Liang Repeats At US Junior Championship; Yip Wins Girls' Title –

The 2018 U.S. Junior Championship is now stronger than ever. At the tournament running July 11-21 at the Saint Louis Chess Club, five out of 10 players held the GM title. But for all of these upstarts, winning the event is one of their only paths into the U.S. championship, where the qualification rating keeps creeping higher.

GM Awonder Liang coveted the automatic (re-)entry into America’s national championship, so he returned to defend his junior title from 2017.

“The main goal was definitely to qualify to the U.S. championship,” Liang told, “although winning the U.S. Junior Closed itself was a nice bonus as well.” 

Awonder Liang

GM Awonder Liang (right) just before IM Praveen Balakrishnan’s blunder late in their pivotal eighth round game. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Meanwhile, the 14-year-old FM and WIM-elect Carissa Yip took a “break” from her ChessKid article writing to win the U.S. Junior Girls’ Championship. She also needed a last-round draw, but unlike Liang, she faced the second-place contender (WGM Jennifer Yu) head-to-head in that ninth round. But like Liang, she got the job done and her draw made the final margin one full point (7.0/9).

Both Liang and Yip were second-highest rated in their respective sections when sorted by FIDE rating.

Liang’s title defense was clinched after a last-round draw with GM Akshat Chandra put him at 6.5/9 and just out of reach of the surprising result of IM Advait Patel. Despite starting the 10-player round-robin with three straight draws, Liang said his second title wasn’t as taxing as his first, when he was an IM in 2017.

“I think it was a little bit easier this time because I already had the experience that came from winning the junior championship last year,” Liang said. “I played more solid and had fewer up-and-down moments this time. Although there were a few games in which I was worse or close to lost positionally, I never really felt in serious danger in any particular game. In other words, I remained calm and confident all the time during the entire tournament, whereas the same cannot be said of the previous year.”


These are kids, so post-tournament bughouse is practically a must. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

He said the final-round draw wasn’t really the moment the title was in hand. Instead, it came in round the day before, and it ended up being his biggest hurdle.

“The game against Praveen (Balakrishnan) was definitely the toughest game for me in the event. I came into the round playing Black against Praveen, who thus far had been undefeated. Leading by half a point, winning this game essentially would mean winning the championship as I had white the last round.”

The grandmaster decided his best bet was to mix it up from his normal routine: “I decided to play a slightly dubious opening in order to avoid my well-performing opponent’s preparation. And in doing so, I quickly got into a worse position.”

The opening was just the beginning of the story, as Liang then dug himself out of the hole. He persevered to win the game, and essentially, the championship. 

“Praveen played very well even in time pressure, and we reached a drawn endgame,” Liang said. “I chose to continue the game even with the vastly reduced material on the board. Eventually the persistence paid off as he blundered in time trouble.”

Just as he thought, the following day’s draw as White came without issue (Liang had forced all but one pair of bishops off the board by move 30). Liang therefore punched his ticket back to St. Louis in 2019 for another U.S. championship.

He said he plans take what he learned in April and apply it next year.

“I think the main thing that I learned was that although every player was very strong, it was still possible to beat them,” he said. “It was also important to keep calm and play the next game well even when things didn’t go well in the previous round.”

Also notable this year was the participation of FM Annie Wang, one of only a handful of girls to play in the U.S. Junior in the last few decades. While she finished last, the delight of the 2018 U.S. Women’s Championship did scalp the tournament’s top player, GM Ruifeng Li.

Next up for Liang? The U.S. Open! He practically has to play—it’s in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin (“an exceptionally beautiful city”). He will also compete in the World Junior Championship in Turkey in Istanbul.

He said he still remembers GM Garry Kasparov’s inscription in a book given to him: “The sky’s the limit.” Liang said that, despite the metaphor, any “limits” in his career have been caused by lack of funding. But with the $6,000 he just won, the support of the Sinquefields, and the Samford Fellowship share that just began this month, he said he hopes that will allow him to achieve his full potential.

“I will keep fighting in chess for sure. If I have the backing, I believe that I can do anything that others can in chess.” 

Annie Wang

“Hi Annie, are you lost?”—”No, I’m supposed to be on this side of the room.” | Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.


Image courtesy Spectrum Studios.

Unlike Liang, Yip likely didn’t need to win the U.S. Junior Girls’ in order to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Championship next spring, but now it’s all academic anyway. Consequently, she said that wasn’t her main motivator like it was for Liang (Yip qualified but couldn’t play in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Championship; such are the demands of entering high school!).

Curiously, Yip dropped a game, but still ended up with more points than Liang. Starting 4.5/5 will do that for you. After a sixth-round loss, she picked up where she left off with two more wins, none more important than in round eight, where she faced FM Maggie Feng.

Carissa Yip

FM and soon-to-be WIM Carissa Yip (right) in her key game against FM Maggie Feng. | Photo: Austin Fuller/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Just like Liang, Yip’s eighth-round clash was her key win, also as Black. She annotated the game for

That win set up a final round with Jennifer Yu, the top seed (according to FIDE ratings; in US Chess ratings, Yip is slightly higher). Despite being ahead one full point, that still meant Yip needed a score of some sort on the final day.

“I needed not to lose, which brought a lot of stress, and I was tired as well since it was at the end of the tournament,” Yip told She ceded the bishop pair but not the initiative, and after some trades, Yip got the needed draw without any issues.

Yip said her winnings with either go to her parents or to her college fund, but there’s a good chance they are one and the same! She’s now going into 10th grade, but she’s not yet sure the role chess will play as she progresses.

“Chess will always be a huge part of my life,” she said.


Image courtesy Spectrum Studios.

Carlsen Steals Show With Queen Sacrifice As Biel Begins –

In the first round of the Biel Chess Festival, Magnus Carlsen stole the show with a long-term positional queen sacrifice vs David Navara. The other winner was Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who beat Nico Georgiadis in typical style.

The concept of giving up the queen always sounds a bit magical. To do without the most powerful piece on the board is counter-intuitive because, a queen down, you’re not supposed to win, are you?

If you can win back lots of material or give checkmate right away, it ain’t so special. In fact, you could even argue whether it’s a sacrifice in such a case, but that’s a question for philosophers. But what if the game just goes on?

The long-term, positional queen sacrifice is rare, so when a top grandmaster goes for it, it’s exciting. It’s what Magnus Carlsen did vs David Navara in Sunday’s first round in Biel.

Carlsen Navara Biel 2018

Magnus Carlsen vs David Navara with, in the background, the playing hall where many more chess events will take place in the coming days. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

The world champ got a rook, a knight and a pawn for her majesty, and active play—exactly the value of a queen. He said, matter-of-factly:

“I thought I wasn’t risking much. I wasn’t very optimistic either. There are still serious drawing tendencies but it keeps the game going and without a humongous amount of risk, which was really what I wanted.”

Except for move 20, Carlsen didn’t really get a chance for more than a draw before the time control. Navara’s 31…Nc4 seemed to be forcing the draw, but with 32.Rd7! Carlsen could still continue the game a bit more.

Navara played well until move 48, when he blundered his h-pawn (although it might still be a draw there!). He said: “It was a tough game and Magnus is a stronger player so he won. I mean, he kept his high level also after the first time control whereas I didn’t.”

David Navara  Biel 2018

David Navara was humble as always. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Carlsen thought the endgame with RN vs Q was equal: “I thought it was just a draw. I expected the scoresheets to be signed at any minute. I thought David just missed something there. That’s really it; I had no business winning this game. I was just worse.”


Carlsen Navara Biel 2018

The post-mortem of Carlsen-Navara. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov‘s English with Nc3, Nf3 and e3, Nico Georgiadis tried the subtle 4…a6 which was first played by the famous Soviet trainer Alexander Tolush and later by e.g. Vishy Anand. 

The Swiss GM was rather unfortunate to walk straight into excellent home preparation by Mamedyarov, which started with the new move 8.Rc1.

“I didn’t expect this at all,” Georgiadis admitted. “I thought it was not so bad, but when I realized that all the moves do not work…”

Biel Chess Festival playing hall 2018

Biel always has a nice and spacious podium for the top grandmasters. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

With powerful moves, Mamedyarov demonstrated both the strength of his bishop pair and the weakness of Black’s queenside pawns.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Biel 2018

A great game by Mamedyarov to start with. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Peter Svidler continued their theoretical discussion in the 6.d3 Ruy Lopez. Svidler had played it nine times before as Black, including earlier this month in Jerusalem, and the last time against MVL was last year at the Sinquefield Cup.

“I am much happier about what I did today than about what I did in St. Louis when we played this line for the first time,” said Svidler. “But I’m still not entirely sure why I’m subjecting myself to this all the time!”

Svidler isn’t planning to play it again: “I doesn’t really feel like I am enjoying it very much!” “Once you get a liking to a line, it’s difficult to get rid of it,” Vachier-Lagrave said.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Peter Svidler Biel 2018

After their match in 2016, MVL and Svidler met right away in the first round. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/Biel International Chess Festival.

Biel 2018 | Round 1 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts SB
1 Carlsen,Magnus 2842 3541


1.0/1 0
2 Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar 2801 3326

1 1.0/1 0
3 Vachier-Lagrave,Maxime 2779 2753


0.5/1 0.25
4 Svidler,Peter 2753 2779


0.5/1 0.25
5 Navara,David 2741 2042 0

0.0/1 0
6 Georgiadis,Nico 2526 2001


0.0/1 0

Games via TWIC.

Earlier post:

Nepomniachtchi Maintains Dortmund Lead In Dramatic Round –

By surviving a lost position, Ian Nepomniachtchi kept his lead going into the last round of the Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund. 

Vladimir Kramnik suffered his second straight loss. He overpressed, and got outplayed by Anish Giri in an endgame. Georg Meier scored his first win, vs Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. 

It was a narrow escape for tournament leader Nepomniachtchi, who had been outplayed by Duda, was two pawns down and basically waiting for his opponent to deliver the decisive blow. But it didn’t come.

A tough one for Duda, who had played like Karpov in his best 1.e4 days up to that point.

Duda Nepomniachtchi Dortmund 2018

An important save by Nepomniachtchi. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Duda was not the only one leaving the round with a bitter feeling. Vladimir Kramnik suffered an unnecessary loss as well, after avoiding the draw a few times. Anish Giri had played a good game, and around move 30 it was time to call it a day.

Instead, Kramnik continued playing aggressively, but it all backfired. Giri ended up with two connected passed pawns on the queenside, and after defending accurately against White’s threats, this pawn duo decided the game.


Kramnik Giri Dortmund 2018

Kramnik might have been over-optimistic again. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Georg Meier had started with five solid draws, and his tournament got even better as he won in round six. At the same time, this edition of Dortmund has become a disaster for Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, who lost his fourth game. 

Thanks to excellent preparation Meier got a clearly better position out of the opening. “I didn’t want to have to settle for draw so easily, like against Kovalev, so I decided to look at the main line a bit more in the last few days.”

That worked out well, and with an early tactic he won material. The technical phase was no problem either.

Meier Nisipeanu Dortmund 2018

A disastrous tournament for Nisipeanu. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Radek Wojtaszek and Vladislav Kovalev played a Catalan that turned into a kind of Tarrasch Queen’s Gambit after Black played the new move 8…c5. White got the better pawn structure and managed to keep an advantage, but Wojtaszek said that he missed the move 30.Bf3! after which things petered out into a draw.

Wojtaszek Kovalev Dortmund 2018

Wojtaszek vs Kovalev. | Photo: Georgios Souleidis.

Dortmund 2018 | Round 6 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pt SB
1 Nepomniachtchi,Ian 2757 2848 ½ ½

½ ½ 1 1 4.0/6
2 Kovalev,Vladislav 2655 2776 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½

½ 3.5/6 10.75
3 Duda,Jan-Krzysztof 2737 2764 ½ ½ ½

1 0 1 3.5/6 9
4 Meier,Georg 2628 2786

½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3.5/6 8.75
5 Giri,Anish 2782 2765 ½ 0

½ ½ 1 1 3.5/6 8.5
6 Wojtaszek,Radoslaw 2733 2667 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½

2.5/6 8.5
7 Kramnik,Vladimir 2792 2660 0

1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 2.5/6 7
8 Nisipeanu,Liviu-Dieter 2672 2446 0 ½ 0 0 0

½ 1.0/6

Pairings last round, Sunday, July 22 at 1 p.m. (4 a.m. Pacific, 7 a.m. Eastern): Nepomniachtchi-Meier, Giri-Duda, Kovalev-Kramnik, Nisipeanu-Wojtaszek. You can follow the games in Live Chess.

Games via TWIC.

Earlier posts:

Carlsen Tops Biel Field, Starting Tomorrow –

For the first time in six years, Magnus Carlsen is playing in Biel again. He tops the field and will compete with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Peter Svidler, David Navara and Nico Georgiadis.

The 51st Biel Chess Festival will take place July 22-August 1 in the Congress House in Biel, Switzerland. The main event is a six-player double round robin. The time control is 100 minutes for 40 moves, then 50 minutes for 20 moves followed by 15 minutes to finish the game with a 30-second increment starting from move one.

Biel 2018 | Participants

# Rank Fed Name Rating B-Year
1 1 Carlsen, Magnus 2842 1990
2 3 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2801 1985
3 8 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2779 1990
4 16 Svidler, Peter 2753 1976
5 20 Navara, David 2741 1985
6 699 Georgiadis, Nico 2526 1996

The Grand Chess Tour doesn’t fit Magnus Carlsen‘s schedule this year, which gives him the opportunity to play some other tournaments. Those include the European Club Cup in the fall, and the Biel Chess Festival in the summer.

Carlsen played in Biel six times before: in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012. He won twice, in 2007 and 2011. It will be his first tournament in two months, after finishing second behind Fabiano Caruana at Norway Chess.

One of the things he’s been busy with (besides watching the FIFA World Cup!) is the activities connected to the launch of a new app for kids that bears his name.

After the cook-off in Norway, Carlsen was also quickly wearing “chef gear” again.As Tarjei Svensen informed us, Carlsen didn’t really cook though; these were clothes of a Norwegian supermarket, where one of his friends works. They played in an informal “team talking chess” event.

There’s another 2800 player in the tournament: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Remarkably, the Azerbaijani grandmaster has never played in Biel before. He’s one of two players who were at the chess board recently as participants of the Leuven and Paris Grand Chess Tour events.

The other is Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the third seed. He played Biel eight times in consecutive years, between 2009 and 2016 (the last year was a match with Svidler). He won no less than five times.

When they meet, MVL might get a firm handshake from Carlsen and congratulations for France winning the FIFA World Cup.

Peter Svidler, MVL’s opponent in 2016, is back as well. It will be his fourth time in the Swiss city, as he also played in 2000 and 2001. The Russian GM is reasonably warmed up after his rapid and blitz match with Yu Yangyi in June and the Gideon Japhet Memorial in July.

David Navara has played in Biel twice before, in 2015 and 2017. His recent events include the Shamkir tournament and some games in the French and Polish leagues. His last event was a rapid match with Pentala Harikrishna, in June in Prague.

Last seeded Nico Georgiadis is the atypical grandmaster in this field, being rated 200 Elo points lower than fifth seed Navara. However, for chess events it’s very typical to give a local player the opportunity to play against world class players, and thus providing them with the necessary experience to make further progress.

Last year, when Hou Yifan won the tournament, Georgiadis did more than fine in his first appearance in the main event, scoring 5/9 and a 2705 performance rating.

The games will start every day at 2 p.m. central European time (5 a.m. Pacific, 8 a.m. Eastern). You can follow them in Live Chess. The Chessbrahs will be providing daily commentary with GMs Yasser Seirawan, Eric Hansen and Aman Hambleton which you can follow on and

The commentary team for the official website consists of GM Danny King and IM Anna Rudolf, which happens to be the same duo as at the Isle of Man tournament later this year. Good to have them warmed up a bit. 

As always, the Biel festival includes many more side events, including a strong open where the top seed is Ukrainian 2700-grandmaster Pavel Eljanov. All the info can be found on the official website.

CHESS#1310 – Business Standard

Business Standard

Business Standard
India’s chess squads are gearing up for the Batumi Olympiad. The Open squad is led by Viswanathan Anand, who’s playing Olympiads after a long gap. The women will be boosted by the return of Koneru Humpy, who hasn’t played since the middle of 2016, …

A Chess Whopper: Challenge 'The King' On –

Kings don’t usually work this hard, but with tomorrow (July 20) being International Chess Day, “The King” is making an exception.

Burger King’s iconic mascot has been a longtime chess fan for years, but he’s just now entering the arena of competitive chess. Some customers even claim to have seen his app open while working the drive through. 


On Friday he will turn off his flame grill and focus on the royal game. For six hours, The King will play all comers on’s live server. His account? What else, TheKing! and Burger King are teaming up just to make International Chess Day a little more fun. There are no costs or official prizes, but it’s possible that those who dethrone The King may get a little offering from the restaurant.

You can challenge The King any time from 10 a.m-4 p.m. Eastern time by clicking this direct link. All games will be five minutes with no increment. The King only likes to play one game at a time, so if you don’t have your challenge accepted right away, just wait in the queue.

The 1-3 p.m. block will also be broadcast live at and


If you beat The King, Burger King may even share your win on its social media channels. Make sure to use the hashtag #PlayTheKing during tomorrow’s event.

Playing under a secret account on, The King has shown some unorthodox opening choices. We guess he just likes to Have It Your Way. Unsurprisingly, he’s shown a penchant for the King’s Gambit and King’s Indian Defense. Wonder why?

Tomorrow is also International Jump Day and Lollipop Day, but that sounds like a dangerous combination. Instead, we hope you enjoy International Chess Day by participating in the #PlayTheKing challenge!

Remember to use this link to challenge TheKing starting at 10 a.m. Eastern U.S. time July 20!