Praggnanandhaa and Polina dominate World Youth 2019

by Sagar Shah
10/13/2019 – Six new World Youth Champions were crowned on October 12th 2019: Aydin Suleymanli and Meruert Kamalidenova won the under-14 open and girls section respectively, under-16 was won by Rudik Makarian and Leya Garifullina and under-18 titles went to Praggnanandhaa and Polina Shuvalova. How tense was the last round? In four sections things went as per plan, however in the under-14 girls and under-16 girls everything changed completely in the final round. IM SAGAR SHAH brings you a detailed report of how things panned out on the final day of the World Youth Championships 2019. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Winning against King's Indian — The main line Winning against King's Indian — The main line

In the classical system of the King's Indian White develops naturally and refrains from chasing ghosts looking for a refutation of Black's set-up. White instead relies on the fact that natural play should yield him a small but lasting advantage.


Six new World Champions crowned

The last round of any event either goes as per plan or the final standings are turned completely upside down. One could say that in four sections of the World Youth 2019 things went according to plan, while in two sections we had surprise champions. First let's have a look at where things went as expected!

A picture speaks a thousand words! The final round stress! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Under-18 girls

Polina Shuvalova agreed to a draw against Assel Serikbay in the final round and nearly confirmed her gold medal.

Polina Shuvalova vs Assel Serikbay | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The onus now was on Vantika Agrawal, whether to play for a win or not.

Vantika did not play up to the mark and had to agree to a draw | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Despite having a small edge against Obolentseva, some accurate play could have given Vantika good winning chances.


Here Black could have played 25...♜a7 or ...♜b8, Vantika went for 25...♜a7 but it wasn't the best. 25...♜ab8 would have been better, and Black would have had some winning chances


Under-18 open

Praggnanandhaa was leading with a half point margin going into the last round. The only person who could catch up with him if he drew his game was Shant Sargsyan. Shant was facing Indian IM Arjun Kalyan. Arjun was extremely solid and didn't give his opponent any chances. Seeing that Sargsyan's game was ending in a draw, Praggnanandhaa agreed for a draw and became the under-18 world champion by a half point margin. 


Pragg had a chance to fight for an advantage here with the move 26.♖ad1. He instead played 26.c2. The main point after 26.♖ad1 is that you cannot give up your queen for the two rooks in the position. It would give White a clear advantage. Hence, after 26.♖ad1 ♜exe5 is the natural move and after 27.♕c8+ ♚h7 28.♖xd4 ♜xe1+ 29.♔h2 ♜xd4 White retains a small edge with 30.♕f5+ and 31.♕xa5.


Shant Sargsyan came to the game with all his fighting spirit, but his opponent Arjun Kalyan was well prepared | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Interview with Praggnanandhaa minutes after he became the World under-18 champion


A happy mother after her son's huge success! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Calling his father back home in Chennai! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Under-16 open

Rudik had a half a point lead over three players. His opponent Stefan Pogosyants, Aronyak Ghosh and Arash Daghli. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. On the top board Makarian and Pogosyants agreed to a draw and so did Daghli and Ghosh.

Rudik Makarian (right) the leader in the under-16 open section

Aronyak tried fight hard by going for the Alekhine's Defence, but the game was eventually drawn

Thus, Rudik Makarian won the gold, Stefan Pogosyants the silver and Aronyak Ghosh took home the bronze.

Under-14 open

Aydin Suleymanli was in the lead, and he continued his good form to even win the last game. He was the only player in the event who won his section by a full point margin!

Aydin Suleymanli won a nice game against Sultan Amanzhol in the last round | Photo: Amruta Mokal 


This bishop endgame looks drawish in nature, but Black is close to winning. The reasons for the same are better pawn structure and Black king's ability to reach the d5 square gaining more terrain.


Srihari and Sreeshwan won Silver and Bronze respectively | Photo: Amruta Mokal

On board two Srihari drew his game against Vietnamese Vo Pham Thien Phuc and Sreeshwan managed to beat Abinandhan. This resulted in the lads taking the silver and bronze respectively.

Under-14 girls

Bat-Erdene Mungunzul was the sole leader with 8.0/10. She was followed by three players on 7½/10. They were Eline Roebers, Ekaterina Nasyrova and Meruert Kamalidenova. Bat-Erdene playing on top board was toppled by Rakshitta Ravi, while Ekaterina Nasyrova was beaten by Divya Deshmukh. Meruert Kamalidenova managed to beat Eline Roebers and thus became the champion of the section! Rakshitta and Divya who were behind Ekaterina and Eline managed to move ahead. Divya won the silver and Rakshitta got the bronze.

Rakshitta Ravi managed to completely outplay her opponent with the black pieces in a positional battle | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Eline Roebers lost to the eventual champion Meruert Kamalidenova while, on the adjacent board, Divya managed to beat Ekaterina Nasyrova | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Victory often goes to the brave! This was perfectly illustrated by Kamalidenova who played the Staunton Gambit against the Dutch. Roebers was unprepared and the Kazakh girl managed to win the gold.


Divya had a slightly minus position out of the opening. But she managed to hold her position together and when the time was right, made some powerful moves to win her game against Nasyrova.


Under-16 girls

Going into the final round Nazerke Nurgali was leading with a score of 8½/10. She was followed by Leya Garifullina at 8.0/10. Leya's game unexpectedly ended in a draw. It seemed as if Nurgali would win the title. All she needed was a draw. But she lost! And this pushed her back to the second spot as Garifullina overtook her in terms of tiebreak score.

Govhar Beydullayeva played an excellent game with the white pieces in the high pressure situation to beat the leader Nazerke Nurgali | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Leya Garifullina was better almost throughout the game but Svitlana Demchenko didn't give up and she managed to hold her opponent to a draw | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony hall was jam packed | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Many International players carried back with them a flavour of our country! Here, Elene Kostava flaunts her ChessBase India t-shirt | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Two huge pillars of Pragg's success: his coach R B Ramesh and his mother Nagalakshmi | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Russian players

The three Russian Gold medalists (L to R: Rudik Makarian (U-16 open), Polina Shuvalova (U-18 girls) and Leya Garifullina (U-16 girls) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Russians with trophies

Three Golds, one Silver and one Bronze for Russia | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Indian players

The seven Indians who made their country | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Olexandr Prohorov

The Ukrainian arbiter Olexandr Prohorov had become one with Indian culture in his black kurta | Photo: Amruta Mokal


The team of arbiters led by Takis Nikolopoulos were extremely efficient and the tournament witnessed absolutely no disputes or appeals | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Under-14 open

Gold - Aydin Suleymanli (center), Silver - Srihari LR (left), Bronze - Sreeshwan Maralakshikari (right) | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Fourth place - Alex Kolay (second from left), fifth - Marc Morgunov (left) and sixth - Vo Pham Thien Phuc (right) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vo Pham Thien Phuc gained the highest number of Elo points among participants of all groups — a whopping 272 points!

Under-14 open final standings


Under-14 girls

Gold - Meruert Kamalidenova (center), Silver - Divya Deshmukh (left) and Bronze - Rakshitta Ravi (right) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Fourth - Bat-Erdene Mungunzul (second from right), fifth - Ayan Allahverdiyeva (right) and sixth - Eline Roebers (left)  | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Under-14 girls final standings


Under-16 open

Gold - Rudik Makarian (center), Silver - Stefan Pogosyan (left) and Bronze - Aronyak Ghosh (right) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Fourth place - Arash Daghli (left), Fifth - Jose Gabriel Cardoso (right), Sixth - Kushagra Mohan (second from right)  | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Under-16 open final standings


Under-16 girls

Gold - Leya Garifullina (center), Silver - Nazerke Nurgali (left) and Bronze - Anousha Mahdian (right) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The fourth spot went to Govhar Beydullayeva (right), fifth - Svitlana Demchenko (second from right), and sixth - Saina Salonika (left) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Under-16 girls final standings


Under-18 open

Gold - R. Praggnanandhaa (center), Silver - Shant Sargsyan (left), Bronze - Artur Davtyan (right) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The Indian national anthem and the mood in the hall when Praggnanandhaa won the under-18 gold

Fourth place went to Valentin Buckels (second from right), Fifth - Aryan Gholami (right) and sixth - Arjun Kalyan (left) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Under-18 open final standings


The organizers celebrated Pragg's success in a unique way | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Under-18 girls

Gold - Vantika Agrawal (center) Silver - Polina Shuvalova (left) Bronze - Alexandra Obolentseva (right) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The fourth place went to Lara Schulze(second from right), fifth placed was Assel Serikbay (right) and sixth place went to Zala Urh (left) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Under-18 girls final standings


The award for the best team to Russia, followed by India and then Kazakhstyan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Medal Tally

India won the highest number of medals but Russia was the best federation as they won three golds!

Rk.   FED Federation gold silver bronze Total
RUS Russia 3 1 1 5
IND India 1 3 3 7
KAZ Kazakhstan 1 1 0 2
AZE Azerbaijan 1 0 0 1
ARM Armenia 0 1 1 2
IRI Iran 0 0 1 1

Norm makers

As many as 13 norms were made at the event. Here is the list of norm makers:

  1. Aryan Gholami - GM norm (also became a GM)
  2. Ramazan Zhalmakhanov - IM norm
  3. Wang Shixu - IM norm
  4. Vladyslav Sydoryka - IM norm
  5. Sibi Visal - IM norm
  6. Aronyak Ghosh - IM norm
  7. Kushagra Mohan - IM norm
  8. Lara Schulze - WIM norm
  9. Anna Afonasieva - WIM norm
  10. Yan Tianqi - WIM norm
  11. Assel Serikbay - WIM norm
  12. Zala Urh - WIM norm
  13. Aashna Makhija - WIM norm (Became India's latest WIM)

Hardik Vaidya the Master of Ceremony took a final selfie before the event came to a formal close! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The World Youth Championships were held for the first time on Indian soil. It proved to be a great exposure and learning experience for the Indian kids| Photo: World Youth Chess 2019

FIDE President shared heartfelt wishes for all the participants, All India Chess Federation and Organizing Committee of WYCC 2019.

U14 open


U14 girls


U16 open


U16 girls


U18 open


U18 girls



Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register