On Chess: U.S. Senior and Junior Champions Crowned in St. Louis
Three national chess titles were awarded last week as the 2021 U.S. Senior, U.S. Junior, and U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships took place from July 16-26 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Each event featured ten of the nation’s best junior and senior players to compete for approximately $100,000 in prizes and scholarships available to the participants.
Winning their individual tournaments were grandmasters Gregory Kaidanov (U.S. Senior), Hans Niemann (U.S. Junior), and international master Annie Wang (U.S. Girls’ Junior). With their victories, Niemann and Wang qualified to the 2022 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship.
2021 U.S. Senior Championship
Gregory Kaidanov won the 2021 U.S. Senior Championship. He’s a 61-year-old grandmaster and U.S. Chess Hall of Famer from Lexington, Kentucky. It’s Kaidanov’s first national title and he earned first place by winning a two-game rapid playoff tiebreak match against Larry Christiansen, after the two players both finished with 6.5/9 in the main tournament. Kaidanov dominated the first six rounds of the event, scoring 5.5/6, but stumbled in the final three rounds by only scoring one point, allowing Christiansen to catch up. In the rapid playoff, Kaidanov drew the first game and then won the second in brilliant style, winning the overall title.
2021 U.S. Junior Championship
In the U.S. Junior, first place was won by Hans Niemann, 18, who scored 6.0/9 in the event, finishing half a point ahead of his nearest rivals. Earlier this year, Niemann travelled to Europe to play a series of tournaments, earning his final grandmaster norms and gaining over 100 points in rating. Niemann entered the event with extreme confidence, and despite losing his penultimate round to Christopher Yoo, was still able to score enough points to finish in first place by the end.
2021 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship
Top seed in the U.S. Girls’ Junior, Annie Wang, started off strong with three straight wins but made a serious misstep in Round 4, when she blundered and lost to Rochelle Wu. This allowed several players to catch up to Wang, who then needed to win several more games to regain the lead. Going into the last round, Wang held a full-point lead over her opponent, Ruiyang Yan, and just needed to draw the game to clinch the title. She managed, and secured first place with a final score of 7.0/9 points.
Coming up next in elite chess will be the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz, part of the Grand Chess Tour, which takes place Aug 11-15. Fans can tune in to grandchesstour.org for live coverage, standings, and results from the event.
IM Kostya Kavutskiy is a professional chess player, writer, and streamer currently residing in Mountain View, California. You can follow Kostya at twitter.com/hellokostya.