Junior Speed Chess: Xiong Beats Smirnov 19-10

Junior Speed Chess: Xiong Beats Smirnov 19-10

4 | Chess.com News

Despite losing the five-minute portion, Jeffery Xiong defeated Anton Smirnov by a wide margin in their Junior Speed Chess Championship match on Friday. The score was 19-10 for the American GM.

The presage was there. Boasting an impressive 2684 FIDE rating vs. 2567 for his opponent and having beaten Smirnov (@AntonSmirnov) 12-2 in earlier blitz games on Chess.com, Xiong (@jefferyx) went into the match as the clear favorite.

The result was, therefore, not a big surprise. Playing from Coppell, Texas, the top junior of America beat Australia's top junior, playing from Sydney, convincingly. 

Xiong vs Smirnov Junior Speed Chess predictions
The SmarterChess Xiong vs Smirnov predictions.

Played over a distance of 13,809 kilometers (8,581 miles), the match was very close from the start. Smirnov even managed to win the five-minute portion as he started with a win right away:

After a draw in game two, Xiong got his first win in a very sharp encounter. It seems Smirnov saw a "ghost checkmate" on d1 when he gave up his e-pawn:

The score repeated with a draw and a win for Xiong, who won a pawn with a basic tactic and then finished the game with excellent technique:

Jeffery Xiong Junior Speed Chess Championship

Game six, another draw, saw a remarkable moment in the opening. Black took a poisoned pawn on c4, and commentators GM Robert Hess and FM Mike Klein were quick to mention the refutation 10.Qe2+ and also to point out the similarity with Vishy Anand's famous loss in six moves to Alonso Zapata in 1988 in Biel, when Anand was 18 years old. The end of the game was clearly affected by mutual time trouble:

Xiong was leading by a point, but Smirnov took over as he ended the five-minute segment with two wins. In game eight, another Alekhine, suddenly some tactics appeared at the end. While trying to figure them out, Xiong flagged:

5|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 Anton Smirnov @AntonSmirnov 3001 2959 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 5.0/9
2 Jeffery Xiong @jefferyx 2920 2962 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 0 4.0/9

After the match, Xiong said that the first game in the three-minute segment was the turning point: “He was up a pawn with two bishops. If he finishes that one off, it’s very difficult for me to come back."

 Smirnov actually had a chance to finish it right away, but he missed it:

Anton Smirnov Junior Speed Chess Championship

Xiong won the next two games as well, but Smirnov came back to win game 13. A draw next meant that Smirnov was still only a point behind, but from there it was the American GM who was dealing the cards. He finished the middle segment with a three-point lead.

3|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 Jeffery Xiong @jefferyx 2944 3147 1 1 1 0 ½ 1 1 0 1 6.5/9
2 Anton Smirnov @AntonSmirnov 2982 2779 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 0 1 0 2.5/9

When Xiong won the first three bullet games as well, it was pretty clear that the match was over. There weren't too many big, one-move blunders actually, but here is one in game 21:

Having clinched the match, Xiong allowed himself some frivolous opening play in the very last game:

1|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Score
1 Jeffery Xiong @jefferyx 2909 3082 1 1 1 ½ 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 8.5/11
2 Anton Smirnov @AntonSmirnov 2870 2697 0 0 0 ½ 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2.5/11

Xiong was behind on the clock in almost all five-minute games but played much faster in the three-minute ones. “Actually from the beginning I thought I played quite well,“ he said. “The issue was: I was moving slower than a snail. Once I sped up, things became better. I used the break to adjust.”

Smirnov was modestly confident after winning the first part: “I thought my chances were better than at the start, but I was still a long way from winning the match. It turned out I didn’t hold very well.”

In the bullet it just wasn't working for the Australian. “I think I was playing too fast. For some reason I didn’t adjust very well to the bullet section but Jeffery played quite well so kudos for him,” Smirnov said.

Junior Speed Chess Championship bracket

Smirnov earned $138 based on win percentage; Xiong won $400 for the victory plus $262 on percentage, totaling $662. He moves on to the next round, where he will play the winner of the match Benjamin Gledura vs. Awonder Liang on June 18.

Xiong: “I’ll definitely be cheering for Awonder, mainly because it would be very cool for all Americans to advance in the first round, but I look forward to playing either one.”

The next match is Parham Maghsoodloo vs. Luca Moroni on June 17. Yep, that's tomorrow!

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.

You can replay the live broadcast here.

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