US Cadet


Unfortunately, the summer of chess has come to an end. Fortunately, it ended with me making history!

I started my August with the Washington International, and then played the U.S. Cadet Championship.  The U.S. Cadet is an invitational round robin tournament for the top juniors aged under 16. The players were Albert Lu, Hans Niemann, Ben Li, Carissa Yip, Yoon-Young Kim, Andrew Titus, Christoper Shen, Trung Nguyen and Andy Huang. Quite a strong field, as everyone was a master rated above 2200.

Before the tournament started, we had a blitz tournament for tiebreak. Trung Nguyen got first, Hans Niemann got second, and Ben Li got third. The tiebreak was basically used to determine who would get the UMBC scholarship in case if people tied for first. 

Round 2: Stalemate Swindles

I had managed to beat my first opponent, Andy Huang, from the previous evening. Now I was facing Ben Li, who ended up being my fellow co-champion. Little did I know, this was the game that I would most regret.


I had played well in the middle game, and here I was just up a piece for no compensation. Then came the fatal blunder. I played Kg1??

This was a huge mistake. Black had only one idea, and had I played Kf1 instead, he likely would have resigned. Rg2!!! And the point is I can't take because it's stalemate. Now I was just losing back the piece, leading to a draw since Black manages to get my passed pawns.

Round Four: Opening Preparation!!!

After a loss in the third round against Albert Lu, I needed a good win to get me back in competition for the title. I played my good friend Chris Shen in this round. I had managed to find one of his games from the Barber Tournament where he played a dubious line in an opening. As expected, he played the same line against me, and he made a mistake, which gave me a winning attack.


Round Five: The Toughest Opponent

I thought that Hans would be the most difficult opponent to face, and I was right. After playing a very rare line in the King's Indian, he got a better position out of the opening, and actually started a strong attack. However, I defended pretty well and, after an inaccuracy from him, managed to win the game. 

Round Seven: The Hard Loss

After winning round six, I was playing Andrew Titus, another good friend of mine. Ben and I were now the only leaders and I felt I had to try to win the rest of my games. I played quite badly and Andrew managed to beat me quite easily. I was upset after this round, since Ben was now ahead of me by half a point, but it wasn't over yet.

After a nice win in round eight, I was again tied for first with just Ben. If we either both won or drew our games in the last round, we would be co-champs, and this is where the blitz tournament tiebreaks kick in. Ben would get the scholarship while I wouldn't.

Round Nine: The Most Critical

Yoon-Young Kim was lower rated than me, but I was Black and he plays very solidly. I knew that this would be a tough game to win, and a draw was the expected result. I played the Grunfeld, hoping for complex positions, and he played a line that I had never seen before. My position out of the opening was quite bad, but I ended up sacrificing the exchange and getting good counterplay. In the end, a draw was agreed since I had perpetual.

Meanwhile, Ben had also accepted a draw from Trung, and so we both tied for first.

Ben Li and Carissa Yip: Co-Champions of U.S. Cadet 2017.

A few days after the tournament was over, an article was published on to announce that I was the only girl ever to win/tie for first at the U.S. Cadet. Many thanks to my parents, my coaches, my friends, and of course, Mr. Alex Relyea for sponsoring the tournament.

Until next time, ChessKids!

[Editor's note: ChessKid staff is extremely proud of Carissa for her chess accomplishments and all the "firsts" that she has been able to accomplish. We look forward to her writing more articles and producing more videos for ChessKid!]