The third prize in the US chess championship of US students Evening Digest | So Good News
Avonder Liang, a 19-year-old chess prodigy from Madison, Wisconsin, is no stranger to international competition. He is a two-time World Youth Chess Champion: 2011 World Under-8 Champion and 2013 World Under-10 Champion.
When he became a grandmaster (GM for short) in 2017 at the age of 14, he won one of the biggest prizes in chess, becoming one of the youngest people to win an international chess title.
GM Liang, a college freshman at the University of Chicago this fall, recently completed a game at this year’s US Chess Championship. The tournament was held in St. Louis from October 4th to October 20th and featured the top 14 players in the country in a play-all format where Liang finished third and took home a $30,000 purse.
GM Fabiano Caruana won the tournament with four wins, nine draws and no defeats for a total of 8.5 points. GM Ray Robson was second with 8 points, while Liang and GM Leiner Dominguez Perez had 7.5 points apiece.
Liang stunned observers with his incredible play in Round 5 on October 10, opting for an interesting gambit not usually seen in top grandmaster play. But the teenager’s sharp follow-up and careful calculation meant he beat ex-Armenian Major General Levon Aronian, the fourth-ranked player in chess history and described by CNN as the “David Beckham of chess”. Liang’s 32-move victory in the Scottish Gambit was chosen as Game of the Day by Chess.com, one of the world’s most popular online chess sites.
The tournament was held at the St. Louis Chess Club, home to an international tournament prior to the US Championship, so there was attention and at times almost a wave of excitement. It was at the previous tournament that World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway shocked the chess community by accusing American Major General Hans Niemann of cheating. Niemann was one of 14 players to play in the U.S. Championship and often posed for pictures or answered questions. Liang played Nieman in the final round of the championship; Their game was a draw.
After the tournament, Liang was asked by chess journalist and Ukrainian chess player Anastasiya Karlovych which game of the championship he liked. Karlovic and his fellow chess commentators expected Liang Aronian to win, but he instead chose a draw with eventual champion Caruana as his favorite of the tournament. GM Caruana is often called super GM, the best. He is the former world No. 2 and one of the few players in the world who has the right to play Magnus Carlsen for the world chess title. Caruana lost to Carlsen in London in 2018.
Liang’s interviews during the tournament were also special, as he constantly mentioned that in addition to preparing for each day’s chess game, he also had to prepare for his university homework. The young grandmaster also reported that one of his U. of C. professors was encouraging him to play interesting and unusual openings.