The Junior Speed Chess Championship kicks off on May 16 and will feature 16 of the top players in the world age 21 and under. The players are seeded by their FIDE ratings at the time the invitations were sent out.
Here’s a look at the 2019 JSCC bracket:
To play our fantasy chess contest for the Junior Speed Chess Championship, fill out the form here.
Handicapping the JSCC has proven difficult, since most of these players have not had SCC experience.
Wei Yi and Jeffery Xiong have both played in the main SCC events in the past, losing to super-GMs in the first round. Taking past data from SCC events, I was able to create formulas to predict how strong players in will be in the 5+1, 3+1 and 1+1 time controls based on FIDE and Chess.com ratings.
After ratings are computed for the three SCC segments, a weighted average is calculated, which is the metric for how strong each player is in the SCC format. This rating is referred to as the SCC rating, and will be adjusted after each match to help form predictions.
For an idea of what the different SCC ratings mean, here are some ranges for the main field SCC players:
- 2800+: Carlsen, Nakamura, So, Aronian
- 2775-2799: Karjakin, Grischuk
- 2750-2774: Vachier-Lagrave, Mamedyarov, Duda
- 2675-2749: Strong enough to be in the bottom eight players in the 2018 SCC
Here are the 2019 JSCC preseason power rankings:
|1||4||Alireza Firouzja||2760||Alireza Firouzja is projected to be the strongest player in the field. Even though he is seeded fourth, Firouzja has the highest Chess.com bullet rating and the second-highest blitz rating in the field. He is projected to be the strongest player in all three SCC time controls.|
|2||2||Parham Maghsoodloo||2735||The second seed Maghsoodloo is above 2700 in FIDE classical, rapid and blitz. He has the highest Chess.com blitz rating in the field and ninth-highest bullet rating. Maghsoodloo is still expected to be the second-strongest player in all three formats despite his slightly lower bullet rating.|
|3||1||Wei Yi||2728||Wei Yi had his SCC debut last year in the main field, losing in round one to the overall runner-up Wesley So. A combination of Wei Yi’s experience, 2736 FIDE rating, 3000+ Chess.com blitz and 2900+ Chess.com bullet, will make him a force to be reckoned with. He has the highest FIDE classical rating in the field by about 50 points!|
|4||12||Nihal Sarin||2724||Upset alert! The 12th-seeded Nihal Sarin comes in fourth on the power rankings. As the second youngest player in the field, expect Sarin to surprise people with his online chess prowess. He has the third-highest Chess.com blitz rating and the second-highest bullet rating.|
|5||3||Jeffery Xiong||2708||Xiong played in the 2017 SCC main field, losing to Vachier-Lagrave in the first round. Expect that experience to help Xiong navigate this field of mostly SCC rookies. Xiong’s Chess.com ratings are slightly lower than the players above him, but his experience can help him beat anyone in this field.|
|6||7||Alexey Sarana||2707||FIDE and Chess.com ratings all rank in the 5th-8th range in this field. As the seventh seed in the bracket, he will start with a close matchup against Esipenko.|
|7||5||Sam Sevian||2691||Sevian lacks experience in FIDE rapid and blitz categories. He has the fourth-highest bullet rating at around 2900, and has the ninth-highest blitz rating. His first-round match against Nihal Sarin will be a battle. If he can take Sarin down, Sevian will be looking good going into round two.|
|8||14||Anton Smirnov||2567||Despite having one of the lower FIDE ratings in the field, Smirnov is ranked seventh in both the Chess.com blitz and bullet categories. He will have a tough matchup against Xiong in the first round.|
|9||9||Aryan Tari||2655||Ninth seed and Ninth rank. He’s consistent!|
|10||10||Andrey Esipenko||2645||Similar to Tari, Esipenko is consistent with his ratings near the middle of the pack.|
|11||13||Jose Martinez Alcantara||2644||Keep an eye out for Martinez Alcantara. He ranks sixth in Chess.com bullet, and could surprise people in the faster time controls.|
|12||8||Jorden Van Foreest||2635||Puzzle Rush has been shown to correlate with blitz strength. Jorden will have exciting tactics and a close matchup against Aryan Tari in round one.|
|13||6||Benjamin Gledura||2598||Gledura has a lower ranking in comparison to his six-seed due to lack of Chess.com experience and a lower Chess.com blitz rating. He should still be favored in the first round over Awonder Liang.|
|14||15||Luca Moroni||2584||If he can win round one against Maghsoodloo, he can beat anyone in the field.|
|15||16||R. Praggnanandhaa||2577||The youngest player in the field. Lacks Chess.com experience.|
|16||11||Awonder Liang||2555||The lowest Chess.com blitz and bullet ratings in the field for players who are active.|
Who are your picks for the 2019 JSCC? Please leave your own rankings in the comments.