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World Team dominates the Match of Millennials

by Tatev Abrahamyan - 31/07/2017

It was a great effort by the Rex Sinquefield, and the Saint Louis Chess Club to organize such a novel match and spend US $30,000 for world's most talented youngsters. It ended in a thumping win for the world team as they beat their USA counterparts by a score of 31.5-17.5. However, what was more important was the learning experience involved in the process. Both the Indian youngsters Praggnanandhaa and Aryan Chopra performed well and contributed towards the victory of the world team. We have a detailed report along with pictures of Vishy Anand visiting the match.

Photos by Saint Louis Chess Club

 

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL), in cooperation with the Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF), the U.S. Chess Federation, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) and the FIDE Trainers’ Commission hosts the Match of the Millennials from July 26th through the 29th. Eight American players face eight of the best juniors from around the world.

USA Team:

Team

Name

FIDE Rating

Age

Home Country

Federation

U17

Jeffery Xiong

2642

17

U.S.A.

USA

U17

Sam Sevian

2633

16

U.S.A.

USA

U17

Ruifeng Li

2568

15

U.S.A.

USA

U17

John Michael Burke

2479

16

U.S.A.

USA

U17

Nicolas Checa

2415

15

U.S.A.

USA

U14

Awonder Liang

2536

14

U.S.A.

USA

U14

Andrew Hong

2334

12

U.S.A.

USA

U14

Carissa Yip

2261

13

U.S.A.

USA

U14

Martha Samadashvili   

2018

13

U.S.A.

USA

World Team:

Team

Name

FIDE Rating

Age

Home Country

Federation

U17

Haik Martirosyan

2544

17

Armenia

ARM

U17

Andrey Esipenko

2523

15

Russia

RUS

U17

Aleksey Sarana

2510

17

Russia

RUS

U17

Anton Smirnov

2495

16

Australia

AUS

U17

Aryan Chopra

2491

16

India

IND

U14

Praggnanandhaa R.

2479

12

India

IND

U14

Nodirbek Abdusattorov

2467

13

Uzbekistan

UZB

U14

Bibisara Assaubayeva

2386

13

Russia

RUS

U14

Nurgyul Salimova

2332

14

Bulgaria

FIDE

 

After eight rounds in the u-17 section and four in the u-14, the world team won the match quite easily with a score of 31.5-17.5. 

We brought you a report after day one where the world team was leading with a score of 6.5-5.5.

Day 2:

After a hard fought twelve games, the World team extended its lead over the U.S. team by two points. For the first time, the U-17 U.S. team lost even though they outrate their opponents by quite a bit. In the U-14 section, the U.S. team managed to hold the World team to a tie after Carissa Yip’s marathon game yet again, which she managed to win.

 

Under 17 Section:

The players kept things consistent by keeping the score 2-2. Sam Sevian, who was unstoppable yesterday, for some reason played a very unambitious game and drew Alexey Sarana with the white pieces in 18 moves. In a team event, this a huge advantage, as it leaves the opposing team with two whites. His teammate, World Junior Champion Jeffery Xiong, defeated Aryan Chopra’s Najdorf in a very clean game after outplaying his opponent in a positional manner then delivering a tactical blow.

Aryan was outplayed by Jeffery Xiong in the third round
[Event "Millennials Match 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.07.27"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Xiong, Jeffery"]
[Black "Aryan Chopra"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2642"]
[BlackElo "2491"]
[Annotator "A. Silver"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nde2 h5 8. Bg5
Be6 9. f4 (9. Bxf6 Qxf6 10. Nd5 Qd8 11. Qd3 Nd7 12. O-O-O g6 13. Kb1 Rc8 14.
Nec3 Bh6 15. h4 {0-1 (80) Anand,V (2775)-Vachier Lagrave,M (2783) Leuven 2017})
9... Nbd7 10. f5 Bc4 11. Ng3 Qc7 12. Bxc4 $146 ({Previously known was} 12. Qf3
Be7 13. Bxc4 Qxc4 14. Nf1 d5 15. Bxf6 Nxf6 16. Nd2 dxe4 17. Qe3 {1/2-1/2 (17)
Stojanovic,D (2503)-Arsovic,G (2385) Bihac 2016}) 12... Qxc4 13. Qf3 h4 14.
Nge2 b5 15. a3 Be7 16. O-O Rd8 17. Nc1 Nb6 18. Nd3 a5 19. Nf2 b4 20. axb4 axb4
21. Ncd1 d5 22. Ne3 Qc5 23. Bxf6 gxf6 24. exd5 $16 Nxd5 25. Nxd5 Qxd5 26. Ne4
$1 Qd4+ 27. Kh2 Qxb2 $2 {[#]} (27... Qb6 $16) 28. Nxf6+ $1 $18 {Superb and
decisive. White is now winning.} Kf8 {[#]} ({Taking with} 28... Bxf6 {just
precipitates the demise.} 29. Qc6+ Ke7) 29. Ne4 $1 f6 {[#]} 30. Ng5 $1 fxg5 (
30... e4 $18 31. Ne6+ Kf7 32. Nxd8+ Rxd8 33. Qh5+ Kg8) 31. f6 {White mates.}
Bc5 32. Qb7 Rg8 {[#]} 33. Ra7 $1 {Precision: White = 90%, Black = 33%.} 1-0

Unfortunately for the U.S. team, Ruifeng Li chose a very unsound opening against Andrey Esipenko and was punished convincingly. Anton Smirnov and John Burke drew after giving each other several winning chances but failing to take advantage of them.

 

In the fourth round, the U.S. team suffered its first loss. Things were really looking good for the American team as the Armenian Haik Martirosyan blundered against Nicolas Checa and was forced to resign several moves later.

[Event "Millennials Match 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.07.27"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Checa, Nicolas"]
[Black "Martirosyan, Haik M"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E15"]
[WhiteElo "2415"]
[BlackElo "2544"]
[Annotator "TA"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Ba6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Be7 7. Bg2 c6 8. Bc3
d5 9. Ne5 Nfd7 10. Nxd7 Nxd7 11. Nd2 f5 12. O-O O-O 13. a4 Nf6 {E15: Queen's
Indian: 4 g3 sidelines, 4 g3 Ba6 and 4 g3 Bb7 early deviations} 14. Qc2 {[#]}
g5 $146 ({Find the theoretical novelty and annotate with similar games:} 14...
Qe8 15. a5 Bd6 16. axb6 axb6 17. Ra2 Qe7 18. b4 Bc7 19. Rfa1 Bb7 20. c5 b5 21.
Nf3 {1/2-1/2 (76) Mielke,K (2560)-Brooks,I (2581) ICCF email 2009}) 15. Nf3 Nd7
{White is slightly better.} 16. Bb2 Bf6 17. a5 b5 $2 {[#]} ({Black should play
} 17... g4 $14) 18. cxd5 $18 {White is clearly winning.} Nb8 19. dxe6 Bc8 20.
Qxf5 Qe7 21. Ne5 Bxe6 22. Qc2 Rc8 23. Rac1 Bxe5 24. dxe5 Na6 25. Rfd1 Qf7 26.
Rd6 Rf8 27. Rf1 Rac8 28. Qd2 {Precision: White = 82%, Black = 30%.} 1-0

 

Sam Sevian decided to return the favor by blundering a pawn, which was enough for Anton Smirnov to bring home the point. Alexey Sarana had to suffer and defend against Jeffery Xiong for most of the game. The American superstar did not make the most out of his extra pawn in the rook ending allowing his opponent to find enough counterplay to draw. John Burke had a big advantage in the middle game and the only mistake in the game was enough for Andrey Esipenko to turn the tide, which allowed the World team to win their first match.

Under 14 Section:

After suffering a loss yesterday, the U.S. team drew the match against the higher rated World team. Andrew Hong and Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu played a sharp theoretical line where the American had to be quite careful not to find himself in trouble. He handled the complications masterfully and made a comfortable draw.

Praggnanandhaa drew his game against Andrew Hong

Martha Samadashvili out-prepared her much higher rated opponent, Bibisara Assaubayeva and got the advantage out of the opening. However, as the game went on, the Russian player demonstrated her strength and experience by not allowing her position to collapse and giving her opponent opportunities to error in an extremely complicated position. Once out of book and on her own, Samadashvili found herself in an unknown territory and made one crucial mistake, which was enough for her opponent to capitalize on and deliver the full point.

 

The newly crowned U.S. Junior Champion, Awonder Liang, once again found himself in an uncomfortable position but defended tenaciously until his opponent, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, had to settle for a draw. The score was now 2-1 in favor for the World team and it was up to Carissa Yip and Nurgyul Salimova to decide the fate of the match. This was an epic 112 move battle where first Carissa had the material advantage, then her opponent refused to repeat the position to try to go for checkmate but missed a checkmate in two moves. This, in turn, left Carissa with the material advantage away but her king was still in trouble which allowed her opponent to force a draw, an opportunity that was not spotted. Towards the very end, with reduced amount of material on the board, Salimova once again had a great opportunity to make a draw but after a five-hour of play and no time on the clock, it was yet another missed opportunity. With this win, the score of the match was a tie.

 Standings after day 2

Day 3:

Day three of the Match of the Millennials saw the complete obliteration of the U.S. team. Out of the twelve games, the Americans were able to only score 1.5 points. As usual, the members of the World team were very well prepared and mentally strong, as they didn’t let their guard down even with a commanding lead. In the post game interviews, many of the players mentioned the great team spirit they have and the amount of time they spend together analyzing and preparing for each round.

Under 17 Section:

After a tough loss in the previous round, the U.S. team really needed to score big today. Given that their top two players, Jefferey Xiong and Sam Sevian had the white pieces, a comeback seemed to be on the horizon. Unfortunately, they were off to a bad start after Nicolas Checa was completely annihilated by Alexey Sarana.

 

An early win is a big confidence boost for the rest of the team since it puts the pressure to catch up on the other team. Even with the bad start, the rest of the positions looked promising for the Americans. Ruifeng Li had a comfortable position with the black pieces against Aryan Chopra. Not the one to shy away from complications, the American tried to push for a win but his opponent handled the attack masterfully, trading most of the pieces and ending the game in a draw.

[Event "Millennials Match 2017"]
[Site "Saint Louis"]
[Date "2017.07.28"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Aryan Chopra"]
[Black "Li, Ruifeng"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B80"]
[WhiteElo "2491"]
[BlackElo "2568"]
[Annotator "TA"]
[PlyCount "86"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. f3 b5 8. Qd2
b4 {B80: Sicilian Scheveningen: 6 g3 and 6 Be3, including English Attack} 9.
Na4 Nbd7 10. c4 bxc3 11. Nxc3 Bb7 12. Be2 Be7 13. O-O O-O 14. Rac1 Qb8 15. a3
Rd8 16. b4 {[#]} d5 $146 17. exd5 Nxd5 18. Nxd5 Bxd5 19. Bg5 (19. Bf4 $5 Qb7
20. Rfd1 $11) 19... Nf6 {White must now prevent ...Bb7.} 20. Qe3 Qb7 (20... Bb7
$5 21. Rfd1 h6 $15) 21. Rfd1 Rac8 22. Rxc8 Rxc8 23. Rc1 h6 24. Rxc8+ Qxc8 25.
Qc1 Qb7 26. Be3 Bd6 27. Qc3 Nh5 28. g3 f5 29. Bf2 f4 $1 30. g4 Nf6 31. b5 axb5
$1 32. Nxb5 Bb8 33. Bd4 e5 34. Bxe5 Bxe5 35. Qxe5 Bxf3 36. Bc4+ Kh8 37. h3 Bh1
{[#]} 38. Bf1 $1 Bc6 39. Nd4 f3 40. Nxc6 Qxc6 41. Qb8+ Ng8 42. Kf2 Qc5+ $1 43.
Kxf3 Qxa3+ {Precision: White = 59%, Black = 61%.} 1/2-1/2

 

Aryan drew his game with accurate play against Ruifeng Li

Jefferey Xiong had a big advantage against Haik Martirosyan who suffered a big loss yesterday after a careless blunder. The American overpressed and allowed his opponent first win a pawn in the endgame, then improve his only remaining pieces which were completely binded before. The Armenian recovered nicely from his previous game, delivering an important point to his team. The deal was sealed after Andrey Esipenko held Sam Sevian to a draw by finding the most precise continuation at the critical moment. The match ended with 3-1, in favor of the World Team.

 

It is always difficult to bounce back after tough losses and even more so in a team event. The second round of the day saw the complete collapse of the U.S. team. The team leader, Jefferey Xiong, was the only player who managed to salvage a half a point by drawing Andrey Esipenko.

 

Sam Sevian, John Burke and Ruifeng Li lost to Haik Martirosyan, Aleksey Sarana and Anton Smirnov respectively. The World team completely dominated on all three boards without giving the U.S. team any winning chances. A lot of credit has to be given to Aleksey Sarana and Haik Martirosyan who won both of their games today, but more so to the latter who recovered from yesterday’s embarrassing loss perfectly.

Hero of day 3 for the World Team: Haik Martirosiyan

Under 14 Section:

Unfortunately for the Americans, they did not have a Jeffery Xiong in this section and lost on every single board. Andrew Hong did not know how to handle the opening, lost a pawn and consequently the game against the young Nordibek Abdusattorov. The current US Junior champion Awonder Liang got outplayed in a Spanish turned Benoni, then blundered and resigned a move later against the young phenom from India, Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2017.07.31"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Liang, Awonder"]
[Black "Praggnanandhaa"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C90"]
[PlyCount "60"]
[SourceDate "2017.07.31"]
[SourceVersionDate "2017.07.31"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O b5 6. Bb3 Bb7 7. d3 Be7 8. Re1
O-O 9. Nbd2 d6 10. c3 Qd7 11. d4 exd4 12. cxd4 Nb4 13. Qe2 c5 14. a3 Nc6 15. d5
Ne5 16. Bc2 Ng6 17. Nf1 Ng4 18. h3 N4e5 19. N3h2 Bf6 20. Ne3 Bg5 21. b3 a5 22.
Qh5 f6 23. g3 Bc8 24. Nf5 Bxc1 25. Rexc1 Ne7 26. Ne3 g6 27. Qe2 Qxh3 28. Qxb5
Ba6 29. Qb6 Nc8 30. Qxa5 Be2 0-1

 

Pragg en-route his victory over Awonder Liang
The Pragg look!

After playing two marathon games, Carissa Yip had a shorter day but with an undesired result. In a balanced position she blundered and walked into a pin, which forced her to lose a piece and the game to Bibisara Assaubayeva. The U.S. team had some hopes of getting at least half a point, when the game between Martha Samadashvili and Nurgyul Salimova fizzled out to an opposite color bishop endgame with the latter having two extra pawns. These endgames are known for being mainly draw even with the material discrepancy. With no time on the clock, Martha allowed the enemy king in her camp closer to her passed pawn and could no longer hold the fortress, which sealed the fate of the game.

Day 4:

The World team completely dominated the Match of the Millennials with a 31.5-17.5 score. Not only did the U.S. team not win any matches, but they lost every single match in the U 14 section. The American team was higher rated in the U17 section, but the World team proved to be better prepared and had a stronger team chemistry than their counterparts. This was a well deserved victory by the World team, who outplayed their higher rated and more experienced opposition.

Under 17 Section:

The day started with the World team leading by 11 points. The U.S. team still had a mathematical chance of winning the event if they won every single game. Granted that there were twelve games left, this was an impossible and unrealistic task. Both the morning and the evening matches ended in an even 2-2 score, which was more than enough to secure the win for the World team. On the American side, Sam Sevian and Ruifeng Li delivered convincing victories, whereas on the World side Haik Martirosyan and Andrey Esipenko continued their winning streak to keep the matches balanced.

Under 14 Section:

Once again, the U.S. team was no match for the World team. Awonder Liang was the only victor on the American team. He defeated the Uzbek phenom Nodirbek Abdusattorov and brought his score to a 2.0/4, which is still below his rating but it was a good recovery from a bad loss. The rest of the World team won their games, including Nurgyul Salimova who won two games in a row after losing the first two games. The breakout star of the World team was Bibisara Assaubayeva, who was the only person on both teams to win all of her games.

 

Overall, the World team players were very happy to have to the opportunity to play in the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. They were impressed by the conditions, the hotel, the level of the organizations and the competitions. It was their first time visiting the U.S. and they were grateful to have the opportunity to compete at such a high level event with good prizes against a challenging competition. Even though many of them strive to become professional chess players, it was their first time being treated as true professionals.

 

Even though it was a devastating defeat for the U.S. team, it was also a great learning experience for the American youngsters. The best lessons come from greatest defeats and this was no exception. With the exception of Jeffery Xiong, none of them had any prior experience of playing in a team event and this was a great opportunity to gain insight into what it is like to play for the National Team at the Olympiad. As the players keep improving, it is expected that at least several of them will make the U.S. Olympiad team and hopefully this tournament will be one they reflect back on as the first step on the ladder to the bigger stage of team events.

The final score
The world team performed admirably!
This is what such a match does! Builds friendship and camaraderie! Where else would you see world's top talents playing bughouse!
Vishy Anand and Wesley So are in Saint Louis for the Sinquefield Cup and met the World Team
What great motivation for Praggnanandhaa and Aryan to spend time with Vishy Anand!
The present and the future of Indian chess!

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