Three former Berkeley Chess School Students are among the 14 players in this year’s U.S. Chess Championship! Grandmaster Sam Shankland, the 2018 U.S. Champ, and GM Christopher Yoo are 3/6 so far, with GM Hans Niemann 2.5/6

The biggest upset of the tournament so far was in Round 2, with the youngest player in the tournament, 15 year old Christopher Yoo, defeating defending champion Wesley So with the black pieces! Yoo bravely chose to play the Petroff Defense, which is a specialty of So’s. In the interview after the game, Yoo explained that:

“I wanted to play an actual good opening, not try to be unsound, just be as solid as possible.”


He was well prepared, and only had to start thinking after the 15th move. Early on, there was a chance for a 3 fold repetition of position draw, but the reigning champ declined against his younger foe. Yoo soon got a powerful attack against So’s king-side castle, with the f-pawn being the bayonet. Christopher offered a knight sacrifice on move 24 that couldn’t be accepted, and on move 32 sacrificed this same knight in order to smash So’s castle!

“It was more of an intuitive decision. I just felt like there had to be some huge attack after it, and I didn’t calculate it that deeply. I just had the feeling, and I almost missed that he had this Qg2 Rf2 defence, and he was kind of defending everything, and I kind of got lucky that I still had resources after that.” 

On move 41 he allowed his rook to be captured by a bishop in order for the f-pawn to menace white’s king, and So resigned after being completely surrounded on move 48. It’s the biggest win of Christopher’s young career, proving that he can compete with the very best!

Play through Christopher’s game here:

And follow the tournament here:

GM Christopher Woojin Yoo from his BCS yearbook days