Wei Yi Defeats Xiong In Armageddon To Win Junior Speed Chess Championship

Wei Yi Defeats Xiong In Armageddon To Win Junior Speed Chess Championship

| 15 | Chess Event Coverage

On Saturday, Wei Yi defeated Jeffery Xiong in an armageddon tiebreak game to be crowned champion of the 2019 Junior Speed Chess ChampionshipThe match had ended 13.5-13.5, and four more games in overtime also couldn't bring a decision.

With the win, Wei claimed the first-place prize for the Junior Speed Chess Championship in addition to qualifying for the main Speed Chess Championship.

Predictions Wei Yi Xiong Junior Speed Chess Championship
The SmarterChess predictions for the Junior Speed Chess Championship final.

The five-minute portion already predicted what an incredibly close match the final was going to be. Both players took a one-point lead but not more, and by winning the last, Wei won the first segment.

Playing from Beijing, the Chinese GM started with a win right away in the trendy Exchange Caro-Kann. His piece sacrifice wasn't correct but worked anyway:

After a draw in game two, Wei seemed to be missing a queen sac twice in a row, as special guest commentator Hikaru Nakamura suggested, but the first time it was good for only a draw and the second time there was actually a checkmate on g2:

Wei won the ninth game because he saw a trick that everyone else missed, including Xiong and the commentators:

5|1 section | Scores

Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
Wei Yi @LOVEVAE 2953 2975 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 5.0/9
Jeffery Xiong @jefferyx 2937 2915 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 4.0/9

Starting the three-minute segment with a draw, Wei then increased the lead to two points. Xiong kept things under control by drawing the next two and then winning game 14. Following two more draws, the American GM then won the last two games to go into the bullet with a one-point lead.

First, in game 17, Xiong profited from Wei's briefly losing internet connection and flagging in a winning position: 

Jeffery Xiong Junior Speed Chess Championship 2019

The last three-minute game was a bit of a chaotic rook endgame with mistakes by both players, but eventually Xiong prevailed:

3|1 section | Scores

Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
Jeffery Xiong @jefferyx 2937 3031 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 5.5/9
Wei Yi @LOVEVAE 2953 2859 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 3.5/9

The bullet was a slugfest where, after one draw, Black won four in a row followed by two wins for White, another Black win and a draw at the end. 

More importantly, Xiong was leading 13-11 after 24 games and about 4.5 minutes to go when Wei found a nasty move but then missed the winning followup:

In this phase Xiong missed a big chance to clinch the match as he lost two games in a row while he was winning in both. The second of those two was especially cruel:

Wei Yi Junior Speed Chess Championship 2019

It must be said that Wei was the one missing a chance in the very last bullet game to decide the match in his favor:

1|1 section | Scores

Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Score
Wei Yi @LOVEVAE 2959 2941 ½ 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 ½ 5.0/9
Jeffery Xiong @jefferyx 2902 2920 ½ 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 ½ 4.0/9

A final score of 13.5-13.5 called for a four-game bullet playoff. Both players won both their games as White, with Wei scoring on demand in the last one as he beautifully calculated a winning king-and-pawn endgame to force a 5/3 armageddon tiebreak.

It was the first armageddon game in the championship. As the higher-rated blitz player on, Xiong had his choice of white with time advantage or black with draw odds and quickly decided on white.

Nakamura commented on Xiong's performance in armageddon: "Oh, man, we're headed in a direction where I think we're headed towards a draw." Sure enough, after an ill-advised move, Wei was able to hold a comfortable draw after he had clawed back the time advantage Xiong had started the tiebreak with.

Overtime | Scores

Fed Name Handle Rtg Perf 1 2 3 4 5 Score
Wei Yi @LOVEVAE 2945 2913 0 1 0 1 ½ 2.5/5
Jeffery Xiong @jefferyx 2913 2945 1 0 1 0 ½ 2.5/5

Asked about the moment at the end when he was leading by two games, Xiong said: “[First] I just blundered a piece so that was very painful. Then the next game I surprisingly recovered quite fast, and this time I reached a completely winning position with an attack, and I found a way to lose. But even after that I recovered again.”

Before the match Xiong had said that emotionally he would try to keep himself stable. ”I mentioned that Wei Yi is one of the best players who can always keep his emotions, so I tried my best to follow his example and just move on to the next game.”

Wei Yi: “I knew my situation was tough, and I didn’t know how much time was left, but I knew the match would end soon. I tried whatever I could do. After I won that first game, I still thought I would lose the match.”

Update: our member Leole provided a slightly different translation in the comments.

2019 Junior Speed Chess Championship bracket
Xiong earned $969 based on win percentage. Wei won $2,000 for the victory plus $1,031 on percentage, totaling $3,031. He will now play in the 2019 Speed Chess Championship that starts soon.

“I am happy but also surprised that I won the tournament because I am not very confident about my online blitz skills,“ said Wei. “I don’t think I was dominating the Junior Speed Chess Championship. There were a lot of talented young players on the same level as me.”

You can replay the live broadcast here.

The Junior Speed Chess Championship was sponsored by ChessKid, the world's number-one site for kids to learn and play chess. Sixteen GMs age 21 or younger played 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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