Erigaisi dethrones Nihal and takes the JSCC crown
GM Arjun Erigaisi defeated two-time Junior Speed Chess Champion GM Nihal Sarin in the 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship Final on Monday.
Down two points after blitz 3 | 1, Erigaisi clinched the title with a five-game winning streak in the balls segment – the time control that Nihal was supposed to be favored the most.
Nihal took the first win by mowing down Erigaisi’s loose pawns in an opposite-colored bishop midgame.
Erigaisi fought back immediately, winning the second game by eliminating Sarin’s compensation for his sacrificed pawn and winning a second pawn in the ensuing ending.
The match continued to be a back-and-forth duel throughout this segment. As soon as one player took the lead, the other won and tied the score.
In a worse position in game four, Nihal found a tricky tactical move that lost his opponent time.
Erigaisi replied with a checkmate attack in time.
Erigaisi finished the segment with a one-point lead by earning a victory in a Knight Endgame.
Nihal kicked off blitz 3 | 1 with his own late game victory, supporting an even position in a late pawn rook, then penetrating with his king to win.
Tied again, Sarin tried to take the lead but blundered into a winning position due to time issues.
In game five, Sarin neutralized Erigaisi’s lead with a fine attacking finish.
Sarin followed that up with two more wins, taking the first two-point lead of the game, including a position win to cap his three-game streak.
With Sarin the favorite and leading by two points, all the pressure was on Erigaisi to make his comeback. The first matches continued similarly to previous segments with a win for Erigaisi, a draw, and then a win for Sarin. From there, Erigaisi won two in a row, including a checkmate streak in a double-round finale.
This once again tied the score and left the league title within reach of anyone with just 10 minutes remaining on the game clock!
The next game, Erigaisi stole the initiative from Sarin with 32.d6!, taking the position with his queen.
This loss seemed to tip Sarin, who missed a pin tactic the following game. Curiously, Sarin played the lost position, even though there were only three minutes left on the clock.
Erigaisi won the final match, completing his five-game winning streak and claiming the Junior Speed Chess Championship title in style.
In his interview, Erigaisi shared his state of mind when trailing by two points in the balls segment: “From the start, I only had one thing in mind. I just said to myself that I had to win because I had no choice but to win.”
All the games – Final
2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship Bracket
The 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship presented by SIG is an online tournament for top junior players. Qualifiers take place from March 31 to April 8, while the main event runs from April 11 to June 6. Players are vying for a share of the $35,000 prize and a spot in the 2022 Speed Chess Championship.
Each match consists of a 5+1 blitz segment, a 3+1 blitz segment and a 1+1 bullet segment, with the player who scores the most points winning the match. If there is a tie, the players play a four-game 1+1 match to determine the winner. If the tie persists, an Armageddon game with a bidding system decides the winner.