Checa, Sheng, Shabalov, and Wu Lead in Saint Louis

The fields continue to slowly sort themselves out after yesterday’s Round 3 at the U.S. Junior, Girls, and Senior Championships. Nicolas Checa and Joshua Sheng both won to move to 2.5/3 and shared first in the Junior, with Sheng beating Round 2 leader Awonder Liang in the process. Rochelle Wu won her third game out of three to stand alone at the top of the Girls Championship, and Alex Shabalov lept to first in the Senior after he won against Novikov while Larry Christiansen fell to Alex Yermolinsky. With today’s fourth round underway as this goes to press, here’s a recap of yesterday’s Round 3 action. Junior
courtesy STLCC
Joshua Sheng, playing the black pieces against top-seed Awonder Liang, took advantage of Liang’s time trouble to grab a pawn and win their game.

[pgn]

[Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.13"]
[Round "3.5"]
[White "Liang, Awonder"]
[Black "Sheng, Joshua"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C78"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "112"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bb7 7. d3 Be7 8. c4
O-O 9. Nc3 bxc4 10. dxc4 (10. Bxc4 d6 {followed by ...Na5}) 10... Bc5 11. Ba4
d6 12. Bxc6 Bxc6 {Black is already better, per Sheng and Kraai.} 13. Qd3 Rb8
14. Rb1 a5 15. Bg5 h6 16. Bh4 Kh7 {wti ...Rg8 and then ...g5} ({Sheng was
worried about the queen on the third rank if he played the thematic} 16... g5
17. Nxg5 hxg5 18. Bxg5 Kg7 19. Qf3 Rh8 20. Nd5 Bxd5 21. cxd5 {and he thought
that the position was "just lost for Black."} {He may, however, be at least
equal after giving back material with} Rh6 22. Bxh6+ Kxh6) 17. Nd5 Bxd5 18.
exd5+ e4 19. Qc2 g5 20. Bg3 Kg8 {Sheng thought he had a loose position, but
active pieces that compensated for his positional holes.} 21. Nd2 Re8 22. Kh1
Qd7 23. h3 e3 24. fxe3 Nh5 25. Bh2 Bxe3 26. Rbe1 Bd4 (26... f5 $5) 27. Qd1 Rxe1
28. Rxe1 Nf6 29. Nb3 Bb6 30. Nd4 Re8 31. Bg1 Ne4 32. Qd3 Qe7 33. Rf1 Qe5 34.
Nf5 h5 35. Bxb6 cxb6 36. Kg1 Qxb2 $5 37. Qf3 Qf6 38. Qxh5 Kf8 39. Qg4 $2 {
Liang blunders in time trouble.} (39. Qh6+ Qxh6 40. Nxh6 f6 $11) 39... Nd2 40.
Rc1 Re4 $1 41. Qd1 Nxc4 {And Black grabs a pawn.} 42. Ng3 Rd4 43. Qh5 Rh4 44.
Qe2 Qf4 45. Qe1 Qd4+ 46. Kh2 Qxd5 47. Rd1 Qc5 48. Rd3 Ne5 49. Rc3 Rc4 50. Rxc4
Nxc4 51. Qc3 b5 52. Kh1 Qe5 53. Qf3 d5 54. Qg4 Ne3 55. Qc8+ Kg7 56. Nh5+ Kh6
0-1

[/pgn]
Checa and Kraai (photo Crystal Fuller)
Nicolas Checa, also playing black, had the day’s second decisive result in the Junior, defeating Jennifer Yu in a wild game. Yu gave up a piece for three pawns on move 14 and the ensuing positions were difficult for both sides to play. Her rook became passive in the endgame, and Checa picked up her pawns and the game.
[pgn]

[Event "2019 U.S. Junior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.13"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Yu, Jennifer"]
[Black "Checa, Nicolas"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D10"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "110"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Bf4 Nc6 5. e3 Bf5 6. Nc3 e6 7. Qb3 Qd7 8. Nf3
f6 9. Rc1 ({Checa said that he got the ...f6/...g5 idea from this Wesley So
game.} 9. a3 Rc8 10. Nd2 Nge7 11. h3 g5 12. Bh2 Bg6 13. Rc1 Kf7 14. Qd1 Nf5 15.
Bd3 Nh4 {0-1 (69) Lenderman,A (2589)-So,W (2755) Las Vegas 2014}) 9... g5 {
Kraai liked this plan, with the idea of kingside expansion and restriction of
White's pieces.} 10. Bg3 Bg6 11. Bb5 Nge7 12. Na4 Nf5 {Now Yu plays a
fascinating piece sac idea.} 13. Be5 $5 Kf7 (13... Be7 14. Nc5 Bxc5 15. Rxc5
fxe5 $2 16. Nxe5 Qd8) 14. Nxg5+ Kg7 15. Nf3 (15. e4 $5 Nh6 (15... dxe4 $2 16.
Nxe6+) 16. Qh3 $13) 15... fxe5 16. Bxc6 bxc6 17. Nxe5 Qc7 {Checa didn't think
he was objectively better but thought he had good chances.} (17... Qe8) 18.
Rxc6 Qa5+ 19. Ke2 Be7 20. Nc5 Bxc5 21. Rxc5 Qa6+ 22. Qb5 Qxb5+ 23. Rxb5 Rab8
24. Rxb8 Rxb8 25. b3 Rc8 26. Nxg6 (26. Kd2 $2 Nd6 {and the rook penetrates.})
26... hxg6 27. Kd2 Nh4 28. Rg1 Kf6 29. f3 e5 30. dxe5+ Kxe5 31. Kd3 Nf5 (31...
g5 $5) 32. g4 Nd6 33. h4 Rh8 34. Rh1 {Who is better, the pawns or the piece?
The computer thinks this is completely equal, so whoever plays the position
better will win.} Ne8 35. a4 (35. b4 {may improve, following the idea of
pushing the promotion candidate first?}) 35... a5 36. Rc1 Rxh4 37. Rc5 Rh3 38.
f4+ Kd6 39. Rxa5 Nc7 {The White rook is very restricted, and it will take some
creativity to free it.} 40. g5 Rh1 41. Kc2 Re1 42. Kd2 Ra1 43. Kd3 Kc6 44. e4
Rd1+ 45. Kc2 Rd4 46. exd5+ Kd6 (46... Kb6 47. Kc3) 47. Kc3 Rxf4 48. b4 (48. Ra7
) 48... Nxd5+ 49. Kd2 Rxb4 50. Ra6+ Rb6 51. Ra8 Ke5 52. a5 Rb2+ 53. Kd3 Ra2 54.
Re8+ Kf5 55. Kd4 Rxa5 0-1

[/pgn]
The remaining three games – Jacobsson-Vaidya, Tang-Niemann, and Hilby-Burke – were drawn. This left Checa and Sheng in the lead after three rounds with 2.5/3, followed by Liang, Burke, and Jacobson, all at 2/3. Girls
courtesy STLCC
The Girls Championship continues to feature fighting chess, with four decisive results out of five. Rochelle Wu continued to ride her luck in her win against Agata Bykovtsev, moving to 3/3 and maintaining her spot at the top of the field. Bykovtsev had chances to win in the middlegame, but she mishandled her position after Wu’s knight sacrifice and resigned in the face of checkmate.

[pgn]

[Event "2019 U.S. Girls Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.13"]
[Round "3.3"]
[White "Wu, Rochelle"]
[Black "Bykovtsev, Agata"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e6 7. g4 Be7 8. g5
Nfd7 9. Be3 Nc6 10. h4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 O-O 12. Qd2 b5 13. a3 Ne5 14. O-O-O Rb8
15. f4 Nc4 16. Qe1 $6 (16. Bxc4 $142 bxc4 17. f5) 16... Nxe3 17. Qxe3 b4 (17...
Qa5) (17... Qb6 $5) 18. axb4 Rxb4 19. Bd3 Bb7 20. f5 $5 exf5 (20... d5 $5 21.
f6 d4 22. fxe7 Qxe7) 21. exf5 Bxh1 22. Rxh1 (22. f6 $2 Re8) 22... Re8 {Now the
threat is ...Rxh4 followed by ...Bxg5.} (22... Rxh4 {immediately is less
strong because White can interpose the rook:} 23. Rxh4 Bxg5 24. Rf4 {and Black
is certainly better.}) 23. Nd5 $2 Rxh4 24. Rg1 Ra4 (24... Rh1 $1 {is a nice
deflection idea. If} 25. Rxh1 Bxg5 $19) 25. Kd2 Bf8 $2 26. Nf6+ $1 gxf6 $4 (
26... Qxf6 $1 27. Qxe8 Qe5 $11) 27. gxf6+ Kh8 28. Qg5 Qa5+ ({Wu was hoping for
} 28... Bh6 {when she could finish things off with a Puzzle Rush special:} 29.
Qxh6 $1 Rg8 30. Qxh7+ Kxh7 31. Rh1+ Rh4 32. Rxh4#) 29. c3 Re2+ 30. Bxe2 Rd4+
31. Kc2 1-0

[/pgn]
Martha Samadashvili (photo Austin Fuller)
Martha Samadashvili had the move of the round in her victory over Veronika Zilajeva. Zilajeva had a strong advantage for most of the game, and appeared to be on her way to the winner’s circle. Samadashvili’s desperate counter-attack bore fruit, however, and Tatev Abrahamyan described her 39th move as “level 40 Puzzle Rush” material.
[pgn]

[Event "2019 U.S. Girls Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.13"]
[Round "3.4"]
[White "Samadashvili, Martha"]
[Black "Zilajeva, Veronika"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C11"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2r5/p6Q/1p2pkp1/3p3p/1P3P2/P5P1/2q4P/4R1K1 w - - 0 39"]
[PlyCount "3"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

{[#]} 39. f5 $1 Kxf5 (39... gxf5 40. Qh6+ Kf7 41. Qxe6+ $18) (39... exf5 40.
Qe7#) (39... Qxf5 40. Rf1 $18) 40. Qf7+ (40. Qf7+ Kg4 41. Qf4+ Kh3 42. Qh4#)
1-0

[/pgn]
Yip-Yan (photo Crystal Fuller)
Wu is in clear first at 3/3, followed by Carissa Yip (2.5/3), who drew against Rui Yang Yan and is alone in second place. Yan and Emily Nguyen (who won against Maggie Feng) are tied for third with 2/3. In the remaining game, Thalia Cervantes got her first win of the event, defeating Rachael Li. Senior
courtesy STLCC
Alex Shabalov downed fellow World Seniors teammate Igor Novikov in a very sharp Najdorf. At 2.5/3, Shabalov heads into today’s round four action in clear first place.

[pgn]

[Event "2019 U.S. Senior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.13"]
[Round "3.4"]
[White "Shabalov, Alexander"]
[Black "Novikov, Igor"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[Annotator "Hartmann,John"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. f3 b5 8. g4 h6
9. Qd2 Nbd7 10. O-O-O (10. h4 Bb7 11. O-O-O b4 12. Na4 d5 13. Bh3 g5 14. hxg5
hxg5 15. Bxg5 dxe4 16. Bxf6 Nxf6 17. g5 exf3 18. Qf4 Bd6 19. Qxf6 Qxf6 20. gxf6
O-O-O {1-0 (39) Hjartarson,J (2520)-Novikov,I (2563) World Senior Teams 50+
2019}) 10... b4 {A bit of a surprise from Novikov, who had never played this
in a serious game before.} (10... Bb7 {occurs in at least six previous Novikov
games.}) 11. Na4 (11. Nce2 d5 $6 12. exd5 Nxd5 13. Nf4) 11... d5 12. exd5 Nxd5
13. Bc4 N7f6 14. g5 (14. h4) (14. Nb3) 14... hxg5 15. Bxg5 Bb7 $6 (15... Qc7 $5
) 16. Qe2 (16. Rhe1 {may be better (Shabalov).}) 16... Be7 17. Nf5 $5 (17. Nxe6
fxe6 18. Bxf6 (18. Qxe6 Qd7 {"and everything works for Black"}) 18... Bxf6 19.
Qxe6+ (19. Nc5 $2 Bxb2+ $1 20. Kxb2 Qf6+ $19) 19... Qe7 20. Bxd5 Qxe6 21. Bxe6
Bxf3 {and Shabalov thought that Black had good defensive chances.}) 17... Qc7 (
17... exf5 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Rhe1 Qc7 (19... Kf8 $6 20. Bxd5 Bxd5 21. Rxd5 Qxd5
$4 22. Qxe7+ Kg7 23. Rg1+ $18 {Shabalov}) (19... Ra7 20. Qf2 $1 {Shabalov}) 20.
Bxd5 Bxd5 21. Rxd5 Rxh2 {and it's triple zeros from Stockfish.}) 18. Bxf6 (18.
Nxe7 {gives a "positional edge... but nothing decisive."}) 18... Bxf6 19. Bxd5
Bxd5 20. Rxd5 Qf4+ $2 (20... Kf8 21. Rc5 Qf4+ 22. Qe3 (22. Ne3 $2 Bd4 23. Re1
Rxh2 24. Qd3 {Shabalov}) 22... Bg5 (22... Qxe3+ $2 23. Nxe3) 23. Qxf4 Bxf4+ 24.
Kb1 exf5 25. Rxf5 $11) 21. Qd2 Qxf3 (21... Qxd2+ 22. Rxd2 exf5 23. Re1+ Kf8 24.
Nb6 $16) 22. Re1 O-O 23. Nh6+ Kh7 $6 (23... gxh6 24. Qxh6 {threatens mate, but
after} Qg4 {Black's counterthreat of ...Bg5+ means that the Rd5 can't leave
the fifth rank.} ({Shabalov gave} 24... Qg2 25. Qxf6 (25. Rh5 Rfc8 $1 $13)
25... exd5 26. Qd4 Qg5+ 27. Kb1 Rfe8 28. Rg1 Kh7 {"and maybe it's defendable...
I don't know."}) 25. Rh5 Rfd8 26. Nc5 {and Black has weathered the storm.}) 24.
Rd3 Qh5 25. Nxf7 Rxf7 26. Qxb4 Kg8 27. Kb1 {Shabalov explained that he could
save the h2-pawn, but he doesn't need to. Black has three weaknesses and after
White consolidates the position (avoiding back rank probems) he will be
winning.} Qxh2 28. a3 Rc8 (28... Rb8 29. Qc4) 29. Qb3 Rfc7 30. Nb6 (30. Qxe6+
$1 Kf8 31. Rh3 $1 {Novikov}) 30... Rb8 31. Qxe6+ Kf8 32. c3 $2 (32. Re2 $5 Qg1+
33. Ka2 Qxb6 34. Rd8+ $1) 32... Rcb7 $2 (32... Re7 $1 33. Qxe7+ Bxe7 34. Nd7+
Kf7 35. Nxb8 Bxa3 {and this may just be a draw!}) 33. Rd7 Qxb2+ 34. Kxb2 Rxb6+
35. Kc2 Rxe6 36. Rxe6 Rc8 37. Rd3 a5 38. Kb3 Rb8+ 39. Ka4 Rc8 40. Kxa5 Bxc3+
41. Kb5 1-0

[/pgn]
Larry Christiansen dropped to second place at 2/3, having lost a fine game to Alex Yermolinsky. Yermo is part of a five person pack, including Kaidanov, Benjamin, Goldin, and Fishbein, who are all tied for third place with 1.5/3.

[pgn]

[Event "2019 U.S. Senior Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2019.07.13"]
[Round "3.2"]
[White "Yermolinsky, Alex"]
[Black "Christiansen, Larry"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A40"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2019.??.??"]

1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Bg5 Ne7 6. e3 f6 7. Bf4 Bxc3+ 8.
bxc3 d6 9. Qc2 g5 10. Bg3 Qd7 11. c5 Nbc6 12. cxd6 cxd6 13. Nd2 Nf5 14. Be2
O-O-O 15. e4 Nxg3 16. fxg3 Kb8 17. O-O Rhf8 18. Rf2 Qc7 19. Qd3 Ne7 20. Raf1 f5
21. exf5 exf5 22. Bf3 d5 23. Bd1 h6 24. Re1 Rf6 25. Ba4 Bc6 26. Bb3 Bb7 27.
Rfe2 Nc8 28. Re5 f4 29. gxf4 gxf4 30. Nf3 Qg7 31. Qd2 Rf7 32. Re8 Rxe8 33. Rxe8
Bc6 34. Re6 Bd7 35. Re1 Rf5 36. Re5 Rf6 37. Bxd5 Nd6 38. c4 Bh3 39. Kf1 Bg4 40.
c5 Bxf3 41. Bxf3 Nc4 42. Re8+ Kc7 43. cxb6+ Kd7 44. Qe2 Ne3+ 45. Rxe3 fxe3 46.
bxa7 1-0

[/pgn]
Shabalov and Yermolinsky had the two wins of the round in the Senior. The other games – Goldin-Ehlvest, Kaidanov-Dlugy, and Fishbein-Benjamin – were all drawn.
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 1th. 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  Winners of the US Junior Championship and US Junior Girls Championship will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship to be used at the institution of his or her choice. The scholarship is generously jointly funded by the Dewain Barber Foundation and US Chess.  

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