Top 2 Seeds Head to ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship Finals
Top-seeded FM Marco Materia will face second-seeded NM Ryo Chen in the 2020 ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship Finals on Saturday.

Top 2 Seeds Head to ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship Finals

| 29 | Chess Event Coverage

After a quartet of the most promising masters competed on Saturday, the 2020 ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship finals are set.

In the opening match, top-seeded FM Marco Materia frustrated NM Brewington Hardaway with his ultra-solid style and won 13.5-2.5. In the other semifinal which immediately followed, NM Ryo Chen stormed back from an early deficit to eclipse and then hang on against NM Alice Lee. Ryo escaped 8.0-7.0 and will face Marco in the finals this Saturday.

The 2020 ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship finals will be on Saturday, July 25 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time/12:00 p.m. Eastern Time/17:00 Central European Time and will be broadcast live on with FM Mike Klein (FunMasterMike) and IM David Pruess (PlayfulSquirrel). Make sure to tune in to see who is the best 10-and-under blitzer in the world!

2020 ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship Finals

As the only FM in the field, Marco has been playing more like an aged GM. On the live show, yours truly and cohost IM David Pruess (PlayfulSquirrel) likened his style to GMs Anatoly Karpov, Tigran Petrosian, or Vladimir Kramnik. Nearly every time he could have taken a risk that allowed counterplay, the top French talent instead steered for safer advantages.

Such a style is seldom seen in the tactics-heavy world of scholastic chess, but it proved incredibly effective against ChessKid star "BrewMaster," who entered the competition as the highest-rated 10-year-old in the USA at the time of qualification.

FM Marco Materia

Brewington actually got out of the gate well, winning an exchange in the opening game (where he won the coin toss but chose black anyway!). In a day dominated by King's Indian Defenses (Ryo played it every game in the later match), Brewington could not find a thoroughfare for his extra rook and eventually Marco overtook the game and the first point.

Despite the opening advantage, the American switched up his opening in his next turn as Black and played the Bogo-Indian Defense, but it didn't work out any better. Even though not indicative of his usual style, game three showed that Marco can attack with the best ChessKids:

Now down 3-0, Brewington attempted to do what his first-round opponent had done to him: reel off a trio of his own to get back to square. Unfortunately for him, round four would become his only win of the match, and it took him 99 moves and a clock advantage to complete it.

Marco then got the win right back. He closed out the 5-minute portion 5.5-1.5 and then took the first six games of the 3-minute portion to never look back. The final was 13.5-2.5, allowing the number one seed to move on to the finals.

You can watch the entire match here.

The afternoon was not quite as placid for the other winner. Playing against tournament newcomer and World Cadet U10 Girls Champion NM Alice Lee, the two opened with a pair of solid draws. Were it not for a late blunder, it would have been three, but Ryo took the third game to edge into the lead.

NM Ryo Chen

That game looked like no breakthroughs would be possible. But Ryo's coach, GM Rashad Babaev, joined the commentary and said that his student was very tricky and even he would have trouble holding the position against his young charge. The grandmaster was right!

From there Alice showed her mettle, pickup up four consecutive wins to jump out to a three-game lead. The match was essentially a theme tournament for the Averbakh Variation of the King's Indian Defense, which occurred every time Alice had white. Nearly every game was a complete mess, with the first game of her winning streak being the craziest!

Ryo remained unfazed and closed the gap with a win in the last 5-minute game to end that segment only down 5.0-3.0.

He then grabbed the first four games of the 3-minute to cause Alice one of her few moments of grief. She briefly grimaced on the screen but won the third-to-final game to cut the deficit to one game. However, two draws closed out the match, allowing Ryo to advance by the smallest possible margin, 8.0-7.0.

Ryo said that the player he most wants to meet is GM Magnus Carlsen. The youngster did a "Carlsen-esque" thing in the final game. Despite knowing that he only needed a draw to close out the match, several times he refused to trade rooks in the game's waning moments. And just after he "won" a rook but stalemated Alice, Ryo got in the first question during the interview segment: "Did I miss a win?"

You can watch the entire match here.

This Saturday will be #1 seeded Marco Materia vs. #2 seeded Ryo Chen. Who will win: The uber-mature Marco, who plays like python, or the ultra-bubbly Ryo, who bounces around in his chair, uses a touch-screen to play, and has only been playing chess for two years!?

2020 ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship Finals

Tune in July 25 to at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time/12:00 p.m. Eastern Time/17:00 Central European Time to see who will be crowned the inaugural champion of the ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship!


FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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