ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship Moves to Semifinals
The 2020 ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship moves on to weekend number two on Saturday, July 18, 2020.

ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship Moves to Semifinals

MikeKlein
FM MikeKlein
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108 | Chess Event Coverage

After more than 10 hours of opening-round action this past Friday and Saturday, the first matches of the 2020 ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship are in the books. This inaugural edition features eight of the best ChessKids from around the world that were 10 or under as of the beginning of this year. You can read the announcement article here and more about the players here.

Tune in to Chess.com/TV this Saturday at 7 a.m. Pacific time/15:00 Central European time! The exciting semifinals matches will be commentated by FunMasterMike (FM Mike Klein) and PlayfulSquirrel (IM David Pruess). The first match will be FM Marco Materia vs. NM Brewington Hardaway, followed by the NM Ryo Chen vs. NM Alice Lee match, which begins at 10 a.m. Pacific time/18:00 Central European time.

ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship

Look carefully at the stream above: Even grandmasters were wanting to be a part of the ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship!

The opening match on Friday morning featured world U-10 rapid/blitz champion Tihon Chernyaev. "TiCher," as he is known in the popular ChessKid TV show, navigated a complicated endgame to give a lesson:

The match ended early when Tihon's opponent was disqualified for fair play violations, making Tihon the winner.

"ChessKid takes fair play seriously," said ChessKid CEO Carey Fan.

Tihon decided not to continue in the event after this unfortunate incident. ChessKid has invited 10-year-old NM Alice Lee from Minnesota as an alternate, who will be slotted directly into the semifinals. Alice is the current world cadet U-10 girls champion, and she also keeps fit off the board. She said she has run at least one mile every single day for the past five years! ChessKid welcomes Alice into the event.

Alice Lee

NM Alice Lee, showing off her gold medal after winning the 2019 World Cadet U-10 Girls in China. Photo courtesy of the Lee family.

The next match was second-seeded NM Ryo Chen against seventh-seeded CM Santiago Lopez Rayo. In the "Ryo-Rayo" contest, the American jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the Colombian fought back in the next three games to tie the match 2.5-2.5. After the battle pivoted to the 3+1 segment, Ryo was unstoppable and didn't drop a game. Most games followed the same pattern of Ryo getting a slightly better ending from the Sicilian, and he converted every one.

Here's the final encounter, which made the final score 10-4 in favor of the higher-seeded Ryo.

Pretty good stuff for a player who has only been playing chess for two years!

Ryo Chen

Ryo will advance to play Alice in the semifinals and their match will be the "later" match. It will start at 10 a.m. Pacific time/18:00 Central European time this Saturday, July 18. It should be noted that Ryo and his family and coach gracefully agreed to the insertion of a replacement player without any objections and in the spirit of a balanced semifinal.

In the first of the Saturday matches, the top-seeded FM Marco Materia (the only FM in the event) took on newly-minted author Tani Adewumi. Tani was coming off an exhibition mini-match win over another player in the ChessKid Youth SCC, but this time he would have to keep pace for two hours, not two games.

Marco started off with three consecutive wins in the 5+1 portion. Those opening games showed a definite clash of styles. Marco played restrained chess and didn't take unnecessary chances while Tani played with effervescence and tried to attack early and often. Tani admitted after the match that he reigned in his exuberance somewhat after the initial games, and indeed he did recover to split the score in the next five games. But the score was nonetheless 5.5-2.5 at the break.

Marco Materia

Marco also took the three-minute portion by a modest 4-3 score, making the match final 9.5-5.5 for the Frenchman. Still, this was a much closer score than the usual top-seed versus bottom-seed of the regular Chess.com Speed Chess Championship!

One of the interesting theoretical battles was Tani's preparation to play the two-knights-versus-two-bishops middlegame seen below. In this particular example. Marco handled it with creativity and skill:

In the final opening-round clash on Saturday afternoon, fourth-seeded CM Shreyas Royal played fifth-seeded NM Brewington Hardaway (himself also of ChessKid TV fame with his show "FunMasterMike and the BrewMaster"). Once again a player came out blazing, as Brewington grabbed the first trio of games to lead early. But Shreyas came roaring back to level the score at 3-3. Brewington then won a couplet to lead after the 5-minute segment by a score of 5-3.

The two traded some wins early in the 3-minute portion before BrewMaster put things away late, winning 10.5-6.5. There were more total games in this match than the others since both sides resigned in most losing positions without playing it out until mate.

Brewington Hardaway

In one instance, even though leading late in the match, Brewington was about to be mated in one move but had nearly one minute on his clock. He resigned rather than milk the clock. When reminded after the event that players are allowed to use match strategy and let their time tick away to nurse a lead, Brewington said he knew that was an idea but he didn't feel it was the right thing to do. Good moves and good manners! 

Here's one of Brewington's early wins, where he twice uses the long diagonal to devastating effect:

Shreyas could have made the match very close were it not for a few pieces left hanging in critical games. Still, he challenged the commentators more than anyone else. By playing the rare defense 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Qe7?! he made this author wonder about a mouse-slip, but by the second and third iteration, he made me run to the research station. The opening is called the "Gunderam Defense" or the "Brazilian Defense" and I can say that in 35 years of playing and teaching chess, I had never heard of either!

Tune in to Chess.com/TV this Saturday at 7 a.m. Pacific time/15:00 Central European time! The exciting semifinals matches will be commentated by FunMasterMike (FM Mike Klein) and PlayfulSquirrel (IM David Pruess). The first match will be FM Marco Materia vs. NM Brewington Hardaway, with the NM Ryo Chen vs. NM Alice Lee match beginning at 10 a.m. Pacific time/18:00 Central European time.

 You can also replay the first-round matches here:

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