World Juniors 2018 Round 9: Four Russians and an Uzbek

by Sagar Shah
9/14/2018 – The Open section has ceased to be interesting from the gold medal point of view as GM Parham Maghsoodloo from Iran notched up another win, this time against Awonder Liang from America. Maghsoodloo is on 8½/9 and has a 1½ point lead over the field with a rating performance of 2944! In the Girls section, there is everything to play for as five girls are tied for the top spot with 7.0/9. Among the five, four are Russian and one is from Uzbekistan. It will be exciting to see who comes out on top — Maltsevskaya, Dordzhieva, Tokhirjonova, Assaubayeva or Potapova?

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Maghsoodloo rating performance of 2944!

Parham Maghsoodloo moved to 8½/9 on Thursday, now with eight wins and one draw in nine rounds! This is some serious stuff! He has a rating performance of 2944 and is already gaining 22 Elo points. Although his rating as of September 1st is 2649, he was gaining 12 Elo points before the tournament. That takes his live rating to 2683. The 18-year-old from Iran is now just a few steps away from becoming the first player in the history of his country to cross 2700 Elo. It won't come as a surprise to me or anyone if Parham Maghsoodloo ends with 10½/11. Today he faces Maxim Vavulin and it will be interesting to see if the Russian can stop him.

What does he eat?! Parham Maghsoodloo leads by 1½ points! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Awonder Liang tried hard, but once he made an inaccuracy, it was all over | Photo: Amruta Mokal


This is move 17, the game is evenly matched. Black (Awonder) to play. Here I would say, the best way for Black to play was to push 17...d5. After 18.e5 Nc6 Liang is doing fine because White will have to spend some time regaining the d4 pawn and the e5 pawn is also slightly weak. However, in the game Awonder went for 17...Ng8. His idea was to place the knight on f6 and attack the pawn on e4, but White just won back the d4 pawn and was clearly better.


The Dragon that lived!

On board two we had an interesting battle between Iranian Alireza Firouzja and India's Abhimanyu Puranik. The game began with an Accelerated Dragon and Firouzja went for the Maroczy Bind with white. Very soon he got his chance in the game. 


The theme for White is very common and has been used many times by many players. In fact I have attached a game of Ivanchuk and Anand from PCA Intel Rapid 1994 in the replayer below where this idea was used. White must begin with 19.f5! Here Black must take on c4, and seek compensation in an exchange down position. This is because if he plays the natural 19...Bd7, White has the powerful move 20.e5! dxe5 21.fxg6 hxg6 22.Rxf6! and the bishop on d7 is hanging. Alireza wasn't able to find this and after a few moves he found himself in a position which is every Accelerated Dragon player's dream: 


Abhimanyu took his time to make progress. Once the 40 moves were completed, he moved in with his rooks and finished off his opponent. This is the second consecutive loss for Alireza and it remains to be seen if he can score two wins in the last two rounds. For Abhimanyu 7.0/9 is a fine score. He will be up against GM Bai Jinshi from China in the 10th round.

Abhimanyu's Puranik Dragon lived to tell the tale! | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Abhimanyu Puranik speaks to ChessBase India after his win over Alireza Firouzja

The Armenian duel

They are good friends with each other, but over the board, they went for the kill. It was a crucial game for both Aram Hakobyan and Manuel Petrosyan. A win here would mean the fight for medals. A loss would mean out of the medal contention. Aram started the game with the Scotch Opening and seemed very well prepared. In a game of opposite side castling, it seemed as if Black had more weaknesses to attack on White's queenside but Petrosian was unable to make much progress. In fact it was Hakobyan who reached first towards the black king. Finally out of desperation Manuel sacrificed his knight.


Instead of giving up the knight on c4, a better move would have been 28...a4, when the game was dynamically balanced. Hakobyan took the knight and defended the position excellently in time pressure.

Aram Hakobyan beats Manuel Petrosian, the time pressure phase captured on video


For Manuel Petrosyan it was a heartbreaking loss, but we are sure to see more of him in future | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Vavulin beats Karthik with the relatively unknown Qc5+!?

The Qc5+ novelty was first played by Grischuk against Vidit Gujrathi at the World Rapid Championships in Doha in 2016. What exactly is this idea?


Can't Black save the piece by getting his knight back to d6? Well, it is extremely dangerous and all the analysis have been in the annotations below by WIM elect Amruta Mokal. Check it out. 


Testing 12-year-old's endgame

"My strategy was to exchange the queens", said Bai Jinshi, who was facing Javokhir Sindarov in the ninth round. The Chinese GM had seen the tactical acumen of the youngster from Uzbekistan and decided to fight against him in calmer waters. And it did work. Jinshi got a fine position out of the opening, pieces were exchanged and we moved to the rook endgame. 


Although one would imagine a game like this to end in a draw between, say, Anand and Karjakin, when a player like Sindarov faces the prospect of defence it is highly uncomfortable. Where are the tactics? Where are the pieces flying around? Nothing there in the position of that sort. All you have to do is focus on the rook, and think how you can make the best use of it. Sindarov couldn't make most of his chances and lost the game. One of his critical mistakes was: 


Moving the rook to a3 was a bad error. It meant that the White king could come to e2 and then move towards his a-pawn. Jinshi gave up his pawn on the kingside and ensured that the a-pawn cost black the rook, and then win the rook vs pawn battle on the kingside. High-class endgame technique shown by the Chinese player.


The good news for Sindarov's fans is that the boy did achieve his GM norm. In fact, he had achieved it in round eight itself when he drew his game against Aram Hakobyan. This is his second GM norm. Fun fact: He was born on December 8th, 2005. If he can score his third GM norm before October 21st, 2018, he will surpass Praggnanandhaa's feat of becoming the second youngest GM in the world of chess. Sindarov has already surpassed the rating barrier of 2500 that was required. It is a pity that Javokhir is not playing for the Uzbek team at the Olympiad.

Five leaders in the girls 

While Parham Maghsoodloo is running away with the title in the open section, nothing is clear in the Girls. In fact, we have five players on the score of 7.0/9 fighting for the top honours. 

There are five leaders in the Girls section (clockwise from top left): Aleksandra Maltsevskaya, Bibisara Assaubayeva, Margarita Potapova, Dinara Dordzhieva and Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The curious thing to note is there are four Russians from the five leaders. And Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova, who hails from Uzbekistan, was completely lost against Anastasia Paramzina. If Paramzina would have won, it would have been five Russians at the top! The coach of the Russian team Farrukh Amonatov is surely very happy with this performance.

Maltsevskaya's novelty?!

Aleksandra Maltsevskaya opened the game with 1.e4 against Dinara Dordzhieva. The reply 1...c6 seemed to surprise her. She thought for a long time and went for the exchange Caro Kann with 4.Bd3. Maltsevskaya surprised everyone with her sixth move.


Of course, the d4 pawn is hanging. Dordzhieva took the pawn and was clearly better out of the opening. Maltsevskaya used all her skills to draw the game. Farrukh Amonatov, the coach of the Russian team was in the commentary room and was asked about the move. He too was puzzled whether this was something prepared at home or a mistake on the board!


Khomeriki loses on time

She had to make the 40th move, but her flag fell. Nino Khomeriki was having one of the best tournaments of her life until round six. She was 6.0/6 and now she has been pushed back to 6½/9 after her two losses. In the ninth round, she lost her game on time. On the 40th move, she made her move a little too late. The position at that moment on the board was drawn.


Gulrukhbegim's never-give-up attitude

Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova was pitted against Anastasia Paramzina. The Uzbek player wanted to win the game at all costs and hence took quite a bit of risk in the game. However, at a point, she realized that her game was completely lost. All that remained was to keep making moves and hope for a miracle to happen. It did happen! Paramzina got too nervous and blundered and Gulrukhbegim took home the full point.


Varshini's immortal

V. Varshini played one of the finest games of her chess career to beat FM Gabriela Antova. It was a normal Queen's Gambit Declined opening and White seemed to quite a bit of an initiative on the queenside. But one wrong move and all hell broke loose. Black's pieces were all over White's king and the Indian player Varshini went back home with the sweet feeling of having played a beautiful game.


Sensing that the white king was a bit lonely, Varshini's pieces decided to join the party!


It was already difficult to do much, so Antova moved her rook to c1.


Of course, Varshini didn't think too much! She simply picked up the pawn on h3 with her bishop to open the white king. After gxh3, we had the following position:


In came a second sacrifice: ...Rxe3! This is all very thematic. This rook could not be accepted, and so White played Bf1.


The rook moved to g3. It's not at all afraid of getting captured! If you took the rook then Qxg3+ Kh1 and Re2! with a forced mate. So White moved her king to h1. There are many ways to win now, but Varshini chose the most beautiful way.


The finish was also pretty and you can play it over in the replayer below.


A great game by the Indian youngster V. Varshini | Photo: Amruta Mokal

A great moment for Turkish chess. Can Isik became the youngest IM in the history of Turkish chess by achieving the title at the age of 13 years! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Interview with the youngest IM of Turkish chess Can Isik

Men in Blue! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Experience as a photographer

By Amruta Mokal

I went to the round a few minutes early and tried to take some pictures of what was going on! It was quite a lot of fun because not only were there so many things happening but also the reactions I would get from different people was different. Let the pictures do the talking!

Chess is a mental race! Your shoelaces must always be tied! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Some parents just hang around their kids! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Some parents give final words of advice on how to play the opening! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Some kids just feel comfortable in the presence of their parents! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Ah look! I am gonna be on ChessBase tomorrow!


Confused whether to pose or not! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

That moment when your friends don't understand why you have stopped talking and started smiling! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The serious look! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The candid picture! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

On a parting note, don't miss the interview with the six-time Turkish National Champion and the commentator at the World Juniors 2018 IM Can Arduman:

Interview with Can Arduman

Salah Nadezdha is from Ukraine, Saloni Anandpara is from Hong Kong. Both came alone to the World Junior Championships. They were given the same room and on the first day itself they went out to see the city and became close friends! 

Salah and Saloni have fun together, prepare together and share so many experiences with each other. They got to know about the culture of each other's country and also the language. All of this would never have been possible if they were not playing chess and had not come to the World Juniors! 

While World Juniors is a very serious tournament which players attend to improve their chess, we mustn't forget that chess brings people closer together and brings new friends in your life! As the FIDE Motto says, "Gens Una Sumus" — We are one family! :)

Interview with Saloni Anandpara and Salah Nadezdha

Standings after Round 9 (Open - top 20)


All Open games from Round 9


Standings after Round 9 (Girls - top 20)


All Girls games from Round 9



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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