St. Louis Sports Day

15-year-old Chess Prodigy Crowned 2016 U.S. Junior Closed Champion in Saint Louis


Age is only a number – and it’s certainly true in the world of chess. At only 15-years-old, Jeffery Xiong of Coppell, Texas, came out on top at the 2016 U.S. Junior Closed Championship – the most prestigious tournament for American chess players under 21 years of age – held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) July 7-18. The Grandmaster received a $6,000 grand prize and automatically qualifies to play in the 2017 U.S. Chess Championship – the nation’s top chess tournament. Jeffery is currently the highest ranked player in the world under the age of 16.

“I would say I was pretty fortunate to come out on top in the event,” said Jeffery. “I was really impressed with all the players for their tremendous fighting spirit and what they bring to the game. The Juniors are known to play fighting chess and that’s what everyone wants to see.”

International Master (IM) Awonder Liang, 13, of Madison, Wis., received the second place prize of $4,000 and IM Ruifeng Li, 14, of Plano, Texas, received the third place prize of $3,000 for the tournament. The conclusion of this year’s Junior Closed Championships marks the eighth anniversary of the CCSCSL, and the seventh consecutive year the tournament has been held at the Club.

“Who would have thought just eight short years ago that the Saint Louis Chess Club would have seen such memorable and prestigious events,” said Tony Rich, CCSCSL Executive Director. “The Junior Closed is one of my favorites each year, and the 2016 edition was no exception.”

The Junior Closed Championship and the U.S. Chess Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship make up the “Triple Crown” of chess championships – the most prestigious chess tournaments held in the United States each year. The final tournament held at the CCSCSL, the Sinquefield Cup, is an international invite-only tournament comprised of the best chess players in the world, taking place this year Aug. 5-16.