GM Pranav V won the Winners Bracket and IM Read Samadov won the Losers Bracket of Qualifier 1 to both qualify for the Junior Speed Chess Championship 2023 Main Event.
Pranav V won convincingly, winning nearly all his games in his semifinal match against NM Jan Malek and then beating GM Balaji Daggupati 4-0 in the Winners Final.
Samadov went through two grandmasters to finish at the top of the Losers Bracket, GMs Pranav Anand and Balaji. After losing the first two games in the Losers Final, he won the last two games and then an armageddon to turn the tables and win the match.
Qualifier 2 begins on Thursday, May 18, at 10 a.m. PT / 17:00 CEST, with the Bracket taking place on Friday, May 19, at 10 a.m. PT / 17:00 CEST.
The two-day qualifier started with a Swiss tournament. The top eight finishers would move on to the second day. After seven rounds, 5.5/7 was enough to finish first, and three players topped the field of 32 to reach this score.
Balaji was the only one to go undefeated, concluding the first portion of this qualifier with four wins and three draws.
His victory over Pranav V in the penultimate round showcased the danger of an outside passed pawn, which more than compensated for some danger around his king.
IM Ryo Chen dropped just one loss to WCM Veronika Shubenkova in round two, but won all his other games and settled for a one-move draw in the final round with the other top-finisher, Malek (1.e4, draw agreed).
His best victory (according to opponents’ ratings) was also against Pranav Anand, in round six.
Malek had identical round-by-round results to Chen. He started with a win, lost to Pranav Anand, and won his other four games before making a draw with his co-leader.
Malek has no FIDE title, but his FIDE standard rating is 2370. His most convincing victory was against his highest-rated opponent (by Chess.com ratings), CM Egor Koshulyan.
The top eight advanced to the Bracket segment on the next day. The first four would play in the Winners Bracket while the latter four would play in the Losers Bracket.
Results | Qualifier 1 Swiss
The second day of the qualifier featured a double-elimination bracket. Each match consisted of six games (two 5+1 games, two 3+1 games, and two 1+1 games), and the first to reach 3.5 points advanced. The top-two players from each qualifier (the winners of the Winners Final and Losers Final) make it to the JSCC’s Main Event. No Grand Final would be played.
Pranav V’s route to winning the Winners Final was more than convincing. His Winners Semifinals match against Malek featured five all-decisive games. Pranav won the first three games, lost the fourth, and then took the match in the first bullet game.
His win against Balaji in the Winners Final was even more straightforward. He won all four games—and the match was over, full stop.
The third game was the nicest, where, with just three pieces in an endgame, he won with a checkmating attack.
Samadov’s path to victory in the Losers Bracket was hard-fought. He defeated FM Anthony Atanasov, Malek, and Pranav Anand before facing Balaji in the final.
There, he lost the first two games, then drew. In the next game, it looked like he fell into a simple trap, but the tables quickly turned.
An incredible counter-punch by Samadov after “falling into a trap”!#JSCC pic.twitter.com/Vc3NrM5UuI
— ChesscomLive (@ChesscomLive) May 17, 2023
In the following game, he trapped his opponent’s queen in a picturesque fashion.
The armageddon game went completely Samadov’s way. Needing only to draw, he was able to win a piece in the middlegame and take the full point.
Both winners pocket $500 along with their ticket to the JSCC Main event. Balaji earns $400 for third, while Pranav Anand makes $300 for fourth. Chen and Malek finish in fifth-sixth with $250 each, while FM Tymur Keleberda and Atasanov come in seventh-eighth with $150 each.
All Games | Qualifier 1
The 2023 Junior Speed Chess Championship (JSCC) is Chess.com’s top event for young players, featuring a $50,000 prize fund. Two qualifiers happen on May 16-17 and May 18-19, followed by the Main Event starting on June 13. The JSCC features the strongest online competition for the next’s generation of talents and Chess.com’s signature Speed Chess Championship format.