Who Will Be the 2017 U.S. Women's Champion?

For 10 years, the U.S. Women's Championship was dominated by two players: Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih. Krush won six times (in addition to her first championship victory in 1998) while Zatonskih won four times. Last year, everything changed. The fight for the championship became much more than just a race between the two favorites, and even the lower ranked competitors played a critical role in determining the champion by winning major upset victories. What will happen this year? Here are the 2017 competitors:

Reigning Champion

IM Nazi Paikidze

“I firmly believe that my physical conditioning contributed to winning the Championship. It showed towards the end of the tournament. When most of the players’ play was compromised due to fatigue, I was energetic and playing with full strength.” -Nazi Paikidze, “Chess. Gym. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.”, Chess Life Magazine - August 2016
  • U.S. Women's Rank: 4
  • US Chess Rating: 2446 --- Peak: 2446 (January 2017)
  • FIDE Rating: 2369 --- Peak: 2455 (January 2011)

Entering the last round of the 2016 U.S. Women's Championship, to the surprise of many, both Zatonskih and the defending champion, Krush, were completely out of contention for 1st. The championship had become a race between Tatev Abrahamyan and Nazi Paikidze. Abrahamyan was two full points ahead of everyone---except for Paikidze, who trailed by half a point. In addition, Abrahamyan was playing down while Paikidze had to face the top seed and only grandmaster in the tournament, Krush, with the black pieces. The odds were against Paikidze.

Due to a tough position out of the opening, Abrahamyan suffered an unfortunate loss, giving Paikidze a huge opportunity---A draw would lead to a playoff match between the two.

With the entire championship on the line, Paikidze showed a fantastic level of competitive spirit, fighting hard throughout the game, not for a draw, but for the win!

"In her last round game, I felt like I was watching Topalov during his prime. Topalov would just play these sharp and overly dynamic moves against everyone and just mow them down, one after another. Nazi did the same thing with Krush, constantly finding ambitious and provocative ideas until Irina couldn't stand it anymore."

-IM Greg Shahade, "Top Ten Lessons from the 2016 US Championships"

In the end, Paikidze was able to create a very strong attack and convert it into a victory, winning the championship without a playoff:

[pgn][Event "2016 U.S. Women's Championship"] [Site "Saint Louis, Mo"] [Date "2016.04.25"] [White "Krush, Irina"] [Black "Paikidze, Nazi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2465"] [BlackElo "2346"] [PlyCount "128"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:04:48"] [BlackClock "0:10:55"]1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 c6 4. O-O Bg4 5. d3 Nbd7 6. h3 Bh5 7. Qe1 e5 8. e4 dxe4 9. dxe4 Bc5 10. a4 a5 11. Na3 O-O 12. Nc4 Qc7 13. Bd2 b6 14. Nh4 Rfe8 15. Kh1 Bg6 16. Nxg6 hxg6 17. f4 b5 18. Bxa5 Qc8 19. axb5 cxb5 20. Nd2 exf4 21. gxf4 Nd5 22. Rf3 f5 23. e5 g5 24. fxg5 Nxe5 25. Rf2 Ne3 26. Nb3 Nxg2 27. Rxg2 f4 28. Qc3 Nc4 29. Qf3 Qf5 30. Nxc5 Qxc5 31. b4 Qf5 32. Rf2 Re4 33. Rg1 Rae8 34. Bc7 Re3 35. Qxf4 Rxh3+ 36. Kg2 Ne3+ 37. Qxe3 Qg4+ 38. Qg3 Rxg3+ 39. Bxg3 Re3 40. Kh2 Qh5+ 41. Kg2 Qxg5 42. Kh2 Re6 43. Rgg2 Qh5+ 44. Kg1 Qd1+ 45. Rf1 Qd4+ 46. Rff2 Re1+ 47. Kh2 Qd1 48. Bf4 Qh5+ 49. Kg3 Rh1 50. Rh2 Rg1+ 51. Rhg2 Rh1 52. Rh2 Qg6+ 53. Kh3 Qe6+ 54. Kg3 Re1 55. Rhg2 Qg6+ 56. Kh2 Qe4 57. Bg5 Qxb4 58. Bf4 Qe7 59. Kg3 Re6 60. Kh3 Qd7 61. Kh2 Re4 62. Kg3 Qf5 63. Rf3 g5 64. Bxg5 Rg4+ 0-1[/pgn]

Here are Paikidze's own reflections on the 2016 championship:

"Every game was very challenging. Despite playing very well, it didn't look like I was going to win the title until the end of the last round. My friend FM Tatev Abrahamyan was having a wonderful tournament, leading throughout the event. Luck also seemed to be on her side until the last round. During that decisive last round, it was difficult to contain my emotions. There stakes were high, and there was tremendous pressure, but I succeeded. I am incredibly happy to say, I defeated the seven-time U.S. Women's Champion GM Irina Krush, with the black pieces, and became the new U.S. Women's Chess Champion."

-IM Nazi Paikidze, "Chess. Gym. Eat. Sleep. Repeat." Chess Life Magazine - August 2016

Based on Paikidze's excellent play last year and the killer instinct she demonstrated in the high stakes last round, I think she has very good chances of successfully defending her title.

Top Seed

GM Irina Krush

“For me, chess is a fight, sixty four squares where you lay out everything you have, and I believe in my ability to fight, because it's really just a function of your ability to give everything you have…  I want to make the maximum effort, whether that means pushing myself to find the best moves, being resilient in defense, or overcoming any psychological weakness that can come up during a game: inclinations towards cowardice, towards giving up in difficult positions, or slacking off in better ones… I come into every game with the belief that I can give it 100%, and that's probably not a lot less than what my opponents can bring. That's where my confidence comes from.” -GM Irina Krush, "Irina on Baku: Water from a Stone", the 2013 Best of US Chess winning article
  • U.S. Women's Rank: 1
  • U.S. Rank: 62
  • US Chess Rating: 2524 --- Peak: 2588 (June 2011)
  • FIDE Rating: 2444 --- Peak: 2502 (November 2013)

Although Krush’s performance didn’t meet expectations last year, she's been at the top of U.S. Women's chess for many years. Defeat tends to inspire the best players to get stronger. I predict that she’ll be back with a vengeance. As the top seed, the only GM, and a seven time winner of the championship, Krush is still undeniably one of the favorites.

Here's the game that earned Krush her final GM Norm at the 2013 Baku Open:

[pgn][Event "Baku op"] [Site "Baku"] [Date "2013.09.27"] [Round "9"] [White "Krush, Irina"] [Black "Durarbayli, Vasif"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D13"] [WhiteElo "2492"] [BlackElo "2567"] [PlyCount "115"] [EventDate "2013.09.19"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "AZE"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2013.10.22"]1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Bf4 a6 7. e3 Bg4 8. h3 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 e6 10. Bd3 Be7 11. O-O O-O 12. Rfc1 Rc8 13. Qd1 Nd7 14. Nb1 Qb6 15. Nd2 g6 16. Qb3 Qa7 17. Rc3 b5 18. a4 b4 19. Rcc1 Qb7 20. Qd1 e5 21. dxe5 Ndxe5 22. Be2 Rfd8 23. Qf1 Ra8 24. Nb3 Qb6 25. a5 Qa7 26. Rc2 Bd6 27. Rac1 Ne7 28. Bg5 Kg7 29. Bxe7 Qxe7 30. Bxa6 h5 31. Bb5 h4 32. a6 Nc4 33. Nd4 b3 34. Rc3 Nd2 35. Qd1 Ne4 36. Rxb3 Rdc8 37. Nc6 Qg5 38. Rd3 Qf6 39. Rc2 Rxa6 40. Bxa6 Rxc6 41. Bb5 Rxc2 42. Qxc2 Qe5 43. f4 Qe6 44. Bc6 Nf6 45. Qc3 Kg8 46. Bb7 Bf8 47. Qb3 Bc5 48. Kh2 Ng4+ 49. hxg4 Qxg4 50. Qd1 Qg3+ 51. Kh1 h3 52. Bxd5 Bxe3 53. Qf1 hxg2+ 54. Bxg2 g5 55. Ra3 g4 56. Bh3 f5 57. Qc4+ Kg7 58. Qc3+ 1-0[/pgn]

Four-time Champion

IM Anna Zatonskih

Anna Zatonskih at the 2016 U.S. Women's Championship. Photo: Austin Fuller
“I’m trying to prove that it’s possible to have a family and kids and play chess, too, at a high level.” -Anna Zatonskih in an interview at this year’s Gibraltar Chess Festival
  • U.S. Women's Rank: 2
  • U.S. Rank: 71
  • US Chess Rating: 2503 --- Peak: 2590 (June 2011)
  • FIDE Rating: 2451 --- Peak: 2537 (May 2011)

Anna Zatonskih is both a four-time U.S. Women’s Champion and a former Ukrainian Women’s Champion, making her another one of the major contenders for the championship. At the recent Gibraltar Open, Zatonskih defeated Grandmaster Mikhail Antipov in what she considers one of her best games ever:

[pgn][Event "Tradewise Gibraltar"] [Site "Catalan Bay GIB"] [Date "2017.01.28"] [Round "9.27"] [White "Anna Zatonskih"] [Black "Mikhail Antipov"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E16"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2017.01.24"]1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 c5 5. Bxb4 cxb4 6. g3 b6 7. Bg2 Bb7 8. O-O O-O 9. Nbd2 d6 10. Ne1 Bxg2 11. Kxg2 Nc6 12. e3 a5 13. Nd3 e5 14. d5 Nb8 15. e4 Nbd7 16. f4 Re8 17. Qf3 Rc8 18. Rae1 Qe7 19. Rf2 Rc7 20. h3 Rec8 21. b3 b5 22. fxe5 Nxe5 23. Nxe5 Qxe5 24. cxb5 Rc3 25. Qf4 Qe7 26. Nc4 Nh5 27. Qf5 R8xc4 28. bxc4 g6 29. Qxf7+ Qxf7 30. Rxf7 Kxf7 31. b6 Nf6 32. Rf1 Rc2+ 33. Kg1 Ke7 34. Rxf6 Kxf6 35. b7 Ke5 36. b8=Q Rxc4 37. Qe8+ Kd4 38. e5 1-0[/pgn]

Fighting Spirit

Tatev Abrahamyan

Tatev Abrahamyan at the 2015 U.S. Women's Championships. Photo: Lennart Ootes
"She got Women's Grandmaster, and she didn't want that title. She thinks she deserves to get the men's title---and she is right. She can do it all." -IM Armen Ambartsoumian, "Women's chess champ Tatev Abrahamyan aims to put men in check"
  • U.S. Women's Rank: 3
  • US Chess Rating: 2448 --- Peak: 2490 (May 2014)
  • FIDE Rating: 2364 --- Peak: 2396 (April 2014)

Beyond the three current and past champions (Paikidze, Krush, and Zatonskih), Tatev Abrahamyan also has strong chances of winning. She has many years of experience competing in the championship and is consistently in the fight for top places. She led the field for most of the event last year and, if it wasn't for a very unfortunate final round, she may've won the championship. In addition, Tatev has earned the three norms required for the International Master title and just needs to cross the 2400 FIDE mark to secure the title, which could be achieved with a good performance in the championship. Abrahamyan won the Fighting Spirit Award at the 2010 U.S. Women's Championship for consistent decisive results (only one draw in the entire event) and her hard-fought victory against Alisa Melekhina:

[pgn][Event "USA-ch (Women)"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2010.07.12"] [Round "3"] [White "Abrahamyan, Tatev"] [Black "Melekhina, Alisa"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C55"] [WhiteElo "2310"] [BlackElo "2265"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. Re1 d6 7. c3 Kh8 8. Nbd2 Nd7 9. d4 Bf6 10. Nf1 Nb6 11. Bb3 Bg4 12. d5 Ne7 13. h3 Bc8 14. c4 a5 15. Qe2 g6 16. Bc2 Bg7 17. b3 h6 18. a3 f5 19. Bb2 Nd7 20. b4 Nf6 21. N3d2 f4 22. c5 g5 23. Nh2 h5 24. f3 Rf7 25. Nc4 Ng6 26. Qf2 Bf8 27. cxd6 Bxd6 28. Nxa5 Rh7 29. Bd1 Qf8 30. Nc4 Qh6 31. Nxd6 cxd6 32. Qb6 Qf8 33. Rc1 g4 34. fxg4 hxg4 35. Nxg4 Bxg4 36. hxg4 Qh6 37. Qxd6 Qh2+ 38. Kf1 Qh1+ 39. Kf2 Qh4+ 40. Ke2 Qxg4+ 41. Kd3 Qg5 42. Bf3 Rd7 43. Rh1+ Kg7 44. Rc7 Rad8 45. Rh5 Nxh5 46. Rxd7+ Rxd7 47. Qxd7+ Kh6 48. Qh3 Nh4 49. Qe6+ Kh7 50. Qxe5 Nxf3 51. gxf3 Qh4 52. Qh8+ Kg6 53. Qg8+ Kh6 54. Bg7+ Nxg7 55. Qh8+ 1-0[/pgn]
Abrahamyan has been very close to winning the championship on numerous occasions. In addition to last year's clear 2nd, she's finished as the runner-up in 2004, 2011, and 2014, missing the title by inches in rapid playoffs. Will 2017 be her year?

Sabina Foisor

Sabina Foisor at the 2015 U.S. Women's Championship. Photo: Lennart Ootes
"I know if there is some way I can promote chess in the U.S., I would like to do so because I really think it helps kids focus more, to become disciplined. It's really something that I feel is positive." -Sabina Foisor, "Foisor ready to make her move"
  • U.S. Women's Rank: 6 (tied)
  • US Chess Rating: 2364 --- Peak: 2420 (May 2013)
  • FIDE Rating: 2272 --- Peak: 2386 (January 2008)

Foisor is another one of the more experienced U.S. Women's competitors, and she won the Fighting Spirit Award at the 2011 U.S. Women's Championship for her "uncompromising style" and her victory against Irina Krush:

[pgn][Event "USA-ch (Women)"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2011.04.15"] [Round "1"] [White "Krush, Irina"] [Black "Foisor, Sabina Francesca"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D11"] [WhiteElo "2472"] [BlackElo "2350"] [PlyCount "60"] [EventDate "2011.04.15"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "7"] [EventCountry "USA"] [EventCategory "5"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2011.05.03"]1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 5. Qb3 Qb6 6. Nc3 Bxf3 7. gxf3 e6 8. e4 Nbd7 9. Be3 dxe4 10. fxe4 Ng4 11. c5 Qc7 12. O-O-O Nxe3 13. fxe3 b6 14. cxb6 Qxb6 15. e5 Rb8 16. Bg2 Be7 17. Qc2 c5 18. Kb1 O-O 19. Be4 f5 20. exf6 Nxf6 21. Rhg1 cxd4 22. exd4 Rfc8 23. Qg2 Bf8 24. Na4 Qb4 25. Bc2 Qb7 26. Qe2 Kh8 27. Ka1 Qb5 28. Qd2 Rc4 29. Qd3 Rc7 30. Bb3 Rc1+ 0-1[/pgn]


At their Peak

Katerina Nemcova

Katerina Nemcova at the 2015 U.S. Women's Championship. Photo: Austin Fuller

"My father, he comes from a chess family. They all used to play chess. He said he wanted to pass it on to his family because he feels that chess imitates life. So, when you learn chess, you can also improve your life. I have a big family. I have six siblings, and all of us play chess."

-Katerina Nemcova, "US Chess Championships coming to St. Louis"

  • U.S. Women's Rank: 5
  • US Chess Rating: 2427 --- Peak: 2439 (November 2016)
  • FIDE Rating: 2359 --- Peak: 2382 (July 2013)

All chessplayers know how difficult it can be to consistently make rating progress year after year. Katerina Nemcova has impressively reached new rating peaks every year since 2014. She began 2014 with a US Chess rating in the high 2200s, ranking as #11 in the U.S. for women. Yet, she finished the year over 2350 and ranked 5th.

By the end of 2015, she crossed 2400. She reached her current all time peak of 2439 in November of last year. With such steady improvement, Nemcova has become a stronger candidate for winning the championship every year.

Carissa Yip

"Thank you, Caissa. I know it was you making this record snow so that I could show the world that girls are as good as boys in chess!"

-Carissa Yip on her journey to becoming a National Master at age 10 in the article, "Yip, Yip, Hooray", Chess Life Magazine - August 2015

  • U.S. Women's Rank: 8
  • U.S. Age 14 Rank: 5
  • US Chess Rating: 2348 --- Peak: 2349 (February 2017)
  • FIDE Rating: 2234 --- Peak: 2234 (March 2017)

 At only age 14, Carissa Yip has spent her budding chess career breaking records and redefining the standards for American female players.

  • At age 9, Yip became the youngest American female to reach expert.
  • At age 10, she became the youngest American female to defeat a grandmaster, winning against GM Alexander Ivanov in the New England Open.
  • At age 11, she became the youngest American female to earn the National Master title.

Even though she has less experience than some of the other players, Yip is one of the young stars to watch out for in this event. Last year, she even began the tournament tied for the lead, scoring two wins in a row.

"Anything is possible if you try hard enough, like beating a GM."

-Carissa Yip, "Carissa Yip: 'Anything is Possible'"

Apurva Virkud

Apurva Virkud at the 2015 U.S. Women's Championship. Photo: Austin Fuller
  • U.S. Women's Rank: 17
  • U.S. Age 18 Rank: 20
  • US Chess Rating: 2258 --- Peak: 2258 (March 2017)
  • FIDE Rating: 2262 --- Peak: 2279 (January 2017)

Ever wonder if it’s possible to qualify for a U.S. Championship with just one excellent tournament? Apurva Virkud proves that it is.

In August of last year, Virkud entered the U.S. Masters Championship with a 2144 US Chess rating and a 2093 FIDE rating, at least 100 points short in both systems to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Championship. Then, she went on to achieve a 2544 US Chess performance rating, gaining victories against IM Kaiqi Yang and IM Korley Kassa along the way.

Her spectacular performance earned her 114 US Chess rating points and 158 FIDE rating points from the U.S. Masters Championship alone---bringing her rating to an all-time peak. Although Airkud qualified by rating, I’d say that she’s one of the biggest wildcards of the tournament, capable of anything.

Four-time Belarusian Champion

Anna Sharevich

Anna Sharevich at the 2015 U.S. Women's Championship. Photo: St. Louis Chess Club
“For me personally, I don’t play everyday because I have a full time job. Now, every chance to play chess is a big event for me. I try to train as much as I can.” -Anna Sharevich, "US Chess Championships coming to St. Louis"
  • U.S. Women's Rank: 6 (tied)
  • US Chess Rating: 2364 --- Peak: 2378 (September 2015)
  • FIDE Rating: 2257 --- Peak: 2378 (May 2011)

This will be Anna Sharevich's second time competing in the U.S. Women's Championship. At her debut in 2015, she finished 5th with victories against two of the tournament favorites, Tatev Abrahamyan and former U.S. Women's Champion, IM Rusudan Goletiani.

[pgn][Event "US Championships (Women)"] [Site "Saint Louis USA"] [Date "2015.04.08"] [Round "7"] [White "Rusudan Goletiani"] [Black "Anna Sharevich"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A06"] [WhiteElo "2311"] [BlackElo "2267"] [PlyCount "86"] [EventDate "2015.03.31"]1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. b3 Bg4 5. Bb2 Nbd7 6. O-O Qc7 7. d4 e6 8. c4 Be7 9. Nc3 O-O 10. h3 Bf5 11. Nd2 Rad8 12. Rc1 Qb8 13. e3 b5 14. cxb5 cxb5 15. Qe2 a6 16. a3 h6 17. g4 Bh7 18. f4 Rc8 19. Bf3 Ne8 20. Kg2 Nd6 21. Rh1 Bh4 22. Rhg1 a5 23. Kh1 Rc7 24. Qh2 b4 25. axb4 axb4 26. Na4 Rfc8 27. Rxc7 Rxc7 28. f5 Rc2 29. Bd1 Rc8 30. Nc5 Nxc5 31. dxc5 Rxc5 32. fxe6 fxe6 33. Qe5 Rc3 34. Rf1 Bf6 35. Qxe6+ Nf7 36. Bf3 Rc2 37. Bxd5 Bg6 38. Bxf6 Rxd2 39. Be5 Qd8 40. e4 Qh4 41. g5 Bxe4+ 42. Kg1 Qxg5+ 43. Qg4 Rg2+ 0-1[/pgn]

In addition, Sharevich has won the Ladies Belarusian Championship four times in 2002, 2005, 2007, and 2011.

World Youth Gold Medalist

Jennifer Yu

“Jennifer has all the key ingredients of a top player. She has great vision of the 64 squares, tactical alertness, superior memory, will to win and, most especially, strong mental stamina. She will no doubt reach the grandmaster level if she stays with the game.” -GM Larry Christiansen, “At 12, Ashburn’s Jennifer Yu wins world chess title, first U.S. girl to do so in 27 years”
  • U.S. Women's Rank: 12
  • U.S. Age 15 Rank: 8
  • US Chess Rating: 2304 --- Peak: 2353 (December 2016)
  • FIDE Rating: 2196 --- Peak: 2272 (December 2016)

In 2014, Jennifer Yu won clear first at the World Youth Championships Girls U12 section, the first American female to win gold in 27 years.

"I was most impressed with her last round game, where, after already clinching Gold, she simply crushed her opponent."

-GM Ben Finegold, "Yu the Best at World Youth"

[pgn][Event "Wch U12 Girls"] [Site "Durban"] [Date "2014.09.29"] [Round "11"] [White "Yu, Jennifer R"] [Black "Antova, Gabriela"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A36"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "2014.09.20"] [SourceDate "2014.10.17"]1. c4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. e3 d6 6. Nge2 Nh6 7. O-O Nf5 8. a3 h5 9. h3 Qd7 10. Rb1 b6 11. d4 cxd4 12. exd4 Bb7 13. d5 Ne5 14. b3 Qc8 15. Bb2 O-O 16. Nb5 Re8 17. Ned4 a6 18. Nxf5 Qxf5 19. Nc7 Rac8 20. Nxe8 Rxe8 21. f4 Nd3 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. g4 hxg4 24. hxg4 1-0[/pgn]

Her World Youth victory shows an ability to play well under pressure. Jennifer is also the reigning queen of the National Girls Tournament of Champions, and she tied for the same title in 2015. In addition, in last year's US Women's Championships, Yu was able to score a key upset victory against the tournament's second seed:

[pgn][Event "US Chess Championships (Women)"] [Site "St. Louis, MO USA"] [Date "2016.04.24"] [Round "10.4"] [White "Jennifer R Yu"] [Black "Anna Zatonskih"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2157"] [BlackElo "2470"] [PlyCount "121"] [EventDate "2016.04.14"]1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d4 Be7 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Nf3 c6 6. Bf4 Bf5 7. e3 Qb6 8. Qc1 Nf6 9. Be2 Nbd7 10. Nh4 Be6 11. h3 O-O 12. O-O Rac8 13. Bd3 Nh5 14. Nf5 Bxf5 15. Bxf5 Nxf4 16. Bxd7 Rcd8 17. Bf5 Ng6 18. a3 Bd6 19. b4 Bb8 20. Qc2 Qc7 21. g3 Qe7 22. Ne2 a6 23. Rab1 Bd6 24. Rb3 Rfe8 25. Rfb1 Nf8 26. a4 g6 27. Bg4 h5 28. Bf3 h4 29. g4 Nh7 30. b5 axb5 31. axb5 Ng5 32. Bg2 c5 33. dxc5 Bxc5 34. Nf4 d4 35. Nd5 Qd6 36. e4 b6 37. Rf1 Re6 38. Qd3 Rde8 39. Re1 Re5 40. Rbb1 R5e6 41. f4 Nh7 42. e5 Qb8 43. Re2 Kg7 44. Rbe1 g5 45. Be4 Qd8 46. Kf1 Rh6 47. Bxh7 Qxd5 48. Be4 Qd7 49. f5 Rxe5 50. Bc6 Re3 51. Rxe3 Qd6 52. Rf3 Qh2 53. Rf2 Qd6 54. Re8 Bb4 55. Bg2 Qc5 56. f6+ Rxf6 57. Rxf6 Kxf6 58. Ke2 Kg7 59. Bc6 Qd6 60. Kd1 Qf4 61. Re4 1-0[/pgn]

National Junior High Champion

Maggie Feng

"I really like chess because it is challenging and fun. Chess requires tactics, strategy, planning, risk-taking, and bravery which makes it a perfect game to play. My favorite chess player is Magnus Carlsen because of his will to win, and he never gives up."

-Maggie Feng before the 2014 U.S. Junior Girls Closed

  • U.S. Women's Rank: 10
  • U.S. Age 16 Rank: 16
  • US Chess Rating: 2317 --- Peak: 2336 (June 2016)
  • FIDE Rating: 2162 --- Peak: 2227 (June 2016)

Maggie Feng changed history last year by becoming the first girl to win the National Junior High K-9 Championship.

“Some past winners of the K-9 Championship include Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, so Maggie finds herself in great company.” -IM Greg Shahade

Qualifying as a wildcard, Feng is a brand new competitor in the U.S. Women's Championship, which will make her difficult for the other players to prepare for. To get a sense of Feng's playing style, here is a game where she draws fairly comfortably against GM Aleksandr Lenderman.

[pgn][Event "Dayton Masters 2016"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Feng, Maggie"] [Black "Lenderman, Aleksandr"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A38"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2017.01.14"] [SourceDate "2017.03.24"]1. Nf3 c5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. c4 Nc6 5. Nc3 d6 6. O-O Nf6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Nc2 O-O 10. Rb1 a6 11. b3 Qa5 12. Bb2 Rfc8 13. a4 Rab8 14. Qd2 Qh5 15. Ne3 Bh3 16. Ncd5 Bxg2 17. Nxf6+ Bxf6 18. Kxg2 Bxb2 19. Rxb2 b5 20. cxb5 axb5 21. Rc1 bxa4 22. bxa4 Rxb2 23. Qxb2 Rb8 24. Qc3 Rb6 25. Qd2 Qa5 26. Qxa5 Nxa5 27. Nd5 Rb7 28. Rc7 Rxc7 29. Nxc7 Kf8 30. Kf3 e6 31. Ke4 Ke7 32. Kd4 Kd7 33. Nb5 Kc6 34. Na7+ Kb7 35. Nb5 Kc6 36. Na7+ 1/2-1/2[/pgn]

U.S. Junior Girls Champion

Emily Nguyen

"Two pieces of advice I would give: A) Do not lose. B) Do not draw." -Emily Nguyen, "Prodigies Return for ChessKid.com 2013 Online National Invitational"
  • U.S. Women's Rank: 13
  • U.S. Age 14 Rank: 10
  • US Chess Rating: 2292 --- Peak: 2294 (January 2017)
  • FIDE Rating: 2173 --- Peak: 2206 (February 2017)

Emily Nguyen will be competing in the U.S. Women's Championship for the first time. Although she's an underdog by rating, she's overcome the odds before. She entered the 2016 U.S. Junior Girls as one of the lower ranked competitors. Yet, she won clear first, defeating the top seed, Maggie Feng, along the way. The U.S. Women's Championship runs from March 29th-April 10th. Watch the event live with rounds every day at 1 p.m. CST except for the rest day, April 3rd. For more information, visit the Official U.S. Championship Website

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