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U.S. Junior Champ Hopefuls Blitz as Battle Looms

Blitz games passed the time surrounding the 2013 U.S. Junior Closed Championship opening ceremony last night, as America’s best players under the age of 21 gathered at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Article by Brian Jerauld.

There were no signs of calculated attack in the upstairs tournament hall Thursday night. Instead, fast moves and friendly banter was the theme, with group analysis around every board and waning clock. Friendly debate over the current position was common, and above all, there was laughter. As if a game was being played.

If there was any clue that war was ahead, it was during the drawing of the lots. Focus tightened as CCSCSL Executive Director Tony Rich randomly selected each player to draw numbers, determining round pairings and, more importantly, who would command the white pieces for five of the nine rounds. Mental gears began to turn with every selection.

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL)

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL)

Luke Harmon-Vellotti, Daniel Naroditsky, Atulya Shetty, Sam Sevian and Victor Shen won the white-piece advantage for the duration of the event. Round 1 begins today at 1 p.m. CT. (Click here to see the full schedule.) Pairings for the first round are as follows:

FM Harmon-Vellotti Luke 2340 – IM Troff Kayden 2443
IM Naroditsky Daniel 2494 – FM Xiong Jeffrey 2370
FM Shetty Atulya 2320 – Perez Robert M 2359
FM Sevian Samuel 2390 – FM Liou Yian 2385
IM Shen Victor 2411 – WFM Chiang Sarah 2101

Last year champion was Marc Arnold.

Games begin daily at 1:00 p.m. local time, along with live analysis for each round from Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan and Ben Finegold.

Spectators can view the games and commentary online at or live at the Chess Club in the Central West End.

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