U.S. Juniors and Senior Championship: Day 7 Recap

There were no significant changes to the standings today as all three tournament leaders maintained their position at the top of the standings, with GM Gregory Kaidanov and GM Hans Niemann drawing their opponents while IM Annie Wang won her third game in a row. With two rounds left in the competition, all three leaders remain a point ahead of their nearest rivals going into the championship weekend. 

Check out the full replay of live coverage from the day here. Each event features a 10-player round-robin format, with a time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by an additional 30 minutes with a 30-second increment added from move one.

U.S. Senior Championship

Today’s game was critical for the number two player in the section, GM Larry Christiansen, as he played White against the tournament leader Kaidanov, but his Bishop’s Opening was quickly quelled by Kaidanov’s excellent opening preparation. With no possible winning chances for White, the players repeated moves and drew the game, cementing Kaidanov’s lead going into the last two rounds. 

Final position in Christiansen - Kaidanov, where the players had repeated with Qc4/Qg4+ & Qd5/Qd7. ½-½, 25 moves

Good preparation helped Kaidanov neutralize his biggest rival. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

There were quite a few decisive games in the section, with GMs Benjamin and Tarjan both scoring their first wins in the event, while GM Novikov took advantage of a late-endgame blunder by GM Shabalov, in a fascinating position with three minor pieces versus a queen, to move into clear third place.

Standings after Round 7

U.S. Junior Championship

In the U.S. Junior, GM Niemann took on quite the risk against IM Justin Wang, sacrificing two minor pieces for a rook in the hopes of building an attack, leading to an incredibly sharp position. Black then correctly gave back a piece in order to get his king to safety, where it was Niemann who needed to be precise to maintain the balance. After accurate play by both sides, the game turned to a rook endgame where Niemann missed his chance for a serious advantage, and the game was eventually drawn.

After 28...h5 it was not clear whose king was in more danger, but White soon managed to escape into a safe rook endgame. ½-½, 52 moves

Meanwhile, GM John Burke was somewhat fortunate to draw against IM Andrew Hong, while IM Praveen Balakrishnan ended up losing to GM Brandon Jacobson, who overtook him for second place in the standings. IM David Brodsky also won, defeating IM Christopher Yoo, to join the large tie for second place.

Here Black blundered with 50...Re1?, allowing White to take on h5 and win the resulting rook endgame. Instead, 50...Re8! would’ve drawn the game, where after 51.Rxh5 Rg8! White is unable to hold onto the pawns. 1-0, 79 moves

GM Brandon Jacobson has had a rocky event so far, but is currently tied for second place. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Lennart Ootes

Standings after Round 7

U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

Top seed IM Annie Wang was actually in a bit of trouble out of the opening, with her opponent, WFM Sanjana Vittal, well prepared in a theoretical line of the 4. Qc2 Nimzo. But Wang managed to turn things around after Vittal misplayed the endgame, and obtained a decisive advantage thanks to her more active king.

26.Rd1! traded off Black’s only active piece in the position, after which White’s advantage was soon overwhelming. 1-0, 49 moves

Another three wins in a row as IM Annie Wang moves closer to her first national title. | Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Chess Club, Crystal Fuller

The game between the number two and three players in the standings, WCM Ruiyang Yan vs. WFM Sophie Morris-Suzuki, was quite hard fought, with Morris-Suzuki holding the edge for most of the game, but Yan was able to defend well, and eventually held the draw in the endgame.

Standings after Round 7

Round 8 of the 2021 U.S. Juniors and Senior Championships will take place Saturday, July 24th, starting at 2:50 PM CDT. Catch all the action live with host Sharon Carpenter and grandmaster commentators Yasser Seirawan and Cristian Chirila on uschesschamps.com and on the Saint Louis Chess Club’s YouTube and Twitch.tv channels.