World Juniors 2018 Round 7: The advantage of having the first move!

by Sagar Shah
9/12/2018 – It is generally agreed that White has a small edge going into the game because he has the first move. At the top level, Black more often than not equalizes. Yet, at the seventh round of the World Juniors 2018, we had a pretty unique case where all six games, the top three in boy's section and the top three in girl's section, all of them ended in the white player winning the games. In this article, we show you all the games along with analysis. Apart from this you also have pictures by Amruta Mokal and videos by IM Sagar Shah.

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World class player vs emerging prodigy

Round 7 saw the battle between two of the most exciting personalities at the World Junior 2018. The experienced top seed Parham Maghsoodloo was up against the 12-year-old Uzbek super-talent Javokhir Sindarov. Sindarov had created a huge flutter in this tournament by defeating three grandmasters. But Parham was now aware of this young boy's ability and at the same time he had the white pieces. I expected a win for the Iranian grandmaster. That did come true, but not in the way one would have imagined.

Parham Maghsoodloo against Javokhir Sindarov | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Javokhir Sindarov enters the tournament hall, pumped up for a full-fledged fight against the top seed | Photo: Amruta Mokal

A mandatory picture by Javokhir's father Sanjar Sindarov before the game begins | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Maghsoodloo comes to the board in an extremely happy and excited mood | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Let the games begin! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Tactically Sindarov is as strong as a grandmaster, that is for sure. But positionally he still has some holes in his game. Hence, I was under the impression that Parham would play 1.d4 or 1.Nf3 and steer the game to a slow strategic battle. However, it turned out that Maghsoodloo went for 1.e4 and played the main line of the Ruy Lopez.


But Sindarov was ready for this move. 9...b4 10.a5 Rb8 11.Bc4 Nxe4. Very quickly he grabbed the pawn on e4. Parham showed an expression on his face that indicated this was an inferior move, but that was just to confuse his opponent, as he mentioned after the game. 12...Nxe4 was the best move.


After 12.Bd5, Black snatched another pawn on f2 and then the one on a5 because if Rxa5 then c6 would regain the material.


Javokhir Sindarov (Black) is still a piece down. But how does that matter? Look at the king on f3! This would have created discomfort in just about any player. But we all know what Maghsoodloo excels in. He is a defensive monster. He began with moves like Bc1, undeveloping moves which are so difficult for normal players to find. And one move, in particular, showed what a great defender he is.


I think many strong GMs would have played Bxc4 here. It is a good move and you are eliminating a piece in this position so that the pressure is reduced. GM Farrukh Amonatov, who is a strong GM, was in the commentary room and he didn't consider anything apart from Bxc4. But Parham played Bb3! A fantastic move. More than anything else he wanted to maintain the pressure and still find the best move. He knew that ...Nxe5 can be met with Kg2 and his king would be absolutely safe.


Yes, Black has three pawns for the piece, but it's very difficult for him to make anything of his pawns because they are isolated and weak. Parham did commit some inaccuracies from this point onwards, but he made sure that he won the game and took the sole lead with 6½/7.


After the game, Maghsoodloo said, "Sindarov is extremely talented. I think he is a very good player. I believe in his talent and chess very much. I told my friend at this age only a genius can play chess like this!" Javokhir lost the game but has already won many hearts including that of his opponent.

A detailed interview with GM Parham Maghsoodloo after his win over Javokhir Sindarov | Photo: Amruta Mokal

In the Open section now we have Maghsoodloo on sole lead followed by Alireza Firouzja and Karthik Venkatraman.

Dordzhieva ends Khomeriki's six win streak

Dinara Dordzhieva played a fine opening to get a solid edge against Nino Khomeriki, who was on 6.0/6. However, Nino fought back and the position was about even. At that point, time pressure set in and in the period between moves 30-40, Dinara was able to outplay her opponent and get a winning position. The Russian took some risks which she normally would not, because she wanted to win the game at all costs. With this win, she joined Khomeriki at the top along with Maltsevskaya.

Win at all costs was Dinara Dordzhieva motto against the leader Nino Khomeriki | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Alireza Firouzja's king walk

"Alireza is very good at King's Indian positions from both white and black," says Maghsoodloo. And the 15-year-old from Iran did show his skills against Maxim Vavulin. Alireza played a manoeuvre which is quite uncharacteristic of King's Indian positions:


Before you even knew it, the king was running across the camp towards the queenside.


Vavulin was left wondering as to what is to be done with his kingside attack! At this point I think the Russian lost his will.


Once the kingside was close the focus shifted to the queenside where Alireza was just too strong.

Alireza Firouzja opened the game with 1.e4 and played the Italian, but very soon the game transposed into a King's Indian Defence setup | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Winning the queenside, but losing your king!

The game between Karthik Venkatraman and Amin Tabatabaei on board three was extremely interesting. Tabatabaei played very well from the black side of the Caro Kann and very soon got his play going on the queenside. But amidst all of the tactical and positional possibilities on the queen's wing, he forgot about his king. With Karthik Venkatraman, you need to be tactically very careful and the boy from India proved it once again.


It looks as if White is just defending the knight, but actually he is paving way for the rook to move to g3 after the bishop moves.


Karthik took the pawn on g7 with his rook and instantly forced resignation from his opponent. Tabatabaei had conquered the queenside, but it's the king that matters. A clear case of losing your sense of danger.

India's Karthik Venkatraman won against Iran's Amin Tabatabaei and moved to 6.0/7 in joint second position | Photo: Amruta Mokal 


Deflection, distraction and Pin

Stavroula Tsolakidou is a strong player from Greece. She is an IM, the only IM in the girl's section and she also has a strong coach in the form of Ioannis Papaioannou. But something is not going her way at this event. After getting a normal opening position, she suddenly got into a very dangerous pin on the a1-h8 diagonal against USA's Akshita Gorti.


Stavroula didn't really understand why the a4 pawn was left undefended. So she picked it up and Akshita jumped in with her knight to e4 increasing the pressure on the f6 knight. But isn't the rook on d1 hanging?


Rd7! Akshita hadn't seen this right until the very end during the game, but she had sensed that something like this was possible. Her focus was more towards the move Rd6, which is also a strong move, but loses the game to Rce8! As now Rxf6 is met with Qe5! Take note that the c-rook has to be played to e8 and not the f-rook, because that f8 rook has to guard the f7 square.

Stavroula was short on time and she retreated her bishop back to c6 planning to take the knight on e4, but Akshita had it all worked out. She put her bishop on d5 and later pushed the pawn to g4.


The Greek player had no choice but to throw in the towel and she resigned very soon. With this win Akshita moves to joint second position and has good chances to fight for the medals in the last four rounds.

Stavroula Tsolakidou has not yet had the best tournament, but four wins in the last four rounds can change everything! | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Three players who lost on the first three boards with the black pieces - Tsolakidou (left), Khomeriki (centre) and Paramzina (right) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Pawn structure? Who cares!

Alexandra Maltsevskaya is playing a strong tournament here. She has beaten WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova (2369), top seed Stavroula Tsolakidou (2393) and now Anastasya Paramzina (2222). In the seventh round she showed some very good understanding of how dynamic factors sometimes outweigh positional considerations. She spoiled her pawn structure and attacked her opponent's king in an aggressive manner. 


Maltsevsksaya took on g7 with her rooks and Paramzina had to give up her queen. The material was around even, but White's queen was just too active. Combined with h-pawn, it was a winning combination and Alexandra moved to six points out of seven rounds.


Aram Hakobyan played well to beat German grandmaster Alexander Donchenko | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The support team

No tournament is successful without a strong support team. At the World Juniors 2018, the Turkish Chess Federation has people who are working dedicated to ensure that the tournament runs successfully. Here are some of the individuals:

Başak Göktaş is responsible for updating the website and social media accounts of the Turkish chess federation | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Ismail makes sure that the live show runs flawlessly | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The commentary team consists of FM Tarik Selbes (left) and IM Can Arduman (right). They are usually joined by guest commentator GM Ioannis Papaioannou who is the coach for top seed in the girls section Stavroula Tsolakidou. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The tournament director of the event Ozgur Solakoglu | Photo: Amruta Mokal

President of the Turkish Chess Federation Gulkis Tulay speaks to the TRT, the national channel of Turkey | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The backbone of any tournament: the team of arbiters | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Words of encouragement from a coach can always help a player give his best! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Some laughter before the game is always welcome! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Players from India having a relaxed chat before the game begins | Photo: Amruta Mokal

This tournament is a great exposure for local Turkish players who are fighting it out with some of the best players in the world | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Standings after Round 7 (Open - top 20)


All Open games from Round 7


Standings after Round 7 (Girls - top 20)


All Girls games from Round 7



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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