2012 U.S. Cadet Championship

National Master Josh Colas has just reached 2400 USCF. He will make a strong bid for the Cadet crown. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

The 2012 U.S. Cadet Championship will begin today with eight of the top juniors under the age of 16. The tournament will take place July 21st-24th at the Rockville Hilton in Baltimore, Maryland.

The field consists of Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (2426) followed by Michael Bodek (2407). After that, you have three players of African descent and three of Asian descent… probably the first time that this has happened. The face of chess is certainly changing in American chess.

The players are vying for college scholarships offered by the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC). The winner will receive a four-year scholarship to UMBC. The top three players will receive free entry into the Washington International.

The entire field is as follows:

2012 U.S. Cadet Championship
July 21st-24th, 2012 (Baltimore, Maryland)
1 Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr FM USA NY 2426
2 Bodek, Michael FM USA NY 2407
3 Gu, Christopher NM USA RI 2364
4 Black Jr, James NM USA NY 2349
5 Colas, Joshua NM USA NY 2345
6 Williams, Justus NM USA NY 2343
7 Hua, David NM USA NJ 2329
8 Wu, Christopher NM USA NJ 2295
(Main Site, PGN Games)

All photos in the reports are courtesy of Maryland Chess Association.


  1. Round 1. 2012 US Cadet, 21 July 2012
    Bottom-seed upsets top seed!


    2012 U.S. Cadet Championship begins!


    Top-seed Aleksandr Ostrovskiy (2426) took an upset.

    Colas, Joshua (2345) ½-½ Black Jr., James (2349)
    Wu, Christopher (2295) 1-0 Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr (2426)
    Williams, Justus (2343) ½-½ Bodek, Michael (2407)
    Gu, Christopher (2364) 1-0 Hua, David (2329)

  2. Round 2. 2012 US Cadet, 21 July 2012

    Hua, David (2329) ½-½ Colas, Joshua (2345)
    Black Jr., James (2349) 1-0 Williams, Justus (2343)
    Bodek, Michael (2407) 1-0 Wu, Christopher (2295)
    Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr (2426) 1-0 Gu, Christopher (2364)

    Today’s games saw board run red as the four boards were ablaze with serious battles with white winning three of four.

    In Hua-Colas, black demonstrated a proper handling of the Kan/Paulsen 5…Bc5 variation. Colas equalized quickly when white played timidly with 6.c3 (instead of 6.Nb3 Ba7/Be7) and 8.Nd2 and got a structural disadvantage with weakened doubled e-pawns after 11.Ne3 Bxe3. As black got a strong position, he dawdled with 23…h5 24.Nf3 Bd7 and after 25.Bc4!? Bxa4?!

    White drummed up serious tactical threats with his raking bishops. After 29.Nd3, it appeared that white had a strong attacking position, but black got the queens off with 31…Qg4 32.Qxg4 hxg4. After that, a series of tactical resources were unfurled with 39…Rd5! 40.Rxd5 Bxd5 41.Ra4 b6 42.e4 bxc5 43.exd5 cxd4. The game slowly petered into a knight ending draw.

    Black-Williams was a swashbuckling encounter and it feature opposite-side castling and pawn storms. After some jockeying for position, the race started with 14.g4 b5 15.Bf2 Bd7 16.h4 b4 17.Na4 c5. After white got in 22.h5, Williams decided to sacrifice a piece with 22…Bxg4. This is a common theme against pawn storms with the idea being the winning a couple of pawns and destroying white structure. However, the difference is that this sack is commonly seen with the bishop on g7 clearing the way on the diagonal.

    Nevertheless, Williams pressed on with strong knight play with 27…Na3+!? 28.bxa3 Nc3+ 29.Ka1 Nxd1. It seemed like black had adequate play despite ceding two bishops for a rook and a couple of pawns. Black Jr. found the nice shot 39.Nf5! winning material. With all the forking tricks and pins, white ended up netting a piece. (Update: Apparently after 43…Rxc8, black did not resign, but overstepped the time limit.)

    Michael Bodek grabbed a share of the lead with an impressive win against Christoper Wu. White used a d-pawn to split the board into two and cut the queenside pieces off from defense. As black tried to fight back the time pressure bug bit again and tossed a piece. Impressive, technical win.

    Ostrovskiy-Gu showed how one is rewarded for relentless pressure. White sacrificed a piece with the common theme 14.Nxg5!? hxg5 15.Bxg5. White bore down on the pinned piece with 22.R1xf4 until black was forced to give up an exchange to prevent a total collapse of the position. So after 22…Rxg5 23.hxg5 white still had shots against the exposed black king. His determination finally cashed in with 35.Bxg6 Qxg6 36.Qc3+ Ng6 37.Qxc7+ Bd7 38.Qxd6 when white’s pawns will steamroll. Nice way to bounce back after a disappointing loss.


    1st-2nd: Bodek, Black, 1½;
    3rd-6th: Wu, Colas, Ostrovskiy, Gu, 1;
    7th-8th: Williams, Hua, ½.

  3. Round 3. 2012 US Cadet, 22 July 2012

    More upsets in round three! Couple of endings botched.

    Williams, Justus (2343) ½-½ Colas, Joshua (2345)
    Wu, Christopher (2295) 1-0 Black Jr., James (2349)
    Gu, Christopher (2364) 1-0 Bodek, Michael (2407)
    Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr (2426) 0-1 Hua, David (2329)


    Justus Williams completely dominated the opening and middlegame only to falter in the end. Colas fought on and was able to salvage a draw.

    A matchup between two of the brightest stars in scholastic chess was the round’s most puzzling game. Justus Williams unfurled his “Killer Catalan” and got a sizable space advantage and mounting pressure on the queenside. Josh Colas, a long-time friend of Williams, was trying a new setup. This experiment only got him in deep trouble as Williams’ forces bore down on the queenside. After 16.Ne5! Rfc8 17.Qc5! white already a decisive advantage since black could not protect all of his weaknesses. After 17…Qxc5 18.Rxd5 Nb6 19.Rac1 c6 20.b5! black had to lose a pawn. The question was whether black’s king activity could neutralize the strong bishop. White’s pieces were simply too active.

    Colas lost two more pawns and it appeared that he would take the loss. However, he kept posing problems for white. Nevertheless, Williams was completely winning before things got out of control. Three pawns up, Williams began to err. Colas was able to trade off pawns with the old adage, “when you’re winning trade pieces, when you’re losing trade pawns.” Williams was left with two extra rook pawns which provides a chance at many drawing positions. Perhaps trading black’s f-pawn for the white’s a- and e-pawn would have been a better plan… creating two connected pass pawns. Nevertheless, white was still winning after 52.Bg2+ but Colas set up a blockade of both pawns. After losing another pawn with 58.Bc8? Rxh4, the game was easily drawn. Disappointing for Williams after superb play in the opening.


    A determined Christopher Wu beat back the aggression of James Black Jr. to score his second win.

    James Black Jr. is a super-talented player brimming with potential. In this game he may have learned a valuable lesson about overextending one’s position. After getting a strong position in Christopher Wu’s poor handling of the Kan (allowing quick equality after 10…f5), black decided to arrange an armada of pawns on e5, f5, g5, h5. While these pawns appear imposing, there is always the danger of over-extension, especially when done in front of the king.

    So after 19…h5, Wu began to plan for the counterattack. Black’s pieces simply were not mobilized enough. Coached by GM Alexander Shabalov, Wu started his assault with 23.f4! On 23…a4 24.Nd2 exf4 25.Bxg7 Kxg7 26.Qxh5 white had compromised both the pawn mass and black’s king safety. A look at the position will show black’s king cover completely shattered.

    After losing another pawn in the mass after 28.Bxf5, Black Jr. aimed his forces at the king by sacrificing the exchange with 31…Rxe6 32.dxe6 g4. However, the attack was parried easily with 33.Ne4 gxh3 34.Nxd6! (hitting the Bb7) Perhaps Black Jr. got a bit too excited at his own attack with 34.hxg2 and dropped his queen after 35.Nf5+. In this game, it was an example of countering a flank attack by a central thrust. Wu executed this plan and scored his second win.


    Did Michael Bodek have a drawn position?

    Gu-Bodek was an interesting game in another Catalan where black played with a lot of energy in the opening, but white was able to keep a solid position. We fast-forward to 30.Ke1 with two rooks for both sides. Black continued to play actively but may have ceded the balance with 28…Na5. White gained the initiative after winning a pawn, but the game appeared to be objectively drawn. White pushed his extra pawn all the way to a7.

    Instead of shuffling his pieces back and forth and forcing white’s hand, black weakened his pawns on the kingside by pushing them. The game was still drawn, but the last straw was black’s 59…Kh4?? With the black king now stuck on h4, white’s h-pawn scurried toward the queening square. White now had a tactical trick. On 60.h6 Ra8 61.h7 Rc8 62.Rb1! Rh8 63.Rh1+ white would calculate to winning the opposition and black resigned moves later.


    A confident Aleksandr Ostrovskiy played a textbook setup against David Hua’s pet hedgehog and appeared to be in control when his game unraveled.

    Ostrovskiy-Hua was a classic battle in yet another Kan Sicilian. White adopted the Maroczy Bind position while black adopted the super-solid hedgehog setup. In a what can be billed as jiu jitsu on the chessboard, these battles typically have and lot of strategic maneuvering and slow changes in the position… then an explosion. Ostrovskiy appeared confident and had every right to be with the typical 17.a5 thrust and queenside pressure.

    After 17…bxa5 18.Nxa5, black usually plays 18…Ba8, but played 18…d5!? instead and the position exploded. Pieces starting flying and as common in these positions, black’s pieces dance onto good squares probing white’s overextended center. White allowed momentum after 26.Qd4 Ng7! 27.Bd2? Nf5 (27…Ne6!) 28.Qf2 a5! With black pieces now swarming the board, white erred with 29.Qf1? (29.bxa5? Bc5 pins the queen) 29…axb4 30.Rxc4 Rd8! No defense. Black will win an exchange at minimum. White ended with 31.Qf2 after which 31…Qa6 will win a piece.


    1st-2nd: Gu, Wu, 2;
    3rd-6th: Colas, Bodek, Black, Hua, 1½;
    7th-8th: Ostrovskiy, Williams, 1.

  4. What a comeback! JOSH tried somethimg new against Justus
    and got punished.But he showed superb resilience.

  5. Round 4. 2012 US Cadet, 22 July 2012


    Colas, Joshua (2345) 0-1 Wu, Christopher (2295)
    Black Jr., James (2349) 0-1 Gu, Christopher (2364)
    Bodek, Michael (2407) 0-1 Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr (2426)
    Hua, David (2329) ½-½ Williams, Justus (2343)

    Josh Colas has recently played 1.e4, but his positional sense came out in this game against front-runner Christopher Wu. The game was a Rossolimo Attack after 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. b3 Nf6 4. Nc3 g6 5. Bb5+ Nbd7 6. Bb2. All was going well, but Colas’ idea of 17.Qc4 combined with 18.f4 doesn’t seem to fit the spirit of the Rossolimo. After 18…exf4 19. Bxg7+ Kxg7 20. Rxf4 f5! 21.Raf1 Rae8 22. Nd5 Qe5 23. Nc3 Qe3+ Wu snatched the initiative. Colas then began to plunder the queenside, but may have overlooked that on 27…Qd7! 28.Nc3, white loses a piece after 28…b5! (threatening 29…b4 and 30…Bb5). So he went for 28.axb6 Bxb5 29.Qal Kf6 30.Re1 Qd4! pocketing the piece. The rest of the game was rather academic as there were no real chances for white to save the game.

    James Black Jr. had lost horribly last round and wanted to surge back with the white pieces against Christopher Gu. This Queen’s Gambit turned tactical early as a volley of trades erupted on the board. An unbalanced position occurred and black had an extra pawn, but his king was stuck in the center and queen being harassed after 14.Rh3! Qb4 15.Be2 (15.Rb1 Qd6 16.Bxd7+ Bxd7 17.Rd3!).

    After 20 moves, Black Jr. was still trying to land a knockout blow, but allowed several exchanges leaving him in a slightly inferior minor piece ending. Gu’s bishop was soon much more powerful that Black’s knight on the rim. By the time the knight was freed, Gu had time to establish a strong passed a-pawn and win two fixed pawns to boot.

    The ending was totally losing as the only way to salvage the ending was to sacrifice the knight for the h-pawn and get a textbook draw as black would have a wrong-color bishop. Yet, the clumsy knight could never approach the h-pawn and ultimately had to watch the a-pawn while the white king has to chase the passed h-pawn. It was an exercise in futility and the split a- and h-pawns were very effective. Black Jr. had a nice position in the opening, but perhaps needs to take his time.

    The matchup between the two top seeds was a slugfest in a Poisoned Pawn French Defense. In Bodek-Ostrovskiy, the first 13 moves were known theory, but white allowed black to get initiative with 14…d4! While white’s kingside pawns were imposing, black had solved his usual bad bishop problems in the French after 21…0-0-0. White was grasping at straws with 22.Ra4 and his house came crashing down like a house of cards. After 22…Kb8 23.Kf2 Rh8 white tried to find a safe spot on the board for his king. There wasn’t one and the retribution was harsh. White erred with 25.Rd1?? and after 25…Qd5! black would have an easy route to the abandoned king. “Sasha” finished the game nicely with 26…Nf5+! 27.Kh2 Rxh3+! Nice display by the top seed.

    The mystery of time is that everyone wants more of it. However time is elusive and can get away from you. Justus Williams has had trouble this tournament managing the clock as he has been dangerously in time pressure about every game. This is uncharacteristic of him and it may have hurt his changes to press for the win in this game with David Hua. This was a fairly equal game throughout, but the redeeming factor was white was able to keep the black king precariously in the center.

    Williams fixed this problem 19…Ne7 20.Qg2 Qxc3 21.Bxe7 Kxe7 and looked to collect some weakened pawns. However, he only had a few minutes left for move 40 and he had to accept a draw offer. The game probably didn’t have much in it. There was a cute line 24.Qxg7+ Bf7 25.Bg6 Qd5+ 26.Kh2 Qe5+ with perpetual check. The game ended 24.Rbe1 Kf8 25.Bf3 Qd6 and a draw was agreed. Probably a fair result as black cannot get too fancy with his exposed king and white’s better pieces.


    1st-2nd: Gu, Wu, 3; 3rd-4th: Ostrovskiy, Hua, 2;
    5th-8th: Colas, Bodek, Black, Williams, 1½.

  6. Round 5. 2012 US Cadet, Mon 23 July 2012

    Boards run red… all games decisive!

    Bodek, Michael (2407) 1-0 Hua, David (2329)
    Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr (2426) 1-0 Black Jr, James (2349)
    Gu, Christopher (2364) 0-1 Colas, Joshua (2345)
    Wu, Christopher (2295) 1-0 Williams, Justus (2343)


    Michael Bodek dispatching of David Hua.

    Michael Bodek surged back from a crushing loss to Aleksandr Ostrovskiy with snappy win over David Hua. With a typical maneuver used against …b4, Bodek punished his opponent with 12.a5 Qc7 13.Na4!? Black accepted the challenge with 13…Nxa5 and white answered with 14.Nb6! After 14…Qxb6 15.Nxa5 Nd7 16.Be3, black erred with 16…Nc5. Why not the natural 16…Qc7? White is still better, but not losing outright. The game continued 17.Bxc5 dxc5 18.Nxb7 Qxb7 19.e5, where white wins the exchange. The rest was rather trivial.


    Heated battles!

    Aleksandr Ostrovskiy is on a roll. Winner of his last game he was looking to continue his streak against James Black, Jr. who is streaking in the other direction, two losses in a row. Black seem to go astray in the opening and was completely busted after 17…b6?? 18.bxc6 Nc7 19.Nd7! The white knight remained a thorn in black’s position. White’s position flowed nicely as black had no counterplay.

    White’s position was so strong that he temporarily sacrificed an exchange and allowed a trade of queens!! This shows a deep understanding of the position. He would be guaranteed the exchange back and his mass of pawns started rolling. After 30. e5 g5 31. exd6 gxf4 32. Nxb6! the game ended neatly with 32…axb6 33. d7 Rd8 34.dxe8=Q+ Rxe8 35. d6 Be5 36. c7. A convincing win for Ostrovskiy’s second in a row.


    Christoper Gu went astray in the ending against Josh Colas.

    Gu-Colas was an interesting encounter. Out of another Catalan, black seemed to fall behind in the opening, but was able to get the queens off after 14 moves. Minor piece middlegames are intriguing because generally the better player will find his/her way on top. In an equal game, Colas played with a bit more activity, but white had no apparently weaknesses. Endgames are where junior players struggle the most and after the rooks came off (31…Rxc2 32.Bxc2), Gu started to go astray. He allowed Colas to infiltrate with his king with Ke7-d6-e5-d4.

    White’s position turned passive, but a drawn seemed imminent. Then the unthinkable happened. Colas advanced his pawns creating a powerful wedge at e4 and f3. White had to beware of any sacrifice on e3 followed by …f2 and …f1(Q). After 15 moves of deft maneuvering by Colas, white was reduced to total passivity! Gu traded his bishop after 58.Bxd5?? (58.Kd2 holds) Kxd5 and that was the beginning of the end. After 59.Na3 Bd3 60.Kd2 b5! white is in zugzwang… no moves. The game ended 61.Kc3 Ke5 62.Nc2 (what else?) Bxc2 63. Kxc2 Kf5 and the black king would win the f2-pawn and promote for a queen. It’s not often that the black king can capture the f2-pawn in any game!


    Justus Williams has had time pressure issues this tournament. He succumbed the lowest-seed, but top scorer in Christopher Wu.

    Christopher Wu is having the best tournament of his life. In another exciting Sicilian, Wu was able to get a slight plus against Justus Williams who has shown adept handling of various Sicilian setups. However, he got a bit careless with 23…h5? and was beaten back after 24.Bf4 Rb5 25.Bf1 Ra5 26.Bd2 Rd5. White had gained valuable time and won the e4-pawn.

    Black roared back looking for counterplay, but white had tactical resources such as 35.Bxg7! Rc5 36.Bxf8 Rxf5 37.Rd8 Kh7 38.Rd4 Ne5 39.f4… nice sequence of moves. Williams’ traveling knight ventured to the kingside to hunt the h3-pawn, but realize too late that it was trapped. He only got one pawn for the knight. In the end, he could not arrange famous technical draw where a player has an extra bishop that does not control the queening square. It was not to be and Wu is in great form on 4/5.


    1st: Wu, 4; 2nd-3rd: Gu, Ostrovskiy, 3; 4th-5th: Colas, Bodek, 2½;
    6th: Hua, 2; 7th-8th: Black, Williams, 1½.

  7. Round 6. 2012 US Cadet, Mon 23 July 2012

    Hua, David (2329) ½-½ Wu, Christopher (2295)
    Williams, Justus (2343) ½-½ Gu, Christopher (2364)
    Colas, Joshua (2345) 0-1 FM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr (2426)
    Black Jr, James (2349) 0-1 FM Bodek, Michael (2407)

    Hua-Wu was an English that had its moments, but neither side was ever close to winning this game. This draw was a far cry from the bloodletting seen in this tournament. There have only been seven drawn games from 24 played thus far. Wu maintained his position and remains in the clear lead. All he needs is a draw tomorrow to clinch the title since only Aleksandr Ostrovskiy can catch him. Wu beat Ostrovskiy thus possessing the tiebreaker.

    This field of Juniors seems to like the subtleties of the Catalan. Justus Williams is one of its biggest employers (not named Kramnik) and he has shown how dangerous of a weapon it can be. In this game with Christopher Gu, Williams decided to play dynamically, but perhaps his handling of the opening was not his usual solid approach. After 12.Nd2 Nd5 13.Nxc4 Nxf4 14.gxf4 Qc7 15.e3 white’s kingside was weakened and would become a target later in the game.

    Despite these weaknesses, Williams decided to launch an attack with 29.f5. After 29…Be5 Williams played 30.fxg6 hxg6 (30…Bxh2+? 31.Kg2) 31.f4 Bf6 32.Ng3. Now a crucial moment came. Meanwhile, Gu was waiting for Williams to let up to counter. He got his chance after 32…Qc5 33.Bxg6? Qxe3+. Black is winning after 34.Kg2 Qxf4, but 34…Nd5! would have been much stronger. Gu started to make mistakes as time pressure loomed.

    Williams confused the issue by giving Gu choices to go wrong. On 38. Qa3+ b4 39.Qxa6. White threatens some checks, but black had 39…Nf4+! with a strong attack after 40.Kf3 (otherwise he gets mated) Ne6! However, in the myriad of choices, Gu erred with 39…Qd2+ 40.Kh3 Qh6+ (black can’t avoid equalizing tactics on 41.Kg2 Qxh7 42.Qa8+ and 43.Qxd5.) 41.Kg2 Qd2+ 42.Kh2 Qh6+ 43.Kg2 Nf4+ (spurning the draw). However, with the black queen out of range there was nothing better than 44…Qxh7 45.Kxf4 with an equal position.

    After experimenting with 1.e4, Josh Colas went back to 1.d4 against his friend Aleksandr Ostrovskiy. However, Colas did not play actively and black shocked him with 14…Bf5!? On 15.Qc1, black grabbed an edge with 15…b5 and on 16.b4 Qc7 16.Bd3 Bxd3 17.Rxd3 Bxh2 winning a pawn. The bishop can’t be trapped with 18.g3 due to black’s strong attack after 18…Bxg3. So Colas attempted capitalize off of black’s greed by creating constant tactical threats on the c-file.

    The game heated up with black holding on to his material advantage and white trying to harass. However, it was Ostrovskiy who unleashed a wave of tactics toward the white king. In the key position, black was trying to break the annoying pin on his knight… so he simply sacrificed it after 37…Nxe3! On 38.Kxe3 Rde8+ 39.Kf2, the position repeated (39…Rd8 40.Ke3) before Ostrovskiy decided to vary with 40…bxa4. Generally the psychological edge goes to the attacking player and the player wants to give the opponent a chance to err. On cue, Colas played 41.Rd2?? and black played the killer 41…Qg4! The game ended abruptly after 42.Rf1 Qg3+ 43.Rf3 Qe1+ with massive losses for white.

    Unfortunately for Ostrovskiy, his window may have closed on the championship unless Gu beats Wu in the last round and he beats Justus Williams. A tie will grant the championship to Wu who has beaten Ostrovskiy (first round).

    Black-Bodek showed how unforgiving chess can be. Everyone knows how talented Black Jr. is, but this tournament shows that he needs to work on his pre-tournament preparation. Black went into the same line from Black-Gu (0-1, 62), but changed with with 11.Bh4 instead of 11.Bb5. Black decided to take a couple of risks… allowing compromise of his king’s position and grabbing the c3-pawn. He probably figure it was safe know that white doesn’t have a dark-squared bishop. It is a risk not many would have taken.

    Black Jr. botched the attack and should have lead with 19.fxe6 Kh8 (19…fxe6 20.Nxe6!) 20.exf7 instead of the concrete 19.Rg3+. Concrete variations tend to cause forcing moves which helps the opponent since the responses are limited. Nevertheless, 19.Rg3+ Kh8 20.Rh3 (concrete idea with the obvious Qh5 in mind) Rd8 21.Qh5 Qxd4+ 22.Kf1?? (22.Kh1=) Kg8 23.fxe6 b6! (idea of Ba6+) 24.exf7+ Kf8. After this the white attack would run out of steam. Disappointing loss for Black. It’s been a long, long time since he’s lost four in a row, but there are certainly no easy games in this tournament. He will be stronger for it in the future… his championships are coming.


    1st: Wu, 4½; 2nd: Ostrovskiy, 4; 3rd-4th: Gu, Bodek, 3½;
    5th-6th: Colas, Hua, 2½; 7th: Williams, 2; 8th: Black, 1½.

    1. Amazing position in Black-Bodek after 23…b6. Black threatens Ba6+, but the exf7+ Kf8 Qh6+ Ke7 f8(Q)+ Rxf8 Qxh7+ line is interesting, but black looks safe after Nf7. I don’t have a computer so it may not be any good, but interesting. I think James has to go for something, or he’s lost.

  8. Round 7. 2012 US Cadet: 24 July 2012

    Black Jr., James (2349) 0-1 Hua, David (2329)
    FM Bodek, Michael (2407) 1-0 Colas, Joshua (2345)
    FM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr (2426) ½-½ Williams, Justus (2343)
    Gu, Christopher (2364) 1-0 Wu, Christopher (2295)


    Seventh Round Action! Bodek-Colas was an interesting battle.

    The 2012 U.S. Cadet Championship ended in thrilling fashion as four players ended up in a tie forcing a playoff. Michael Bodek sprinted to the end with three wins and went on to win the championship. Here is how the round unfolded.


    James Black, Jr. had a tough tournament at -4,
    but he will have better ones. Stay on course James! 🙂

    James Black Jr. was trying to end on a winning note, but ending up in a tough battle against David Hua in a Closed Sicilian. James usually opens with 1.d4 so this was a surprise. White played a King’s Indian Attack setup, but seemed to get his pieces jumbled up with moves like 14.Bf1 and 16.Qe3.

    The position turned into a better version of the French as Hua got everything he could have dreamed of in the opening… no bad bishop and powerful posts for knights. Hua seized the c-file, but missed an opportunity for a decisive advantage after 25.b3 with 25…Qxb5! 26.axb5 Nxfd4! 27.Nxd4 Nxd4 28.Rxd4 Rxc1 29.Rxc1 Rxc1 with the e5-pawn dropping too.

    Hua played 25…Qc6? and James began to unravel a bit after he was allowed to keep the queens on. White started attacking, but there were no real weaknesses and white’s bad bishop was lifeless. Hua ended the game when James lost material on a forking tactic. Tough way to end the tournament for James.

    He fought his way back and it appeared as if he has wiggled out of a bind. It was not to be. Hua ended on +1 and Black Jr. ended on -4. At times, his played a bit impulsive as he tried to force the issue in certain positions. (i.e., the pawn storm against Wu that horribly backfired) Black will be back and this experience will give him motivation for improvement.


    Michael Bodek bolted into a tie for 1st with a win over Josh Colas.

    Michael Bodek closed out the tournament with a convincing win against Josh Colas. It is interesting that Bodek tried the same maneuver in his game against Hua. He told Colas that he has followed a game from Michael Adams. Look at the similarities below:

    In Bodek-Hua (Diagram #1), after 11…b4 white played 12. a5! Qc7 13. Na4 Nxa5 14. Nb6! Qxb6 15. Nxa5 Nd7 16. Be3 Nc5? 17. Bxc5 dxc5 18. Nxb7 Qxb7 19. e5 winning (1-0, 35). In Bodek-Colas (Diagram #2), 9…b4 10. a5! Nxa5 11. Na4 Qc7 12. Be3 Rb8 13. Nb6! Rxb6 14. Rxa5 Rb8 15. Qa1 Nf6 16. Bxa6 Bxa6 17. Rxa6 Be7 18. e5 with an advantage (1-0, 56).

    After 18.e5 white secured a lasting advantage with 20. Qa4+ Qd7? 21. Ra8+ Bd8 22. Qa6 (22.Rd1!) O-O 23. Bc5 Re8 24. Nxe5. With white’s pieces in attack mode, black had to lose a pawn giving white two passed pawns. Once those pawns started rolling, they were impossible to stop and Colas had to sacrifice a piece to stop a sprinting pawn from queening. After that it was simply a matter of technique.


    Christopher Wu lost a heartbreaking game and let the championship slip away. He still had a wonderful tournament and gained 30+ rating points.

    In the driver’s seat of the tournament, Christopher Wu only needed a draw to clinch the title. Against Christopher Gu, he ended up in a bad position with his queen misplaced on h6. He then had to watch as white built up a large spatial advantage after 33.g4 hxg4 34.hxg4. Black had to fight back to avoid being crushed so the game went into hand-to-hand combat with 37…g5!? However, after 38.fxg5, black should play 38…Qxg5 instead of 38.fxg4. Gu played 39.Bxg4 and soon Wu’s light squares were being assailed.

    Gu positioned his heavy pieces on the h-file and conjured up mating patterns. Gu finished his final campaign with 43.Ne5! Rbd8 44.Rdh2. In a fit of time pressure, Wu lost material with 44…Bg6 45.Nxg6 since 45…Nxg6 46.Bxe6+. After a few more spite checks and mate looming all over the board, he resigned. Now there would certainly be a playoff since Aleksandr Ostrovskiy secured a draw against Justus Williams.

    In Ostrovskiy-Williams, white trotted out the 6.Be3 variation against the Najdorf, but after 30 moves the game ended up resembling closed queen-pawn game with play on the wings. Looking at the position after 32…g5, one may be fooled into thinking that the opening was a King’s Indian. It was white breaking first with 33.cxd6 Bxd6 34.Rc6. Williams would not be outdone and went 34…g4. Even though white is strategically better, pawns storming toward the king is never a comforting feeling. Perhaps Ostrovskiy thought all was in order and forged ahead.

    Williams ditched an exchange and went for an all-out attack of his own with 37…hxg2+ 38.Qxg2 Rg8 39.Qh3. White is an exchange ahead and can always sacrifice it back. However, the attack on the g-file became serious enough (and time being a factor) that Ostrovskiy offered a draw after 42.d6 and it was accepted. In this final position, black can play on with 42…Ng4! with a full compensation for the exchange. However, it had been a tough tournament for Williams and he wanted to end on a positive note.


    1st-4th: Bodek*, Wu, Ostrovskiy, Gu, 4½; 5th: Hua, 3½;
    6th-7th: Colas, Williams, 2½; 8th: Black, 1½.

    *Bodek won the blitz tiebreak with wins over Wu and Gu.

  9. A four-way tie for 1st. A knockout playoff will start now earlier than 3pm. Game/15 +5″ players bid for white. Gu-Ostrovskiy, Bodek-Wu.

    Source: mdchess.com

  10. The winners of this round play for 1st next round. The losers play for 3rd. All four get 3/4 EF off for the Washington International. Gu bid 11:55 to get White vs Ostrovskiy’s bid of 12. So, Gu has White. Bodek bid 9:59 vs Wu’s bid of 15. So, Bodek has white.

    Source: Maryland Chess Association (Facebook)

  11. creepy lol. I would be nervous as heck! i don’t know how they do it. Great coverage nonetheless. Thanks

  12. Excellent job, Daaim. The commentaries were very helpful. Three days of grueling chess… can’t ask for more from these youngsters.

  13. Congrats to all the youngsters. As is seen from some of the game scores many of the clashes were hard-fought encounters showing grit from the combatants. Better luck next time!!

  14. Still waiting on the round seven games. Typically the last round is the hardest to get since the organizers are mostly packing their materials and leaving the venue. The last round is commonly neglected. If you have your games, post them here.

  15. Final Standings
    2012 US Cadet Championship

    # Name Rtng St Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Tot
    1 FM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr 2426 NY L4 W3 L5 W2 W8 W6 D7 4.5
    2 FM Bodek, Michael H 2407 NY D7 W4 L3 L1 W5 W8 W6 4.5
    3 Gu, Christopher 2364 RI W5 L1 W2 W8 L6 D7 W4 4.5
    4 Wu, Christopher 2295 NJ W1 L2 W8 W6 W7 D5 L3 4.5
    5 Hua, David 2329 NJ L3 D6 W1 D7 L2 D4 W8 3.5
    6 Colas, Joshua 2345 NY D8 D5 D7 L4 W3 L1 L2 2.5
    7 Williams, Justus D 2343 NY D2 L8 D6 D5 L4 D3 D1 2.5
    8 Black Jr, James A 2349 NY D6 W7 L4 L3 L1 L2 L5 1.5

    *The joint winners are co-champions, but FM Michael Bodek won the blitz tiebreak with wins over Wu and Gu. He has earned the scholarship to University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

  16. Great pictures! This is a fine report of the tournament. Thank you for putting all this together.

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