2017 Match of the Millennials - Day 1 Recap
Day one of the Match of the Millennials is in the books and it looks like it is going to be a close match! In the under 17 section, after two rounds, the score is 4-4.In the under 14 section, after one round, the World team leads by a full point with 2.5-1.5. Overall, the World team has a full point lead over the U.S. team but there is still a lot of games to be played. The heroes of the day were Sam Sevian from U.S. and Aryan Chopra from India, both of whom scored two points for their teams.
Under 17 Section
The day started with the players in the U17 section facing off. The top player from the World team, Haik Martirosyan of Armenia and Jeffery Xiong of U.S. had a solid draw. Things were really looking up for team U.S.A. as Sam Sevian outplayed his opponent, Andrey Esipenko of Russia, in a sharp and tactical Benoni, an opening that is rendered dubious by many top players. The game between Anton Smirnov of Australia and Ruifeng Li of U.S.A. was also a peaceful draw. It all came down to the marathon game between John Burke of the U.S.A. and Aryan Chopra of India. After playing over 70 moves, Burke managed to break through his opponent’s fortress and even promoted one of his pawns to a queen while his opponent only had a bishop, a knight and two pawns. Normally, that is not enough compensation for the queen, but the players had little time on the clocks and Chopra had a dangerous passed pawn, which gave him practical chances. Not sensing the danger, Burke kept pressing for a win instead of making a draw which would have clinched the win for team U.S.A. Unfortunately, his ambitions backfired as he blundered his queen, allowing the match score to even out to 2-2
In the second round of the day, the team score for the section remained the same. Once again, Sam Sevian saved the day by outplaying Haik Martirosyan most of the game and converting the full point. Jeffery Xiong was up the exchange but his opponent, Anton Smirnov, had enough compensation to hold the draw. Since each team has one reserve player, both teams decided to rest the players who lost in the first round. Alexey Sarana made his debut for the World team and played a 91 move marathon game against Ruifeng Li, which ended in a draw. The debutant for the U.S. team, Nicholas Checa, did not fair so well as he got a bad position out of the opening, sacrificed a piece to complicate the position, but did not manage to salvage the half a point necessary to win the match.
Under 14 Section
After the first hour of play, it looked as though the score of the match would 4-0 in the favor of the world team. Awonder Liang, the newly crowned U.S. Junior Champion, was suffering the whole game against Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu of India, but managed to escape with a draw in the endgame. Martha Samadashvili of the U.S. had a great position against Nurgyul Salimova of Bulgaria but made the mistake of exchanging the wrong pieces, eventually getting outplayed in the opponent. Luckily for her, Salimova ran out of time in a rook endgame which was headed towards a draw. Andrew Hong had a great attacking position and a winning strike, but instead played a series of incorrect moves, allowing his opponent not only to escape but to eventually win the game. Carissa Yip from team U.S.A. miscalculated in a sharp line and found herself in one of the most unusual imbalances in chess where she had two rooks while her opponent Bibisara Assaubayeva of Russia had three minor pieces. Eventually, Yip found herself defending with one rook against a knight and a bishop. After 102 moves, the two pieces overpowered the lone rook, forcing the American to resign, allowing the World team to win the match with 2.5-1.5.