World Junior Rd 1: Tough start for the top seeds

by Sagar Shah
10/16/2019 – The World Junior Championships 2019 began with great excitement on Tuesday in New Delhi, India. FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich visited the event and boosted the spirit of the participants. This is the second big event happening in India in the month of October after the successful completion of the World Youth Championships. It is perhaps for the first time in the history that the number of male participants in the open section is exactly equal to the number of female participants in the girls section — 94 each! In the first round both the top seeds — Amin Tabatabaei (2642) and Zhu Jiner (2507) — were held to a draw. IM SAGAR SHAH brings you detailed coverage from the venue in New Delhi. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

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Dvorkovich's arrival in Delhi

"You can predict everything, but you cannot predict the Delhi traffic", these were the words of Bharat Singh Chauhan at the inauguration ceremony of the World Juniors 2019. Why did he say so? Well, because FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, who was scheduled to arrive for the opening ceremony at 2.30 p.m., was delayed by nearly an hour. But when Dvorkovich arrived at the venue, you could see the spring in his step and the intensity to get things done faster. The players were waiting for him, the round had to start at 3 p.m. and he didn't want to keep them waiting any more.

The FIDE President always means business | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Speaking to gathering, Dvorkovich said, "If zero tolerance rule would be applied to chess politicians, I would have been suspended already!" Dvorkovich's speech was crisp and short and dealt with how FIDE is trying its best to be as transparent as possible and to change the face of the chess world.

World under-18 champion Praggnanandhaa lights the traditional lamp, which is usually done in India for an auspicious beginning | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Dvorkovich's one-hour visit to the venue summarized in this video along with interview by Tania Sachdev

D V Sundar, the current Vice-President of FIDE in his speech summarized Dvorkovich's principles. Says Sundar,

During the elections, I was in the opposing team of Arkady Dvorkovich. We lost to a very desirable candidate. A few minutes after the defeat Dvorkovich came to me and said, I do not know if you are going to fight for the Vice President's spot, but I would like to have you as an honorary Vice President. At that point I realized that he was not a politician but a statesman.

Later Dvorkovich confirmed this by saying, "It doesn't matter to me whether someone gave me a vote or not. The most important thing is to work together for the development of chess."

Open section

The open section of the World Junior has 94 entries. 78 of them are titled players with 15 GMs and 31 IMs. The top seed of the tournament is GM Amin Tabatabaei and there are 18 players above the rating of 2500. While Iranian GM Tabatabaei is the favourite, he will be provided stiff resistance from Aravindh Chithambaram and Karthikeyan Murali, second and third seeds of the event.

Top seed Amin Tabatabaei had a tough first round opponent in CM Aronyak Ghosh | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Aronyak was the World Youth under-16 Bronze medalist. The game ended in a draw.

There was a point in the game where Tabatabaei could have taken his chances, but he was unable to do so. It was quite a difficult resource to foresee


26...c1 was a natural move by Aronyak and Tabatabaei took the rook on c1. Instead, White had a powerful move here. Can you find it?

The right move in the above position was 27.e5! With the subtle point that 27...♜xf1 is met with 28.e6! and Black is in trouble.


Karthikeyan Murali had good winning chances against Al Muthaiah, but was unable to convert the same | Photo: Niklesh Jain


Karthikeyan took on b5 with his knight and sacrificed an exchange. Instead, the better way to continue would have been to play 18...♞e6! A powerful move when after 19.♗xa5 ♛xa5 the knight on b5 is trapped!

The top Armenian representative Shant Sargsyan won his game with ease against the World Youth under-16 Silver medallist Stefan Pogosyans | Photo: Niklesh Jain


21...♜e6 is a nice move. Here it was important for White to play 22.g3 and ♜fe8, then get his knight to e5. Instead, White took on f8 here. It turned out to be a mistake. Why?

After 22.xf8, Shant Sargsyan took on h2 with 22...♝xh2+ 23.♔xh2 and this was followed up by ♜h6+ White now threw in the towel with 24.h3 but instead if he had gone 24.♔g1 then after 24...♞f4 25.♕f3, the very pretty mate starts with 25...♛xg2+! 26.♕xg2 ♞e2#


Now that's one pretty mate!

Shant Sargsyan speaks to ChessBase India after his round one victory

The biggest upset of the day in the open section was definitely Sankalp Gupta getting the better of Daniel Albornoz (2581) | Photo: Niklesh Jain


After winning the World Youth under-18 Gold, Praggnanandhaa will have his eyes on winning World under-20 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Praggnanandhaa started off with a win.

Aram Hakobyan as in his element today as he won a very complex game against Eugene Floryan | Photo: Niklesh Jain


White is a piece up and also the rook on a8 is hanging. However, there is quite some stress related to the mate down the h-file. How did White solve his problems?

The problem with 15.♕xa8 is that after fxg5, White has to agree to a draw as 15...g3 is coming up. Aram, who looks like he is in great form, continued with 15.d4! opening up the centre after 15...fxg5 he played 16.d5! and now it is White who would reach faster to the black king because the d-file has also opened up!


Aram explains his win

Here are a couple of interesting games that took place in round one that have been annotated by WIM Angela Frank Jain.


Girls section

It is perhaps for the first time in the history of chess that the number of participants in World Junior girls is equal to the participants in World Junior open section! Both have 94 players. The top seed of the tournament is the strong Chinese player Zhu Jiner (2507). Zhu is rated above 2500, but she hasn't applied for her WGM or IM titles. She is still a WIM. Zhu Jiner will face stiff resistance from players like Stavroula Tsolakidou, Nurgyul Salimova, Polina Shuvalova and local girl R. Vaishali. 

Zhu Jiner was held to a draw in round one by Tanishka Kotia of India | Photo: Niklesh Jain

In fact the top seed was lucky to have escaped with a draw. At one point she was losing the game.


White's last move 32.♖gg2 was a mistake. Black can now win the game with 32...♜g3! and it is all over. Instead, Tanishka fumbled a bit and played 32...♛d8 which allowed Zhu Jiner to escape with a draw.


Polina Shuvalova was put under some grave pressure by her opponent Tumurbaatar Nomindalai in round one itself | Photo: Niklesh Jain


Here White should have taken on h5 with her queen and after 20...♛xh7 21.♕xh4 White is better. Instead, White went 20.♘g5 in the above position and after 20...♝xg5 21.xh5 h7 22.xg5 e4+ the game ended in a draw soon


Video Gallery

Highlights of Round 1

Interview with AICF President and the founder of Ramco Systems Venketrama Raja

Very few people have supported chess in a sustained and consistent manner like Ramco Systems has. When Vishy Anand was making his way to the top of the chess world, Ramco Systems came forward and supported him for nearly a decade. Now Praggnanandhaa, the next big hope of Indian chess is also supported by the same organization and its founder Venketrama Raja. Why does Ramco support chess in such a big way when the general perception is that there is not enough return for the sponsors? In this video Venketrama Raja, the founder, mentor and innovator in chief of Ramco Systems tells us the reason.

WIM Angela Frank Jain with IM Tania Sachdev | Photo: Niklesh Jain

A big thanks to Angela Frank Jain for annotating the games of round one. She will also annotate some of the games in the next rounds as well.

All games






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.


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Camembert Camembert 10/17/2019 10:13
To Sagar Shah : Now we have the "World Junior Championship" but, one week ago, there was the "World Youth Championship" ! It sounds funny ! I wonder what's the difference ? I will be happy to have an explanation since we have about the same players ! LOL.
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 10/17/2019 03:53
an excelent coverage of World Under 20 championships! Kudos to the Indian chess federation for organizing a string of world class events....
Lavanda Lavanda 10/16/2019 10:44
"Zhu [...] hasn't applied for her WGM or IM titles" That's not true. She did apply for the WGM title at the last FIDE presidential board meeting, but was rejected. All these infos come from the FIDE website, which a chess journalist supposedly should check before writing articles.
KevinC KevinC 10/16/2019 10:14
LOL CM Aronyak Ghosh was 2380 before the under-18. He is probably close to 2400, yet the title makes one think that he might be much weaker. A 2380 is no slouch.