2016 U.S. Junior Closed- Round 3
The third day at the U.S. Junior was a day of revenge! Whilst top-seed Jeffery Xiong managed to take the sole lead after outplaying Michael Bodek, both Awonder Liang and Nicolas Checa recovered from their second round losses.
Harmon-Vellotti vs. Checa: 0-1
The players entered a sideline of the French defence that is relatively unexplored and soon found themselves both in unfamiliar territory. It was clear that it was going to be a decisive game when the players castled on opposite sides and it was actually Harmon-Vellotti who had the first chance to attack but missed it. Checa seized the opportunity to counter and never really relinquished it which allowed him his first win of the event. An exciting battle where Harmon-Vellotti must be kicking himself as he missed a big chance with the 13...Bf6
Brown vs. Ostrovskiy: 1/2-1/2
The two co-leaders had a good quality game where neither side allowed much space. It started out as a sideline of the Slav defense but it seemed both players were adequately prepared and decided to enter a balanced endgame where only a blunder could turn the tables. The game finished peacefully on move 40 where the position was completely balanced keeping both of these players in contention.
Li vs. Chandra: 1/2-1/2
The two highest rated IM's in the field clashed this round and it was very entertaining. Chandra showed very good preparation and equalized comfortably in a French Tarrasch. Struggling to find a way to make progress with the white pieces Li made a couple suspicious moves that soon left him down a pawn without full compensation and on the edge of defeat. Chandra took a second,riskier pawn that opened the game up entirely as Ruifeng used the opportunity to attack and make the position totally unclear. If time trouble wasn't a factor then Chandra may have emerged victorious but instead this see-saw game ended up in a three-fold repetition.
Bodek vs. Xiong: 0-1
Bodek chose a quiet sideline against the sicilian that was employed by Xiong. Things were balanced until Xiong decided to give up a pawn for two bishops and attacking chances. Bodek failed to trade off pieces or close off the position which allowed the bishops to slowly take over and creative serious attacking chances. Xiong handily outplayed Bodek in the complications and soon found himself up an exchange. Resignation from Bodek soon followed when it became clear that Xiong was capable of converting in the endgame. A strong performance by Xiong that puts him in clear first with 2.5/3.
Liang vs. Troff: 1-0
Liang played 1.e4 and Troff replied with his standard najdorf defense. However, he opted for a much more passive setup than usual and Awonder soon boasted a large space advantage. Troff sensed the danger and correctly fought back for some space where he balanced the game only to spoil it at the very end with a game-ending blunder in time trouble. Liang took and dealt the game-ending combination to move to 2/3. A more detailed analysis here: