Ohanyan, Dardha Qualify For JSCC Main Event

Ohanyan, Dardha Qualify For JSCC Main Event


IM Emin Ohanyan and GM Daniel Dardha qualified for the Junior Speed Chess Championship 2023 Main Event on Friday after winning the Qualifier 2 Winners and Losers Brackets respectively.

Ohanyan, who finished third in the Qualifier 2 Swiss, swept aside GM Pranesh M before defeating FM Svyatoslav Bazakutsa by a 3.5-0.5 margin to claim victory in the Winners Bracket final. 

Dardha’s route to qualification was tricky. After convincingly winning the Qualifier 2 Swiss with a 6/7 score, the Belgian was relegated to the Losers bracket by Bazakutsa. With 3.5-0.5 match wins over GM Aditya Mittal, FM Harsh Suresh, and eventually Bazakutsa, Dardha claimed the second qualifier spot.

The Junior Speed Chess Championship Main Event will begin on Tuesday, June 13.

See what happened


As with the first qualifier, Qualifier 2 began with a seven-round Swiss tournament in which the top-eight finishers proceeded to the second day. 

With 32 participants vying for the spots, 4.5/7 ended up being the score required to book a top-eight spot.

The rating-favorite Dardha lived up to expectations and ran rampant on day one, scorings six wins and one loss. A round-six blight at the hands of Pranesh did little to dim Dardha’s mood, and he bounced back in fine style, winning a 24-move miniature against CM Valentyn Hulka in the seventh round.

Pranesh himself was also in contention for a top-spot finish but agreed to a two-move draw against the dangerous Ohanyan in round seven to secure second place in the Swiss. His Armenian opponent finished alongside him on 5.5/7 and showed why he is one of the new generation’s foremost blitz chess aficionados.

Ohanyan’s fourth-round win over FM Anthony Atanasov was a fine example of his speed chess prowess and saw him sacrifice a queen for three pieces on move 13 before masterfully coordinating his troops until move 51 when Atanasov resigned.

The surprise packet of the event was undoubtedly Suresh, who scraped into the knockout with a score of 4.5/7 after clutching up against GM Pranav Anand following a successful king hunt. The 16-year-old shrugged off the FIDE classical gap of 217 points and upset his countryman, joining Mittal and the untitled Jan Malek in the fifth-eighth positions.

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 2 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. 

Ohanyan’s biggest hurdle en route to victory was the Winners Semifinal, which he won 3.5-2.5 against Pranesh. After winning with the black pieces in the first game, courtesy of a striking exchange sacrifice, his Indian opponent responded with consecutive wins of his own.

A clean victory in the fourth game by Ohanyan would equalize the scores and take the match into his preferred time control—bullet. 

The 3000+ rated bullet specialist never looked in doubt in the portion and progressed to the Winner’s Final. There, Ohanyan would coast to a 3.5-0.5 result in a mini-match where Bazakutsa appeared to feel the pressure of the moment.

A shock drubbing at the hands of Bazakutsa in the Winners Semifinal left Dardha with the difficult task of working his way through the Losers. Mittal became his first opponent and likely was not expecting to face Dardha so early in the bracket. Though the Indian GM put up a fight, Dardha, seeking retribution, performed at his tactical best.

The trend continued for Dardha as he played clinical chess in his Losers Semifinal against Suresh, conceding only one draw on his way to 3.5-0.5.

The Belgian’s final foe was the event’s underdog Bazakutsa but this time, Dardha came up with a new strategy. Unwilling to leave anything to chance, the 17-year-old intentionally tried to complicate each position that arose and decided to ask questions of his opponent.

Leaving neither player with a clear way out of the forest, Dardha’s strategy paid off, and though the games were riddled with inaccuracies, in three out of four of the games he managed to pierce Suresh’s defenses and claim the second qualifier spot.

Both Ohanyan and Dardha receive $500 for first place in their brackets and also receive invitations to the JSCC Main Event. Bazakutsa’s third place overall earns him $400 while Suresh receives $300 for fourth. Mittal and Pranesh also pick up $250 each for their fifth-sixth finish while CM Nagare Kaivalya Sandip and Malek receive $150 for finishing seventh-eighth.

All Games | Qualifier 2

The 2023 Junior Speed Chess Championship (JSCC) is Chess.com’s top event for young players and features a $50,000 prize fund. Two qualifiers, which happened on May 16-17 and May 18-19, are followed by the Main Event starting on June 13. The JSCC features the strongest online competition for the next generation of talented players and Chess.com’s signature Speed Chess Championship format. 

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