Chandra tops U.S. Junior

In what seems to be a never-ending string of successes for the members of the Young Stars program, co-sponsored by the Kasparov Chess Foundation and by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, Akshat Chandra and Jeffery Xiong have taken the 1st and 2nd spots at the U.S. Junior Invitational tournament.


The winner! IM Akshat Chandra.


Young Star member Awonder Liang had an explosive start.


The founder of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, Rex Sinquefield, playing against a future talent. The future talent won.

The tournament was hard fought, and brought together the top u20 players around the country to battle it out for the title. The race for first place was tight, and it came down to decisive results in the last round. Jeffery Xiong, who was trailing Chandra before the 9th bout, won his game against Curran Han. Meanwhile, Akshat Chandra faced, with black, against another Young Star talent: Awonder Liang. As GM McKenzie Molner reports from the official website,


Chief Arbiter Tony Rich

“After the first three rounds of the tournament these two players were the leaders, and it was presumed that this 9th round matchup could potentially decide the tournament’s results. It turned out that this was true but not the way Awonder would have wanted it. In his last five games, Awonder was only able to score one point, compared to Akshat Chandra who was still leading the tournament. A round nine win for Akshat would guarantee him first place, $6,000 and a seat in the next U.S. Chess Championship. With the Black pieces for round nine, it would prove to be no easy task.


Yian Liou vs. Awonder Liang

Chandra’s form took a dip in the middle of the tournament, but he peaked in the last couple rounds and was playing his best chess of the tournament. He reacted to Awonder’s 1.e4 in his typical fashion, playing the Taimanov Sicilian. The game was a relatively quiet Sicilian, devoid of the tactical opportunities that usually characterize this particular opening. Awonder held slight pressure throughout the opening and early middlegame, but it never led to more than mild discomfort for Chandra. Chandra slowly gained control of the game.”

After a couple of mutual mistakes, Akshat became the winner of the event, and the second person qualified for the U.S. Championship of 2016… GM Hikaru Nakamura, America’s #1 player, is the only other player that already qualified for this event! Not only that, Akshat took home $6,000 for his efforts.


There is no rest for these players, however. Chandra looks forward to completing the requirements for the GM title by staying in Saint Louis and playing the GM Norm Invitational. Jeffery Xiong is also participating in this event… he even got a mild amount of revenge on his Young Star colleague, in the GM Norm invitational Jeffery beat Akshat!

Final Standings:

Rank Name Score Rating
1 IM Chandra, Akshat 6.0 2589
2 IM Xiong, Jeffery 5.5 2621
3 FM Shen, Arthur 5.0 2505
4 FM Li, Ruifeng 4.5 2488
5 FM Bodek, Michael H 4.0 2528
6 IM Liou, Yian 4.0 2501
7 IM Harmon-Vellotti, Luke 3.5 2545
8 FM Liang, Awonder 3.5 2483
9 Brattain, Mika A 2.5 2452
10 Han, Curran R 1.5 2211


Another wonderfully run tournament by the STLCC!

Press around the World has picked up on the story, you can find it on the main page of, one of the leading news sites of the chess world.

All Photos by Austin Fuller

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