Muradli’s Miraculous Comeback: 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship Round Of 16

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The 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship by SIG continued today with a round of 16 match between GM Raunak Sadhwani and IM Mahammad Muradli, one that featured one of the greatest comebacks in Speed Chess Championship history.

The early sections of the match were dominated by the Indian GM, who was able to build a five-point lead heading into the final 15 minutes of the bullet portion. Muradli clutched up and turned the match on its head, benefitting from a seven-game streak that allowed him to storm into the tiebreaks and beyond. 

The next match will be the quarterfinal between GMs Brandon Jacobson and Awonder Liang on Monday, May 2, at 12 p.m. Pacific / 21:00 Central European.


The Junior Speed Chess Championship presented by SIG is the second leg of the 2022 Speed Chess Championship where top junior players compete in a series of speed chess matches. Each match consists of a 5+1 blitz segment, a 3+1 blitz segment, and a 1+1 bullet segment, with the player who scores the most points winning the match. If there’s a tie, players play a four-game 1+1 match to decide the winner. If the tie persists, an armageddon game with a bidding system decides the winner.


Blitz 5|1: Sadhwani-Muradli 5.5-3.5

The first game of the match was calmly converted by Muradli as he flattened Sadhwani’s Maroczy Bind setup and reminded his opponent of his sweeping victory in the qualifying phase of the tournament. 

Sadhwani did not take long to settle into the match after the initial loss and hit back with three wins in the next four games, including a game where he showed a world-class understanding of the Ragozin Defence with the black pieces.

The opening appeared several times later in the match and Sadhwani felt confident using it after scoring results against top GMs Parham Maghsoodloo and D, Gukesh in the last year.

Sadhwani has been successful in Arena Kings and played in the Bullet Chess Championship early in 2022. Photo: Niranjan Navalgund/Chess.com.

Sadhwani and Muradli split points in the final four 5+1 games with White winning each time. The eighth game included a brilliant exchange sacrifice that demonstrated exceptional liquidation technique, trading into a position where his passed pawn was decisive. 

Sadhwani then launched a brutal four-pronged pawn storm on the kingside in the final game of the 5+1 section only to be surprised by Muradli castling queenside at the last moment. The Houdini impression did not pay off though, and Sadhwani was able to capitalize on the loose position to take a two-point lead going into the 3+1 portion.

Blitz 3|1: Sadhwani-Muradli 5-3

Early in the 3+1 section, Muradli made the decision to dodge Sadhwani’s Ragozin Defence via a move-order swap. The gamble paid off with Muradli crushing his opponent in a middlegame assault that saw two consecutive brilliant moves played! Precision was still required to take down the crafty Indian GM, but Muradli stepped up to the task.

Muradli, like a cat with nine lives, had Sadhwani tilting after hanging in the 13th game long enough to see his opponent blunder a checkmate in one.

The heartbreaking result was amplified by the fact that Sadhwani would have extended to a three-point lead had he won. Instead, the result brought the margin down to one point. This game was the last Muradli would win in the 3+1 portion.

Sadhwani was able to collect himself quickly and win back-to-back games, markedly increasing his aggression against Muradli’s Pirc Defence and Queen’s Gambit Declined setups.

A four-point lead heading into the 1+1 section had commentators and viewers alike expecting Sadhwani to see out the match, especially given his 3104 bullet chess rating.

In the Junior Speed Chess Championship though, nothing is a surety.

Bullet 1|1: Sadhwani-Muradli 2-6

The heavy favorite got off to a comforting start with two draws that chewed up significant time on the match clock. The situation forced Muradli to opt for an opening switch-up in the third bullet game to try and recover the match. However, this backfired when Sadhwani illustrated a cavalry-lead positional bind from the black side of the Catalan Opening.

With a 12.5-7.5 match score leaving Muradli on the verge of defeat, a commentator’s curse-turned-blessing was exactly what he needed to make the unthinkable happen. Citing the deficit, Naroditsky mentioned that things were “looking very grim for Mahammad” and the 12% Smarterchess winning prediction seemed to back this.

Muradli had other ideas though and proceeded to go on one of the most devastating rampages in Junior Speed Chess Championship history, winning five games straight to tie up the match right as the match clock reached zero.

The Azeri IM forked Sadhwani’s queen in style in the 23rd game of the match to reduce the lead to only two points.

Sadhwani’s kingside pawn storms with White had proved difficult to overcome earlier in the match, and Muradli’s final challenge within the designated time was to knock over the threatening GM with the black pieces to tie things up.

In a relatively quiet position, Muradli found the puncturing …Nxe5 that allowed him to win a pawn, and with the match reaching a fever pitch, he found a way to secure the point.

Junior Speed Chess Championship 2022 Bracket

The 2022 Junior Speed Chess Championship is an online tournament for top junior players. The qualifiers happen March 31-April 8, while the main event runs April 11-May 13. Players battle for a piece of the $35,000 prize fund and a spot in the 2022 Speed Chess Championship.


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