Some of the best young players from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean will be on display this week for the “UK vs. USA Rising Stars Chess Match.” The event is a culmination of several months of diligent stay-at-home chess practice by eager users of ChessKid.com.
Both parts of the two-stage event will be broadcast on Chess.com/TV. The first stage this Thursday will be hosted by FM Mike Klein (FunMasterMike) of ChessKid.com and IM Malcolm Pein of Chess in Schools and Communities. This is a continuation of Pein’s efforts joint effort with CSC and ChessKid to get one million kids in the UK playing chess.
On Thursday, June 25 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific (19:00 UK/20:00 Central Europe) a marquee match with two famous young players kicks off the action. Representing the UK will be CM Shreyas Royal (FIDE 2121). He will match up with the American player Tani Adewumi (US Chess 2059). The two may live thousands of miles apart but they share one common thread: they are both immigrant success stories thanks to their chess acumen.
Two chess prodigies face off, one representing the US and the other the UK. And both are refugees with remarkable stories and talent. https://t.co/eVfnIfCbNZ
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) June 24, 2020
Also, they are both playing in July’s first edition of the ChessKid Youth Speed Chess Championship.
CM Shreyas Royal. Photo: courtesy of Royal family.
In addition to his chess exploits, Shreyas is known for his family’s quest to stay in the UK. Two years ago, his desire was granted as the UK recognized his extraordinary chess talents. The Royals were permitted to continue residing there even after his father’s work visa expired.
“The UK is a country that fosters world-class talent and Shreyas is one of the most gifted chess players in his generation,” the home secretary said of the decision.
Later, he proved the home office right by having a 2400+ performance rating at the 2019 London Chess Classic Open. Shreyas has even defeated top Englishman GM Michael Adams in an online blitz game.
Tani also used chess as a tool for success in his new homeland. Born in Nigeria, his family escaped religious oppression by moving to New York City. His story differs though — Tani did not know how to play chess but learned quickly and won the K-3 section of the New York State Championship in his first year playing the game.
Tani Adewumi vs. GM Hikaru Nakamura at the 2019 U.S. Championship (Tani was doing quite well at one point!). Photo: FM Mike Klein.
His story was covered in the New York Times, then came a GoFundMe campaign to give the family permanent shelter, then even their own foundation to support other children in need. If you missed any of his story, not to worry, Tani just released his own book, a young reader version, and the movie rights have already been sold to Paramount.
He’s also trying to take this video author’s job!
Shreyas and Tani will play a two-game match of 15+5. If they tie 1-1, then they will play 3+1 games until there’s a winner. Their preview contest is not just for posterity. The winner gives his country “draw odds” in the main event this Sunday, June 28 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific (17:00 UK/18:00 Central Europe).
For that larger contest, which will also be on Chess.com/TV, both the UK and USA have invited 10 players per side. The format is the same: Two games against each opponent, also at 15+5 (so 10.5 total points will be the winning threshold for either team).
The captain of the UK squad is London’s Richard Harding and the USA has co-captains Stephen Crookston of Tampa, FL and “Coach Jay” Stallings of Los Angeles. Most of the 20 total players are being chosen through qualification events, with an eye to also give parity to the match.