Once again two-thirds of the games played in Wednesday’s Round 6 action at the U.S. Junior, Girls, and Senior Championships featured decisive results, setting up some key matchups as today’s Round 7 gets under way.
Nicolas Checa entered yesterday’s play in clear first place in the Junior. He drew with Awonder Liang, and today he plays Joshua Sheng, who grabbed a share of the lead by winning over Hans Niemann.
Carissa Yip vaulted into first place in the Girls with her victory over Rochelle Wu. Yip plays Martha Samadashvili in Round 7, while Wu and Emily Nguyen, who are tied for second place, are paired with Thalia Cervantes and the surging Rui Yang Yan, respectively.
Co-leaders Alex Shabalov and Alex Goldin split the point their Round 6 matchup, the only draw of the day in the Seniors Championship. They retain their co-leadership position heading into today’s play, when Shabalov meets Yermolinsky and Goldin faces Kaidanov.
The game between leader Checa and second-place Liang appeared, at first blush, to be headed into treacherous waters with Liang essaying the Dutch and Checa responding with the Bg5 system. After Checa neglected to capture the knight on f6 – thematic in these lines – to keep the game more sedate and ‘in control,’ the game quickly burned out and the players agreed to a draw after 30 moves.
This gave Joshua Sheng a chance to catch up with Checa after his win over Hans Niemann. Niemann’s reverse Benoni went wrong in the early middlegame, and his position had too many holes to save the game.
Sheng had the only win of the round. The three remaining games – Vaidya-Burke, Yu-Tang, and Jacobson-Hilby – were all drawn.
Today’s Pairings: Tang (2.5) – Vaidya (2.5), Hilby (1.5) – Yu (0.5), Liang (4.5) – Jacobson (3.5), Sheng (5) – Checa (5), Burke (2.5) – Niemann (2.5).
One of the refreshing aspects of this set of Championships is the camraderie that the players feel with one another. And so it is with Carissa Yip and Rochelle Wu, friends away from the board, but fierce competitors on it. Yesterday saw the critical matchup between first-place Wu and second-place Yip.
— Alexander Katz (@IMCryptochess) July 17, 2019
Wu chose the Sveshnikov for her key matchup with Yip, deviating from recent practice with her 9. … Nf5 (instead of 9. … Ng6). With weakish dark squares around her king, Wu lashed out with 24. … f5, appearing to force a draw by repetition after 25. Nf6+ Kg7 26. Nh5+. 26. … Kg8 would indeed have forced Yip to take the draw, but Wu’s disdain for shared points overrode the advice of her better angels, leading her to play the dubious 26. … Kh8. Yip did not miss her chance, responding with 27. Qh7! and winning the game in short order.
All of the Round 6 games in the Girls section were conclusive, with perhaps the most notable being Rui Yang Yan’s 34 move demolition of Maggie Feng’s French Defense. Feng tends to stick to her favored lines, allowing Yan to prepare their opening through at least move 24.
In other results, Emily Nguyen picked up a key victory over Agata Bykovtsev, thrusting her into a tie for second place as today’s Round 7 starts. Thalia Cervantes continued her good showing with a win over Veronika Zilajeva, and Martha Samadashvili ground down Rachael Li in a long endgame.
Today’s Pairings: Wu (4.5) – Cervantes (3.5), Samadashvili (3.5) – Yip (5), Feng (2) – Li (0.5), Nguyen (4.5) – Yan (4), Zilajeva (1) – Bykovtsev (1.5).
All eyes were on the game between co-leaders Alex Goldin and Alex Shabalov, and the players did not disappoint, taking a complex opening into an imbalanced endgame where Goldin had a knight for three pawns. He was able to win Shabalov’s dangerous passed a-pawn, but the resulting positions were solid enough for Shabalov to hold the draw without too much trouble.
In the other Senior results, all decisive: Igor Novikov defeated Jaan Ehlvest, Joel Benjamin downed the struggling Max Dlugy, Gregory Kaidanov got his first win of the event over Larry Christiansen, and Alex Yermolinsky won in 97 moves over Alex Fishbein. Yermo’s last move won Fishbein’s knight, so we can forgive him for missing a mate-in-two!
Today’s Pairings: Fishbein (2) – Ehlvest (2.5), Shabalov (4) – Yermolinsky (3), Kaidanov (3.5) – Goldin (4), Dlugy (1) – Christiansen (3), Novikov (3.5) – Benjamin (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:
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.