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Gukesh, Pranav Set Up All-Indian Semifinals In JSCC 2023

Gukesh, Pranav Set Up All-Indian Semifinals In JSCC 2023

AnthonyLevin
| 24 | Chess Event Coverage

The Quarterfinals of the 2023 Junior Speed Chess Championship kicked off on Tuesday with wins by GM Gukesh D over IM Emin Ohanyan and GM Pranav V against GM Christopher Yoo. Gukesh and Pranav will throw down in an all-Indian semifinal match on Thursday.

Quarterfinals 3 and 4, featuring GM Raunak Sadhwani vs. IM Read Samadov and GM Denis Lazavik vs. GM Daniel Dardha, begins on Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. PT / 14:30 CEST.

How to watch?
You can watch the 2023 Junior Speed Chess Championship on Chess.com/TV. You can also enjoy the show on our Twitch channel and catch all our live broadcasts on YouTube.com/ChesscomLive.

The first match was hosted by GM Robert Hess and IM Tania Sachdev.

The second match was hosted by GM Aman Hambleton and FM Mike Klein.


Blitz 5|1: Gukesh-Ohanyan 8-2 

There was no question of who was the favorite going into the match. Ohanyan, who entered the main event through the qualifiers, is a rising player with two GM norms; Gukesh, who last week finished third in the super-tournament Norway Chess, is number 13 in the world. SmarterChess predicted a 78% chance of victory for Gukesh.

However, Ohanyan called these pre-match assumptions into question in the very first game. After clawing back from a worse position with Black, he was suddenly winning. But, with seconds on the clock, he settled for a draw by perpetual check, shaking his head after the game concluded.

From there, Gukesh won every game until the halftime break—four games in a row. It looked like the Gukesh train was starting to roll away when the Armenian IM cut the streak in the next game, after a rook blunder by his opponent.

Ohanyan could have won the next two games, and commentator IM Tania Sachdev said on the broadcast: "This is a different Emin Ohanyan since what we saw at the beginning of the match!" But, despite the momentum, the following game ended in a draw and he blundered in the next.

After that, Gukesh won the last two games of the segment.

The last game was exciting as Gukesh sacrificed his queen for three minor pieces in the opening stage of the Taimanov Sicilian. After a long, dynamically equal battle, Gukesh's "little army" overpowered the queen.

Blitz 3|1: Gukesh-Ohanyan 8-2

The "Gukesh effect," as commentator GM Robert Hess termed it on the broadcast, took over in the second segment of the match as well. He won the first four games before missing an opportunity to sacrifice his queen in tactic-puzzle fashion and dropping the fifth. 

It was no harm no foul as Gukesh still led by an insane margin. He won the seventh game of the segment with a brilliant move. Can you find it?

White to move and win material.

Despite a few scares, including a brilliant rook sacrifice in game eight and a win by Ohanynan much later in the endgame, the Indian prodigy continued to dominate the match. He led by 12 points going into the bullet.

Bullet 1|1: Gukesh-Ohanyan 8-2

Hurricane Gukesh continued to ravage the chessboard. The games weren't perfect, but as Sachdev said on air during game three: "Who cares?" It was about nerves and the clock, and Gukesh came out on top.

In game four, Ohanyan had equal chances until he blundered a mate in one. Sachdev concluded: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is bullet for you!"

During the penultimate game, Hess summarized: "Gukesh, he ran away with this match early, and he continues to score points." He finished the bullet portion with a brilliant rook "sacrifice,"

Gukesh makes $3,150, while Ohanyan earns $350 by win percentage. 

Blitz 5|1: Yoo-Pranav 2.5-5.5

SmarterChess predicted a victory for Yoo by 52% to 48%, meaning it was more or less a completely level match. Yoo won the 2022 U.S. Junior Championship. Pranav, on the other hand, is an unpredictable up-and-coming player; he became India's 75th grandmaster and gained 127 Elo in the last year.

Pranav, who boasted a 3007 blitz rating against his opponent's 2889, took a one-point lead in the first two games but then disconnected in a better position in game three.

The Yoo comeback was short-lived, however, as Pranav won every single game except the last one (which he lost). One of the nicest ones was game six, where he faced the Armenian Variation of the French Winawer. With a little king stroll that reminded commentator Klein of GM Nigel Short's immortal king walk against GM Jan Timman, he provided a masterclass in attacking play.

This is our Game of the Day, annotated by GM Rafael Leitao below. 

In the last game of the segment, Yoo was able to win with the black pieces and cut the lead down to three points.

Blitz 3|1: Yoo-Pranav 4.5-3.5

Yoo's moral victory in the final game of the previous segment extended to the next as the American GM won the first game. The players traded blows back and forth, but Yoo brought the match to a two-point margin by winning this segment.

Pranav seemed to be steering the ship back in his direction after winning two games in a row (three and four). In game four, he showed that opposite-color bishops—often leading to drawn endgames—can also offer winning chances if heavy pieces remain on the board.

But after a draw, Yoo won the next game on time. It's not clear if Pranav disconnected, but it seemed so. After another draw, Yoo wrapped up the segment with another win in the last game after building an ideal pawn center and exploiting a backward pawn on c3.

Bullet 1|1: Yoo-Pranav 4.5-3.5

The tables were nearly turned in the bullet portion. The lead Pranav built up in the first segment came back to save him in the end.

Winning two of the first three games with one draw, Yoo evened the score for the first time in the match.

Pranav then won three games in a row. But the sixth game was certainly the nail in the coffin as Pranav found an exchange sacrifice that would at least hold the game—and, more importantly, drained the match clock.

The game lasted 106 moves—and, as commentator Hambleton mentioned was possible, Pranav won the equal position after his opponent missed a mate in one.

Yoo won the next two games and even won the segment, but the match clock had expired. Pranav survived the close call.

Pranav earns $2,588.54 while Yoo takes away $911.46 by win percentage.


Junior Speed Chess Championship 2023 Bracket

 

The 2023 Junior Speed Chess Championship (JSCC) is Chess.com's top event for young players and features a $50,000 prize fund. The JSCC features the strongest online competition for the next generation of talented players and Chess.com's signature Speed Chess Championship format. 


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AnthonyLevin
NM Anthony Levin

NM Anthony Levin caught the chess bug at the "late" age of 18 and never turned back. He earned his national master title in 2021, actually the night before his first day of work at Chess.com.

Anthony, who also earned his Master's in teaching English in 2018, taught English and chess in New York schools for five years and strives to make chess content accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages. At Chess.com, he writes news articles and manages social media for chess24.

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