Match of the Millennials: World leads US 13-11

by Albert Silver
7/28/2017 – Part of a "summer of chess" at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, the Match of the Millennials, is a wonderful idea, pitting top US Juniors against a selection of international juniors representing the ‘World’ team. The US brings some of it hottest names such as Jeffery Xiong, Samuel Sevian, and Awonder Liang, while the World includes Praggnanandhaa, Bibisara Assaubayeva, and more. At the midway point, here is the illustrated report. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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

Photos by Lennart Ootes

Schedule

DATE TIME EVENT
Monday & Tuesday, July 24 & 25   Arrival
Tuesday, July 25 6 P.M. Opening Ceremony
Wednesday, July 26 10 A.M. Rounds 1 
  5 P.M. Round 2
Thursday, July 27 10 A.M. Rounds 3 
  5 P.M. Round 4
Friday, July 28 10 A.M. Rounds 5 
  5 P.M. Round 6
Saturday, July 29 9 A.M. Rounds 7
  4 P.M. Round 8
  8 P.M. Closing Ceremony
Sunday, July 30    Departure

* All times listed are local time (CST). Dates and times subject to change

In the past, such matches implied a superiority of the nation’s team against the best the world had to offer, such as the famous Russia vs the World matches of the past. Since no nation can make such claims now, these vs The World matches have taken on a radically different meaning, at least in chess. Naturally, they are excellent promotional devices with such titles, but more importantly, they are used as training platforms that can help one or even both teams. Consider the recently held (and reported) Stars Cup held in Iran. Iran’s team brought their best players and many rising talents, and pitted them against an eclectic mix of international players to sharpen their claws against, and learn from.

In the case of the Match of the Millennials, each side brings two teams of four players, one team of players under 14, and the other with players aged 17 or less. Here are the teams of both sides:

US Team

Captains: Michael Khodarkovsky and Armen Ambartsumian; Coach: Alex Onischuk

Team
Name
Rtg
Age
U17
Jeffery Xiong
2642
16
U17
Sam Sevian
2633
16
U17
Ruifeng Li
2568
15
U17
John Michael Burke
2479
16
U17
Nicolas Checa
2415
15
U14
Awonder Liang
2536
14
U14
Andrew Hong
2334
12
U14
Carissa Yip
2261
13
U14
Martha Samadashvili
2018
13

World Team

Captains: Efstratios Grivas (Greece) and Alexander Beliavsky (Slovenia), Head of delegation: Jorge Vega (Cuba)

Team
Name
Rtg
Age
Fed.
U17
Haik Martirosyan
2544
17
Armenia
U17
Andrey Esipenko
2523
15
Russia
U17
Aleksey Sarana
2510
17
Russia
U17
Anton Smirnov
2495
16
Australia
U17
Aryan Chopra
2491
16
India
U14
Praggnanandhaa R. B.
2479
11
India
U14
Nodirbek Abdusattorov
2467
12
Uzbekistan
U14
Bibisara Assaubayeva
2386
13
Russia
U14
Nurgyul Salimova
2332
14
Bulgaria

Players posing with "King Kong", the world's tallest chess piece

There is no question that both sides really do bring world-class talent to the table. On the US side, the most recognizable names for international readers will be Jeffery Xiong, Samuel Sevian, and Awonder Liang, all of whom have world champion titles under their belts, while 13-year-old Carissa Yip is easily one of the USA's top rising female stars.

16-year-old Jeffery Xiong (above) is the highest rated player in the event with 2642 FIDE. Not far behind is Samuel Sevian (below), 2633, who has had a sizzling year. The young man started with 2.5/3 but blundered a pawn against Australian IM Anton Smirnov in round four and was unable to save the game. | Photo: Spectrum Studios / Kevin Duggin

On the World side, there are several fascinating names such as Andrey Esipenko and Anton Smirnov in the under-17 team, the latter who was one of the stars of the 2016 Baku Olympiad, turning in a 2700+ performance for the Australian team, while the under-14 team is a genuine look into the future elite. This is no exaggeration. It starts with 11-year-old Praggnanandhaa, the youngest IM in history, now rated 2479, not to mention 12-year-old IM Nodirbek Abdusattorov (2467 FIDE), and female phenom WFM Bibisara Assaubayeva (2386 FIDE), who just turned 13, and who has scored several IM norms already.

IM Praggnanandhaa, 11 years old, is also one of the big names, as the youngest IM in history

The actual match, or matches, are organized somewhat strangely it must be said. The under-17 teams, each with five players, are slated to play a total of eight games over the course of four days of competition, while the under-14 teams, each with four players, will play a total of four games, at the rate of one per day. Aside from the obvious disparity of one game versus two per day, the curious choice of a team of five to play eight games is unusual. Why not just have four players playing two games each?

The rounds are played one in the morning at 9-10 AM (it varies) and another at 5PM, which can thus extend late into the night. However, the question does beckon: why not have the under-14 teams play in the morning with the under-17 players if they are to only play one round? This would make it much less burdensome for the visiting team, since being all from Eastern Europe or India, they are suffering from a massive 8-hour difference, meaning that the 5PM round is really like starting a serious game at one in the morning. Brutal.

Quibbles aside, the organizers are to be commended for really investing in the production of the match. Not only is there a generous purse of USD $30,000, but each round is also enjoying top-notch GM commentary of the same standard the US Championships or Sinquefield Cup have had. In other words a tag-team of IM Jennifer Shahade (back after taking some time off following the birth of her first child) and GM Alejandro Ramirez, backed up by GM Maurice Ashley providing the color commentary and post-game interviews.

The first two days of competition were certainly unusual, and by that one means the dramatic unfolding of the games, with violent turnarounds, sometimes multiple times in a single game. These players may all be youths, but don’t underestimate them: they are grandmasters and masters, and those titles are not mere honorifics. Jeffery Xiong beat Aryan Chopra in round three with a superb finish.

After two days of competition, The World leads the US by 13-11.

Jeffery Xiong - Aryan Chopra

[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

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 India's Praggnanandhaa against Awonder Liang

The first day saw a clash of the titans with US top-talent IM Awonder Liang, 14 years old and 2536 FIDE, against India's Praggnanandhaa, 11 and 2479 FIDE. The American was out for the count but the Indian let him get up and escape after a blunder late in the game.

Praggnanandhaa R. - Awonder Liang

[Event "Millennials Match 2017"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2017.07.26"] [Round "1"] [White "Praggnanandhaa, Ramesh Babu"] [Black "Liang, Awonder"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2479"] [BlackElo "2536"] [Annotator "A. Silver"] [PlyCount "109"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h4 Nc6 7. h5 h6 8. Be3 Ng4 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. Bd2 Rb8 $146 (10... Nf6 11. Qf3 e5 12. Bc4 Be6 13. Bxe6 fxe6 {1/2-1/2 (32) Yu,Y (2750)-Lu,S (2620) China 2017}) 11. Bc4 Nf6 12. Qf3 Bg4 13. Qe3 e6 14. Bb3 Qb6 15. Qxb6 Rxb6 16. f3 Bxh5 17. O-O-O Bg6 18. Ba4 Kd7 19. e5 Ne8 20. exd6 Bxd6 21. Be3 Rb8 22. Rd4 ({Better is} 22. Rh4 $1 $18) 22... Rc8 23. Rhd1 Ke7 24. Ne4 Bxe4 25. fxe4 Be5 ({Black should play} 25... c5 26. R4d2 Be5) 26. Rd7+ Kf6 27. Rf1+ Kg6 28. Rfxf7 Nd6 29. Rfe7 Rhe8 30. Bb3 Nxe4 31. Bxe6 Rxe7 32. Rxe7 $18 Rc7 {[#]} 33. Rxc7 $1 Bxc7 34. Bc8 a5 35. Bb7 Kf5 36. Bxc6 h5 37. c4 Nf6 38. Kd2 g5 (38... Ng4 {was called for.} 39. Bd4 Ne5) 39. Ke2 h4 40. a3 g4 {[#]} 41. b4 $1 axb4 42. axb4 h3 43. gxh3 gxh3 44. Kf3 $4 { Throwing away the win.} (44. b5 $1 $16 h2 (44... Ne4 45. Bd7+ Ke5 46. Bxh3) 45. Bg2) 44... h2 $1 $11 {The position is equal now. After this, Liang was visibly relieved and got up. The young Indian saw his blunder also and could be seen shaking his head.} 45. Kg2 Ng4 $1 46. Bd4 Ne5 47. Bd5 Nd3 48. b5 Nf4+ 49. Kh1 Nxd5 50. cxd5 Ke4 51. Ba7 Kxd5 52. b6 Kc6 53. bxc7 Kxc7 54. Bb8+ Kxb8 55. Kxh2 1/2-1/2

Links

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 7/28/2017 06:56
engage!
mikenas2001 mikenas2001 7/28/2017 05:13
The next generation begin
1