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Many Chicago area players took advantage of the move of this year’s U.S. Junior Open from the originally scheduled site in California to Elmhurst University. Players from around the country competed in four age-based sections. Elie Platnick of Evanston and Aidan Carey of Naperville tied for first place in the U21 section, along with Pedro Espinosa of New York. Jack Heller of Chicago won the U15 section, Illinois’ Rohan Menon and Alexander Woo tied for third in the U11 section, and Lucas Silvestre of Illinois took first place in the U8 section.

Platnick lost to Senior Master Vincent Tsay in round 3 but climbed back into the group of top finishers by playing a fine attacking game to upset second-ranked Arthur Xu in the final round.

White: Elijah Platnick

Black: Arthur Xu

1e4 e5 2Bc4 Nf6 3Nc3 Nc6 4d3 Na5 5Nge2 Nxc4 6dxc4 Bc5 70-0 d6 8Qd3 Be6 9b3 Nd7 10Be3, 0-0 11f4, exf4 12Rxf4? Ne5? (12…Bxc4! would have won a pawn for black; if 13bxc4? Nxc4 attacks white’s queen and bishop and wins additional material for black.)

13Qd2 Qg5 14h4 Qh6 15Nd4 Qg6? (Black avoids the threatened discovered attack on his queen after 16Rxf7, but after 15…Rae8 16Rxf7? doesn’t work for white because black plays Qxh4 with the winning threat of Nxg4)

White to Move

Platnick – Xu Move 16

16Nf5! (threatening Ne7+ winning black’s queen)

16…Bxe3 (after 16…Rfe8! 17Nb5 white threatens Nxc7, but black can play 17…Bxf5 18exf5 Qg3! when both players would have chances)

17Qxe3 (white’s queen now defends the g3 square) Rfe8 18Nb5 Rac8 19Nxa7 Rcd8 20Nb5 White is up a pawn, but black has some attacking chances.

20…Bxf5 21exf5 Qf6 22Qd4 c6 23Nc3 c5?! (better is 22…h5 to support moving the knight to g4) 24Qd2 Nc6?! (24…h5) 25 Re1 (white now threatens Nd5, attacking black’s queen)

25…Nd4? (after 25…Rxe1+ 26Qxe1 Kf8 27Nd5 Qe5 28Qxe5 white is better but black has some defensive chances) 26Nd5

Black to Move

 Platnick – Xu Move 26

26…Qh6 (after 26…Rxe1+ 27Qxe1 Qe5? 28Re4 black gets checkmated if his queen moves off the e-file) 27Rxe8 Rxe8

White to Move

Platnick – Xu Move 28

28Rxd4! This forces the exchange of several pieces, leading to a won king and pawn endgame for white.

28…cxd4 29Qxh6 gxh6 30Nf6+ Kf8 31Nxe8 Kxe8 32Kf2 Ke7 33Kf3 Kf6 34Ke4 h5 35b4 b6 36 a4 h6 37g3

Black to Move

Platnick – Xu Final Position

Black resigns. White has an easy win thanks to his extra queenside pawn and black’s weak pawns.

Keith Holzmueller

Keith Holzmueller has been the head coach of the Evanston Township High School Chess Club and Team since 2017. He became a serious chess player during his high school years. As an adult player, he obtained...

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