Match of the Millennials - Day 3 Recap
Day three of the Match of the Millennials saw the complete obliteration of the U.S. team. Out of the twelve games, the Americans were able to only score 1.5 points. As usual, the members of the World team were very well prepared and mentally strong, as they didn’t let their guard down even with a commanding lead. In the post game interviews, many of the players mentioned the great team spirit they have and the amount of time they spend together analyzing and preparing for each round. The score of the match so far is 23.5-12.5 in favor of the World team. They need just one point out of the next twelve games to clinch the title.
Under 17 Section
After a tough loss in the previous round, the U.S. team really needed to score big today. Given that their top two players, Jefferey Xiong and Sam Sevian had the white pieces, a comeback seemed to be on the horizon. Unfortunately, they were off to a bad start after Nicolas Checa was completely annihilated by Alexey Sarana. An early win is a big confidence boost for the rest of the team since it puts the pressure to catch up on the other team. Even with the bad start, the rest of the positions looked promising for the Americans. Ruifeng Li had a comfortable position with the black pieces against Aryan Chopra. Not the one to shy away from complications, the American tried to push for a win but his opponent handled the attack masterfully, trading most of the pieces and ending the game in a draw. Jefferey Xiong had a big advantage against Haik Martirosyan who suffered a big loss yesterday after a careless blunder. The American overpressed and allowed his opponent first win a pawn in the endgame, then improve his only remaining pieces which were completely binded before. The Armenian recovered nicely from his previous game, delivering an important point to his team. The deal was sealed after Andrey Esipenko held Sam Sevian to a draw by finding the most precise continuation at the critical moment. The match ended with 3-1, in favor of the World Team.
It is always difficult to bounce back after tough losses and even more so in a team event. The second round of the day saw the complete collapse of the U.S. team. The team leader, Jefferey Xiong, was the only player who managed to salvage a half a point by drawing Andrey Esipenko.
Sam Sevian, John Burke and Ruifeng Li lost to Haik Martirosyan, Aleksey Sarana and Anton Smirnov respectively. The World team completely dominated on all three boards without giving the U.S. team any winning chances. A lot of credit has to be given to Aleksey Sarana and Haik Martirosyan who won both of their games today, but more so to the latter who recovered from yesterday’s embarrassing loss perfectly.
Under 14 Section
Unfortunately for the Americans, they did not have a Jeffery Xiong in this section and lost on every single board. Andrew Hong did not know how to handle the opening, lost a pawn and consequently the game against the young Nordibek Abdusattorov. The current US Junior champion Awonder Liang got outplayed in a Spanish turned Benoni, then blundered and resigned a move later against the young phenom from India, Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu. After playing two marathon games, Carissa Yip had a shorter day but with an undesired result. In a balanced position she blundered and walked into a pin, which forced her to lose a piece and the game to Bibisara Assaubayeva. The U.S. team had some hopes of getting at least half a point, when the game between Martha Samadashvili and Nurgyul Salimova fizzled out to an opposite color bishop endgame with the latter having two extra pawns. These endgames are known for being mainly draw even with the material discrepancy. With no time on the clock, Martha allowed the enemy king in her camp closer to her passed pawn and could no longer hold the fortress, which sealed the fate of the game.