World Juniors 2018 Round 1: Record breaking participation

by Sagar Shah
9/6/2018 – The World Junior Championships are being held from the 5th to the 16th of September 2018 in Gebze, Turkey. This year this exciting event witnesses a record-breaking participation with 263 players from 62 countries. The open section has 25 GMs and 40 IMs making it a highly exciting tournament to follow. With players like Maghsoodloo, Van Foreest, Donchenko, Karthikeyan, Martirosyan, Esipenko, etc. the brightest chess talent in the world is fighting it out for the gold. ChessBase reporters Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal are present at the venue and will bring you detailed coverage each day. | Photo: Amruta Mokal.

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I was born in 1990 and so 2010 was my last chance to represent the country at the World Junior Championships. The event was being held in a small town called Chotowa in Poland. Although the expenses were pretty high, I convinced my father to sponsor me for the event and went to Poland to take part in this championship.

Eight years later, I would say this was one of the best decisions that I ever made. I got to play with some of the best juniors in the world and the atmosphere was awe-inspiring. It was Dmitry Andreikin who won that event and as we all know now he is one of the best GMs in the world of chess right — he qualified for the Candidates in 2014 and just won his second Russian Championship title. The thing which separates the World Juniors from other events is that many of the participants are nearing the age when they are making the leap towards the elite. At the same time they have the air of freshness in their game and when you put them all together in one room you are bound to get some high quality fighting chess.

The World Juniors 2018 Championships for the open section and the girls is taking place from September 4th to the 16th in Gebze, Turkey. A total of 263 players (165 in the open and 98 in the girls) from 62 federations are taking part. The organizers were close to breaking the record of 65 federations, but players from few countries backed out at the last moment.

The Open section is quite strong with 25 grandmasters, 40 International Masters and 55 FIDE Masters. In the girls section, we have two IMs and four WGMs. Parham Maghsoodloo (2649) leads the pack in the open section while in the girls it is Stavroula Tsolakidou (2393). I tried to find how strong the tournament is by checking the top juniors list for September 2018.

Rank Name Title Country Rating Games B-Year
 1  Wei, Yi  g  CHN  2742  12  1999
 2  Duda, Jan-Krzysztof  g  POL  2739  7  1998
 3  Artemiev, Vladislav  g  RUS  2703  9  1998
 4  Xiong, Jeffery  g  USA  2651  9  2000
 5  Maghsoodloo, Parham  g  IRI  2649  16  2000
 6  Sevian, Samuel  g  USA  2634  18  2000
 7  Sarana, Alexey  g  RUS  2634  9  2000
 8  Paravyan, David  g  RUS  2629  9  1998
 9  Van Foreest, Jorden  g  NED  2624  9  1999
 10  Gledura, Benjamin  g  HUN  2621  11  1999
 11  Tari, Aryan  g  NOR  2618  0  1999
 12  Donchenko, Alexander  g  GER  2614  18  1998
 13  Karthikeyan, Murali  g  IND  2605  18  1999
 14  Martirosyan, Haik M.  g  ARM  2597  0  2000
 15  Deac, Bogdan-Daniel  g  ROU  2594  0  2001
 16  Esipenko, Andrey  g  RUS  2593  9  2002
 17  Xu, Xiangyu  g  CHN  2586  19  1999
 18  Firouzja, Alireza  g  IRI  2582  16  2003
 19  Petrosyan, Manuel  g  ARM  2581  9  1998
 20  Aravindh,Chithambaram VR.  g  IND  2578  18  1999

From this list, Wei Yi, Duda, Artemiev and Xiong have given the World Juniors 2018 a miss. The top seed is the fifth highest rated junior in the world Parham Maghsoodloo. In all we have nine of the juniors from top 20 in the world playing right now.

Starting rank of World Juniors 2018 (top 20)

No. Name Rtg
1 Maghsoodloo Parham 2649
2 Van Foreest Jorden 2624
3 Donchenko Alexander 2614
4 Karthikeyan Murali 2605
5 Martirosyan Haik M. 2597
6 Esipenko Andrey 2593
7 Xu Xiangyu 2586
8 Firouzja Alireza 2582
9 Petrosyan Manuel 2581
10 Aravindh Chithambaram Vr. 2578
11 Tabatabaei M.Amin 2576
12 Liang Awonder 2575
13 Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan 2573
14 Martinez Alcantara Jose Eduardo 2565
15 Pichot Alan 2562
16 Vavulin Maksim 2559
17 Bai Jinshi 2556
18 Hakobyan Aram 2554
19 Lomasov Semyon 2545
20 Kollars Dmitrij 2536

...165 players

With Maghsoodloo, Van Foreest, Donchenko, Karthikeyan, Martirosyan, Esipenko, Xiangyu, Firouzja, Petrosyan and Chithambaram taking part, the tournament is highly exciting. Who do you think will win it? Let us know about it in the comments section below. 

In the girl's section, these are the top 20 players in the world as of September 1st, 2018:

FIDE Top 20 Girls

Rank Name Title Country Rating Games B-Year
 1  Goryachkina, Aleksandra  g  RUS  2535  0  1998
 2  Abdumalik, Zhansaya  m  KAZ  2482  6  2000
 3  Mammadzada, Gunay  m  AZE  2438  19  2000
 4  Shuvalova, Polina  wm  RUS  2421  10  2001
 5  Osmak, Iulija  m  UKR  2405  7  1998
 6  Badelka, Olga  wm  BLR  2404  21  2002
 7  Tsolakidou, Stavroula  m  GRE  2393  9  2000
 8  Nomin-Erdene, Davaademberel  m  MGL  2377  7  2000
 9  Assaubayeva, Bibisara  f  RUS  2371  7  2004
 10  Tokhirjonova, Gulrukhbegim  wg  UZB  2369  15  1999
 11  Zhu, Jiner  wm  CHN  2364  15  2002
 12  Hojjatova, Aydan  wg  AZE  2356  0  1999
 13  Salimova, Nurgyul  f  FID  2352  0  2003
 14  Protopopova, Anastasiya  wf  RUS  2332  0  2000
 15  Sargsyan, Anna M.  wf  ARM  2331  0  2001
 16  Yao, Lan  wm  CHN  2330  0  2000
 17  Garcia Martin, Marta  f  ESP  2329  15  2000
 18  Balajayeva, Khanim  wm  AZE  2326  12  2001
 19  Marjanovic, Annamaria  wf  HUN  2326  0  2001
 20  Di Benedetto, Desiree  f  ITA  2321  18  2000

The top seed of the girl's section is Stavroula Tsolakidou, International Master from Greece. In terms of the world ranking, she is number seven, which means six of the best girl juniors are not playing. Of the top 20 girls, six are participating in Turkey.

Starting rank in Girls section (top 20)

No. Name Rtg
1 Tsolakidou Stavroula 2393
2 Nomin-Erdene Davaademberel 2377
3 Assaubayeva Bibisara 2371
4 Tokhirjonova Gulrukhbegim 2369
5 Zhu Jiner 2364
6 Hojjatova Aydan 2356
7 Dordzhieva Dinara 2318
8 Gorti Akshita 2315
9 Khomeriki Nino 2313
10 Unuk Laura 2299
11 Antova Gabriela 2292
12 Chitlange Sakshi 2279
13 Sieber Fiona 2277
14 Potapova Margarita 2277
15 Sliwicka Alicja 2272
16 Alinasab Mobina 2261
17 Diakonova Ekaterina 2243
18 Haussernot Cecile 2237
19 Maltsevskaya Aleksandra 2234
20 Paramzina Anastasya 2222

...98 players

Arrival in Turkey

Amruta and I travelled from the ChessBase office in Hamburg, Germany to Sabeha Gokcen airport. We preferred this over Istanbul, as Gebze, the place where the tournament is being held, is just 20-25 kilometres from the SAW airport. [Fun fact: Sabiha Gökçen, the airport's namesake was a Turkish aviator and the world's first female fighter pilot. -Ed.]

Two youngsters were waiting right outside the arrivals section with the World Juniors banner in their hand!

Check out what was contained in the gift bag that, given to each and every player 

The tournament began on a high note as the Mayor of Gebze Adnan Köşker attended the opening ceremony | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The mayor was proud that players from 62 countries had come to the town of Gebze to fight for the crown of the best junior chess player in the world | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The President of the Turkish Chess Federation Gülkız Tulay has worked hard for this event to be hosted by Turkey | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The symbolic first move to open the tournament! | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Maghsoodloo decided to throw caution to the winds right from move two!


Maghsoodloo is the top seed and won his first game in clinical style | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The second seed of the tournament is Dutch GM Jorden van Foreest, who is sporting a new look! He was held to a draw by... | Photo: Amruta Mokal

...12-year-old Volodar Murzin from Russia | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Amonatov with Murzhin

The coach of the Russian team GM Farrukh Amonatov considers Volodir Murzhin as quite a big talent and the boy recently won the European Championships for under-12 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Third-seeded Alexander Donchenko began his campaign with a long game against Platon Galperin from Ukraine. The German youngster went back with the full point | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Three Iranians who will be representing their country at the Batumi Olympiad in a few days from now, are sharpening their teeth at the World Junior Championships 2018 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Aram Hakobyan is the 18th seed at the World Junior Championships 2018. But his seeding is clearly misleading. In the last 8 months, the 17-year-old from Armenia has scored two GM norms and has gained nearly 100 Elo points. He speaks to us after his first-round win and also tells us about his 50-game unbeaten streak. | Video: ChessBase India Youtube Channel


Awonder Liang is the highest rated American in the competition. He won his first round after quite some grind and spoke to ChessBase India after his victory. | Video: ChessBase India Youtube Channel

The top seed in girl's section Stavroula Tsolakidou had a forgettable first round. Although she won the game, the errors that were committed showed her play in a light which is nowhere close to her actual strength. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Interview with Stavoula Tsolakidou after her first round win! | Video: ChessBase India Youtube Channel


In the background, the second board of the girls' section saw a big upset Gomez Barrera Javier Belen beat Nomin-Erdene Davaademberel | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Isha Sharma from India won her game against the sixth seed Aydan Hojjatova (2356) of Azerbaijan and shows how she fought back from an inferior position | Video: ChessBase India Youtube Channel

Turkey has the biggest contingent with over 58 players | Photo: Amruta Mokal

India and China have the second largest number of players with 16 each | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Xu Xiangyu is the strongest Chinese player in the fray. He is the seventh seed with an Elo of 2586 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Standings after Round 1 (Open - top 20)


All games from Round 1


Standings after Round 1 (Girls - top 20)


All games from Round 1



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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