Top US Juniors defeat UTD team

by Albert Silver
3/25/2015 – While St. Louis may have been declared the chess capital of the United States, there is little doubt that in the academic circles, the University of Texas - Dallas is a bright beacon in itself. During the Spring Break, it organized a particularly appealing idea by pitting its grandmaster team against a group of guests all of whom represent the very best of the US Juniors.

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Chess players from around the world seeking to pursue degrees in the American university system have a special home at the University of Texas - Dallas to show their special talents over the board also translate to success in other intellectual fields. Though not the only university with a penchant for chess, and chess players, it is certainly one of the most prominent.

The poster and official brochure

As befits it, an assortment of competitions are organized to promote the game, the department's visibility, and of course provide training for the players. During the Spring Break, it organized a particularly appealing idea by pitting its grandmaster team against a group of guests all of whom represent the very best of the US Juniors of the moment. On paper, the ratings averages of the teams seemed fair and favored even the more mature UTD team, but as one grandmaster put it, "I'm sure the UTD players are overjoyed at the idea of playing a bunch of underrated prodigies on the rise." The heavy-handed irony made it clear what he though would happen. Would his words prove to be prophecy?

The competition was as serious as could be, and designed as a double-round Scheviningen match, meaning each team member would play the other team twice, With five players on each team, that meant a total of ten games for each.

Team UTD

1 GM Kritz Leonid GER 2583
2 GM Iotov Valentin BUL 2579
3 GM Margvelashvili Giorgi GEO 2531
4 GM Holt Conrad USA 2530
5 IM Kadric Denis BIH 2500

Team US Juniors

1 GM Troff Kayden W USA 2532
2 GM Sevian Samuel USA 2531
3 IM Yang Darwin USA 2478
4 IM Xiong Jeffery USA 2473
5 IM Chandra Akshat USA 2459

After the first leg of five rounds, things looked about as balanced as could be, and though the US Juniors team came out ahead 13.0-12.0, it was by the slimmest of margins possible. The star of the juniors was Samuel Sevian with 3.5/5, but Akshat Chandra and Kayden Troff also posted plus scores with 3.0/5 each. In the UTD team, top-seed Leonid Kritz (2583) and Conrad Holt also fought hard with the only plus scores of their team with 3.0/5 each.

Playing the symbolic first move to start the competition on the board of GM Denis Kadric, a
first-year student in mathematics, against IM Akshat Chandra

The same privilege on the board of top-seed Leonid Kritz, studying business administration,
facing Kayden Troff. No, Kritz did not play 1.f4

The second leg of the competition did not show any remarkable improvement from UTD, as the Juniors were even more successful thanks very much to a rallying result from IM Darwin Young, who had started slow with only 1.5/5, but was the top scoring player on his team with 3.5/5 in the latter half. His result was matched by Giorgi Margvelashvili, who was the only plus score on UTD now, while Sevian and Troff both pulled their weight and then some leading to a 13.5-11.5 win in the second leg, and 26.5-23.5 overall win. Of special note on the UTD team was Conrad Holt who scored 5.0/10 but without one single draw! In other words his 50% score was comprised of five wins and five losses. No half measures for that young man.

GM Giorgi Margvelashvili, who is a graduate student in business administration, was the
highest scoring player on the UTD team. The preponderance of green jackets is because
they are the university colors.

The top scoring player of all the players was 14-year-old GM Samuel Sevian, whose play
showed great versatility and skill

Sevian - Iotov

After dominating his opponent for the entire game, they finally reached
this endgame of opposite colored bishops. Sevian found the way to victory
here, can you? White to play and win.

He entered the competition with 2531, but as a result of his performance gained 17 Elo and is now at 2548 on the virtual lists. The reason for this particular note is that he can still theoretically beat Wei Yi's record for the all-time youngest 2600 FIDE player, but would need to achieve this within two months. In all fairness, although he certainly seems to be playing well enough, it seems unlikely he will play enough games in that period to achieve it. That said, while these records and numbers are always fun to follow, far more interesting is the actual play of the player. Watch this gem of a game played in the last round against the top-seed Leonid Kritz.

Samuel Sevian vs Leonid Kritz

[Event "UT vs Juniors"] [Site "Richardson USA"] [Date "2015.03.19"] [Round "10.1"] [White "Sevian, Samuel"] [Black "Kritz, Leonid"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "2531"] [BlackElo "2583"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2qkb1r/pp1n2n1/2p1p2p/5pp1/3P4/3Q1PN1/PPP1NBPP/R4RK1 w kq - 0 19"] [PlyCount "17"] [EventDate "2015.03.13"] [EventType "schev"] [EventRounds "5"] [EventCountry "USA"] [WhiteTeam "USAJr team"] [BlackTeam "UTD team"] 19. d5 $1 {No prize for the timid. White plays a move straight from Kasparov's play book: sacrificing a pawn to open lines, and activate his pieces.} cxd5 20. Nd4 Nc5 21. Qe2 f4 $6 {Although a mistake, it is no doubt based on a complete oversight of White's next shot.} 22. Nh5 $3 {Just superb. The difficulty is not so much in calculating this move as it is even suspecting its existence. It probably came as a bit of a shock to Black.} ({No doubt Black was expecting the normal looking} 22. Ngf5 {which is not bad, it is simply not best.} Nxf5 23. Nxf5 Kf7 {and White is a bit better, but nothing decisive.}) 22... Qe7 ({ The first and foremost thing to do is show why the knight cannot simply be snatched off the board.} 22... Nxh5 $2 23. Nxe6 Nxe6 (23... Qe7 24. Bxc5) 24. Qxe6+ Qe7 (24... Be7 25. Bd4 {A small but useful zwischenzug.} Rf8 26. Qg6+ { and the knight comes off with prejudice.}) 25. Qg6+ Kd8 {The only move.} (25... Qf7 {trying to protect the knight, loses the house after} 26. Rfe1+ Be7 27. Rxe7+ $1 Kxe7 28. Re1+ Kf8 29. Bc5+ {and the fat lady singeth.}) 26. Rfe1 Qd7 27. Qxh5 {with a big edge for White thanks to Black's poorly coordinated pieces and homeless king.}) 23. Nxg7+ Bxg7 24. Rae1 Kf7 $2 {A blunder in a difficult position. Kf7 was a useful and reasonable move in many lines, but here specifically, it is refuted by} 25. Nf5 $1 Qc7 {The only move to cover the hanging knight on c5.} (25... Qf6 26. Nd6+ {and Bxc5.}) 26. Nxg7 Kxg7 27. Bd4+ 1-0

Final standings

Solution to position:

[Event "UT vs Juniors"] [Site "Richardson USA"] [Date "2015.03.17"] [Round "6.2"] [White "Sevian, Samuel"] [Black "Iotov, Valentin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C10"] [WhiteElo "2531"] [BlackElo "2579"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2k1b3/1pp5/4p1pp/p3B2P/2PP2P1/5K2/PP6/8 w - - 0 34"] [PlyCount "11"] [EventDate "2015.03.13"] [EventType "schev"] [EventRounds "5"] [EventCountry "USA"] [WhiteTeam "USAJr team"] [BlackTeam "UTD team"] 34. g5 $3 gxh5 (34... hxg5 35. h6 Bf7 36. h7) 35. gxh6 Bg6 36. Kf4 {and Black resigned in view of} Kd7 37. Kg5 Bf5 38. Kf6 c6 39. Kg7 1-0


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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, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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