Wei Yi Beats Firouzja; Will Face Xiong In Junior Speed Chess Final

Wei Yi Beats Firouzja; Will Face Xiong In Junior Speed Chess Final

23 | Chess Event Coverage

Wei Yi will be Jeffery Xiong's opponent in the final of the Chess.com Junior Speed Chess Championship. The Chinese GM beat Alireza Firouzja 14.5-11.5 in Sunday's semifinal.

The Junior Speed Chess Championship final will be played August 10 at 6 p.m. Pacific (9 p.m. EDT, 3 a.m. CEST).

The close and exciting match was between two of the most talented junior players on the planet: Wei (China), the youngest 2700 grandmaster in history, vs. Firouzja (Iran), who had broken 2700 earlier in the day(!) with his last-round game in the Turkish league.

Playing the semifinal after a classical game isn't ideal, but on the other hand Firouzja is young and has the energy for it, right? And his win didn't take that long:

Wei had his own small handicap. Playing from Changsha, China (where he is the top seed in a strong open that started on Monday), he began the match at 11 p.m. local time and finished around 2 a.m. 

SmarterChess had Firouzja as the favorite, mostly based on the bullet prowess of the Iranian player, but it all went a bit differently.

Wei was never trailing at any point during the match. After taking a three-point lead, he allowed his opponent to come back just two games, and Firouzja never managed to tie the score.

Wei Yi Firouzja Smarter Chess
The Smarter Chess predictions.

Wei's long-lasting lead started right away as he won the first three games of the match. In the first, he got great compensation for an exchange sacrifice, after Firouzja had delayed castling in a Closed Sicilian and went for an adventure with his h-pawn instead.

After a draw in game four, Firouzja scored his first win. Wei's Petrosian line in the King's Indian had all gone wrong. As early as move 22, with less than half a minute left on the clock, he decided to click the resign button. Black will double rooks and has ideas of ...g5-g4-g3 and ...Qe3.

Wei Yi Junior Speed Chess Championship
With a win in game nine, Firouzja was just a point down at the end of the five-minute segment. The game saw a comedy of errors in the rook endgame as both players had only seconds left, and Wei lost on time as his internet connection was unstable for a moment. Luckily for him, he didn't suffer from that in the remainder.

5|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 Wei Yi @LOVEVAE 2898 3083 1 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0 5.0/9
2 Alireza Firouzja @Firouzja2003 3045 2860 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 4.0/9

Wei brought his lead back to three points immediately, but also in the three-minute portion he took his foot off the pedal to allow Firouzja to stay in the match.

In the first three-minute game the Chinese GM trapped his opponent's queen, just like he had done in one of the five-minute games:

In the second three-minute game Firouzja was outplaying his opponent in an endgame with rooks and opposite-colored bishops, when he turned a promising position into a lost one:

The following howler is just inexplicable. Firouzja could't believe it himself either:

Firouzja did show great chess as well. For example, he outplayed Wei in a Petroff in this one:

3|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
1 Wei Yi @LOVEVAE 2932 3055 1 1 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 0 5.0/9
2 Alireza Firouzja @Firouzja2003 3017 2894 0 0 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 0 1 4.0/9

Going into the bullet 10-8 down, Firouzja, as a bullet specialist, still had his chances. However, with a combination of some incredible defensive skills and clever stalling techniques, Wei pulled it off. He even won this segment as well. 

Alireza Firouzja Junior Speed Chess Championship

A big moment was game 24, where Firouzja had a winning rook endgame but let it slip away:

1|1 section | Scores

# Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Score
1 Wei Yi @LOVEVAE 2878 3337 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1 4.5/8
2 Alireza Firouzja @Firouzja2003 3294 2835 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 0 3.5/8

Firouzja said he couldn't exactly pinpoint where he had lost the match: "It’s really hard to say because I missed a lot of chances. I had lots of good positions, but he defend[ed] it very well so I cannot really say at which moment."

Junior speed chess championship bracket

Firouzja earned $531 based on win percentage; Wei won $1,200 for the victory plus $669 on percentage, totaling $1,869. He will play Jeffery Xiong in the final on August 10.

About now playing Xiong in the final, Wei said: "Maybe I should do some preparation, look at his games and try to play faster in the one-minute games."

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 and download:

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