The inaugural Chess.com Junior Speed Chess Championship starts Thursday, with the first matchup in the round of 16 between GM Jorden van Foreest (Netherlands) and GM Aryan Tari (Norway).
This year, there are special Speed Chess Championships for juniors and women alongside the main championship. This means that 2019 will see lots of top-flight blitz and bullet matches, and the the first one is here: Van Foreest vs Tari on Thursday, May 16 at 10 a.m. Pacific (19:00 CEST).
The 19-year-old Tari (@AryanTari) is Norway’s number-three grandmaster, behind Magnus Carlsen and Jon Ludvig Hammer. His career highlight is clinching the 2017 world junior championship in Tarvisio, Italy.
Interestingly, Tari secured gold by holding his upcoming opponent to a draw in the final round:
The 20-year-old van Foreest (@joppie2) is Holland’s number-eight grandmaster and the oldest among several chess-playing siblings. For instance, his younger brother Lucas (18) is a grandmaster as well. Van Foreest’s career highlight is winning the Dutch Championship at age 17.
The draw between the players in Italy was one of two draws they’ve played so far in four games. Van Foreest won the other two classical games: one at the 2015 world juniors, and one at the Wijk aan Zee challengers in 2018. That last one was over quickly:
The two players already met this year on Chess.com. In the PRO Chess League match between the Amsterdam Mosquitos and the Norway Gnomes (a narrow 8.5-7.5 win for the Gnomes), Van Foreest was once again victorious. Tari might want to check on that Scotch Opening for tomorrow!
The history between the players suggests that Van Foreest is the favorite, but Tari’s Elo ratings (2618 classical, 2627 blitz) are slightly higher than the Dutchman’s (2601 and 2603). The Chess.com SmarterChess model ranks Tari slightly higher at the start of the tournament.
“It is true that I have a bad score against him, but I don’t think that makes me the underdog,” said Tari. “In the games I lost, he had a good preparation and especially in Wijk I lost because I had to find only moves in a deep preparation. I think the match is going to be close, and both of us have a chance.”
Van Foreest estimates his chances similarly: “I believe Aryan and I are about equal strength overall. I don’t think my positive score in our classical chess will really matter, since blitz is a whole different game. In general I believe it should be a close match.”
Tari will be playing the match from his home, which is about 20 minutes from Oslo. He said he will prepare by playing some blitz and bullet on Chess.com, where he can be found regularly.
“I do play quite much online on Chess.com,” said Tari. “I think Jorden does the same, and that does make a difference. To be used to online chess is kind of important, because it is definitely quite different from on-the-board games,” he said.
Van Foreest: “I think both of us play reasonably frequently online. If I will be playing more seriously than I usually do, I believe I should have good chances,” he said.”
The Dutchman said he will also prepare on Chess.com, and that he might look at some opening ideas. He will not be home tomorrow.
“I will be playing from Loek van Wely’s place,” he said. “This is because the day after the match I will be traveling to France for the French league with him.”
The match will start with 90 minutes of 5|1 blitz, continue with 60 minutes of 3|1 blitz, and end with 30 minutes of 1|1 bullet. (Find all regulations here.)
Tari said he feels most comfortable in the middle section, but also looks forward to the last part: “I have not that much experience in bullet, but usually that’s the most fun,” he said. “Not sure where I will strike; I am just going to take it game by game and see.”
Van Foreest: “I haven’t got a lot of experience with the one-second increment time control. I would expect to be feeling most comfortable with the 3|1 time control, which is similar to my usual 3|0 time control.”
The prize fund for the first-round matches is $800 each. The winner earns $400 and advances to round two, while the other $400 is split by win percentage.
The Junior Speed Chess Championship is sponsored by ChessKid, the world’s number-one site for kids to learn and play chess. All JSCC matches will be broadcast live with chess-master commentary on Chess.com/TV and Twitch.tv/chess.
Here’s the full schedule of the round of 16:
- Van Foreest vs. Tari: May 16 at 10 a.m. Pacific (19:00 CEST)
- Firouzja vs. Martinez Alcantara: May 21 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
- Wei Yi vs. Praggnanandhaa: May 31 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
- Sevian vs. Sarin: June 3 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
- Maghsoodloo vs. Moroni: June 5 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
- Sarana vs. Esipenko: June 11 at 9 a.m. Pacific (18:00 CEST)
- Xiong vs. Smirnov: June 14 at 5 p.m. Pacific (June 15, 02:00 a.m. CEST)
- Gledura vs. Liang: June 18 at 10 a.m. Pacific (19:00 CEST)