GM Sam Sevian won the 2017 Continental Championship held in Medellin, Colombia from June 9-19. With his historic victory, Sam earns a spot at the next FIDE World Cup. At age 16, Samuel becomes the youngest Continental Champion ever. He was the 8th seed in a field of 258 players, probably the largest Continental Championship ever. And, with 29 GMs, 1 WGM, 41 IMs and 9 WIMs, this was also likely the strongest Continental.
Here are two victories by Sam from the event, both on the White side of the Sicilian.
After 11 rounds, the event ended in an eight-way tie for first, with Sevian earning Gold on tie-breaks. But, the final crosstable was far from set! Normally, the Continental Championship awards four spots for the World Cup. This year we had a unique situation because of the incredible strength of our U.S. Championship. In odd-numbered years, our Championship doubles as our Zonal Championship, which awards five spots for the World Cup.
Going into the US Championships, however, four players were guaranteed places at the World Cup – GM Jeffery Xiong who won the 2016 World Junior U20 Championship, and World Top Ten players, GMs So, Caruana and Nakamura, who qualify for the World Cup by rating. That left us with an additional five positions from the Zonal Championship, provided that the qualifiers score at least 50% at our Championship. But, in a small field of 12, only three other players (Onischuk, Akobian and Zherebukh) attained the required 50% or better score. So, in accordance with World Cup regulations, the two unused positions at our Zonal Championship passed on to the Continental Championship. That meant this year’s event in Columbia awarded six positions to the World Cup!
Saving further complications was that among the eight players who tied for first in Medellín, three (GMs Cordova and Cori from Peru and Flores from Argentina) had already qualified. So all five of the others who were tied for first, including Sam, earned a spot. Half-a-point behind the eight-player group were seven other players…and only one WC spot remaining. One of those players, GM Kovalyov from Canada, had already qualified.
The other six players competed in a Rapid (G15 + 10) play-off to determine the last spot! Among the six-player group were three Americans: GMs Kaidanov, Hungaski and Ramirez. GM Fier from Brazil won the playoff and earned the last World Cup spot.
In addition to the four USA players already mentioned, GMs Shabalov and Erenburg, IM Andrew Tang, FM Gregory Markzon, Bob Holliman, Daniel Parmet and Douglas Cox were also in attendance. The group of 11 USA players at this event appears to be our largest delegation ever at this event!
Congratulations to all of our players, particularly to the youngest Continental Champion ever, GM Samuel Sevian! To see Samuel’s post-tournament interview, please check the event’s Facebook page.
For more games, see the live transmission record at http://live.chessbase.com/watch/XII-Americas-Continental-ch-2017