Junior Speed Chess: Wei Yi vs. Praggnanandhaa Preview

Junior Speed Chess: Wei Yi vs. Praggnanandhaa Preview

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
|
27 | Chess.com News

The Chess.com Junior Speed Chess Championship continues on Friday with its third match, between two rising stars from two powerhouse chess countries. It's Wei Yi of China playing Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu of India.

We've seen Alireza Firouzja outplaying José Martinez and Jorden van Foreest beating Aryan Tari on a single bullet game. Van Foreest's next opponent will be known today.

You can watch Wei Yi vs. Praggnanandhaa on Friday, May 31 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST) with expert commentary on Chess.com/TV and Twitch.tv/chess.

Junior Speed Chess Championship bracket

Born in Yancheng, Jiangsu, China, the 19-year-old Wei Yi (@LOVEVAE) has accomplished a lot in a life that hasn't even filled two decades yet. He became GM at the age of 13 years, 8 months and 23 days. At the time of writing, only seven players were younger when they got the title. Already at the age of 15 the Chinese player crossed 2700, earlier than anyone has ever done.

Wei Yi's breakthrough came early. Just months after becoming a grandmaster, in 2013, he eliminated both Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexei Shirov in his first FIDE World Cup in Tromsø, before losing to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the third round. A year later, he was part of the gold winning Chinese Olympic team in the same city.

Wei Yi chose this 21st-century immortal as his best game so far.

2015 was a great year for him. He won the challengers group in Wijk aan Zee, team gold at the World Teams, his first Chinese Championship and the Leon Masters (for the second consecutive year). He also reached the quarterfinals of the FIDE World Cup in Baku.

Wei Yi (Puzzle Rush high score: 57) also won the Chinese Championships of 2016 and 2017, and in the same year he clinched the first prize at the Danzhou Super-GM tournament.

In July last year, Wei Yi played his first Chess.com match as he faced Wesley So in the 2018 Speed Chess Championship. So won 18.5-9.5 in what was a very exciting battle.

Wei Yi Junior Speed Chess Championship 2019

Born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India—just like Vishy Anand—the 13-year-old Praggnanandhaa (@rpragchess) is the youngest participant of this Junior Speed Chess Championship. He is one of three Indian chess prodigies who are grandmasters before turning 15, together with Nihal Sarin and Gukesh Dommaraju.

In 2013, Praggnanandhaa won the World Youth U8. When he became an IM, he was the youngest ever to do so, aged 10 years, 10 months, and 19 days. He turned grandmaster at the age of 12 years, 10 months, and 13 days. Only three players managed to do it earlier.

Praggnanandhaa said this was his best game so far.

Like his opponent, "Pragg" (Puzzle Rush high score: 53) has played in the Leon Masters. He put up a great fight against Wesley So last year, won the first game but eventually lost. He also impressed by holding Hikaru Nakamura to a draw in both blitz games in Kolkata in November.

Praggnanandhaa originally learnt to play chess when he was three years old, from his sister WIM Vaishali Rameshbabu.

Praggnanandhaa Junior Speed Chess Championship 2019

As far as this writer can tell, the players have never played before—not in over-the-board tournaments, nor on Chess.com. What we can add, for background info, is their ratings.

Wei Yi has a FIDE blitz Elo of 2641 and a Chess.com blitz rating of 2912 over 254 games. Praggnanandhaa has 2554 at FIDE and 2412 on Chess.com, but only over 54 games. It's possible that the players have played more on a second, anonymous account.

While Praggnanandhaa admits that he thinks it will be "a tough match," his Chinese opponent is confident about his chances, as he told Chess.com: "I do not fear him but my young opponent has huge potential," Wei Yi said. "He had a quick progress in recent years, so I think the result of our match is unpredictable."

Junior Speed Chess Chesskid

Praggnanandhaa just returned to Chennai on Thursday after playing in the French league. For preparation, he said: "I will take some rest and play some blitz online.” Wei Yi has something else to worry about: hardware. "I bought a new computer and will try to connect a better wifi." He added that he will be in Chengdu to meet friends and watch a concert of his favourite singer. "So I will play the match in the hotel."

The match will start with 90 minutes of 5|1 blitz, continue with 60 minutes of 3|1 blitz, and end with 30 minutes of 1|1 bullet. (Find all regulations here.) Both players stated that they like bullet the most.

Praggnanandhaa: "I have played lot of bullet games online but never played against my opponent, I think it makes some difference."

Wei Yi: "I am sure that 5+1 will be the most comfortable time control to me because I will have more time to calculate. But I like 1+1 more and I think it will be exciting."

We'll finish this preview with the great answers the players gave to the question what's the best chess advice that one of their coaches gave them:

Praggnanandhaa: "Enjoy playing chess, don’t think about winning or losing."
Wei Yi: "Have a good sleep and then go for breakfast!"

Junior Speed Chess Championship prizes

The prize fund for the first-round matches is $800 each. The winner earns $400 and advances to round two, while the other $400 is split by win percentage.

The Junior Speed Chess Championship is sponsored by ChessKid, the world's number-one site for kids to learn and play chess. All JSCC matches are broadcast live with chess-master commentary on Chess.com/TV and Twitch.tv/chess.

Here's the full schedule of the round of 16:

  • Van Foreest vs. Tari: May 16 (14.5-13.5, news report)
  • Firouzja vs. Martinez Alcantara: May 21 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18.0-7.0, news report)
  • Wei Yi vs. Praggnanandhaa: May 31 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • Sevian vs. Sarin: June 3 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • Maghsoodloo vs. Moroni: June 5 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • Sarana vs. Esipenko: June 11 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
  • Xiong vs. Smirnov: June 14 at 5 p.m. Pacific (June 15, 02:00 a.m. CEST)
  • Gledura vs. Liang: June 18 at 10 a.m. Pacific (19:00 CEST)

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