Mil­len­nial mas­sacre: U.S. team suf­fers a beat down

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - DAVID R. SANDS ● David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@wash­ing­ton­

They won’t be “lik­ing” this on Face­book or boast­ing about it on Snapchat. We’ll keep the fud­dy­duddy jokes to a min­i­mum, but there could be some real soulsearch­ing af­ter the dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mance of a team of top young Amer­i­can stars at the just­com­pleted “Match of the Mil­len­ni­als” at the Chess Club and Scholas­tic Cen­ter of St. Louis.

Heav­ily out­ranked on the top boards, the nine-player In­ter­na­tional team made short work of the Amer­i­cans, tak­ing the over­all match by a stun­ning 301⁄2171⁄2 mar­gin, with the U.S. Un­der-17 and Un­der-14 teams both al­ready lost even be­fore the fi­nal round be­gan. Day 3 of the four-day event was par­tic­u­larly gruesome, as the In­ter­na­tion­als scored 101/2 points out of the 12 games played.

Six­teen-year-old Texas GM Jeffery Xiong, the U.S. top seed and the reign­ing world ju­nior cham­pion, could only man­age a 4-4 re­sult in St. Louis. But his lone win was one of the more at­trac­tive at­tack­ing games of the event, over­pow­er­ing In­dian GM Aryan Cho­pra from the White side of a Si­cil­ian Na­j­dorf.

Black’s 7. Nde2 h5!? is a com­mit­tal move with mo­men­tous con­se­quences down the line. Cho­pra gains space, but his king will never find a safe haven on the king­side. Still, af­ter 14. Nge2 b5, Black has one of those re­silient Si­cil­ian po­si­tions where his weak­nesses are hard for White to ex­ploit; if Xiong does not re­act en­er­get­i­cally, Black’s queen­side push could soon be­come dan­ger­ous.

With Black’s king still stuck in the cen­ter, White re­de­ploys his knights in a bid to strip away Black’s best de­fen­sive pieces: 21. Ncd1 d5!? (the clas­sic Si­cil­ian free­ing move, though White is bet­ter sit­u­ated to ex­ploit the open po­si­tion; bet­ter might have been 21…Qxc2 22. Rc1 Qa4 23. Ne3 Nbd7 24. Rfd1, when Black at least has an ex­tra pawn to com­pen­sate for White’s clear ini­tia­tive) 22. Ne3 Qc5 23. Bxf6! gxf6 24. exd5 Nxd5 25. Nxd5 Qxd5 26. Ne4, with the threat of 27. Rfd1 Qc6 28. Nd6+ Bxd6 29. Qxc6+.

White’s fancy-step­ping knight grabs the spot­light in the game’s de­cid­ing se­quence: 27. Kh2 Qxb2? (see di­a­gram — this is no time to get greedy; it’s still a fight af­ter 27… Qc4 28. Rfd1 Rxd1 29. Rxd1 Kf8, or even the trick­ier 29…Qxc2 30. Ra1 Qc6 31. Ra8+! Bd8 [Qxa8? 32. Nxf6+ Bxf6 33. Qxa8+ Ke7 34. Qb7+ Kf8 35. Qxb4, win­ning] 32. Rc8! Qb6 33. Nc5, though White clearly bet­ter) 28. Nxf6+! Kf8 (Bxf6? 29. Qc6+ Ke7 [Kf8 30. Qxf6 wins a rook] 30. Ra7+ Kf8 31. Qxf6 Rh7 32. Qxd8+ Kg7 33. Qg5+ Kf8 34. Re8 mate) 29. Ne4 f6 30. Ng5!, of­fer­ing the knight a sec­ond time in the space of three moves.

De­clin­ing is bleak for Black on 30…Qxc2 31. Ne6+ Kf7 32. Nxd8+ Rxd8 33. Qh5+ Kg8 34. Ra7 Qc5 35. Rb7 Rc8 36. Qxh4, but Cho­pra opts for a quicker death: 30…fxg5 31. f6! Bc5 32. Qb7 Rg8 33. Ra7, and Black can’t stop mate in the next few moves; Cho­pra re­signed.

Speak­ing of mil­len­ni­als (at least those born in the 21st cen­tury), they’re get­ting the first op­por­tu­nity to play a U.S. Open in Vir­ginia as the na­tion’s premier open event re­turns to the Old Do­min­ion for the first time since the fondly re­mem­bered 1996 Open in Alexandria. Nor­folk’s Sher­a­ton Water­side Ho­tel is host­ing this year’s Open, with GM Alex Sha­balov try­ing to make it three in a row. Play ends Sun­day, and we’ll have re­sults and some of the ac­tion here next week.

Xiong-Cho­pra, Match of the Mil­len­ni­als, St. Louis, July 2017

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e5 7. Nde2 h5 8. Bg5 Be6 9. f4 Nbd7 10. f5 Bc4 11. Ng3 Qc7

12. Bxc4 Qxc4 13. Qf3 h4 14. Nge2 b5

15. a3 Be7 16. O-O Rd8 17. Nc1 Nb6

18. Nd3 a5 19. Nf2 b4 20. axb4 axb4

21. Ncd1 d5 22. Ne3 Qc5 23. Bxf6 gxf6 24. exd5 Nxd5 25. Nxd5 Qxd5 26. Ne4 Qd4+ 27. Kh2 Qxb2 28. Nxf6+ Kf8 29. Ne4 f6 30. Ng5 fxg5 31. f6 Bc5 32. Qb7 Rg8

33. Ra7 Black re­signs

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