Strong Field and Fighting Spirit Lead to Exciting 2018 U.S. Cadet Championship

Over the past years, the community of junior chess players in the United States has gradually grown much stronger. With stars like 17-year-old GMs Jeffery Xiong and Samuel Sevian paving the way for the youth movement in chess, there doesn’t really seem to be a limit. The U.S. Cadet Championship is a tournament held yearly for the top youths under the age of 16 to compete directly against each other. Along with the U.S. Junior Closed, the U.S. Cadet is one of the exclusive round-robin tournaments to showcase the young players in the U.S. For five of the past six years, the U.S. Cadet has been held in Maryland, however BayAreaChess, who recently was named the 2018 Chess Club of the Year by US Chess Federation, won the bid to host the 2018 championship in the West Coast. Out of the 8 participants, 3 of them were from California and the remaining 5 participants flew out to sunny Northern California to participate in a classical round-robin over 4 days (July 12-15) held at the BayAreaChess Center in San Jose. In rating order, the players (pictured above) were IM David Brodsky, FM Rayan Taghizadeh, FM Josiah Stearman, NM Gabriel Sam, FM Aravind Kumar, CM Akira Nakada, CM Jason Wang, and NM Max Li. All the competitors were masters; the field had an average rating of 2347. Three of the eight participants were from California, with Norcal-based Taghizadeh and Stearman both regulars at BAC-run tournaments. At the opening ceremony, held on Thursday, July 12, BAC coach and US Championship competitor, GM Zviad Izoria, and WIM and FIDE zonal President Ruth Haring drew lots to assign pairings.
Check out the tournament videos and more pics at our Facebook page.
FM Josiah Stearman held the lead initially, storming out to a perfect 3-0 start. However, Josiah’s round 4 loss to his closest competitor and top seed, IM David Brodsky, followed by a second loss to Gabriel Sam, essentially cost Josiah the chance to win. The game is annotated below.
[pgn][Event "US Cadet Championship"]
[Site "San Jose, United States"]
[Date "2018.07.14"]
[Round "4.3"]
[White "Stearman, Josiah"]
[Black "Brodsky, David"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C54"]
[WhiteElo "2375"]
[BlackElo "2527"]
[Annotator "Vignesh Panchanatham"]
[PlyCount "88"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[TimeControl "40/90+30:0"]
[WhiteClock "0:43:08"]
[BlackClock "0:26:46"]1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5.
d3 d6 6. O-O h6 7. a4 a5 8. Na3 O-O 9. Be3 Bxa3 10. Rxa3 Be6 11. Qb3 (11. Bxe6 fxe6 12. Qb3
Qd7 13. h3 $11) 11... Qd7 12. Raa1 Ne7 13. Bxe6 Qxe6 14. Qxb7 $2 {Extremely greedy and unnecesary - the b7 pawned is much
too dangerous to capture.} (14. Qxe6 fxe6 15. b4 {and there is still a lot of
game to play}) 14... c6 15. d4 (15. Ba7 c5 16. b4 axb4 17. cxb4
Qd7 18. Qxd7 Nxd7 19. bxc5 dxc5 20. Bxc5 Nxc5 21. Nxe5 {This long variation is
a computer suggestion, but it doesn't seem like white can hold the piece-down
endgame.}) 15... Rfb8 16. Qc7 Ne8 17. d5 cxd5 18.
exd5 Nxd5 {Black gets the pawn back along with an abundance of targets.}
19. Qc6 f5 {Preparing to trap the queen with Ne7, but also a useful
move to push the bishop back if needed.} 20. Ne1 e4 21. Nc2 Ne7 22. Nd4 Nxc6 23. Nxe6 Rxb2 {White's pieces are
uncoordinated while black is in full attacking mode.} 24. Rfd1 Rab8 25. h4 Kf7 26. Nf4 Ne7 27. Kh2 R8b3 28. h5 Nf6 29. Rxd6 Ng4+ 30. Kg3 Rxc3 31. Rd7 Nxe3 32. fxe3 Rxe3+ {With the second pawn gone and without the bishop
on the board, the game is over.} 33. Kh2 Reb3 34. Ng6 Rb7 35. Rad1 e3 36. Nxe7 Rxd7 37. Rxd7 Ke8 38. Rd5 Kxe7 39. Rxf5 Rb6 40. Kg1 Rb1+ 41. Kh2 Rb6 42. Kg1 Ke6 43. g4 Rb1+ 44. Kg2 e2 0-1[/pgn]
Heading into the final day, the distance between the rest of the field and David was 1.5 points, an improbable amount to overcome, but not impossible. In fact, David lost the penultimate round to FM Aravind Kumar. With his win and David’s loss, Josiah surged back into contention. However, the comeback was not meant to be. David secured the title of 2018 U.S. Cadet Champion with a final round victory over FM Akira Nakada, taking home $2,000 for his efforts during the weekend. Read Brodsky’s account of his victory. Josiah finished second ($1,000 prize) after drawing his final round versus CM Jason Wang, and NM Gabriel Sam, who played solidly throughout, claimed the third prize (and $600). In this round robin tournament, every round had at least two decisive victories. Only 25% of the games ended in draws – much lower than the 50%+ rate of draws by GM-level players - making it an exciting tournament to follow. Detailed results with downloadable PGN files of every game can be found at the event website: Many photos are posted on BAC’s Facebook album. On behalf of BayAreaChess, co-author and BAC executive director, Judit Sztaray thanks all of the players and their parents for making the journey and showcasing their fighting spirit. In addition, much credit is due to Chief TD NTD John McCumiskey, who was assisted by Senior TD Damian Nash and NTD Thomas Langland, for ensuring that the tournament ran smoothly. It’s with excitement that we say: see us next year! BayAreaChess has been named the organizer of the 2019 US Cadet Championship, and the tournament is set to be held right after National Open. More information is available here: For questions, and feedback, please reach out to co-author and organizer Judit at Click here to show email address.