Round Nine: Mishra Joins Lee and Khachiyan as U.S. Champion

As the 2023 U.S. Championships wound down, we had some great games to cap off a great tournament. The players in the Junior and Girls’ junior sections showcased why they are great torchbearers for the next generation of American chess, and the Seniors reminded us just how strong they really are.



In the Girls’ and Senior sections, FM Alice Lee and GM Melikset Khachiyan had clinched the titles with a round to spare, but the players still gave the last round everything they had.


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The youngest-ever GM claimed his first U.S. Junior Championship, and it might not be his last (courtesy Lennart Ootes/SLCC)


On the other hand, in the Junior, there was still everything left to play for, with five players who still had a chance to take home the trophy, prize money, scholarship, and qualification to the U.S. Championship.





GM Abhimanyu Mishra and IM Arthur Guo were tied for first going into the last round, and both were looking to increase their lead with important wins. Not only was the first prize of $12,000 an extra $4,000 over second place, but the championship also came with a $10,000 scholarship to be used at an institution of the champion's choice, jointly funded by the Dewain Barber Foundation and US Chess.

Prize money can be split in case of a tie, but the scholarship can’t, and nor can the additional bonus of being placed into the U.S. Championship in October. In other words: this is not the time for the co-leaders to coast and settle for tame draws and a share of first place.


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You know it's a good game when the players head straight to the analysis board (courtesy Lennart Ootes/SLCC)


Both leaders looked to be in prime position to win their games, and it looked like we would get a playoff, but suddenly, things turned around. First, GM Balaji Daggupati was able to hold Mishra to a draw from an opening gone wrong.



Then, after an up-and-down event, IM Kirk Ghazarian stunned Guo with the black pieces to end his hopes at a U.S. Championship berth.



Thus, the world’s youngest ever grandmaster took home the U.S. Junior Champion title, and he will look to make his mark at the Championships this year.


Mishra dad
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courtesy Lennart Ootes/SLCC


With Daggupati’s draw, he was able to catch up to Guo, and the two were joined in a four-way tie for second by GMs Andrew Hong and Brandon Jacobson after the latter pair drew their last-round game.





In the Senior championship, GM Melikset Khachiyan had already clinched the title with a round to go, and the final round ended peacefully with five draws.


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courtesy Lennart Ootes/SLCC


With Khachiyan’s cool $20,000 already in the bag, the main question was whether GM Vladimir Akopian could defeat GM Dmitry Gurevich and catch GM Alexander Shabalov in a tie for second. Shabalov could clinch outright second place and the accompanying $13,000 prize. Unfortunately, since he was playing Khachiyan, there was not much chance of getting a game, and Shabalov had to wait and see whether Akopian could catch up.


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Old friends meet once again (courtesy Bryan Adams/SLCC)


When Akopian drew Gurevich uneventfully, the question then became whether GM Gregory Kaidanov or GM Maxim Dlugy could win their head-to-head and join Kaidanov in a tie for third.

This is where things got interesting, as we had some great struggles.

In the key match-up, Kaidanov was able to gain a clear advantage with the white pieces and looked to convert a better endgame, but with some accurate moves, GM Maxim Dlugy was able to stop his advances and maintain his tie for fourth with Kaidanov.



Then, GM Joel Benjamin was able to spark a huge initiative with the black pieces and almost take a victory to cap off his tournament by entering the tie for fourth place, but GM Igor Novikov found all the resources and showed his incredible willpower to hold the draw.






Likewise, in the Girls section, FM Alice Lee had clinched the title, the $6,000 prize, the same $10,000 scholarship, and a spot in the U.S. Women’s Championship with a round to spare.



But, she didn’t slow down and played a great game against WCM Shreya Mangalam to end with a ridiculously impressive 7½/9 to win the tournament by a point-and-a-half.




Tongues out guns out
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Tongues out, guns out: Carissa Yip and Rochelle Wu played a barn-burner of an open Sicilian (courtesy Lennart Ootes/SLCC)


Her highest-rated adversary was also able to finish her tournament on a happy note, as IM Carissa Yip won a topsy-turvy game against FM Rochelle Wu to end on 5½/9 and a tie for third with FM Zoey Tang.



FM Ruiyang Yan was able to defeat WFM Gracy Prasanna in order to claim outright second place and the $4,000 accompanying prize.


happy rui
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FM Ruiyang Yan seemed relatively happy with her last-round victory (courtesy Lennart Ootes/SLCC)


Congratulations to Khachiyan, Mishra, and Lee on their victories, and best of luck to Mishra and Lee in October!

Quick Links:

Follow all our coverage of the 2023 National Championships

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Official Website

Replay all games on Chess.comSenior / Girls' Junior / Junior

Replay all games on Lichess.orgSenior / Girls' Junior / Junior

Follow live commentary with GM Yasser Seirawan, WGM Katerina Nemcova, and GM Christian Chirila on Twitch


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