After the first three rounds of the tournament these two players were the leaders, and it was presumed that this 9th round matchup could potentially decide the tournament's results. It turned out that this was true but not the way Awonder would have wanted it. In his last five games, Awonder was only able to score one point, compared to Akshat Chandra who was still leading the tournament. A round nine win for Akshat would guarantee him first place, $6,000 and a seat in the next U.S. Chess Championship. With the Black pieces for round nine, it would prove to be no easy task.
Chandra's form took a dip in the middle of the tournament, but he peaked in the last couple rounds and was playing his best chess of the tournament. He reacted to Awonder's 1.e4 in his typical fashion, playing the Taimanov Sicilian. The game was a relatively quiet Sicilian, devoid of the tactical opportunities that usually characterize this particular opening. Awonder held slight pressure throughout the opening and early middlegame, but it never led to more than mild discomfort for Chandra. Chandra slowly gained control of the game. By move 33 he had a great chance to solidify his advantage with the move f4! He made the most of this opportunity, playing this move relatively quickly. Awonder's 35th move was the cause of his demise. Rather than playing Rd3, he needed to play Rf3, with reasonable chances of defending.
By the time Black played 36... Bc6, White's position was beyond salvation. Chandra brought the point home in convincing fashion, needing only 5 more moves before forcing White's resignation. A quiet but very well-played game. With the win in round nine, Akshat Chandra won the 2015 U.S. Junior Closed Championship!
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