World Juniors Rd 9: Can anyone stop Shtembuliak and Shuvalova?

by Sagar Shah
10/24/2019 – He read the Zurich Interzonal 1953 book written by Bronstein and Gelfand's Positional Decision Making to improve his positional understanding. He goes to the gym and swims every day to stay fit. He is the sole leader in the open section with a score of 7½/9 and has a performance rating of 2783. She won the under-18 world championship 2019. She's sure to go the gym every morning, and she enjoys each and every moment she spends on the chess board. She has an Elo performance of 2585 and is leading the girls section at the World Junior with 8.0/9. That's Evgeny Shtembuliak and Polina Shuvalova for you! These two youngsters are looking unstoppable at the World Juniors 2019.

Marin's English Love Vol.1 and 2 - A complete repertoire for White after 1.c4 Marin's English Love Vol.1 and 2 - A complete repertoire for White after 1.c4

The aim of these Dvd's is to build a repertoire after 1.c4 and 2.g3 for White. The first DVD includes the systems 1...e5, the Dutch and Indian setups. The second DVD includes the systems with 1...c5, 1...c6 and 1...e6.


Fitness is the key

Both the open section and the girls section have sole leaders. Evgeny Shtembuliak leads with 7½/9 and Polina Shuvalova with 8.0/9. While both have quite contrasting styles of play —Shtembuliak is positional, while Shuvalova is aggressive — one common thing that has helped both of them is indulging in physical fitness each day. In their post-game interviews, both players revealed that they spent time in the gym before the game in the morning and that has helped them to maintain their stamina and momentum. Shtembuliak even goes to the swimming pool along with the gym. For Shuvalova, this result is even more commendable because she played eleven rounds of intense chess in Mumbai at the World Youth Championships 2019. She won the gold in under-18 girls section. Change in weather, food, time zone, opposition, nothing has come in between Shuvalova and her constant striving to play good games of chess.

Improving your positional understanding with Shtembuliak

Evgeny Shtembuliak won his game against Mihnea Costachi with some excellent opening preparation followed by powerful middlegame play.

Focused eyes of the leader | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Shtembuliak explains his over Costachi


Shuvalova's masterful endgame play

Beating a strong player like Stavroula Tsolakidou with the black pieces is truly a great win by Shuvalova.

Tsolakidou vs Shuvalova | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The entire endgame of Shuvalova


Mobina Alinasab keeps her pursuit alive after beating Antova Gabriela | Photo: Niklesh Jain


Mariia won a topsy-turvy game | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Mariia Berdnyk was worse out of the opening, but fought hard and towards the end managed to trick her young opponent.


Top seed Zhu Jiner is still going strong | Photo: Niklesh Jain

It speaks volumes of this young girl's character that she has not given up in spite of a bad performance. Zhu Jiner is probably having one of the worst tournaments of her chess career, but she has kept herself going and won the ninth round.

Aravindh managed to outplay his strong opponent Dmitrij Kollars | Photo: Niklesh Jain


Untitled Wang Shixu is having a fantastic tournament

Wang Shixu has performed admirably at this event. He started as the 50th seed and has managed to not only score his IM norm, but will be playing on the top board in round ten. He doesn't really speak English, but we got him in the studio, to have a look at his game and some of the variations!

IM Volodar Murzin

I will call him "the find of the tournament"! Everyone knew IM Volodar Murzin, who is just 13 years old, is talented. However, in this event he has shown some phenomenal understanding of the last phase of the game. Check out his win against Viktor Gazik, in which the youngster gives up two pawns for activity and wins the game!

Tactics time!

Many of us practice solving tactics regularly at home. But what we are unable to do is recreate a game like scenario during our practice session. Well, with this video we have tried to change that. We have captured the real time game between Leon Mendonca and P Iniyan. However, there were several tactics that were missed by both the players. WIM-elect Amruta Mokal tries to explain these tactics in the video and also tells you the amount of time both players had on their clocks when they reached this position.


White to play and win


Black to play and win


The norm makers

After nine rounds, we have as many as twelve norms that were scored at the tournament. Five IM norms, Six WIM norms and one WGM norm. It is quite possible that few more norms will be made

IM Norms

  • Aronyak Ghosh
  • Wang Shixu
  • Audi Ameya
  • Garidmagnai Byambasuren
  • Aaryan Varshney

WGM norms

  • Polina Shuvalova

WIM norms

  • Antova Gabriela
  • Altantuya Boldbaatar
  • Avetisyan Mariam
  • Srishti Pandey
  • Toshali V
  • Supreetha Potluri

The players can choose the cookies they want to eat during the round | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Unlimited tea, coffee and green tea for the players | Photo: Niklesh Jain

For all those who are not into tea and coffee, they also have fruit juices | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Withdrawals from the tournament

As the rounds pass, the number of players withdrawing from the tournament is increasing. These are not just Iranian players, who anyway have more to worry about than just health issues. But if you look at the pairing list, there have been several withdrawals citing illness. But almost all of them have withdrawn after a loss. As a chess player I can completely understand the mental stress and helplessness one feels when s/he loses a game. If it is a winning game, it feels even worse. You are losing rating points like a leaking faucet, there is no longer a chance for making a norm, a medal finish is impossible to achieve. Why then should you continue? Let me give you an example from another sport — Cricket.

India's famous cricketer Anil Kumble at the Antigua 2002

"It was one of the bravest things I've seen on the field of play," said Viv Richards later. Batting at No. 7, Kumble was hit by Merv Dillon. He spat out blood but batted on for another 20 minutes. The series was poised 1-1 and this was the fourth Test. India declared at 513 for 9. The sight of Anil Kumble emerging from the pavilion, ready to bowl, his face bandaged, in the Antigua Test of 2002, is one of cricket's most inspiring. Kumble sent down 14 consecutive overs and became the first bowler to dismiss Brian Lara while bowling with a broken jaw. He was due to fly back to Bangalore the following day for surgery, and as he said, "At least I can now go home with the thought that I tried my best. Kumble's Test was drawn, West Indies declaring at 629 for 9. His reason for returning to bowl: "I didn't want to sit around" is as fine an example of the self-effacing statement as you will find in cricket. [Source: ESPNcricinfo]

If Kumble's incident teaches us something, then it is the fact that great players do not care about the result — the test match was anyway drawn. The feeling of going back home having tried your best is something that cannot be explained in words, it has to be felt.

Open standings after round 9


Girls standings after round 9


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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