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Ghosh Advances To Main Event: 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship Qualifier 1

Ghosh Advances To Main Event: 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship Qualifier 1

JackRodgers
| 6 | Chess Event Coverage

The 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship presented by SIG commenced today with a series of hard-fought matches where IMs reigned supreme. IM Aronyak Ghosh was the deserving winner after taking down WGM Zhu Jiner and IM Rahul Srivatshav en route to the finals, where he dispatched compatriot IM V Pranav and earned his spot in the main event.

The event will continue with a second qualifier tournament on Thursday, April 7, at 10 a.m. PT. 

How to watch?
You can watch the 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship presented by SIG on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive.
Live broadcast of the tournament, hosted by GMs Daniel Naroditsky and Robert Hess


The Junior Speed Chess Championship presented by SIG is the second leg of the 2022 Speed Chess Championship where top junior players compete in a series of speed-chess matches. Each match consists of a 5+1 blitz segment, a 3+1 blitz segment, and a 1+1 bullet segment, with the player who scores the most points winning the match. If there's a tie, players play a four-game 1+1 match to decide the winner. If the tie persists, an armageddon game with a bidding system decides the winner.


Quarterfinals

The standout match of the quarterfinals was contended by the two GMs in the field, GM Raja Rithvik and GM Francesco Sonis, and it ended in a 7.5-6.5 score in favor of the former. Meanwhile, IM Bibisara Assaubayeva was unfortunately unable to make her match against Srivatshav and had to forfeit. 

Sonis, with seconds on the clock, was unable to secure a "Vancura Draw," a notoriously difficult rook ending where the defender can halt a passed pawn's progress if the aggressor's rook is in front of the pawn, leaving the door wide open for Rithvik to take the point.

Rithvik was able to carry momentum from this game into a bullet tiebreaker and Sonis fell victim to a two-pronged knight attack in the middlegame, forcing him to give up his queen for a rook (or lose a rook for nothing). Sonis defended valiantly, but Rithvik was merciless in the final game.

Pranav got off to a flying start against a future star, Mittal, allowing only one draw in the match. Pranav accumulated seven and a half points in just eight games, in the process sending a stark warning to the rest of the field.

 

The highest-ranked u20 female player in the world, Jiner, came prepared for a dogfight against Ghosh and showed her class, taking a number of games across the blitz and bullet segments. One game, in particular, stood out, where Jiner whipped up a powerful attack against Ghosh's king.

Despite several fighting victories, Jiner could not quite keep up with an inspired Ghosh, who managed to win the match with an 8-4 score. Many of the games came down to the wire; however, the experienced Ghosh, who has played several thousand games of bullet chess on Chess.com, was able to navigate the positions with more consistency.


Semifinals

The semifinals were both one-sided affairs that ultimately demonstrated the worthiness of the two players who would eventually progress. Pranav took on Rithvik in the first semifinal and, despite a shaky start from Pranav in the 5+1 time control, he was soon able to steady the ship as the match went.  As GM David Bronstein once said: "In the middlegame one should not hesitate to advance a central passed pawn."

Pranav was ever-the-trickster in his bullet games today, and although they were on opposite sides of the draw, it almost seemed as though Pranav and Ghosh were competing to be the best at bullet before they even met!

The recent joint-winner of the 2021 U.S. Masters Championship, Srivatshav, looked sure on paper to challenge Ghosh, but the latter was scrupulous in all three of his performances today, taking the match out of Srivatshav's hands with a blowout margin of 7.5-2.5. 

Srivatshav got off to a good start, earning all of his 2.5 points in the first three games. However, as the time control quickened, Ghosh took over, losing only a single game in the 3+1 time control and going unbeaten in the bullet portion.

Final

The moment of truth between Pranav and Ghosh was expected to be a nailbiter and the match did not disappoint. Pranav, boasting a bullet rating of 3053, was the pre-match favorite, but Ghosh turned up and played his best chess. Twitch viewers were quick to point out that there was simply no way that these two players would remain IMs for long, and GM-worthy play was definitely on display.

The players wrestled for advantages early, with neither player able to establish a significant lead. Amazingly, half of the bullet games in the match ended in draws, a testament to the players' ability to play with the utmost precision.

With the two poised at 5-5 and only four games in the bullet portion to go, Pranav seemed to find a breakthrough, swindling Ghosh. However, the match was destined to go the distance and Ghosh was able to counter immediately, tying things up again at 6-6. Astonishingly, the match ended at seven games apiece, meaning the two would duke it out in four further bullet games to decide a winner.

Ghosh, likened by Naroditsky as playing in a "Nakamura-esque" fashion, played remarkably in the tiebreak, winning three games and the qualifying spot with one game to spare. The winner was humble in victory, stating that he would least like to play countryman and two-time championr GM Nihal Sarin in the main event. 

All Games - Qualifier 1

Qualifier Bracket

The 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship is an online tournament for top junior players. The qualifiers happen March 31-April 8, while the main event runs April 11-May 13. Players battle for a piece of the $35,000 prize fund and a spot in the 2022 Speed Chess Championship.


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