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Pivotal Matchups Await 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Finale

SAINT LOUIS (June 29, 2014) -- The 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship has been decisive in its theme, with victories claimed on four of five boards in each of the tournament’s last four rounds -- and today seems like another good day for a fight.

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FM Michael Bodek is turning in a fantastic tournament performance and finds himself just a half point behind the leader, GM Kayden Troff, heading into the final round.

Troff on Top; Lone Grandmaster Upends Tourney Leaders

SAINT LOUIS (June 28, 2014) -- For the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed, GM Kayden Troff decided to change up his tournament strategy -- on the only day he didn’t play chess.

The top seed of the event began his 2014 campaign claiming the expected headlines after taking an early lead in the standings, but then his focus seemed to waver. Back-to-back draws made him momentarily fall out of the limelight and then, literally, the worst: A loss to FM Michael Bodek -- and on the day before the break.

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IM Luke Harmon Vellotti fell to GM Kayden Troff in round 6, and then Troff followed that up with a victory over tourney leader IM Jeffrey Xiong (not pictured) in round 7.

Xiong, Troff Matchup Looms Large in Round 7

SAINT LOUIS (June 27, 2014) -- The 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship is a round-robin event, now with a Swiss-system flavor.

Leaders have begun to collide in the late rounds of the U21 national championship, as several predetermined pairings through the tournament’s homestretch are proving favorable toward the Swiss theme.

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IM Jeffrey Xiong still leads the field with a score of 4.5/6, but faces his toughest test in round 7 agaisnt GM Kayden Troff.

Upsets Shuffle Standings at Junior Closed Halfway Point

SAINT LOUIS (June 25, 2014) -- The bottom’s up in round 5 of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship.

Heading into the round, the standings’ top-three leaders had begun to break away, separating themselves from the rest of the field by a full point -- but on Tuesday those front-runners were suddenly reminded: Not so fast. The bottom three players in the standings combined for three points, while the top three scored just a half-point.

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Ben Finegold and Aviv Friedman interview Matt Larson after his round 5 victory over Alex Ostrovskiy.

Confident Xiong Grabs Lead at U.S. Junior Closed Championship

SAINT LOUIS (June 24, 2014) -- Experience is starting to pay dividends -- on the board and in the standings.

13-year-old IM Jeffrey Xiong, in his third Junior Closed Championship appearance, played with relaxed confidence on Monday despite leading a heavy mating assault through unclear waters. Xiong as white set the theme early with a 14. Nxe6 sacrifice, immediately exposing and launching siege on FM Arthur Shen’s uncastled king -- initiating a tension-filled game that demanded some act-like-you’ve-been-there posturing.

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Jeffrey Xiong, 13, is playing in his third U.S. Junior Closed Championship in Saint Louis.

Sevian Scores; Troff, Xiong Lead U.S. Junior Closed After 3

SAINT LOUIS (June 23, 2014) -- The U.S. Junior Closed is playing into its familiar theme: Guess what happens next.

The 2014 national championship for players under 21, which began Friday at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, kicked off with several shocker upsets and has since proven extremely decisive -- with only four draws through 15 games -- leaving the first weekend of the 9-round, round-robin event more like a sprint through a minefield.

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IM Sam Sevian, one of the pre-tournament favorites, got on the board with a victory over FM Michael Bodek in round 3.

Troff Trounces, Sicilians Stomped in Round 2 of U.S. Junior Closed

SAINT LOUIS (June 22, 2014) -- Historically, the Sicilian defense may be known as one of the best-scoring responses to the 1. e4 attack. But not today.

In the second round of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, four out of five games saw black answering in the classic resistance, though white was able to smash through all but one. Saturday brought another decision-filled afternoon, with just a single draw -- the first of the tournament through 10 games -- as the Najdorf by FM Arthur Shen held up against FM Michael Bodek.

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GM Kayden Troff looks to be in top form through the first two rounds of the 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship.

Nation's Top Juniors Prepare for Title Fight in Saint Louis

SAINT LOUIS (June 19, 2014) -- The 2014 U.S. Junior Closed Championship, the national title fight for players under 21, held its opening ceremonies on Thursday night at the host Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. The ceremony marked the fifth consecutive year the event has been held at the iconic midwest venue, which has given away over $1M in prizes in hosting the trifecta of American title events - including the U.S. and Women’s Championships - since opening in 2008.

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Sam Sevian is just one GM norm away from shattering the record as the youngest-ever grandmaster in U.S. history. (Paul Morigi/AP Images)

Juniors Help Congress at Capitol Hill Tourney

Members of the Congressional Chess Caucus Competed to Highlight the Educational Benefits of Chess 

WASHINGTON D.C. (June 19, 2014) – Members of the newly formed Congressional Chess Caucus competed in the first Congressional Chess Tournament to promote the game’s educational benefits, and they had a little help from some of the nation’s top junior chess players. 

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Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Garry Kasparov watch as Jeffrey Xiong and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) make their next move at the first-ever Congressional Chess Match in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/AP)