Jeffrey Xiong Leads U.S. Junior Chess Closed Championship after four Rounds
“Experience has been big,” Xiong said. “The first few times I played (in the Junior Closed), I haven’t been as comfortable and as confident as I feel now. Probably one or two years ago, I wouldn’t have been as confident in sacrificing a piece like I did in today’s game.”The win sets Xiong (3.5/4) as the tournament’s first clear leader, with the Dallas star remaining undefeated and plus-3 after four rounds. Also winning on Monday was IM Luke Harmon-Vellotti (3/4), last year’s Junior Closed runner-up, who has now put together three consecutive victories -- the latest after cracking open a slight rook-and-pawn endgame advantage over IM Sam Sevian. Harmon-Vellotti’s win moves him into a second-place tie with GM Kayden Troff (3/4), who lost his share of the lead after Monday’s draw with IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy.
Xiong’s accelerated pace also breaks the three frontrunners away from rest of the pack, as a four-way tie for fourth sits a full point behind (2/4) the leader group.
It is no longer a secret that Sevian (1/4) is having a rough tournament, now minus-three across four rounds after seeing breakdowns in all phases of his game -- this latest to Harmon-Vellotti in the form of an endgame collapse.
FMs Michael Bodek and Justus Williams played each other to a wonderful fighting draw, with both sides playing for wins -- and both players coming up just short of tempo to finish their attacks.
From Alexandra Kosteniuk's
Also see her personal chess blog
Don't miss Chess Queen™