World Junior Rd 3-4: Petrosian would have been proud

by Sagar Shah
10/18/2019 – On October 17th, the World Junior Championships 2019 had two rounds. After the final game ended we already had clarity on who has the early lead in the event. In the open section we have three players who are sharing the lead with 3½/4 — Miguel Ruiz from Spain, Evgeny Shtembuliak from Ukraine and the local favourite Praggnanandhaa. In this article IM SAGAR SHAH analyses one game of Praggnanandhaa and one game of Shtembuliak in great depth. While Pragg teaches you the art of exchange sacrifices, Shtembuliak shows you how to play positions in which you are winning. In the girls section we have Boldbaatar Altantuya from Mongolia who is on 4.0/4 and is the sole leader. A detailed report from New Delhi. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The Art of the Positional Exchange Sacrifice The Art of the Positional Exchange Sacrifice

The positional exchange sacrifice is one of the most powerful and fascinating strategic weapons in chess. On this DVD Sergey Tiviakov explains why the positional exchange sacrifice is such a strong weapon and how to use it.


Praggnanandhaa's exchange sacrifice

A rook is worth five pawns and a bishop's worth is three pawns. This is taught to us right from the initial stages of our chess journey. However, material as a concept in chess is not static. It is dynamic in nature. A better placed bishop may well be more valuable than a rook. A rook without open files can often be quite useless. The more experienced and knowledgeable a player becomes, the better is his understanding of the material imbalance in chess. In my opinion, in the fourth round of the World Junior Championships, Praggnanandhaa showed the positional understanding of the highest nature. He played an exchange sacrifice which would have made the master of exchange sacrifices Tigran Petrosian smile.

Petrosian would often sacrifice an exchange and not worry about doing something concrete immediately. This is exactly what Praggnanandhaa did in round four.


White has maximized his position. Time for a plan. What do you think?

Praggnanandhaa took 15 minutes on his clock and came up with a very interesting one. He saw that the Black weaknesses are mainly on the queenside — the c6 and a6 pawns being the main ones. Hence, a knight on b4 would be ideally placed. How to get it there?

Praggnanandhaa was up against IM Dambasuren Batsuren in round four | Photo: Niklesh Jain 


Pragg played the move 20.d2!? with the idea of ♘a1-c2-b4. His opponent at first didn't grasp what Pragg was up to, but when the youngster moved his knight to a1, Dambasuren was jolted into action.


The Mongolian IM played the move 21...h5!? His plan was to attack the queen with ♝h6. The normal move would be to move the queen or the rook. But Pragg boldly went ahead with 22.♘c2!?


White is a complete exchange down. But Pragg is not looking for immediate returns. He would like to build up his position and at the appropriate moment, open up things with f4.


Black's decision of resolving the tension in the centre with 27...dxe4 28.dxe4 was incorrect as now the bishop comes to b3 and becomes an extremely powerful piece. Also, the dark squared weaknesses around the black king will start to make itself felt when White goes f4!


The f4 move finally comes in. Notice how Black's extra material is not at all important in this position. The quality of White's pieces is vastly superior.


The final blow to open up the position. The picture says it all. Praggnanandhaa went on to win a very nice game!

Praggnanandhaa's opponent was no pushover. He is a strong IM with an Elo of 2454. But he was unable to sense the changing nature of the position and its dynamics as well as the 14-year-old could. This game is an excellent example to illustrate the talent of the youngster. 

Praggnanandhaa discusses his round four win and the reason why he took certain decisions


Winning a won position by Shtembuliak

In round four Evgeny Shtembuliak played on the top board against Miguel Ruiz and the game ended in a draw. However, in round three Evgeny Shtembuliak (left) played a wonderful game against Sergey Drygalov.

Evgeny Shtembuliak (left) vs Sergey Drygalov | Photo: Niklesh Jain

After the game ended we caught up with Evgeny and he gave us great advice on how to win winning positions:

  1. When you are winning, you must try not to hurry.
  2. You must calculate each and every possibility carefully so that your opponent cannot surprise you.
  3. You must have the energy to sustain throughout the game. In this respect it is important that you are physically fit.

In a nutshell to become a better converter of winning positions into full point you must be patient, you must be a good calculator and you must be physically fit!

Let's have a look at how Shtembuliak managed to show all of this in his game.


White attacks the rook on f8 and also the bishop on f5 is hanging.


White did not hurry here to take on f8 and instead stopped Black's plans of 27...e3 with 27.♖be1 


It is important here not to be too materialistic. Your bishop on g2 and the protected passer on a5 already guarantee you an excellent position, so why would you want the rook on f8? White just took on e3 with his bishop and was clearly better.


One of the variations that Shtembuliak considered reached this position. It is easy to say White is winning here. But a good converter of better positions always looks at opponents resources. Here Shtembuliak saw that Black can play ♜xg2+ and after ♔xg2 ♛a8+, he can pick up the a6 pawn. Yes, White is still better, but the win is greatly complicated. If you are able to see such resources for your opponent, you can convert better positions more frequently.


This is one position which I simply fell in love with. Black to play. What do you think is the evaluation of the position?

White is a rook up, so he must be better, right? Well, Black plays the move 37...f6! here and... 


...the queen on e8 is greatly overloaded! It cannot defend both the bishop on a8 and the rook on e1. The game ended in a draw!


Miguel Ruiz shows his win over Martin Hollan. The video is recorded in Spanish

Katkov is the sole leader in the girls section

Boldbaatar Altantuya won her game against Michelle Katkov and is now the sole leader of the with 4.0/4.

Boldbaatar Altantuya vs Michelle Katkov | Photo: Niklesh Jain 


White has taken the pawn on e5. How do you recapture as Black?

It was important here to give up some material starting with 14...♞xe5 15.♘xe5 ♜xe5 16.♗xa8 ♛xa8. The resulting position is not so bad for Black, and he has very good compensation. In the game Black went 14...dxe5 and after 15.g5! it was all over. There were just too many things hanging - a8, d7 and also pressure on h7.


Bibisara Assaubayeva beat Anastasiya Protoropova and is on 3½/4 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Both Shuvalova and Alinasab are now on 3½/4 after their game ended up in a draw | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The All Indian clash on board no.2 ended up in a draw | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Arpita was in control throughout the game, but couldn't convert her advantage and the game ended in a draw.

The Iran - Israel issue

In round four Iranian Aryan Gholami lost his game when he didn't show up for his game even past the walkover time. This is not a new incident in the chess world. We have seen a number of cases where the Iranian players did not turn up for their games when paired against Israeli opponents. Aryan Gholami did not just lose a point, but he got so depressed that he withdrew from the tournament as well. A medical certificate was submitted to the arbiters to show that the youngster was not feeling well and hence didn't play the round.

A no-win situation for everyone | Photo: Amruta Mokal

After reading this tweet, I wonder if we can blame the Iranian youngster for not showing up to the game. The boy if he plays the game would have to face dire consequences back home. As a player who has just become Iran's latest GM, he would have loved to play his fourth round and not throw away his point. But, it is quite possible that playing this game would put his entire chess career at risk. It seems as if this incident affected Aryan in a way that he has decided to withdraw from the event.

Spare a thought for the youngster. Being an Iranian chess player is not easy. Especially when you have guys like Firouzja, Maghsoodloo, Tabatabaei etc. who are always fighting for the top places in most of the tournaments they play. Whenever, they participate in a tournament they have to worry about being paired against an Israeli opponent and losing a full point. The Iranian government must do something about this or else these youngsters who can bring pride and glory to their nation, actually find themselves in a Zugzwang like situation, as Aryan faced at the World Juniors.

Tense moments for the arbiters | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Chief Arbiter Hamid Majid had to make sure that all the protocols of FIDE were being followed | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Interesting positions

Karthikeyan beat the in-form youngster Aaryan Varshney in round three | Photo: Niklesh Jain


White to play. What would you do here?

Karthikeyan realized that there is a nice juicy square on e5 waiting for his knight. Hence, he played the move 18.g2 with the idea of Ne1-f3-e5. Here's the complete game with annotations by WIM Angela Frank Jain


Raja Rithvik was extremely alert to beat his higher rated oppponent Igor Janik | Photo: Niklesh Jain


 Black to play. How do you continue?


Time to finish off the game!


Black to play and win


India's Triple Crown Champion Aravindh Chithambaram converted an equal endgame into a full point | Photo: Niklesh Jain


Highlights of round 3-4

Open standings after round 4


Girls standings after round 4


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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