2019 U.S. Junior, Girls' Junior and Senior Championship Recap – Round 5
by Josh Friedel
three sections had their share of interesting games, though the Juniors
were definitely the most bloodthirsty. In a day of all decisive
results, Nicolas Checa maintained his lead by winning a nice game.
Awonder Liang and Joshua Sheng also won, and remain tied for 2nd just
half a point back. Carissa Yip and Rochelle Yu both drew their games,
and thus maintain their positions of clear first and 2nd respectively.
Alex Goldin won again, allowing him to tie for first with Alex Shabalov,
who failed to convert a promising position against Larry Christiansen.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
U.S. Junior Championship
Hans Niemann got a difficult opening position against Awonder Liang,
then found himself with a weak king after his fianchettoed kindside
bishop got traded. Awonder delivered checkmate soon after, moving him up
to an impressive four out of five.
Yu’s woes continued today, as she lost a rather one-sided game to
Atulya Vaidya. To his credit, Atulya played quite well and capped off
his first win of the tournament in devastating fashion. Craig Hilby and
Nicolas Checa got involved in a highly theoretical duel in a Bb4+ Nbd2
Catalan. Checa seemed to know the line better, and after Craig
prematurely captured a rook on a8 instead of continuing his initiative,
Black seemed to have an excellent position. Nico converted his edge in
Tang had Brandon Jacobson under pressure for a long time, but Brandon
was defending admirably. He ended up losing in a tricky king and pawn
ending, however, which allowed Andrew to take his first point of the
tournament. Joshua Sheng won a wild game against John Burke, one in
which the commentators and players alike were highly unsure of what went
on. In the end, Joshua staved off pressure to his king, then zoomed in
on his opponent’s to finish off a nice victory.
Joshua Sheng outcalculated John Burke in a wild game, allowing him to stay tied for 2nd
U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship
The girls had one of their more peaceful days of the tournament, but you
wouldn’t know it by the positions they got. Agata Bykovtsev sacrificed a
piece against Maggie Feng, and seemed to get very promising
compensation. Maggie managed to navigate towards an ending where she
held Black to a draw.
Yip wandered her king into the center in a complex ending against
Thalia Cervantes. Thalia could find nothing better than giving a
perpetual, however, in a position that looked completely crazy. Emily
Nguyen got a favorable isolated pawn position out of the opening against
Veronika Zilajeva, then won a pawn and traded into an endgame. While
she was disappointed with her conversion, she never really let her
opponent back into the game, and in the end got a smooth victory.
Yan had an extra piece against Martha Samadashvili’s pawns, and the
piece proved to be stronger in this game. While the conversion was never
easy, a late game slip by Martha allowed her to win more easily.
Rachael Li, with 0/4, played against the 4/4 Rochelle Wu this round. You
wouldn’t know it by her play, however, as she absolutely took it to the
tournament leader. In the end, however, Rochelle found a way to sac two
exchanges to complicate the game. The players agreed to a draw in a
position that could have really gone either way.
Rochelle Wu looked nervous today, but only gave up half a point, allowing her to stay ahead
U.S. Senior Championship
seniors played a lot of sharp games, but only some ended in a decisive
result. Alex Yermolinsky had what looked like an unpleasant position
against Jaan Ehlvest’s King’s Indian, but the players agreed to a draw
at move 30 in a position with much life left in it. Maxim Dlugy played a
sharp variation of the London against Igor Novikov, and played an
interesting queen sacrifice that led to a promising position. Igor
navigated the complexities better, however, and ended up raking in his
first full point.
Kaidanov got a dominating center against Joel Benjamin, and it looked
as if he might score his first win. Joel found some nice defensive
resources, however, and they agreed to a draw in an ending where neither
could make progress. Alex Goldin had a dubious-looking opening position
against Alex Fishbein, but Fishbein made a few missteps, which allowed
Goldin to trade into an endgame up two pawns. As was the case yesterday,
he made no mistakes in the conversion.
Shabalov and Larry Christiansen are both known for their attacking
play, and their game did not disappoint. After Larry C surprised Shabba
in the opening, Alex navigated his way into a very strong attack. Larry
showed his defensive prowess, however, and was able to finagle a draw
after a sharp tussle.
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