Sarana Beats Xiong To Set Up Junior Speed Chess Clash With Nihal

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GM Alexey Sarana will be GM Nihal Sarin's opponent in the final of the Junior Speed Chess Championship sponsored by ChessKid. Sarana defeated GM Jeffery Xiong 15-12 on Monday. The final is on Wednesday, October 7, at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 CEST.

Sarana's semifinal victory is his second consecutive upset win in terms of seeding, based on a weighted average of blitz and bullet ratings. He knocked out two American grandmasters in a row who were the slight favorites based on their higher bullet ratings.

His win on Monday was largely based on the five-minute and three-minute segments, won by Sarana (@mishanick) 6.5-2.5 and 6-3, respectively. A deficit of seven game-points was too much for Xiong (@jefferyx) to fix in the bullet, which he did win, but with 6.5-2.5.

Sarana was tactically sharper right from the start. In the first game, he was dead lost (as in: mate in eight) but eventually held by finding a stalemate:

In the second game, Xiong got a winning position out of the opening as Sarana took way too much risk. The Russian grandmaster then found a marvelous swindle that could easily be included in the second edition of David Smerdon's Book of the Year, The Complete Chess Swindler.

After a win for each followed by a draw, Xiong was on the verge of leveling the score in his next white game, but again Sarana escaped. For a while, Xiong couldn't be seen on camera.

Xiong earned $666.67 based on win percentage; Sarana won $1,500 for the victory plus $833.33 on percentage, totaling $2,333.33. He moves on to the final, where he will play GM Nihal Sarin on Wednesday, October 7, at 9:00 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 Central Europe.

"I don't know how it happened," Sarana started his interview, not really believing he had reached the final. "I was really lucky in this match."

The Russian player suggested his opponent was a bit "tilted" after what had happened early in the match.

"First of all, I wanna say huge congratulations to Alexey on a very well-played match, well deserved," Xiong started the interview sportingly before agreeing that the first phase had an impact.

"I just was going through those games. I think of the first seven games, I was winning six of them. And I think I scored maybe 2/7. I would say, the technical stage, this is clearly something I have to work on. But credit to Alexey that he dug some holes that I could fall into, let's say."

The live broadcast of the match with GM Robert Hess and GM Daniel Naroditsky.

All games

Junior Speed Chess Championship

The 2020 Junior Speed Chess Championships is sponsored by ChessKid, the world's number-one site for kids to learn and play chess. Sixteen GMs younger than 21 years old 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. In this second edition, there's a total prize fund of $25,000 on the line. Find all information here.

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