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Nepomniachtchi wins Dortmund and Liang is the Junior US Champion

Dortmund has traditionally belonged to Vladimir Kramnik.  He had a share of the lead after four rounds, but lost in the fifth, sixth, and nearly again in the seventh round.  Ian Nepomniachtchi won the tournament by a full point at 5-2. 


GM Ian Nepomniachtchi

As it turned out, he didn’t need the full point in the last round, but he got it in short order against the tough-to-beat German Georg Meier.  We’ll start with a look at that one:

Three players—Jan Duda, Anish Giri, and Vladislav Kovalev tied for second place at 4-3.  Duda started 2.5/3 but lost to Kramnik and could only draw the rest of the games.  Giri might have had a chance for more if not for the following game, where he thought he was playing for two results and stumbled on a third.  It was the only win for Kovalev of Belarus, who finished the tournament undefeated. 


GM Anish Giri

Let’s see how it happened:


Awonder Liang repeated as U.S. Junior Champion in St. Louis. 


GM Awonder Liang confirmed the US Junior Championship Title

He started modestly with three draws, and drew against all the other grandmasters, but collected wins against the rest of the field to finish with 6.5/9.  He scored a big win in round seven against Alex Bian, who scored a surprising 5-4 with all decisive games.  Like a martial arts champion, Liang used Bian’s aggression against him, as the U.S Junior Open Champion’s naïve moves rebounded against him.

Awonder’s clinching victory came in round 8 against Praveen Balakrishnan.  Though Awonder picked this one as his favorite, the players contested an equal ending for several moves, that Praveen seemed to take some liberties with in trying to win.  The result was only decided by a late blunder.  Let’s pick up the game at the crucial moment:

For much of the way the tournament leader was 15-year-old Advait Patel of Oklahoma. 


IM Advait Patel

Patel lost one game in the event, to Akshat Chandra, and that opened the door for Liang, still, Patel finished with a strong win over Li Ruifeng, who had to be one of the favorites coming in, but had to settle for a minus score.  The game swung on an interesting tactical skirmish in the middle of the game.

In the Girls Junior Championship, a relatively new event held concurrently in St. Louis, Carissa Yip won convincingly with 7/9, a point ahead of Jennifer Yu and Emily Nguyen.

GM Joel Benjamin

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