FM Raja Panjwani takes Canadian Junior Championship

8/7/2009 – In Canadian youth and junior chess, a number of names are becoming difficult to forget, but note these two: FMs Raja Panjwani and Eric Hansen. They will not be going away anytime soon, as indicated by recent performances at the Victoria Summer Chess Festival. With the Bluvshtein-Nakamura encounter serving as a warm up to the main events, things just got better from there.

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2009 Victoria Summer Chess Festival, Victoria, British Columbia

Photos and Videos by MonRoi

Set in the beautiful coastal area of British Columbia, Canada, the 2009 Victoria Summer Chess Festival ran from July 20-28, attracting competitors from across Canada and all corners of the globe. The cornerstones of the festival were the Canadian Youth Chess Championships and the Canadian Junior Championship, annually contested, and attracting some of the best young talent Canada has to offer. Serving as an opportunity for adult participation, the BC Open was held between the two youth attractions.

2009 Canadian Youth Chess Championships

The CYCC was held in a tweleve section, seven round format for each of U18, U16, U14, U12, U10, and U8 Boys and Girls. Attracting Canada's best, from coast-to-coast, many sections were unclear to the end. Ultimately, however, champions emerged, and Canada's representatives for the World Youth Chess Championships were determined.


U8 Girls Champion, Jiaxin Liu, 981 of Ontario, scored 4.0/5 to secure victory ahead of a number of higher-rated players.


The Giblon sisters, Rebecca and Melissa, each went undefeated in taking the U12 and U10 Girls Championships respectively.


Alexandra Botez, 1893, dominated the field with 6.5/7 in taking the U14 Girls title. This is
her second CYCC title, having previously been crowned Canadian U10 Girls Champion in 2004.


Having met with some adversity along the way, Dalia Kagramanov, 1969, eventually managed to take the U16 Girls title.


No stranger to chess success, Jasmine Du, 1940, went undefeated in her
successful bid to defend as U18 Girls Champion of Canada.


The top finishers in the U12 Boys, showing off their hardware and clowning around.


Another Boys Champion, all smiles after his recent triumph.


U18 Boys Champion, FM Eric Hansen, FIDE 2423, dismantled the
competition, yielding only one draw, which came in the final round.

British Columbia Open

The BC Open Chess Championship was held over the weekend, immediately following the CYCC. The tournament attracted 49 players including representatives from Belgium, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the US. It turned out to be a good weekend to spend in Victoria - the weather was perfect for inbetween round leisure in the ambiance of Victoria's Inner Harbour and the popular venue of the Grand Pacific Hotel. In a reasonably strong field, FM Eric Hansen continued his winning ways, rolling the competition in a seemingly effortless 5.0/5 performance.


FM Eric Hansen, who has been having a great summer, starting with a win of the Alberta Closed Championship in April, in a tiebreak over Canadian Open co-winner, IM Edward Porper. Now in July, he has taken the Canadian U18 Boys and BC Open titles in the same week. Is the Canadian Closed Champion's title next?

Canadian Junior Championship

In an event noticeably absented by a potential contender – FM Eric Hansen – twelve of Canada's top junior players met in the hopes of taking the country's junior crown. Topping the field were defending champion, IM Artiom Samsonkin, and FM Raja Panjwani. Ultimately, Raja took the title, though it was anything but easy, as he lost his individual encounter with Artiom and needed to fight to maintain his distance. Of course, he was up to the challenge, and ended up edging his nearest rivals by a half-point, finishing on 5.5/7. In tiebreaks, IM Samsonkin took second, in failing to repeat his spectacular success of the previous year.


The top three finishers in the 2009 Canadian Junior Chess Championship. From left to right:
IM Artiom Samsonkin, FIDE 2403, FM Raja Panjwani, FIDE 2350, and Arthur Calugar, FIDE 2072.

Below is an interesting key encounter between FM Raja Panjwani and Alexander Martchenko.

Martchenko,Alexander (2314) - Panjwani,Raja (2418)
2009 Canadian Junior Chess Championship Victoria Canada (5), 27.07.2009
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.h3 c6 9.a4 Qc7 10.Be3 b6 11.Qd2 a6 12.Rfd1 Re8 13.dxe5 dxe5 14.Bg5 Bb7 15.Qe1 b5 16.Nd2 Nc5 17.Be3 Ne6 18.Nb3 b4 19.Na2 c5 20.c3 Nxe4 21.cxb4 Nd4 22.Na5 Bd5 23.Rac1 Qd7

Instead of the plausible bxc5, White chose to play Kh2, allowing his queen and bishop to form a battery on the long diagonal. 24.Kh2 [After 24.bxc5 Nxg3 (the threat was 24...-- 25.Nb4 Rac8 26.c6 Qe6 27.Qf1 and White is better.) 25.fxg3 Bxg2 26.Kxg2 Qxa4 27.Nc4 (27.Nc3; 27.Ra1 Nc2-+) 27...Qxa2 and Black is better.] 24...Nf6 25.Qh1 Bxg2 26.Qxg2 Qxa4 27.Ra1 cxb4 28.Bxd4 Qxa5 29.Be3 Qb5 30.Nc1 a5 31.Nd3 Nd5 32.Rac1 e4 33.Nc5 Nxe3 34.fxe3 Rad8 35.Nxe4 Rxd1 36.Rxd1 Rxe4 37.Qxe4

and now the position is hopeless. White resigns. 0-1. [Click to replay]

Brief: GM Nakamura tells us that he did not intentionally allow a draw against GM Bluvshtein. To explain, it is first necessary to appreciate that given the nature of such a game, with pieces of various shapes and sizes, with no clear view of the position, it is fair to consider this as a blindfold game. As such, it is easy to understand when he tells us that he mistakenly thought he had a fifth pawn, allowing him to spare the audience the grief of a grind by simplifying to a winning pawn ending. Of course, as the game demonstrates, this mistake cost him the win. In other news, he did not come out of his simul unscathed either, yielding 2 draws and a loss in a 40-board contest.

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