Match of Millennials: World smashes USA

by Albert Silver
7/31/2017 – The Match of the Millenials was astonishing to say the least. On paper, the US under-17 team had such an Elo advantage that some bemoaned the lack of stronger foreign juniors to make it more ‘competitive’. Instead they had already lost a full round in advance, as had the under-14. A great result for the World team, winning 30.5-17.5, and a tribute to their team spirit and their captain. Full illustrated report. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Chess News

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 faced nine of the best juniors from around the world.

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

Benefactor Rex Sinquefield pick on an opponent his own size | Photo: Austin Fuller

It is hard to know what to say in view of such a lopsided and unexpected turn of events. The US under-17 team was more than just a favorite, they were heavily so. The top three players were all higher rated than the top foreign player by at least 24 Elo, and as much as 100 (98 if you are one to quibble). Things went from poor to bad very quickly, and the result of day three really showed how much so when the combined results of the 12 games were 10.5-1.5 in favor of the World. The Under-14 had scored 4.0/4 and the Under-17 team was up 6.5-1.5.

To quote contemporary parlance: the US got pwned (leetspeak for ‘owned’). 

Life reflects chess | Photo: Lennart Ootes

It would be grossly unfair to try to lay this on any one player’s lap, not just because it was a team event, and they had the option of swapping out one player for another if needed, but because not one of the US’s under-17 players was able to perform within 60 Elo of their rating. Samuel Sevian was the closest, winning his first two game, to then losing two, and finally winning one back before the end.

A mixed bag for Sam Sevian, the youngest ever American GM | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Still, it wasn't all bad news, as Ruifeng Li won a nice game in the final round:

Ruifeng Li - Andrei Esipenko

 

On the other hand, the World’s team outdid expectations as is inversely obvious, with a notable comeback by Haik Martirosyan, who lost two of his first three games, only to finish with 3.5/4. All the other players turned in strong and confident results.

Awonder Liang was the big gun in the Under-14 section with 2536 FIDE | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The Under-14 match was even more lopsided in terms of percentage, but in this case the visiting team were the Elo favorites and not the underdog, so one could argue they performed according to expectation. However, that is not quite accurate. They too scored in excess of what one might hope for, with notable results by 11-year-old IM Praggnanandhaa, whose 3.0/4 for a 2570 performance could have been even better had he not thrown away a win against Awonder Liang in their first game, while 13-year-old WFM (not for long) Bibisara Assaubayeva was a perfect 4/4.

While it might be tough on the kids, albeit not so much for 13-year-old Bibisara Assabayeva (above) who scored 4/4, it is always toughest on those who can only watch, such as Bibisara's mother (below) | Photos: Lennart Ootes

Andrew Hong - Praggnanandhaa R.

[Event "Match of the Millennials U14"] [Site "Saint Louis"] [Date "2017.07.29"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Hong, Andrew"] [Black "Praggnanandhaa, Ramesh Babu"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C60"] [WhiteElo "2334"] [BlackElo "2479"] [PlyCount "94"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:04:26"] [BlackClock "0:04:37"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. c3 a6 5. Bc4 Bg7 6. d4 d6 7. Bg5 Nf6 8. dxe5 dxe5 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. O-O h6 11. Be3 Qe7 12. h3 Rd8 13. Qc2 Nh5 14. Rfd1 Qf6 15. b4 Re8 16. a4 a5 17. b5 Ne7 18. Kh2 b6 19. Qb3 Bb7 20. g4 Nf4 21. Nxe5 {[#]} Nfd5 $5 {Objectively, this is a mistake according to the engine, leaving the game with an equal evaluation. However, it is hard to label such a creative move with question marks.} ({The somewhat scary looking} 21... Qxe5 {is actually quite playable, and good for Black after} 22. Bxf7+ Kh7 23. Bd4 Qd6 24. Nc4 Qd8 25. Bxe8 Qxe8 26. Bxg7 Kxg7 27. Ne3 Ng8 28. Qc4 Qe7 {and Black's two pieces for a rook, notably the monster bishop on b7, are king.}) ({Still,} 21... Qh4 {was just winning.} 22. Bxf4 (22. Bf1 Bxe5) 22... Qxf2+ 23. Kh1 Qxf4 24. Nxf7 Rf8 {and White's wide open king, plus Black's planned Qg3-h3 is decisive.}) 22. Nd3 Nxe3 23. fxe3 Rf8 24. Rac1 Rad8 25. Kg2 Qg5 26. Kf2 Qh4+ 27. Kg2 Kh7 28. Nf2 Be5 29. Nf1 Rxd1 30. Qxd1 {[#]} f5 $1 {Opening the way for the rook on f8 and the bishop pn b7 in one blow.} 31. Qf3 Kg7 32. gxf5 Rxf5 33. exf5 Bxf3+ 34. Kxf3 Qxc4 35. e4 gxf5 36. Ne3 fxe4+ 37. Nxe4 Qf7+ 38. Ke2 Qh5+ 39. Kd3 Qxh3 40. Rg1+ Kh8 41. Nf2 Qd7+ 42. Ke2 Bf4 43. Neg4 Qe6+ 44. Kf3 Qf5 45. Rd1 h5 46. Ne3 Bxe3+ 47. Kxe3 Nd5+ 0-1

_REPLACE_BY_ADV_1

12-year-old IM Nodirbek Abdusattorov (already a youth World Champion) loved the match and the locale | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The total score was 30.5 - 17.5 for the World. The Under-17 was won by the World team 19-13, while the Under 14 was won 11.5-4.5 by the World.

5-time World Champion Vishy Anand, who had arrived already for the Sinquefield Cup, has been an example and an inspiration to Indians for decades, and super talents such as 11-year-old IM Praggnanandhaa are the result | Photo: Lennart Ootes


All games

 

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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Exabachay Exabachay 7/31/2017 11:39
Nodirbek always smiling!
KevinC KevinC 7/31/2017 01:04
I strongly suspect that Praggnanandhaa will eventually be world champion. I have seen A LOT of potential greats in 32 years as a NM, and this kid is on another level in my opinion.
Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 7/31/2017 01:16
I fully concur
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 7/31/2017 05:12
vishy and pragga..... the evergreen champ and the young champ!
KrushonIrina KrushonIrina 7/31/2017 06:38
Ramesh Babu vs. Awonder 2034 World Championship
yesenadam yesenadam 8/1/2017 04:33
It was a great tournament! Odd format, half the players only playing 4 rounds, the other half playing 8.

Well, and I loved the result. :-D It didn't go to schedule, which was for the US to show their superiority. All the World players were awesome, most of whom I hadnt seen before, but look forward to hearing much more of. I enjoyed it just as much as the recent GCT rapid + blitz, more, even; I was surprised it didnt get a lot more press. Maybe the press is from the US hehe.

And congrats to the Aussie contingent Anton Smirnov, two big scalps. I never thought I'd see an Aussie in those St Louis studios, you made me proud, awesome job! And I hear your English/Russian translation was responsible for a lot of the team cohesion.

The only downer was Jen Shahade's frequent almost Naka-level excuse-manufacturing. (Apart from that she was fine as usual.) The best of those that I heard, was saying the tournament result was just a "statistical outlier" and therefore didn't really count. -- Not that she was trying to discount the World's performance etc. On and on like that. It was very ugly. She has to learn not to do that. It was like when Naka does it - something really embarrassing and sordid about it. The world was also watching the broadcast, not just the US, remember. Alejandro and Maurice great as usual.

Thanks to everyone involved, I look forward to the 'revenge' match!
Magic_Knight Magic_Knight 8/1/2017 05:08
I'm impressed by the world team. Kind of glad the USA got smashed. Another example of how the USA gets too egotistic and even dare to host this tournament with such an unsightly ELO advantage....and then get creamed.
Green22 Green22 8/2/2017 04:26
lol Magic K they didn't get to egotistical they have ton of talent with these kids. I'm surprised at the results with that score but don't be a dink and say the USA shouldn't have hosted this tournament its was all great for all players.
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