 2pm Update: Nicolas Checa has drawn with Hans Niemann, opening the door for Awonder Liang to capture the 2019 U.S Junior Championship with a win over Andrew Tang. Currently the Liang-Tang game is ongoing, with Black perhaps holding a slight edge in a complex position. If Liang and Tang draw, Checa will go to tiebreaks with Liang at 5pm CDT.

[Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.20"]
[Round "9.5"]
[White "Niemann, Hans Moke"]
[Black "Checa, Nicolas"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D15"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:57:48"]
[BlackClock "0:26:36"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 a6 5. d4 b5 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Bd3 e6 8. a4 b4
9. Ne2 Nc6 10. b3 Bd6 11. Bb2 Bb7 12. O-O O-O 13. Ng3 a5 14. Rc1 Ne7 15. Ne5
Ba6 16. Bxa6 Rxa6 17. Qd3 Ra8 18. Qb5 Rb8 19. Qa6 Ra8 20. Qb5 Rb8 21. Qa6 Qb6
22. Qxb6 Rxb6 23. Rc2 Rc8 24. Rxc8+ Nxc8 25. Rc1 Ne7 26. Nd3 Kf8 27. f3 Ke8 28.
Kf2 h5 29. Nf1 Rc6 30. Rxc6 Nxc6 1/2-1/2

Meanwhile, Carissa Yip is in a difficult position against Emily Nguyen. Yip leads the Girls field by a full point, but a loss to Nguyen would allow either Rochelle Wu or Rui Yang Yan to force a playoff for first place. Alex Shabalov, who also has a full point lead over the field in the Senior Championship, currently plays Jaan Ehlvest, and the game has a fairly balanced position on move 29. I would not be surprised if a draw occurs at or shortly after move 30.

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