Junior Speed Chess Match Gledura-Liang Preview

Junior Speed Chess Match Gledura-Liang Preview

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Today GM Benjamin Gledura of Hungary plays GM Awonder Liang of the U.S. in what will be the last match in the round of 16 of the Junior Speed Chess Championship, sponsored by ChessKid

Today's match will determine who will be the next opponent for the American GM Jeffery Xiong, who defeated Australian GM Anton Smirnov last Friday.

You can watch Benjamin Gledura vs. Awonder Liang on Tuesday, June 18 at 10 a.m. Pacific (19:00 CEST) with expert commentary on and

Junior Speed Chess Championship bracket
The 19-year-old Gledura (@promen1999) from Eger in Northern Hungary learned chess from his father when he was four, and started playing regularly when he was seven. He was strong at a young age: in 2009 he won the European U10 Championship, and two years later he got the silver medal at the World Youth U12.

While Hungary's top GM Peter Leko used to be a very good football player at a young age, Gledura was an excellent swimmer. He won a national championship in 2010 and a student Olympic gold medal in 2012 in the swimming pool!

He is an International Master since 2014, and a grandmaster since 2016. In February of that year his name got more widely known when he defeated none other than Viswanathan Anand in Gibraltar, in a pawn ending:

In 2015 team captain Judit Polgar invited Gledura to the national team, after which he made his debut at the 2016 Baku Olympiad, the last event he played as an IM. As first reserve he scored 5/8. Two years later, at the Batumi Olympiad, Gledura repeated the same score on board three.

This January he came third in the Tata Steel Challengers in Wijk aan Zee. Two months later, at the 2019 European Individual Championship, Gledura finished in shared 12th place to qualify for the FIDE World Cup.

At 2654 his FIDE rating is now his highest ever; his 2377 blitz can only be the result of having played not enough fast games that were rated. On his blitz rating is 2650.

Benjamin Gledura Junior Speed Chess Championship

The 16-year-old Liang (@rednova1729), from Madison, Wisconsin, started playing at the age of five. His talent became widely known when started breaking some records early on.

For example, when he was eight years old he broke Fabiano Caruana's record and became the youngest to defeat an International Master in a standard tournament game—he beat IM Daniel Fernandez at the 2011 U.S. Open in Orlando, Florida.

In November of the same year he won the gold medal at the World Youth U8 and then in 2012 he became also the youngest ever player to beat a grandmaster. Just nine years old, he won his game against GM Larry Kaufman at the Washington International.

Liang mentioned this recent win vs. Wesley So as his best game so far.

In 2013 Liang won the World Youth U10 and two years later he became the youngest ever American IM. In 2017 he won the Chicago Open, which meant his final grandmaster norm, and the U.S. Junior Championship. He is the 15th youngest GM in history.

Liang's FIDE rating is 2592 but, like his opponent's, his blitz rating is probably too low: 2379. On his blitz rating is 2657, also fairly close to Gledura's.

Awonder Liang Junior Speed Chess Championship

As the stats suggest, this could be one of the closest matches of all the matches in this round of 16. The players themselves also didn't mention a clear favorite.

Gledura: “Honestly, I have no idea. In classical, I would prefer myself a bit. Otherwise very hard to say.”
Liang: “I've played Benjamin once, in the 2018 SPICE Cup. Our game there was fairly even, I may have held a slight advantage at some point. Overall the game didn't have a whole lot of action. I've never played a whole lot of blitz, so I am probably the slight underdog.”

Both are going to play from home, and both will be doing a bit of preparation.

Gledura: “I will be playing a few training games with my coaches with this time control.”
Liang: “I'll probably start building up some calculation, which I haven't done for a while. Blitz practice is of course necessary as well.”

Another thing these two young players have in common—which cannot be said for most of their rivals in the championship—is their relatively little experience with online chess.

Gledura: “I do not like playing chess online that much, I prefer to play on a 'real' chessboard and therefore I don’t play online a lot.”
Liang: “On the sparse occasions that I play online, I haven't seen Benjamin, so I don't know anything about him. The match will definitely be a lot of fun!”

Junior Speed Chess Chesskid

The match will start with 90 minutes of 5|1 blitz, continue with 60 minutes of 3|1 blitz, and end with 30 minutes of 1|1 bullet. (Find all regulations here.)

Gledura thinks the 3|1 will be his time control: “I would say 3+1, because if I play chess online, then I play 3+0 or 3+2 so that what I'm used to.”
Liang: “I think the time controls will be challenging because there won't be any time to think, but there is also too much time to simply flag the opponent. I look forward to the format of the match because I've never played these time controls before, so it will be a fun experiment.”

Junior Speed Chess Championship prizes

The prize fund for the first-round matches is $800 each. The winner earns $400 and advances to round two, while the other $400 is split by win percentage.

The Junior Speed Chess Championship is sponsored by ChessKid, the world's number-one site for kids to learn and play chess. All JSCC matches are broadcast live with chess-master commentary on and

Here's the full schedule of the round of 16:

  • Van Foreest vs. Tari: May 16 (14.5-13.5, news report)
  • Firouzja vs. Martinez Alcantara: May 21 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18-7, news report)
  • Wei Yi vs. Praggnanandhaa: May 31 at 9 a.m. Pacific (14.5-11.5, news report)
  • Sevian vs. Sarin: June 3 at 9 a.m. Pacific (17-8, news report)
  • Sarana vs. Esipenko: June 11 at 10 a.m. Pacific (15-12, news report)
  • Xiong vs. Smirnov: June 14 at 5 p.m. Pacific (19.0-10.0, news report)
  • Maghsoodloo vs. Moroni: June 17 at 9 a.m. Pacific (20-7, news report)
  • Gledura vs. Liang: June 18 at 10 a.m. Pacific (19:00 CEST)

For a full schedule, see our events calendar or this general Speed Chess Championships article.

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