Match of the Millennials - Day 2 Recap

After a hard fought twelve games, the World team extended its lead over the U.S. team by two points. For the first time, the U17 U.S. team lost even though they outrate their opponents by quite a bit. In the U14 section, the U.S. team managed to hold the World team to a tie after Carissa Yip’s marathon game yet again, which she managed to win.

Under 17 Section

The players kept things consistent by keeping the score 2-2. Sam Sevian, who was unstoppable yesterday, for some reason played a very unambitious game and drew Alexey Sarana with the white pieces in 18 moves. In a team event, this a huge advantage, as it leaves the opposing team with two whites. His teammate, World Junior Champion Jeffery Xiong, defeated Aryan Chopra’s Najdorf in a very clean game after outplaying his opponent in a positional manner then delivering a tactical blow. Unfortunately for the U.S. team, Ruifeng Li chose a very unsound opening against Andrey Esipenko and was punished convincingly. Anton Smirnov and John Burke drew after giving each other several winning chances but failing to take advantage of them.

In the fourth round, the U.S. team suffered its first loss. Things were really looking good for the American team as the Armenian Haik Martirosyan blundered against Nicolas Checa and was forced to resign several moves later. Sam Sevian decided to return the favor by blundering a pawn, which was enough for Anton Smirnov to bring home the point. Alexey Saran had to suffer and defend against Jeffery Xiong for most of the game. The American superstar did not make the most out of his extra pawn in the rook ending allowing his opponent to find enough counterplay to draw. John Burke had a big advantage in the middle game and the only mistake in the game was enough for Andrey Esipenko to turn the tide, which allowed the World team to win their first match.

Under 14 Section

After suffering a loss yesterday, the U.S. team drew the match against the higher rated World team. Andrew Hong and Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu played a sharp theoretical line where the American had to be quite careful not to find himself in trouble. He handled the complications masterfully and made a comfortable draw. Martha Samadashvili out-prepared her much higher rated opponent, Bibisara Assaubayeva and got the advantage out of the opening. However, as the game went on, the Russian player demonstrated her strength and experience by not allowing her position to collapse and giving her opponent opportunities to error in an extremely complicated position. Once out of book and on her own, Samadashvili found herself in an unknown territory and made one crucial mistake, which was enough for her opponent to capitalize on and deliver the full point. The newly crowned U.S. Junior Champion, Awonder Liang, once again found himself in an uncomfortable position but defended tenaciously until his opponent, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, had to settle for a draw. The score was now 2-1 in favor for the World team and it was up to Carissa Yip and Nurgyul Salimova to decide the fate of the match. This was an epic 112 move battle where first Carissa had the material advantage, then her opponent refused to repeat the position to try to go for checkmate but missed a checkmate in two moves. This, in turn, left Carissa with the material advantage away but her king was still in trouble which allowed her opponent to force a draw, an opportunity that was not spotted. Towards the very end, with reduced amount of material on the board, Salimova once again had a great opportunity to make a draw but after a five-hour of play and no time on the clock, it was yet another missed opportunity. With this win, the score of the match is now a tie.