Xiong Beats Maghsoodloo To Reach Junior Speed Chess Final
Xiong powers through to the championship match.

Xiong Beats Maghsoodloo To Reach Junior Speed Chess Final

| 14 | News

Jeffery Xiong qualified for the final of the Junior Speed Chess Championship on Thursday as he beat Parham Maghsoodloo 14.5-10.5 in their semifinal match. Xiong will face either Wei Yi or Alireza Firouzja for the title.

The first semifinal was a very close match in both the 5+1 and 3+1 segments. Xiong ran away in the bullet, after a disconnection had disrupted Maghsoodloo's mindset. The Iranian GM was the slight favorite beforehand, but eventually had to acknowledge defeat in the fastest time control.

SmarterChess predictions Maghsoodloo vs. Xiong
Xiong defied the SmarterChess odds.

 Maghsoodloo started the 5+1 segment with a convincing win, using his favorite King's Indian setup as White. Both players got an "octopus," but White's was stronger.

When he got his queen to g4, it seemed Maghsoodloo started rapping in front of the camera. It was bit of a "scary" sight according to the guest commentator Anish Giri. Xiong would definitely have been distracted over the board, but not here online.

After two draws, Xiong won his first. As both won their next white games and then their next black games, the score was still equal at the end of the first section.

Maghsoodloo especially was varying his openings. After a Nimzo-Indian and a Queen’s Gambit Declined, he played the Dutch in his third black game. Here the players left theory as early as move four.

Maghsoodloo was more successful in his second Dutch game. He found a nice tactic in the middlegame, refuting Xiong's rook move rather unexpectedly.

Parham Maghsoodloo Junior Speed Chess

5|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Score
1 Parham Maghsoodloo @Parhamov 3048 2864 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 0 1 4.0/8
2 Jeffery Xiong @jefferyx 2864 3048 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 0 4.0/8

The score kept going back and forth, and nobody was leading by more than a point until Xiong won games 15 and 16. However, Maghsoodloo bounced back right away and so he went into the bullet one point behind.

This phase did see a key moment in the match, which was game 13. Here, Maghsoodloo was a knight up but due to a poor internet connection he lost on time. He was visibly upset about it.

"The game which I was a knight up and I lost, I totally lost myself," Maghsoodloo later said. "After that I think I could not play good chess anymore. It was really important because I lost that game and it was a two-point difference between win and loss. After that game I think I played very bad."

Maghsoodloo did win his next game right away, but explained his disturbed mindset: "It is really difficult that any moment you need to think about your connection, how it works, it is some very big pressure. I think also I was very unlucky today; I missed many wins," he said. 

This was a nice win by Xiong from this part of the match:

Jeffery Xiong Junior Speed Chess

3|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 Jeffery Xiong @jefferyx 2890 3060 0 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 0 5.0/9
2 Parham Maghsoodloo @Parhamov 3022 2852 1 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0 0 1 4.0/9

After winning three games in a row early in the bullet part, Xiong suddenly took a four-point lead. He had started playing the Hippopotamus as Black:

Maghsoodloo stopped the bleeding in this interesting game:

Game 23 was critical. Maghsoodloo was again winning and about to bring the margin back to two points, but he spoiled it terribly and even lost. The match was over, and the last two games didn't matter anymore.

1|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Score
1 Jeffery Xiong jefferyx 2870 3036 ½ 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 5.5/8
2 Parham Maghsoodloo Parhamov 2900 2734 ½ 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2.5/8

Xiong said that he had looked at his opponent's King's Indian Attack before the match: "I was definitely prepared," he said. "I mean it’s a must. But to be honest I was never happy with the positions I got."

Asked whether he made adjustments between the 5+1 and 3+1 portions, Maghsoodloo responded: "I am just playing everything and try to enjoy chess. It was not so important to prepare and play something; we're here to play for fun and so other people will enjoy it. I was just planning to be creative and make a mess. I was happy with my positions and I got what I wanted, but today was not my day."

Junior Speed Chess Championship bracket

Maghsoodloo earned $504 based on win percentage; Xiong won $1,200 for the victory plus $696 on percentage, totaling $1,896. He will play the winner of Wei Yi vs. Alireza Firouzja, which is scheduled for July 28 at 8 a.m. PDT (17:00 CEST).

Xiong on the next semifinal: "I see Alireza as the favorite because he's just a much better bullet player and Wei Yi probably needs a much bigger lead heading into that portion to be considered a favorite. On the other hand, an important part is the maturity factor so how Alireza handles the psychological factor will determine the outcome."

Maghsoodloo is obviously rooting for his compatriot and thinks he is the favorite: "I hope Alireza will win," he said, "and I think he can because he is a much better online player than Wei Yi. He does not have anything special against Alireza; I think Alireza is better in every aspect of the game."

You can replay the live broadcast here.

The Junior Speed Chess Championship is sponsored by ChessKid, the world's number-one site for kids to learn and play chess. Sixteen GMs age 21 or younger play in a knockout format with 90 minutes of 5|1 blitz, 60 minutes of 3|1 blitz and 30 minutes of 1|1 bullet chess.

All match games for replay & download:

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