2017 U.S. Junior Championships - Round 7
by Denes Boros
The seventh round started out slowly, but it provided many entertaining games, and also crucial ones!
U.S. Junior Championship
The big matchup of the day was between Checa and Troff. Checa prepared an Anti-Gruenfeld line, which was championed by Topalov, but Troff wasn’t surprised. He spent sometime remembering the variations, but he was fortunate enough to recall the nuances he had in his notes. After his critical move 17…Rd4!, it was Checa’s turn to equalize, which he did. The two sides agreed to a draw on move 30. Just like in the previous round, the draw by Troff gave chance to the rivals to catch up.
Awonder Liang had to face Ruifeng Li, but the winner could have the chance to get closer to Troff. Both came out to fight, but Liang was more prepared today. Following the footsteps of the game Carlsen-Grischuk, until Liang innovated with 10. Na3!?. This unbalanced the position, and even though Ruifeng Li tried hard to keep the balance, he was unable to hold. Liang blasted the center open with the moves 11.d4 cxd4, 12 f4!, and he crashed through with a nice attack! Liang with this win is a half point away from joining Troff in the lead!
Akshat Chandra also had a chance to join the leaders, but Bovey Liu put up a heroic defence with White and managed to hold Chandra to a draw!
The fighting spirit was high this round, as everybody fought till their last breath! Brown beat Andrew Tang in an unusual Catalan game. Brown, however, was more comfortable with the resulting positions and won a knight after setting up deadly tactics along the a1-h8 diagonal. Meanwhile, Joshua Colas drew with Mika Brattain in a fighting game. Troff is leading the tournament, but Liang is a half point behind, and Akshat Chandra can also have a chance to claim the Junior Championship title!
U.S Girls’ Junior Championship
Gorti started the round with a full point lead over Emily Nguyen and Maggie Feng.
Gorti, in the 6th round, faced Bykovtsev with White. Gorti played today’s game with great ambitions, as she delved deep into the King’s Indian maze against Bykovtsev. Black, unfamiliar with the early Be3 and h3 lines, played the usual, a5 and Na6 moves. Gorti, however, did not waste time playing Nf3 and played 8. c5! instead. Bykovtsev tried but could not avoid the exchange of the white-squared bishops. From then on Gorti was clearly better, and it was a matter of time, till the Black position collapsed. Gorti started marching her d-pawn, with a decisive effect, and she won the game after move49. Akshita Gorti’s win meant that her rivals had to win order to keep up with her pace.
Maggie Feng did her best against Annie Wang and put a lot of pressure on her rival. In the end, however, she did not find the right continuations to capitalize on her advantage. This result leaves Maggie Feng and Emily Nguyen one and a half point behind Akshita Gorti.
Emily Nguyen had her chances, against Virkud, but after Emily Nguyen allowed the pieces to be exchanged, the game naturally steered toward a draw.
The best fighting game of the Girls’ Section belongs to Carissa Yip. She did not have an advantage in the opening, but with inventive play, she conjured up some play ( 15. b4!?) and won after a long fight against Eswaran.
Troff leads the Open Section with a half a point lead, while Akshita Gorti is dominating her section with a one and half point lead. There is two more rounds ahead, and the leaders are going strong, but anything is possible!