Once More, for all the Marbles

It all comes down to the final day. Awonder Liang and Nicolas Checa are tied for first place in the 2019 U.S. Junior Championship entering tomorrow’s final round action. Both players are at 6.5/8, a point ahead of the field. Joshua Sheng will be hoping both lose, so that with a win he can grab a share of the first place prize. Alex Shabalov and Carissa Yip are in sole possession of first place in the Senior and Girls Championships, respectively, each leading their fields by a full point. While each player is guaranteed a share of the top honors, they still have jobs to do tomorrow, with four players in the Senior Championship and two in the Girls ready to pounce if they slip. Here’s how we got to Round 9. JUNIORS

courtesy STLCC

Nicolas Checa entered the day’s play a half-point ahead of Awonder Liang, but his draw with John Burke opened the door for Liang to hop into a share of the lead.

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.19"] [Round "8.2"] [White "Checa, Nicolas"] [Black "Burke, John Michael"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D73"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 d5 5. Bg2 c6 6. cxd5 cxd5 7. Nc3 Ne4 8. Ne5 Nd7 9. Nxd7 Qxd7 10. Nxe4 dxe4 11. Bxe4 Bxd4 12. O-O O-O 13. Bf4 Rd8 14. Qb3 e5 15. Be3 Qe6 16. Rfd1 Qxb3 17. axb3 Be6 18. Bxd4 exd4 19. Rd3 Rac8 20. Rd2 Bxb3 21. Rxa7 b6 22. Kg2 Rd6 23. h4 Re8 24. Bf3 Re5 25. Ra3 Rb5 26. Be4 Rb4 27. Bf3 h5 28. Rd3 Bc2 29. Rd2 Bb3 30. Rd3 Bc2 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Liang had to go through a determined Jennifer Yu, but in the end, his pawns overwhelmed her bishop and he won, moving to +5 (6.5/9) and a tie with Checa heading into tomorrow’s final round.

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.19"] [Round "8.4"] [White "Yu, Jennifer"] [Black "Liang, Awonder"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A29"] [PlyCount "134"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 Nd4 5. Bg2 Nxf3+ 6. Bxf3 Bb4 7. O-O O-O 8. d4 Bxc3 9. bxc3 d6 10. a4 e4 11. Bg2 h6 12. f3 Re8 13. g4 exf3 14. exf3 b6 15. Re1 Ba6 16. Bf1 d5 17. Rxe8+ Qxe8 18. cxd5 Bxf1 19. Qxf1 Nxd5 20. Bd2 Qd7 21. Qd3 a5 22. Kg2 Re8 23. c4 Ne7 24. Bf4 Ng6 25. Bg3 Qc6 26. Ra2 Re1 27. h4 Rc1 28. h5 Nf8 29. Rc2 Ra1 30. c5 Qxa4 31. Bxc7 bxc5 32. dxc5 Ne6 33. Bd6 Ra2 34. Rxa2 Qxa2+ 35. Kg3 Qa1 36. Qe3 Qd1 37. f4 Qd5 38. Qf3 Qd4 39. Qf2 Qc4 40. Qf3 a4 41. c6 Nd4 42. Qe4 Ne2+ 43. Kf3 Qxc6 44. Qxc6 Nd4+ 45. Ke4 Nxc6 46. g5 Na7 47. Kd5 Nb5 48. Be5 Na3 49. Kd4 Kh7 50. Kc3 Nb1+ 51. Kc2 Na3+ 52. Kc3 Nb5+ 53. Kc4 Na7 54. Bd6 Nc6 55. Kd5 Nd8 56. Be7 Ne6 57. Ke4 Nc7 58. Bd6 Nb5 59. Be5 a3 60. Kd5 a2 61. Kc4 Nd6+ 62. Kd5 Nf5 63. Ke4 Ng3+ 64. Kf3 Nxh5 65. Kg4 hxg5 66. Kxh5 gxf4 67. Kg4 g5 0-1 [/pgn]
Andrew Tang defanged Craig Hilby’s “Rat Defense,” winning in 29 moves.
[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.19"] [Round "8.5"] [White "Tang, Andrew"] [Black "Hilby, Craig"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [PlyCount "57"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. d4 d6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 Bg7 4. Bg5 Nc6 5. Nge2 Nf6 6. f3 e5 7. d5 Ne7 8. Qd2 h6 9. Be3 c6 10. Ng3 h5 11. h4 cxd5 12. exd5 O-O 13. Be2 a6 14. O-O-O b5 15. Bh6 Bb7 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Qg5 Bxd5 18. f4 exf4 19. Nxh5+ Nxh5 20. Bxh5 Bb7 21. Qxf4 Nc8 22. Bf3 Bxf3 23. Qxf3 Nb6 24. Ne4 Qe7 25. h5 d5 26. hxg6 Qxe4 27. Rh7+ Kxg6 28. Qg3+ Kf6 29. Qd6+ 1-0 [/pgn]
In other results, Atulya Vaidya and Hans Niemann drew their game, as did Brandon Jacobson and Joshua Sheng. Final Round Pairings: Hilby (2.5) – Vaidya (3), Liang (6.5) – Tang (4.5), Sheng (5.5) – Yu (0.5), Burke (3.5) – Jacobson (4), Niemann (3.5) – Checa (6.5). GIRLS

courtesy STLCC

Maggie Feng nearly pulled off a Houdini-esque escape, but in the end, Carissa Yip’s extra piece was more powerful than Feng’s pawns, and she defeated Feng in 72 moves.

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.19"] [Round "8.4"] [White "Yip, Carissa"] [Black "Feng, Maggie"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [PlyCount "143"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Be3 c6 4. Nc3 d5 5. Qd2 Nf6 6. e5 Ng4 7. Bf4 h5 8. Nf3 Nh6 9. O-O-O Bg4 10. Be2 Nd7 11. h3 Bxf3 12. Bxf3 Qa5 13. Kb1 e6 14. g4 h4 15. Bg5 Ng8 16. Nxd5 Qxd2 17. Nc7+ Kf8 18. Bxd2 Rc8 19. Bb4+ Ne7 20. Bd6 Nb6 21. b3 Rd8 22. c4 Nbc8 23. c5 Nxd6 24. cxd6 Nc8 25. Rhe1 Bh6 26. b4 Nxd6 27. exd6 Rxd6 28. d5 cxd5 29. Nb5 Rb6 30. Be2 a6 31. Nd4 Rxb4+ 32. Nb3 Ke7 33. Rd4 Rxd4 34. Nxd4 Bf4 35. Bd3 Rc8 36. Ne2 Bd6 37. Ng1 Rc3 38. Rd1 e5 39. Ne2 Rc8 40. Bc2 d4 41. g5 f6 42. gxf6+ Kxf6 43. Be4 g5 44. Rd3 Rc7 45. Bd5 Rg7 46. Rf3+ Ke7 47. Bxb7 g4 48. hxg4 Rxg4 49. Rh3 a5 50. Kc2 Bb4 51. f3 Rg7 52. Rxh4 Kf6 53. Be4 Rc7+ 54. Kd3 Bf8 55. Rg4 a4 56. Rg6+ Kf7 57. Rc6 Rd7 58. Ng3 a3 59. Rb6 Rc7 60. Rb7 Rxb7 61. Bxb7 Ke6 62. Ke4 Bd6 63. Bd5+ Kf6 64. Nf1 Bb4 65. Bc4 Ba5 66. Nh2 Bc7 67. Ng4+ Ke7 68. Nxe5 Bb6 69. Bd3 Ke6 70. Nc6 Kd6 71. Nxd4 Ke7 72. Kd5 1-0 [/pgn]
Yip is at +6 (7/8) heading into the final round. She is trailed by two players: Rochelle Wu, who drew against Martha Samadashvili in 92 moves, and Rui Yang Yan. Yan handily dismantled Veronika Zilajeva’s French Defense, and continues to impress with her play in Saint Louis. Both Wu and Yan are at +4 (6/8) and can only hope for a share of first place if Yip loses.

Yan-Zilajeva (photo Crystal Fuller)

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.19"] [Round "8.2"] [White "Yang Yan, Rui"] [Black "Zilajeva, Veronika"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Qb6 8. Na4 Qa5+ 9. c3 c4 10. b4 Qd8 11. Qd2 Ne7 12. Be2 h5 13. Bd1 Nf5 14. Bc2 Be7 15. g3 Nf8 16. Bf2 Bd7 17. Ke2 Bxa4 18. Bxa4+ Nd7 19. h3 g6 20. g4 Ng7 21. Bc2 Nf8 22. a4 Qd7 23. a5 O-O-O 24. Rhb1 hxg4 25. hxg4 g5 26. fxg5 Ng6 27. Rh1 Rxh1 28. Rxh1 Rh8 29. Rh6 Qe8 30. Be3 Qf8 31. Qe1 Ne8 32. Bxg6 fxg6 33. Nh4 Rg8 34. Nxg6 Qg7 35. Nxe7+ Qxe7 36. g6 Qd7 37. Qf1 Qa4 38. Qf7 Qc2+ 39. Kf3 Qe4+ 40. Kf2 Qc2+ 41. Kg3 Qe2 42. Bf2 Qd3+ 43. Kh2 Qd2 44. Rh7 1-0 [/pgn]
It was Emily Nguyen’s birthday today, but Rachael Li spoiled the party by turning the tables on Nguyen’s better position and snatching her first win of the tournament.

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Girls Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.19"] [Round "8.3"] [White "Li, Rachael"] [Black "Nguyen, Emily"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B81"] [PlyCount "117"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. g4 h6 7. Rg1 Nc6 8. Be3 a6 9. Qd2 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 e5 11. Qd1 Be6 12. f3 d5 13. exd5 Nxd5 14. Nxd5 Bxd5 15. Bd3 Qa5+ 16. c3 Rd8 17. Qc2 Bxf3 18. Bc4 Qc7 19. Bb3 e4 20. Qf2 Rc8 21. Bb6 Bc5 22. Bxc7 Bxf2+ 23. Kxf2 Rxc7 24. Bd1 Bxd1 25. Raxd1 O-O 26. Ke3 Re7 27. Rd5 g6 28. h4 Rfe8 29. Rf1 Re5 30. c4 R8e7 31. b4 Kg7 32. Rf4 g5 33. hxg5 hxg5 34. Rf5 Rxf5 35. Rxf5 Kg6 36. Rd5 Re6 37. c5 f6 38. a4 b6 39. a5 bxa5 40. bxa5 Kf7 41. Rd7+ Kg6 42. Rd5 Re7 43. c6 Kf7 44. Rc5 Rc7 45. Kxe4 Ke6 46. Rc1 Kd6 47. Kf5 Ke7 48. Re1+ Kd6 49. Re6+ Kc5 50. Kxf6 Kb5 51. Kxg5 Kxa5 52. Kh6 Kb6 53. g5 Rf7 54. c7+ Kxc7 55. Rxa6 Rf1 56. Re6 Kd7 57. Re2 Rh1+ 58. Kg7 Rg1 59. g6 1-0 [/pgn]
In the remaining game of the round, Thalia Cervantes defeated Agata Bykovtsev on the White side of a King’s Indian. Final Round Pairings: Samadashvili (4) – Cervantes (4.5), Feng (3) – Wu (6), Nguyen (4.5) – Yip (7), Zilajeva (1) – Li (1.5), Bykovtsev (2.5) – Yan (6). SENIORS

courtesy STLCC

Alex Shabalov is a point clear of the field after his victory over Alex Fishbein. Shabalov’s 28. … Nxf2! was a typical Shabba masterstroke, and he managed to convert his material advantage despite Fishbein’s stiff resistance.

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Senior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.19"] [Round "8.5"] [White "Fishbein, Alexander"] [Black "Shabalov, Alexander"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B18"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Nc5 e5 6. Nxb7 Qc7 7. Nc5 Nf6 8. Nb3 Nbd7 9. g3 a5 10. Bg2 a4 11. Nd2 exd4 12. Ngf3 Bc5 13. Qe2+ Kd8 14. O-O Re8 15. Qc4 Qd6 16. b4 Bb6 17. b5 Rc8 18. Qxa4 cxb5 19. Qxb5 Bxc2 20. Nb3 d3 21. Ng5 Re7 22. a4 Qe5 23. Qxe5 Nxe5 24. a5 Ba7 25. Nd2 Neg4 26. Nge4 Bd4 27. Ra2 Nxe4 28. Bxe4 Nxf2 29. Rxf2 Bb1 30. Ra4 Rxc1+ 31. Kg2 Bxf2 32. Kxf2 Rc2 33. Ke3 f5 34. a6 Ra2 35. Rd4+ Ke8 36. Nxb1 Re2+ 37. Kxd3 R2xe4 38. Rd5 Ra4 39. Rxf5 Rxa6 40. Nc3 Rd6+ 41. Rd5 Rh6 42. h4 Rhe6 43. Kd2 Kf7 44. Rd4 Re5 45. Rd3 Rb7 46. Nd1 Ke6 47. Ne3 Rb2+ 48. Kc3 Reb5 49. Rd1 R2b3+ 50. Kd2 Ra5 51. Ke2 Raa3 52. Nf1 Rb2+ 53. Ke1 Kf5 54. Rc1 Kg4 55. Kd1 Kh3 56. Ke1 Rf3 57. Nd2 Re3+ 58. Kf2 Rd3 0-1 [/pgn]
Four players trail Shabalov at +1 (4.5/8): Gregory Kaidanov, Joel Benjamin, Igor Novikov, and Alex Yermolinsky. Kaidanov, who entered today’s play as a co-leader, lost to Yermolinsky, while Novikov drew with Larry Christiansen.

Benjamin and Kraai (photo Crystal Fuller)

Joel Benjamin’s draw with Jaan Ehlvest is a tale that will be told for years to come at the Senior Championship. Ehlvest inexplicably blundered a piece in the opening, but after some miscues by Benjamin, Ehlvest managed to muddy the waters enough to swindle the down-on-the-clock Benjamin into accepting a draw offer. There was just one problem – Ehlvest offered the draw on move 28, and tournament rules state that no games can be drawn before move 30. So the players made a few more perfunctory moves, the last of which (30. … Kc8) is actually a huge blunder. Perhaps Benjamin, who was visibly desolate in the post-game interview with Jesse Kraai, will find some humor in the way things worked out!

[pgn] [Event "2019 U.S. Senior Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2019.07.19"] [Round "8.1"] [White "Ehlvest, Jaan"] [Black "Benjamin, Joel"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C47"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2019.??.??"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g3 Bc5 5. Nxe5 Nxe5 6. f4 Nfg4 7. fxe5 Bf2+ 8. Ke2 Bd4 9. Nb5 Nf2 10. Qe1 Bb6 11. d4 Nxh1 12. Be3 a6 13. Nc3 d6 14. exd6 Qxd6 15. Nd5 Bg4+ 16. Kd2 c6 17. Nxb6 Qb4+ 18. Kd3 Qxb6 19. b3 f5 20. e5 Bf3 21. Kd2 O-O-O 22. c3 c5 23. Kc2 cxd4 24. cxd4 Kb8 25. Kb2 Be4 26. d5 Qc7 27. d6 Qd7 28. Qb4 Rc8 29. Qb6 Rc2+ 30. Ka3 Kc8 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Last but not least, Max Dlugy continued his second-half resurgence with a win over Alex Goldin. Final Round Pairings: Shabalov (5.5) – Ehlvest (3.5), Kaidanov (4.5) – Fishbein (2.5), Dlugy (3) – Yermolinsky (4.5), Novikov (4.5) – Goldin (4), Benjamin (4.5) – Christiansen (3.5).


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. US Junior/Senior/Girls Quick Links:  Official STL Chess Club YouTube Live on uschesschamps.com  Pairings & Results US Junior Pairings & Results US Senior Pairings & Results US Girls 

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Wild west/wild child chess everywhere STUNNING/THRILLING ... Yu/Shabalov games alone were truly fabulous thrilling analytical out of this world jungles that must be played over to be appreciated.Do not kid yourselves crew....JENIFER YU is the future ... truly has the "CHESS DAZE" running amock like Shabalov ...which every great player must have... it is like gasoline pouring into a furnace. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If the top Junior and Girl players want their respective scholarships they have one round left to prove it. Without a clear first tie-breaks will decide. Best wishes to all.

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