|U.S. Junior Champ Hopefuls Blitz as Battle Looms|
|By Brian Jerauld|
|June 14, 2013|
SAINT LOUIS (June 14, 2013) -- What do 10 of the nation's finest juniors do while waiting for pairings? They play chess, of course.
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.
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.
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: