Compared to the early rounds, players arrived with clear intentions, to challenge the leaders!
U.S Girls’ Junior Championship
The first decisive game was played by Rachel Ulrich. Coming into the game, she had already made a statement with a fighting draw against the highest seed, Maggie Feng. Today, she played one of the most aggressive lines possible against Apurva Virkud, the Botvinnik Variation! This came as a big surprise for her opponent, as she lost her way early on in the complications. A fine win by Rachel Ulrich, who is closing in on the leaders!
Maggie Feng also played a good game against Carissa Yip and now she has 2 out of 3 points. Maggie Feng, just like Rachel Ulrich, is half a point behind the leaders, Gorti and Nguyen.
Both Akshita Gorti and Emily Nguyen played long fighting games to keep their leading positions.
Gorti won first, essaying a sideline most widely known as the Hebden-Attack. Her opponent reacted well, but started to drift into a difficult position after 12…Ng4. Gorti played the precise 13. Rdf1! chasing away the knight. Ashritha Eswaran had to withdraw her pieces, and after Gorti’s precise 17.g4!, Eswaran’s knight was out of the play for the rest of the game. Akshita Gorti never gave a second chance and won after move 41.
Emily Nguyen did not lose her pace as she took on Agata Bykovtsev. They played a dramatic game in a Fianchetto King’s Indian. Bykovtsev had her chances, but slowly Nguyen outplayed her with the use of her bishop-pair. That was not the end of the game, however, as Bykovtsev fought her way back into the game after Nguyen’s inaccurate 34-Bxd5 move. She could even take over the initative with 41…Re2!, but she chose Qxh3 instead. Later on, Nguyen won a pawn, and in mutual time-trouble, she managed to convert it to a win. An important win for Emily Nguyen as she is in tied first with Gorti after Round 3!
U.S. Junior Championship
The round started with a key matchup between Akshat Chandra and tournament leader, Kayden Troff. Chandra managed to put pressure on Troff in a Najdorf, even though Troff came up with a novel concept with the move 10…Bg4!?. Chandra then tried to push Troff off the board, but Kayden fought relentlessly. Chandra did have nice winning chances, but Troff defended well, and in a theoretically drawn Rook+Bishop against Rook Endgame, Troff forced the draw.
Ruifeng Li showed his talent in his game against Andrew Tang. Li played creative chess today, even playing a surprising 6. Be2!?, which totally baffled the commentators, and maybe even his opponent. Nevertheless, Tang was doing okay, until Li found the strong and paradoxical idea of 13.g3! bolstering the knight on h4! After that, Li took control and finished the game in style with a fantastic kingside attack. A great comeback from Andrew Tang after a difficult game against Troff.
Bovey won a one-sided game against Joshua Colas, while Checa had a fighting draw against Awonder. Michael Brown could not break the defenses of Mika Brattain and drew in a peaceful opposite-colored position.
Troff leads the Open Section by half a point, while Emily Nguyen and Akshita Gorti share first place in the Girls’ Section.