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US Junior Champion and Beyond: Akshat Chandra Print E-mail
By Vanessa West   
July 19, 2015
Awonder Liang and Akshat Chandra, Photo STL Chess Club

To say that Akshat Chandra has been on a winning streak would be an understatement.

In April, Chandra obtained his second GM norm. A week later, he became the National High School Champion and the National High School Blitz Champion.

He is currently the highest rated 16-year-old in the country. He also holds the highest rapid rating for those under age 21 in the country. His recent US Junior victory gives him his first US Chess rating over 2600.

Chandra was undefeated throughout the entire nine round competition, giving him a streak of 15 tournament games without a loss. A huge contributing factor to Chandra's success was his ability to hold draws in very difficult positions.

Can you guess how Chandra immediately drew this rook endgame?

Ruifeng Li vs. Akshat Chandra


Black to move.


Show Solution

One of Chandra's best games was his victory over his fellow tournament leader at the time, FM Arthur Shen, in the pivotal 8th round.


Shen sacrificed a pawn to activate his pieces and escape from Chandra's pressure on his f7 pawn. However, over the course of the tense middlegame, Chandra was able to defuse Shen's initiative and soon build up a kingside attack of his own. The clean and practical way that Chandra handles Shen's attack and trades off his opponent's key pieces is very impressive.

 After this victory, Chandra was in clear first, and retained his lead to the end of the championship. As GM Molner said, "Chandra picked a great time to play his best chess of the tournament!"

So what's next for this extremely talented junior?

His greatest ambition in chess is to earn the game's highest title. In Chandra's in-depth blog titled "Quest to GM", he chronicles his journey from his starting 1548 FIDE rating to his ultimate aspiration of the coveted Grandmaster title.

In his blog, Chandra writes:

 "I decided to write about my Quest for I believe it's important for me to keep a log of my journey - like Captain Kirk in Star Trek. When I arrive, it's the journey that'll fondly remind me of how interesting, hard and meaningful it was to get there. Perseverance leaves a long trail to write about. I don't wish to forget the details.

Along the way, this blog may perhaps help other young chess enthusiasts who can relate to this and find themselves in similar situations. I've made many mistakes and learnt many hard lessons."

At this point, Chandra is not far from his goal. He has two GM-norms, and his FIDE rating is about to cross the threshold of 2500.

Chandra's eagerness for chess is unsurpassed. After the finish of the US Junior, he decided to celebrate his tournament victory by immediately competing in another!

He is currently participating in the GM Norm Invitational in Saint Louis. Watch live games from the tournament at http://www.uschesschamps.com/2015-gm-norm-invitational/information/live