2014 U.S. Junior Closed (St. Louis, USA)

According to a press release of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, the U.S. Junior Closed will commence on June 19th. The tournament will feature most of the top players under-21 and all will be competing for a spot in the 2015 U.S. Championship.

GM Kayden Troff will head the field of talented juniors and will be challenged by 13-year old phenom IM Samuel Sevian. The New York/New Jersey area has half of the participants entered while Missouri has a hometown favorite in Matt Larson. It should be a very competitive field and look out for some upsets!

Samuel Sevian and Kayden Troff
blitzing after the 2013 U.S. Championship.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

2014 U.S. Junior Closed
June 19th-29th, 2014 (St. Louis, Missouri)
1 Troff, Kayden GM USA UT 2573
2 Sevian, Samuel IM USA MA 2545
3 Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr IM USA NY 2373
4 Harmon-Vellotti, Luke IM USA ID 2515
5 Xiong, Jeffery IM USA TX 2513
6 Bodek, Michael FM USA NY 2486
7 Shen, Arthur FM USA NJ 2458
8 Colas, Josh NM USA NY 2426
9 Williams, Justus FM USA NY 2366
10 Larson, Matt NM USA MO 2215
(Main Site, Video Replay, PGN Games)


  1. I don’t like Justus’ recent lack of activity…unless he’s hiding a bag of tricks…

  2. Good luck to the young “warriors”!

    BTW Daaim, I was in NY a couple of days ago (following FIDE’s Ethics Commission meetings in Greece) and played my debut game in Bryant Park after months of inactivity! Took some interesting pictures and will probably do a report for you sooner than later.

  3. It was total shock when I got the call from the Executive Director of St. Louis with the news that the club wanted to extend an invitation to Josh to play in the US Junior Closed. It was a short notice, so I wasn’t sure if Josh would get school approval to miss 2-weeks of school and regent exams. I reached out to his chess coordinator and fortunately within two days, the school administrators approved the leave. Unfortunately, for the past few days, he’s been sick. I am anticipating that he will fully recover in time for his first game this Friday. It’s great that he will not be there alone, his pal Justus will also be there. It will be very exciting to see how they match up against, “The Young Stars.” Big up to Tony Rich!

  4. Josh is feeling much better! He just left for St. Louis with his uncle. I wish him and Justus the best!

  5. I am not sure why you didn’t expect to see him Mikhail, but I can tell you that I was stunned because I had expected to see the same kids that are usually invited. But, this year, The Saint Louis Chess Club decided to invite some new faces, which I think is a excellent decision. Of course Josh is one of the underdogs in such a strong field, but that only adds to the excitement of the tournament.

    1. Oh, maybe I’m all confused, Mr Colas. I thought Justus’ result in the Junior Open last year was the reason he clinched an invitation to the the Junior Closed this year. Josh, of course, had lots of great results too, but I thought the Closed was specifically connected to the Open.

      1. Mikhail… they are totally separate tournaments. The Closed is based on a rating criteria where the Open is open to all who fit the age criteria. Anyone can enter. I think Josh got in on the merits of his rating. I thought someone dropped out and he was next. I think Matt got the wildcard since he is clearly the local boy. He is 150 points below the number nine player.

  6. Justus did win the Juniors last year and got an automatic invitation. Josh got an invitation because he ‘s a wild card 🙂 . All jokes aside, he’s probably the only kid in that group who got where he’s at on his own and who still doesn’t have any coaching or organizational support behind him. But, for whatever reason he got invited him, I am very pleased.

  7. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #1 (Friday, 20 June 2014)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 0.0 2437 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr A 0.0 2423 1-0
    2 NM Colas, Joshua 0.0 2247 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 0.0 2412 1-0
    3 NM Larson, Matthew W 0.0 2160 FM Bodek, Michael H 0.0 2389 0-1
    4 FM Shen, Arthur 0.0 2331 GM Troff, Kayden W 0.0 2494 0-1
    5 IM Sevian, Samuel 0.0 2442 FM Williams, Justus D 0.0 2278 0-1

    The 2014 U.S. Junior Open started off with some fireworks as all five games were decisive. Jeffrey Xiong of Texas beat Alex Ostrovskiy is a rather unorthodox Advance Caro Kann. The game followed theory until 10.b5!? which is the first choice in Houdini, but no games recorded with this move.

    White continued to hold a speculative edge after 12.Qh5+ and tried a daring move after 12…Kf8 13.Nd2 Qc7 14.f4!? White even offered an exchange of queens a pawn down, but was able to complicate matters. It seemed as if black was holding on, but allowed white to get a rook on the 7th and a knight on d4. This pressure was enough to win a pawn and obtain a technically winning position.

    Senior Master Josh Colas in 2012. Photos coming!
    Photos by FM Paul Truong.

    In Colas-Harmon, white played the London System and took advantage of a strange-looking 10.Qc8?! Late black entered the endgame a pawn down and with back rank issues. White won another pawn and was even mated in the final position. Local favorite Matt Larson opened the tournament with hopes of making an impression as the wild card nominee. However, he faced a well-prepared Michael Bodek. In this Catalan, black equalized easily and developed an initiative on the queenside. Larson fought back and tried to get a mating attack, but could never find time to play the intended Qh6, Qg7 mate. Black’s attack was always a step ahead of time.

    In Shen-Troff, Ben Finegold was critical of Troff’s 8…a5 since black is usually playing for …c5 in the Grunfeld which attacks the center. Incidentally, Troff did play 15…c5 sacrificing a pawn to attack at the center, but in an inventive way. Arthur Shen was holding his ground until he blundered with 23.Qd7 allowing the immediate 23…Bxe5! winning a crucial center pawn. White was forced to trade queens into a totally lost ending.

    U.S. Junior Open Champion Justus Williams got off to a good start with a nice win over GM-elect Samuel Sevian. The game morphed from a Sicilian to an Advanced French with white a tempo down (Bc4 and Bf1). Williams sacrificed the exchange to liquidate the center as is common in these positions, black got tremendous play. However, Sevian decided to sacrifice another pawn, but this was a tower of strength on b2. White’s position collapsed quickly and Williams got the full point. Impressive victory.

    Catch live commentary of the event at https://www.uschesschamps.com/tags/2014-us-junior-closed-championship.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  8. Justus beat IM Sevian in only 36 moves and Josh beat IM Harmon-Velotti in only 38 moves! This is going to be interesting…

  9. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #2 (Saturday, 21 June 2014)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr A 0.0 2423 FM Williams, Justus D 1.0 2278 1-0
    2 GM Troff, Kayden W 1.0 2494 IM Sevian, Samuel 0.0 2442 1-0
    3 FM Bodek, Michael H 1.0 2389 FM Shen, Arthur 0.0 2331 ½-½
    4 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 0.0 2412 NM Larson, Matthew W 0.0 2160 1-0
    5 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 1.0 2437 NM Colas, Joshua 1.0 2247 1-0

    Decisive games continue in the second round. Aleksandr Ostrovskiy beat Justus Williams in an exciting battle that went blow for blow from start to finish. In a Taimanov Sicilian, black went for the initiative on the queenside, but was rebuffed after 21.Nd5! This move changed the momentum of the game as 24. Qf4 Bxa2+ 25. Kxa2 Qe6+ 26. Nd5 cxd5 27. exd5 Qxe5 28. Rhe1 Qxf4 29. gxf4 gave white a slight edge. Williams 30…Rc4 may have given up the edge as it allowed white to begin rolling his passed pawns. Ostrovskiy’s 36.Rxe6! removed all resistance.

    GM Kayden Troff
    Photo from @ChessChampKT.

    Kayden Troff dismantled an off-form Samuel Sevian who was simply outplayed after some strong play on weak squares. It was amazing how quickly black’s position collapsed. Disastrous start for Sevian. Bodek-Shen saw a fashionable line after 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e6 7. g4!? The game quickly turned into a typical opposite side attack. It was unclear who was winning, but both players found incredible resources to keep the game on a razor’s edge. Finally the game petered out to a draw.

    In yet another tactical Sicilian, Matt Larson was unafraid to test the tactical prowess of Luke Harmon-Velotti, but unfortunately dropped an exchange with marginal compensation. With the black king exposed, Larson had to suffer massive losses. In the fourth Sicilian of the round, Jeffrey Xiong tried to sidestep the theoretical landmines and opted for a slower g3-system against Josh Colas. Unfortunately, this gave black an easy time in equalizing.

    The game exploded after 14…Nf4! but the game appeared headed for a draw. Colas left his rook on a8 a bit too long and white was finally able to exploit the diagonal after 23. Rxb7 Qd6 24. Qh5 g6 25. Qf3 Kg7 26. Rxf7+! The only hope was for black to get the queens off the board and arrive at an opposite-color bishop ending, but Xiong was having none of it. While black was busy watching the passed a-pawn, white launched an attack on the king… which proved to be lethal.

    Catch live commentary of the event at https://www.uschesschamps.com/tags/2014-us-junior-closed-championship.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  10. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #3 (Sunday, 22 June 2014)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 NM Colas, Joshua 1.0 2247 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr A 1.0 2423 ½-½
    2 NM Larson, Matthew W 0.0 2160 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 2.0 2437 ½-½
    3 FM Shen, Arthur 0.5 2331 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 1.0 2412 0-1
    4 IM Sevian, Samuel 0.0 2442 FM Bodek, Michael H 1.5 2389 1-0
    5 FM Williams, Justus D 1.0 2278 GM Troff, Kayden W 2.0 2494 ½-½

    In round three, the pace remained brisk as there were two more decisive games. Only Kayden Troff and Jeffrey Xiong remain undefeated in a first place battle. Samuel Sevian got his first win after facing Michael Bodek’s improbable 1.Nf3 e6 2.g3 g5!!??

    FM Michael Bodek seem to have gotten his inspiration from outer space… 1.Nf3 e6 2.g3 g5!!??

    According to official reports, Sevian stated,

    “When he played it, I thought he just played it out of the blue,” Sevian said of Bodek’s opening surprise. “But afterward, he told me he had prepared g5 against me — not deep preparation, though. I’m not sure g5 can be prepared that deeply.”

    Ultimately, Bodek’s plan backfired as his kingside became predictably weak and pieces started to encroach. Both players ended up in time pressure on a 30-second increment and there were several blunders made. However, Bodek decided to play for more than a drawn nursing a pawn advantage, but his king exposed in the open board. Sevian kept probing black’s position with his queen until black’s position came crashing down after his lost his queen. The win is a sigh of relief for Sevian who had lost his first two games.

    Josh Colas played his friend Aleks Ostrovskiy and continues trotting out the London system to sidestep preparation. Predictably, this will not get white much in the way of advantage. In fact, black had developed a slight advantage before the game petered out into sterile equality. Both are on an even score after three rounds. The tournament’s longest game occurred between Matt Larson and Jeffrey Xiong. Despite the nearly 300-point rating difference, the hometown favorite battled valiantly throughout.

    The game started as a highly theoertical Grunfeld that Xiong played rather well. Black reached totally equality by move 30, but Xiong was playing the rating game and pressed on. However, black played an ambitious 35…h5!? However, Larson was in a desperate time pressure with seconds hanging and missed that white would win instantly by 40.Rd5! White actually lost a pawn held a 3 vs. 2 rook ending rather easily.

    It was “Fire on Board” between FM Arthur Shen and Luke Harmon-Vellotti!

    Shen-Harmon-Vellotti was a French Tarrasch where white got an overwhelming attacking position.

    “After Ng5, I’m just getting checkmated pretty much,” Harmon-Vellotti said. “Or at the least I have to give up a lot of material, but even then my pieces were hard to get over to the kingside to protect. After Ng5, I knew it looked pretty bad for me.”

    However, it would be 22.Bf6!? that would force black to donate an exchange. White’s attack was still very strong. aFter 24. g4 Ne7 white missed 25.Bxe7! Rxe7 and 26.g5. Instead he played 25. g5 Neg6 26. Kh1 Qf4 27. Bxg7 Kxg7 28. gxh6+ Kh8 and now black’s shredded kingside was repaired! The key was that despite the black king scampering for safety, white’s king was in sudden danger. White had to return the exchange, but black now had a winning ending and was duly converted when the white king was cut off from stopping black’s passed pawns.

    Justus Williams played his usual 1.Nf3 but faced an unorthodox response from top-seed Kayden Troff. Black understood the position and got a strong position after move 22…Rfc8, but in a few moves white was OK. A three-fold repetition ended the game.

    Each round of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed will see its first move daily at 1:00 p.m. CT through June 29, with a rest day on Wednesday. The tournament will be streamed live on http://www.uschesschamps.com, with commentary, analysis and player interviews by GM Ben Finegold and FM Aviv Friedman.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  11. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #4 (Monday, 23 June 2014)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr A 1.5 2423 GM Troff, Kayden W 2.5 2494 ½-½
    2 FM Bodek, Michael H 1.5 2389 FM Williams, Justus D 1.5 2278 ½-½
    3 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 2.0 2412 IM Sevian, Samuel 1.0 2442 1-0
    4 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 2.5 2437 FM Shen, Arthur 0.5 2331 1-0
    5 NM Colas, Joshua 1.5 2247 NM Larson, Matthew W 0.5 2160 ½-½

    The plot thickens as Jeffrey Xiong has bolted into the lead with another win. Ironically only the lowest-rated player has held him. His victim this round was Arthur Shen and allowed him to pass Kayden Troff who was held by Aleksandr Ostrovskiy. Both of these games were Rossolimo Sicilians. Ostrovskiy-Troff was a rather placid draw, but in Xiong’s case he built up a spatial advantage after Shen made some inaccuracies.

    IM Jeffrey Xiong takes the lead after crushing win.
    Photo from uschesschamps.com.

    Shen made a fundamental error after 13…h6?? after which Xiong pounced with 14.Nxe6! fxe6 15. Qh5+. For the sacrificed piece, white had access to black’s weakened white squares and would capitalize on black’s undeveloped pieces. Black had to actually return the piece, but his position was already beyond repair. With heavy pieces aimed at the black king, it was the beginning of the end.

    In Bodek-Williams, white played 4.Qxd4 (instead of 4.Nxd4) which is seen as a way to sidestep theory, but to play for a slight advantage. It also has the character of offering white a chance to get nice attacking setups. Williams played …h6 and …e5 combined with castling by hand… very unusual. However, Williams was tactically alert at spotting 14…Nxe4 15. Nxe4 Bxe4 16. Qxe4 d5 17. Qe2 dxc4 18. Bb2 f6 19. Qxc4 Rc8 20. Qe4 Qc7 21. c4 Rhd8 with a completely equal game. Williams found more tactical resources after 25. Rd3 Rxd3 26. Qxd3 Bd4! 27. Bxd4 Rd8 28. Rd1 Rxd4 29. Qe2 Rxh4 (maybe …Qd7). Winning a pawn, but without any real chances to bring home the full point.

    Harmon-Vellotti scored against Sevian continuing the woes of the GM-elect. This Berlin saw the queens come off on move 13. The game saw a minor piece skirmish on the queenside with white coming out with a slight edge. However, the rook ending was seemingly drawn. Black blundered with the natural 39…Kd5 when after 40.b3! was winning a pawn. If black trades queens the protected passed g-pawn would decide. Black fought to get one of the drawing positions, but could never get the fortress and ended up getting mated… apparently in a time scramble.

    Each round of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed will see its first move daily at 1:00 p.m. CT through June 29, with a rest day on Wednesday. The tournament will be streamed live on http://www.uschesschamps.com, with commentary, analysis and player interviews by GM Ben Finegold and FM Aviv Friedman.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  12. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #5 (Tuesday, 24 June 2014)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 NM Larson, Matthew W 1.0 2160 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr A 2.0 2423 1-0
    2 FM Shen, Arthur 0.5 2331 NM Colas, Joshua 2.0 2247 1-0
    3 IM Sevian, Samuel 1.0 2442 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 3.5 2437 1-0
    4 FM Williams, Justus D 2.0 2278 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 3.0 2412 ½-½
    5 GM Troff, Kayden W 3.0 2494 FM Bodek, Michael H 2.0 2389 0-1

    Today’s round of the U.S. Juniors was wild and wooly with four more decisive results. Matt Larson got into the winning column with an impressive victory over Aleksandr Ostrovskiy. The 300+ point difference did not matter… at least in the mind of Larson. In fact, commentator Ben Finegold was discussing Larson’s air of confidence in saying that the young player often engaged in “trash-talking”. This game will certainly boost his confidence.

    NM Matt Larson got his first win in impressive fashion.
    Photo from uschesschamps.com.

    In this Semi-Slav, white played the sharpest of lines sacrificing a pawn for strong development. Larson expertly shifted his queen to the kingside and it was now obvious that he was up to no good. With all of his pieces aimed at the vulnerable black king, he suddenly pounced like a tiger on his prey. On 20.h4 and 21.h5 white pried black’s kingside and then continue his battering with 23.f4! Then he started sacrificing pieces for checkmate. This was a textbook attack that bore fruit after 28.Rxf7+! when black was slain after a short chase. Nice win for the hometown favorite.

    In another brutal battle, Arthur Shen caught Josh Colas’ king flat-footed and it never got off of the e8-square. In this Sicilian Paulsen, Colas played the standard moves until 9…d6. At this point the commentators were wondering whether he should play 10…b4 or 10…e5. Sometimes black plays …Ne5!? as well. Colas opted for 10…b4?! and was hit with the typical sacrifice 11.Nd5. While this sacrifice doesn’t give white a decisive advantage in this position, Colas appeared to panic.

    After 11. Nd5 exd5 12. exd5+ Nce7 13. c4 bxc3 14. Rc1 Colas played 14…Nf6? which turns out to be too slow. The last blow for white was after 18.Qa4+ black blundered with 18…Qd7 (18…Bd7 was needed) when 19.Qxa6 creates too many threats. Black had to resign. Disastrous game for Colas.

    Samuel Sevian is trying to rebound after a 1/4 start. IM Jeffrey Xiong suffers first loss
    Photo from uschesschamps.com.

    In Sevian-Xiong, the tournament leader suffered his first loss and inexplicably dropping a pawn after 25.Nxb6! White would win another pawn with 39.Bxd6! effectively ending the game. Xiong is still in first place, but it’s a tight race. Williams-Harmon-Vellotti was a hard-fought game out of a Queen’s Indian. It appeared that Williams carried a nice spatial advantage in the middle game. The game got a bit messy, white lost a pawn and had to play actively to secure a draw in a rook ending.

    At the beginning of the round the commentators stated that they like white in all the games and white was up 3-0. Black got a breakthrough with Michael Bodek’s win over Kayden Troff, the GM’s first defeat. Everyone has tasted defeat in the tournament. In this game, Troff’s Catalan was unable to create the lasting pressure and black was able to get good play.

    The game still should have been drawn (with opposite-colored bishops), but Troff erred in the ensuing ending by trading rooks. Black played some star moves (44…e5!) after activating his king and raiding white’s kingside. In the final position, white has no moves and is in total zugzwang. Bodek is back in the hunt and only half-point back.

    Each round of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed will see its first move daily at 1:00 p.m. CT through June 29, with a rest day on Wednesday. The tournament will be streamed live on http://www.uschesschamps.com, with commentary, analysis and player interviews by GM Ben Finegold and FM Aviv Friedman.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  13. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #6 (Thursday, 26 June 2014)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr A 2.0 2423 FM Bodek, Michael H 3.0 2389 ½-½
    2 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 3.5 2412 GM Troff, Kayden W 3.0 2494 0-1
    3 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 3.5 2437 FM Williams, Justus D 2.5 2278 1-0
    4 NM Colas, Joshua 2.0 2247 IM Sevian, Samuel 2.0 2442 0-1
    5 NM Larson, Matthew W 2.0 2160 FM Shen, Arthur 1.5 2331 0-1

    After the rest day, there were some disastrous results giving a sign that perhaps fatigue is starting to become a factor. This is a high-pressure event with thousands watching and several of the games had gross mistakes.

    What would you play here? Bodek’s pawns look very menacing, but Ostrovskiy found the right move.

    Ostrovskiy-Bodek was the most intense in the round with both players going blow-for-blow. The post-mortem went on for an hour as both were looking at odd ending including the three pawns versus the bishop. All seem to be drawn.

    This game started as a Trompowsky Attack as the game became an opposite-wing battle. White was expanding on the queenside with a phalanx of pawns while black was conjuring up an attack on the kingside. At a critical moment, black sacrifice a knight for two pawns with 26…Nxe3 to go along with two pawn plus. However, white’s pieces were mobilized before the pawns could start rolling. Thus a fortress was created and white was able to stave off the pawns to collect the half-point. The other games had disastrous outcomes.

    GM Kayden Troff ended the game beautiful with 23…Rxh2!

    In Harmon-Vellotti-Troff, black met white’s 1.e4 c5 2.b3 with some improbable moves of his own. Was Troff improving on Bodek’s idea of early …g5? Black launched a caveman attack with 9…g5!? and continued with a pawn storm with his king in the center. However, white had no way to pry the center open. Black blasted open the kingside after 12…h5 13. g3 g4 14. Qe1 h4 15. gxh4 Bh6.

    White was still holding the position until 16.Bc4? when some moves later, black got a powerful attack after 19…Rxh4. In fact the attack was unstoppable. Black ended with a nice parting shot of 23…Rxh2! when white is going to be checkmated.

    Luke Harmon-Vellotti was the victim of a kingside blitz that not even a UCLA Bruin could stop. Photo from uschesschamps.com.

    Heartbreaking loss for Justus Williams against leader Jeffery Xiong. After playing a roughly equal game throughout, the players got into a bishop ending and seemingly headed for a draw. Williams missed a subtle detail and got his move order mixed up.

    FM Justus Williams mixed up his move order in the end. Photo from uschesschamps.com.

    Instead of play 32…Bd7! 33.gxf5 exf5 34.h4 g6 with an equal game, he played 32…g6? 33.Kg3 h6? 34.a6 Bd7. White was able to take advantage of a weakened structure, but black still had a slight chance 37. Be2 e5! and it’s hard for white to make progress. However, he continued with 35…Kc7 and after 38. Bf3 Bxf3 39. Kxf3 Kb7 40. Kf4 the rest was easy.

    Colas-Sevian was a disaster for the white player. Colas had tried the London System with mixed results so he opted back to his roots with 1.e4. This may show that he is unsure about his opening choices. In this game he stumbled once again as black was able to equalize fairly easily with 7…d5. After that Sevian offered a pawn for rapid deployment of his pieces and the white king was already scampering by move 12.

    Colas nestled the king onto f2 but black’s pieces were fully armed after 17.Rae8. White tried to hold the position together and unravel, but the game came to an abrupt end after 28. g4? Rxe4 29. fxe4 Ne3+ 30. Kh3 Rf6 31. Qe1 Nxg4! 32. Kxg4 Rg6+ 33. Kh3 Qe6+ with mate in one. Incidentally, white never got a chance to move two of his pieces the entire game. Tough lesson for Colas as he will certainly refine his opening preparation after this tournament.

    Larson-Shen was a game of missed opportunities for white. Ostrovskiy kibitzes. Photo from uschesschamps.com.

    Larson-Shen was an exciting battle. Another weird opening ensued and transposed into a Four Pawns Attack King’s Indian. White had a unique idea with 8.Nh3 and then moving the knight to f2-g4-f2-h3-g5 to force weaknesses. In fact, white could have played 25.f5! with a strong attack. He opted for 25.e6 allowing black to plug up the kingside with 25…f5. However, Larson was determined and sacked a bishop with 27.Bxf5, but the complications did not favor him.

    After the smoke cleared black had scored two pieces for a rook and was completely winning after 33…cxb2. Ultimately, black would have four pieces for a rook. The rook was helpless and white was actually being woven into a minor piece mating net when he resigned.

    Each round of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed will see its first move daily at 1:00 p.m. CT through June 29, with a rest day on Wednesday. The tournament will be streamed live on http://www.uschesschamps.com, with commentary, analysis and player interviews by GM Ben Finegold and FM Aviv Friedman.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  14. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #7 (Friday, 27 June 2014)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 FM Shen, Arthur 2.5 2331 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr A 2.5 2423 0-1
    2 IM Sevian, Samuel 3.0 2442 NM Larson, Matthew W 2.0 2160 ½-½
    3 FM Williams, Justus D 2.5 2278 NM Colas, Joshua 2.0 2247 1-0
    4 GM Troff, Kayden W 4.0 2494 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 4.5 2437 1-0
    5 FM Bodek, Michael H 3.5 2389 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 3.5 2412 1-0

    A showdown between the two leaders!
    Photo from uschesschamps.com.

    The race toward the end has tightened as Kayden Troff is back on top of the field. Troff beat front-runner Jeffery Xiong to take a half-point lead. In a Catalan, black played a bit too ambitiously by sacrificing a pawn for development. White’s structure prevented black from getting coordination. There was a tactical skirmish and black ended up down an exchange for a pawn. White nursed his exchange and managed to get the queens off the board. His passed b-pawn never had to move, but it was the trump that decided the game.

    In Sevian-Larson, black showed that he was up for the challenge after showing good preparation. The move 10…Qb8!? was interesting. Sevian stole a pawn with Be3-g5-d8xa5. As the game wore on pieces begin leaving the board and Sevian maintained his pawn plus. However, after nursing the pawn for 30 moves, he inexplicably gave up the pawn with 63…Qg5 and after 64.Qxc3 his advantage dissipated.

    Josh Colas trying to find his way.
    Photo from uschesschamps.com.

    Williams-Colas is a game between two players who have known each other since the beginning of their chess lives. They have even played a couple of publicized practice matches. These encounters always bring some intrigue given that both Justus Williams and Josh Colas (along with James Black, Jr.) have inspired the African-American (and worldwide Black) community with their respective successes and both receive immense support in New York. So who would win this encounter? It would be a Catalan to decide.

    Williams took advantage of the weak a2-g8 diagonal after 12…f5 (diagram) 13. cxd5 exd5 14. e4!

    In the opening, Colas made a crucial mistake with 11…f6 and 12…f5 as this weakened the a2-g8 diagonal allowing Williams to seize the initiative with 13. cxd5 exd5 14. e4! (even better was 14.Nxd5!). For the third game in a row, Colas was flailing away trying to get out of the opening alive.

    After Williams won a pawn, he kept the pressure. In fact, he actually sacrifice two queenside pawns to focus on black’s weakened kingside. After 26. Bg4 Nb6 27. Re6 Qg7 28. Bxh5 gxh5 29. Re5, black was shredded. Colas had to donate an exchange, but there was too many holes in his position to survive.

    Bodek-Harmon-Vellotti was one of two marathon games in the round. Out of a French Tarrasch, Bodek attempted to hold onto a free pawn. Ultimately he had to give it back, but found some nice resources in the middlegame including a couple of nice zwischenzug moves. A queen ending ensued and while white was a pawn up, he had to contend with black’s outside passed a-pawn. Unfortunately, black blundered it away in time pressure and Bodek converted cleanly.

    In the longest game of the room, Shen-Ostrovskiy played a “topsy-turvy” game where black sacrificed an exchanged (15…Rxf3) for what seemed like inadequate compensation. White played actively so that black would not achieve the usual central pressure. The continued on when white begin to make some inaccuracies.

    After 34.Rxb7?! the game started to level out. Black’s pieces came alive and started to zip around the board neutralizing the exchange. As black’s pawns started rolling 40…d4+ 41. Kf2 d3 42. Ke3 Ng2+ 43. Kd2 e4 white panicked with 44. Rxc6 allowing 44…e3+ 45.Kxd3 Kxc6 46.Ke2 Rd8! This was the move Shen stated that he missed. So he had to give up a piece and go for an ending.

    The black king marched all the way up the board to aid in entombing his adversary into a certain death.

    What happened in the ending was novel. While black had an extra piece, it wasn’t clear how he would win, but then white’s king got trapped on the edge of the board and black weaved an improbable mating net by running his king from b7-c8-d7-d6-d5-d4-d3-c2-b1-b2.

    The final finesse was beautiful after 104. Rh5 Nb5 105. Rxb5 Rc3! 106. Rc5 Ra3#. Shen showed a bit of class by allowing mate. Commentators were suggested that white should have traded rooks and played b5 attempting to get at the a6-pawn and achieve a draw. However, black wins by one tempo in that line. Nice finish by Aleks!

    Each round of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed will see its first move daily at 1:00 p.m. CT through June 29, with a rest day on Wednesday. The tournament will be streamed live on http://www.uschesschamps.com, with commentary, analysis and player interviews by GM Ben Finegold and FM Aviv Friedman.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  15. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #8 (Saturday, 28 June 2014)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr A 3.5 2423 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 3.5 2412 ½-½
    2 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 4.5 2437 FM Bodek, Michael H 4.5 2389 0-1
    3 NM Colas, Joshua 2.0 2247 GM Troff, Kayden W 5.0 2494 0-1
    4 NM Larson, Matthew W 2.5 2160 FM Williams, Justus D 3.5 2278 1-0
    5 FM Shen, Arthur 2.5 2331 IM Sevian, Samuel 3.5 2442 0-1

    Kayden Troff holds onto the lead at the 2014 U.S. Junior with a stroke of fortune against a beleaguered Josh Colas. After a hard-fought contest, Troff capitalized on an unfortunate blunder of Colas after 46.Kg2?? which cut the white king off from the advancing passed pawn. He remains a half-point ahead of a surging Michael Bodek who has won three out of his last four and plays Colas in the last round. Troff, who has won three in a row will play Matt Larson, who has had a good showing despite being the lowest rated.

    Ostroviskiy-Harmon-Vellotti has an interesting game out of a Trompowsky. White offered a pawn for dynamic play and seemed to have gotten a plus after a nice tactic 26.Bxf7+. It turns out that this series of exchanges yielded nothing to either side and the result was a complete logjam with neither side able to penetrate.

    Xiong-Bodek started out as a Sicilian Dragon 9…d5 variation. Black usually gets play if white accepts the pawn sacrifice, but white declined and tried to play in more conventional fashion with play on the h-file. However, black got tremendous play and launched an attack of his own. Black sacrificed a piece, but it wasn’t clear that he was winning.

    Michael Bodek is only a half-point out.
    Photo from uschesschamps.com.

    The game seemed headed for a perpetual check, but Xiong erred on 43.g5+ and allowed black to establish very dangerous mating threats after 45…Rb7. Unfortunately, there was no response and white donated a rook, but without any chance for a perpetual or skewering the black rook.

    No one knows how Josh Colas has fallen into a tailspin. This probably has not happened to him in a very long time. What is interesting about this young master is his ability to bounce back and recover. After losing three bad games, Colas would face Kayden Troff the top-seed who was gaining momentum.

    The game would be a Najdorf and Colas played the increasingly popular 6.h3. However, he did not continue with the usual g4 idea, but 8.Bg5 instead. Neither commentator had seen this line. In the games listed in the database, black has not fared well.

    The moment of truth. Should white play Ke3 or Kg2?

    After 11.Qd2, black has six wins and two draws, but perhaps there was some preparation. White certainly looked fine after, but decided to sacrifice the exchange after 30. Qf3 d3 31. Rxd3 Rxd3 32. Qxd3 Nc1 33. Qf3 Nxe2+ 34. Qxe2. This position is clearly equal and it’s hard to see how white could lose. However, Troff kept probing with his rook and on 45…Rf7+ he got his chance after Colas played 46.Kg2?? This gives the pawn a clear path and the king is now cut off from the helping to stop the pawn. However, on 46.Ke3, black has problem making progress. However after 46. Kg2 e3 47. h4 Rf2+ 48. Kg1 Rf4 49. Kg2 e2, white has no chance to salvage the game.

    Larson-Williams was a game with a very strange opening, but the black was able to equalize. The game begin to have a bit of an imbalance after 23…Bxe2 24. Nxh6+ gxh6. This kingside weakness would come back to haunt Williams. Perhaps one move that allowed white to get a permanent advantage was 37…h5? weakening more squares in front of the black king and fixing the h5-pawn. Still black had chances to solidify the position with 43…a6, but went for exposing the white king. In fact it was black’s king that was exposed. White was able to play 48.Rf4 stopping all counterplay and with black’s rook out of play, white launched an attack that proved decisive.

    Shen-Sevian saw a Modern Benoni that truly got out of hand for the white pieces. While while had an impressive center, black raided the queenside and got a lasting advantage after 26…b4 27. Ne2 c3! 28. bxc3 b3 29. Bb1 b2. This totally tied up white’s position and the game didn’t last another ten moves. Black finished the game off with the neat 36…Na4! because on 37. Qxa4 Rxc3+ 38. Ke4 Qg2+ the white king is mated.

    Each round of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed will see its first move daily at 1:00 p.m. CT through June 29, with a rest day on Wednesday. The tournament will be streamed live on http://www.uschesschamps.com, with commentary, analysis and player interviews by GM Ben Finegold and FM Aviv Friedman.

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  16. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Round #9 (Sunday, 29 June 2014)
    Table White Score Rating Black Score Rating Result
    1 IM Sevian, Samuel 4.5 2442 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr A 4.0 2423 1-0
    2 FM Williams, Justus D 3.5 2278 FM Shen, Arthur 2.5 2331 0-1
    3 GM Troff, Kayden W 6.0 2494 NM Larson, Matthew W 3.5 2160 1-0
    4 FM Bodek, Michael H 5.5 2389 NM Colas, Joshua 2.0 2247 0-1
    5 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 4.0 2412 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 4.5 2437 ½-½

    The 2014 U.S. Junior Closed has come to an end and Grandmaster Kayden Troff is the winner. With only one loss in his +5 score, Troff automatically qualifies for the 2015 U.S. Championship.

    GM Kayden Troff wins!

    In the press conference, he mentioned that this tournament was stronger than previous editions and that there was a fighting spirit present. While many will look at the cross chart it may appear to be a convincing victory, but it was not so easy… especially in the beginning. Troff got help from Josh Colas who beat Michael Bodek.

    In Troff-Larson, the St. Louis native was playing with a lot of confidence, but perhaps got carried away against the Grandmaster from Utah. Larson’s opening was a risky one as he ceded the two bishops and had a questionable pawn structure. The move that came into question by the commentators was 16…Qd6?! Larson was trying to create threats on the king, but this simply lost two pawns for nothing. After 17. Bxc6+ Kf8 18. Bxb7 Qh2+ 19. Kf1 there was no follow up. Ultimately, black got the queen on h2 trapped.

    Troff had already won which meant there was no way for Michael Bodek to catch him. However, this game between two familiar opponents was bitter-sweet for Josh Colas who had lost four in a row. Bodek-Colas was an intense game out of a Guioco Piano. Colas admitted that he had not prepared deeply. Thus, white got a comfortable position with a lot more space. However, Colas felt that his knight would be better than the bishop.

    In Bodek-Colas, white has several choices. Fortunately for Colas, he chose 35.Kh3? The move doesn’t instantly lose, but all but gave up the advantage and resulted in an embarrassing loss.

    White poised for a queenside break-though doubled rooks along the a-file setting up deadly invasion. On 29. axb5 cxb5 (29…axb5?? loses to 30.Rxa8 Rxa8 31.Rxa8 Nxa8 32.Qd6! with Qf6+ looming) 30. Qd6. White repeated moves and played 34.Bf3 after which black gave a spite check with 34…Rc2+ (what else). White has four moves… 35.Kh3, 35.Kf1, 35.Kg1 and 35.Kh1. Bodek played 35.Kh3 which looks the safest, but there was danger lurking after 35…Rf8. In fact, Houdini says the position is now equal after 36.Qg5.

    Bodek replied 36.Qe6+ and after 36…Kh8 had not answer to the looming 37…Qg7. Bodek stated that the didn’t see the idea until after it was played. This means that he probably forgot about his king. So after 37.Rxa6 Qg7! white was in a type of “Luhzin Defense” mating net. Black threatens 38…Qh6# and so after 38.Bh5 gxh5 mate still could not be averted. Very fortuitous for Colas to end the tournament with a win after losing four in a row. He started with a win and ended with a win and the middle… he said with a laugh, “We won’t talk about that.”

    Colas ended on a happy note after losing four in a row.
    Photos from uschesschamps.com.

    Luke Harmon-Vellotti and Jeffery Xiong are the two player closest in strength, a mere two points separating the IMs. This game was also very equal and neither player took any risks in the Grunfeld and they shook hands after three-fold repetition on move 22. Sevian-Ostrovskiy was an interesting theoretical battle out of the King’s Indian Attack (French). Black gave up two pieces for a rook to destroy white’s pawn center, but got nothing for it. In fact, after black sacrificed an exchange, his central pawns were easily blockaded and white was poised to take control.

    Lastly, Justus Williams had come off of a tough loss and was looking to score against a struggling Arthur Shen. In this game were was nothing after a middlegame skirmish. The game appeared to be headed for a draw after 22…Rac8 since 23.Rb1 would hold the balance.

    Williams was still “playing for tricks” as Ben Finegold called it, but there was nothing to do but grab the draw. Black seized on the chance after 30…Bxg3! 31. Bg2 Bxh2 32. Qh4 Be5 33. c6 Rxa2 and in a matter of moves, black is three pawns up. After a few more moves, Williams gave up the ghost and resigned. In the press conference, a somewhat dejected Williams admitted that he had lost two of his games by pressing too hard.

    Justus will certainly be back!
    Photos from uschesschamps.com.

    Great tournament!

    Official Site: https://www.uschesschamps.com/

  17. 2014 U.S. Junior Chess Championship
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Final Standings
    # Name Score M/F Rating TPR W-We 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    1 GM Troff, Kayden 7.0 M 2494 2567 +0.81 1 1 ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 1
    2 IM Sevian, Samuel 5.5 M 2442 2432 -0.04 0 0 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 1
    3 FM Bodek, Michael 5.5 M 2389 2438 +0.65 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 0
    4 IM Xiong, Jeffrey 5.0 M 2437 2396 -0.46 1 1 ½ 1 0 1 0 0 ½
    5 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 4.5 M 2412 2356 -0.65 0 1 1 1 ½ 0 0 ½ ½
    6 IM Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr 4.0 M 2423 2311 -1.29 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0
    7 FM Shen, Arthur 3.5 M 2331 2285 -0.59 0 ½ 0 0 1 1 0 0 1
    8 FM Williams, Justus 3.5 M 2278 2291 +0.10 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 0
    9 NM Larson, Matthew 3.5 M 2160 2304 +1.48 0 0 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 0
    10 NM Colas, Joshua 3.0 M 2247 2249 -0.01 1 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 1

  18. It was certainly a tough one for Josh. His lack of preparation was obvious. Through it all, he finished his last two games with a clear warning. Thank you SLCC.

  19. Congrats Kayden!
    It looks like an IM norm was possible with a 4/9! strong tourney! Matt larsen was the only one with a performance rating that differed a lot from his standard raring.

    1. I have found out that this was not a norm tournament. I’m not sure of the details. It probably meant that given the FIDE ratings of the field, the average was not high enough to qualify for a norm tournament.

      1. Ah, I see.

        In some FIDE tournaments, J&J might face a player or two that are lower than anybody in this tournie. but there are usually several GMs in the field. At NY International FIDE norm section, IM Farai Mandizha just faced 2 GMs, 1 lowbie, 3 NMs, and 3 IMs. That’s, of course, pot luck instead of a round robin like the junior closed. Could that have something to do with it?

        All in all, this is another useful tourney for Justus. He goes from FIDE 2278 —>2294 and now is promoted to #5 in the country under the age of 16.

      2. “The average rating is 2361.5 amongst ten players so an IM norm is 6/9. The average rating is high enough and the score needed is reasonable. Puzzling.”

        Troff was the only player to score 6.0/9 (or more–he scored 7)
        So, the FIDE norms issue is moot–although if FM Bodek had managed to Draw his 9th Round game, he would have been in line for an IM Norm. Still, it’s hard to figure out why it’s not a Norm tournament.

  20. Question:

    Does anybody know when and where the 2014 U.S. Cadet Chess Championship will be held. Which players will be participating? I’ve seen no mention of this year’s Cadet on USchess.org

    Is there a link to any information, or to the tournament website for the 2014 Cadet Ch.?

      1. Puzzling! Your site is usually the source to go to for coverage of these event!

        The U.S. Junior Open is being held in Houston, TX in a couple of weeks (mid-July). Often (though not always, nor last year), the U.S. Cadet Championships is held in conjunction with the U.S. Junior Open. The winner of the U.S. Cadet gets an invitation to the following year’s U.S. Junior Closed.

        Typical USCF situation–maybe they’ll cobble something together at the last minute?! Maybe they will hold the event in Crossville, TN, and announce the results after the fact. It’ll be interesting to see in Xiong and Sevian will opt to play in the Cadets anymore, or if they’ve moved on.

        1. They are probably finding some redundancy since you have the U.S. Junior Open (under-21 open), U.S. Junior Closed (under-21 top 10) and the Denker Tournament of Champions (H.S. state champions) in addition to the U.S. Cadet (under-16 top 10). You have many of the same players competing in all of the tournaments.

  21. CADET will run from 7/19-7/23 in Maryland. Something should be coming out soon on the USCF Website. Xiong and Sevian are not playing.

    1. Thanks for resolving the enigma. Hopefully, the live coverage will be as good as it was last year. Maryland seems to be a good venue.

      It will be interesting to see which of the Cadet eligible players fill out the field. The ticket to the 2015 U.S. Junior Closed for winning the Cadet pretty valuable–at least for those who are not a cinch to qualify for the Junior by rating.

      I agree with Daaim that there is some redundancy, since some of the tournaments that he listed do cover much of the same ground. Still, we are talking about USCF Scholastic Chess here, and the USCF already sponsors K-6 (K-5) Nationals; K-9 (K-8) Nationals; and the K-12 Nationals–not to mention the Grade Nationals. There’s obviously a market for all of these Championships.

      However, there’s hardly a surfeit of quality Round Robin events for Juniors (or for top players, for that matter). Even if the sponsorship should drop out, the costs are modest enough that even the USCF can foot the bill.

      Were the USCF to decide that it should drop the Cadet, the very least it should do is give about a year’s advance notice, not just silently or casually let a tournament lapse, one that has been run annual for a number of years.

    2. Hmmm….Finally found confirmation of the field for the 2014 U.S. Cadet. It looks like Awonder Liang WI (2321) just missed out on an invite. The 10th slot must have been a WildCard awarded to the organizers. Since this is an event hosted in Maryland, it is not surprising that a Maryland player was duly invited.

      Andrew Zheng is only age 11, the youngest in the field. It will be interesting to see how he fares, since at 2181 he is the Lowest rated player in the field, over 200 points below the Average rating of the rest of the field. He could have a tough event, but my hunch is that he will score a couple upsets, and even avoid finishing in the cellar.

      Maryland Chess Association
      2014 US Cadet Starts July 19

      The MCA will again be hosting the US Cadet Championship this year. This is an invitational for the top under-16 players in the US. This year we have expanded the field to 10 players. The tournament starts July 19th at the Rockville Hilton and the games will be broadcast live The winner receives a scholarship to UMBC and the top three receive free entry to the Washington International. The full field is below.

      Mika Brattain 2436 MA 15
      Joshua Colas 2430 NY 15
      Ruifeng Li 2420 TX 12
      Christopher Gu 2417 RI 15
      Nicolas Checa 2394 NY 12
      Cameron Wheeler 2386 CA 13
      Edward Song 2378 MI 14
      Andrew Tang 2374 MN 14
      Chandran Kapil 2359 CT 15
      Andrew Zheng 2181 MD 11

  22. Below is a nice picture of my quiet son Joshua. I got him the tools he needed. His next tournament is the US Cadets; I am looking forward to that one. He got caught off guard at the Junior Closed, but learned a good lesson about opening prep.

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