After Sam Sevian’s impressive victory over Alexei Shirov in the Hasselbacken Open earlier this month, he went on to have an excellent tournament, scoring 6.5/9, and finished in a tie for 14th through 31st (he was 15th on tiebreaks). In six games against opponents rated over 2600, he went undefeated, which pushed his own rating over 2600. An impressive result, but he was not the only young player to have a superior performance in the competition. Two others also did very well and they both won attractive games in the last round.
One of them is the aptly named Awonder Liang, a 13-year-old American international master, who finished with 7 points and tied for 3rd through 13th places (13th on tiebreaks). He started slowly with just 2/4, but finished the tournament with five consecutive wins. Liang has improved steadily the past few years – if it makes sense to use such a modest description of the progress of a player barely in his teens and rated over 2400 – and while he’s too late to break Sergey Karjakin’s record for the youngest-ever grandmaster, he’s well on pace to becoming a grandmaster in the next year or two. Here’s what he did in the last round to someone who already possesses the title:
The second player is even younger — 11-year-old Indian Nihal Sarin. His rating is already 2351, and his outstanding last-round victory over the experienced Latvian grandmaster Eduardas Rozentalis will give his rating a nice upward bump. Like Sevian, he too scored 6.5 points; he finished 30th on tiebreaks.
Liang and Sarin are likely to be a big large part of chess’s future. The present, at least for this year’s Hasselbacken Open, belonged to grandmasters Dmitry Andreikin of Russia and Baskaran Adhiban of India, both of whom won in the last round to finish with 7.5/9. Adhiban won his game with a splendid attack, making great use of his pre-match preparation to defeat fellow grandmaster Victor Mikhalevski of Israel.
As for Andreikin, a former candidate for the World Championship, he took first on tiebreaks. His last round victory was with Black against Borki Predojevic, a Bosnian grandmaster. Both players seemed to be in an experimental mood in the opening, but the experiment backfired for Predojevic:
Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at ChessLecture.com. Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.
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