Sarana Upsets Sevian In Junior Speed Chess Championship

Sarana Upsets Sevian In Junior Speed Chess Championship

| 24 | News

GM Alexey Sarana defeated GM Sam Sevian 13.5-11.5 to become the fourth and last player to reach the semifinals of the Junior Speed Chess Championship sponsored by ChessKid. The first semifinal is between Nihal Sarin and Haik Martirosyan on Sunday.

It took 12 matches in this championship to finally have an "upset" victory. SmarterChess had predicted a win for Sevian, albeit with the smallest of margins. To Sarana's own surprise, he did well in the bullet and decided the match in his favor at the very end.

Sarana (@mishanick) started with a win and also took the five-minute segment as a whole: 5-3. Then it was Sevian (@Konavets) who won the three-minute part, also with 5-3.

A tie before the bullet games was a novelty in this tournament, and after 23 games the score was still even when Sarana finished with two wins in a row.

An opening line that was played four times was the Nimzo-Indian with 4.Qc2 and 5.e4. It is such a theoretical variation that all games had the same first 13 moves. The players scored two draws and one win each, but Sevian wasn't too happy with how they went: "In this Nimzo e4 line, he had an idea in almost every game."

Game four should have ended in a draw, but Sarana forgot to play one more king move to secure the draw.

Game five saw an exciting finish:

As said, the score was equal after game 23. When Sevian was getting into big trouble in game 24 and the match clock was ticking down, he resigned with three seconds left, giving himself one more game to level the score.

The final game could easily have ended in a win for Sevian, who was a healthy pawn up in the middlegame. Then the American player also missed some chances to liquidate to a drawn rook endgame. 

Sevian earned $345 based on win percentage; Sarana won $750 for the victory plus $355 on percentage, totaling $1,105. He moves on to the semifinals, where he will play GM Jeffery Xiong.

"It was a really nervous match," said Sarana. "I think I played this match really [well], but sometimes... I was really prepared in the opening, but then something happened in time trouble, and Sam [would] come back."

The Russian GM thought he was a "big outsider" for the bullet part, but he did better than his own expectations. "I miscalculated not too much, even after a loss."

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

All games

Junior Speed Chess Championship bracket

Remaining matches

  • Nihal Sarin vs. Haik Martirosyan October 4, 2020, at 8 a.m. Pacific / 17:00 CEST
  • Jeffery Xiong vs. Alexey Sarana October 5, 2020, at 9 a.m. Pacific / 18:00 CEST
  • Final October 8, 2020

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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