Player Bios

Ruifeng Li

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2676
Residence: 
Plano, TX
Age: 
15
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Ruifeng began playing chess at 5 years old. He won the Arkansas State Championship in 2011 at the age of 8, and later that same year placed second in the World Youth Chess Championships U-10 section. In 2012, after this early success, he was invited to participate in the Young Stars program, a chess training program coached by Garry Kasparov. Soon after, Li went on to earn his National Master title. He received his IM title in 2015, and recently earned his title as Grandmaster earlier this year.

Some of Ruifeng’s greatest chess accomplishments include several draws during major chess tournaments against world class players such as Fabiano Caruana, Gata Kamsky, Luke McShane, and Alexey Dreev. Ruifeng also won the 2016 North American Junior Chess Championship. He recently was able to participate in the 2017 Spring Classic tournament in Saint Louis. Ruifeng finished 4th place out of 6 in his group, but had notable draws against GM Sam Sevian.

Akshat Chandra

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2603
Residence: 
Saint Louis, MO
Age: 
18
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 
Akshat started playing chess at the age of around 9 1/2 years. He has recorded one of the fastest rises in the history of world chess when his chess rating climbed steeply from 1548 to a GM rating of 2500 in under 5 ½ years. Notable achievements for Akshat include winning the 2015 U.S. Junior Chess Championship in his first appearance and taking first in both the 2015 National High School Chess Championship as well as the National High School Blitz Championship. Since 2014, at age 14, Akshat has been the #1 ranked Junior Rapid Chess player in the country.

Kayden Troff

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2597
Residence: 
West Jordan, Utah
Age: 
19
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Kayden started playing chess at age three when his father, Daniel, taught the game to him and his brothers. After it was discovered that Kayden had a special talent for chess, at age six he began training with Grandmaster Igor Ivanov. He was one of the first young chess players to be selected for participation in the Young Stars - Team USA program, where he was mentored by World Champion Garry Kasparov. He has also trained with GM Alex Chernin, GM Melikset Khachiyan, and GM Sam Shankland.

In addition to winning multiple Utah Scholastic and adult Utah Championships, some highlights of his chess career include winning the 2009 North American Championship (Under 12), placing second at the 2010 World Youth Championship U-12, taking gold in the 2012 World Youth Championship U-14, and competing in the 2013 and 2015 U.S. Chess Championships. Kayden also notably won the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship with an impressive 7/9 score at age 16. You can learn more about Kayden on his website, www.kaydentroff.blogspot.com.

Awonder Liang

Title: 
International Master
Rating: 
2583
Residence: 
Madison, WI
Age: 
14
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Awonder Liang is one of the most impressive chess prodigies in recent history. He holds a number of records including youngest ever to defeat an International Master, youngest to defeat a Grandmaster, youngest American to achieve a master rating, and youngest American to achieve the International Master rating.

Other achievements include tying for first at the 2011 U-8 World Youth Chess Championship, achieving a GM Norm at the 2016 Continental Championships, and placing second in the 2016 U.S. Junior Closed Championship. He enters this tournament having recently dominated Group B of the Spring Classic tournament, held in Saint Louis in May 2017, with a score of 7.5/9. He earned another GM Norm at that event.

Michael Brown

Title: 
International Master
Rating: 
2581
Residence: 
Trabuco Canyon, CA
Age: 
19
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Michael began playing chess in first grade as an after-school hobby. A year later, he began training with a coach, and playing in tournaments. By fourth grade, he was competing in national tournaments, and soon after, Michael began playing internationally. He earned the title of National Master in 2011 and the FIDE master title in May 2014. In spring 2016, Michael broke 2500 USCF, a landmark goal of his. Notable achievements include third place in 2013 World Youth Championship in Dubai (where he placed third), first in the 2015 Utah Open  Championship, and first in the 2016 Utah G/60 Championship. Michael is a junior at Brigham Young University. This will be his second appearance at the U.S. Junior Championship Tournament in Saint Louis.

Andrew Tang

Title: 
International Master
Rating: 
2562
Residence: 
Plymouth, MN
Age: 
17
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Andrew Tang started playing chess in preschool, and earned a National Master title in sixth grade. He earned his IM title in 2014 when he won the North American Junior Chess Championship in Canada as the eighth seed with a dominating score of 7.5/9. He also earned a GM Norm at this event. Other achievements include tying for first at the 2015 Pan American Junior Championship in El Salvador, becoming the 2016 National High School co-champion, earning his second GM Norm at the 25th Kavala International Tournament in Greece, winning the Minnesota State Champion title in 2017, and recently tying for first in the K-12 section at SuperNationals VI this past May in Nashville. This is his first time playing in the U.S. Junior Championship in Saint Louis.

Nicolas Checa

Title: 
International Master
Rating: 
2521
Residence: 
Dobbs Ferry, NY
Age: 
15
Status: 
Invited
Bio: 

Checa's first big chess achievement was in 2012 swhen he became U12 National Champion in the USCF/Chess.com invitational championship. He has since been a member of the All-American Chess Team. At age 11, he became the youngest New York State Champion in history—a record that he still holds which led to his profiles in both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In 2014 he placed second in the U14 section of the North American Youth Chess Championship and obtained 1st place in the NAYCC Blitz Open. 2015 brought continued success as he tied for 5th place in the World Youth Chess Championship in Greece, where he was the official U.S. player in the U14 section. In that same year, he became an FM. The following year, he became an IM. In 2017, Checa has continued his chess succes when he became National High School (K-12) Blitz Champion at the VI SuperNationals that took place in Nashville in May. In March, he became the New York High School Championship in Saratoga, New York and in February he participated in the SCCSC GM Norm Invitational.


Mika Brattain

Title: 
National Master
Rating: 
2486
Residence: 
Lexington, MA
Age: 
18
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Mika learned how to play chess at age 6, and by 10, he had already won a college scholarship by placing first at the 2009 K-5 Chess Super National Championship. He was a participant in the 2014 U.S. Cadet Championship, and the winner of the 2014 83rd Massachusetts Open, where he had victories against two former champions, Alexander Ivanov and Robert Perez. He also placed first in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions in Indianapolis last August. This will be Mika’s second appearance at the U.S. Junior Championship in Saint Louis.

Josh Colas

Title: 
FIDE Master
Rating: 
2466
Residence: 
White Plains, NY
Age: 
18
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

Josh began playing chess at a young age and quickly starting competing in tournaments; he participated in the 2006 World Open at the age of 7. He currently holds the record of youngest African-American chess master at 11 years old.  Other accomplishments for Josh include being a USCF All-American (2010-2013), winning the 2012 SPF World Open U-18, competing in four different World Championships, and becoming the 2013 New York State High School Chess Champion. He also earned a GM Norm at the 2015 North American Open. This will be his second time competing in the U.S. Junior Closed Championship, having last played in 2014. Josh is currently studying business management at Webster University. If Josh successfully reaches 2400, he will be eligible for his International Master title. 

Bovey Liu

Title: 
National Master
Rating: 
2315
Residence: 
Houston, TX
Age: 
15
Status: 
Accepted
Bio: 

After winning a local competition at age 7, Bovey was inspired to start playing chess on national and international levels. He has participated in the 2011 World Youth Chess Championship and the 2013 U.S. World Youth U-16 tournament, and achieved his National Master title at the age of 12. Other accomplishments include the first place (Champion) at the 2016 U.S. Junior Open; the middle school Champion at 2014  in Texas and placed 3rd in 2014  Barber tournaments of middle school champions in US; and the High School Champion at the 2016 Texas State Championships and placed 3rd place in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions in Indianapolis last August.

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