World Youth Rd 2-3: Exchange French, Pawn Endgames and some brilliant play

by Sagar Shah
10/4/2019 – A double-round in a day always speeds up an event. After the first day, we had two rounds on the second day of the World Youth 2019. In all the sections we have five or fewer players on perfect score. In the under-18 girls section we already have a sole leader! IM SAGAR SHAH analyzes the win of Honorata Kucharska, the sole leader in girls under-18 and try to improve our understanding of the Exchange French. We also have two very interesting games by the highest rated player in the event Shant Sargsyan (2580) and lastly we look at two pawn endgames that were complex enough for strong players to solve them over the board! | Pictured: Polina Shuvalova and Alexandra Obolentseva share some light words before the game | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Powerplay 22: A Repertoire for Black with the French Defence Powerplay 22: A Repertoire for Black with the French Defence

On this DVD Grandmaster Daniel King offers you a repertoire for Black with the French. Based around ten stem games, all White's major lines against the French are covered.


Double-round days are always very hectic. I met a player at the end of the day who said, "I played ten hours of chess today and lost both the games!" Brutal. The good news is that this was the first and the last double-round day of the event. After three rounds, there is no section where we have more than five players who are on a perfect 3.0/3 score. In fact in the girls under-18 section we already have a sole leader.

Since there is just one entrance and there is quite a bit of checking, naturally the players will have to wait a bit! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The security measures are pretty tight at the event. Of course mobile phones and electronic devices are not to be brought into the playing hall and this is well known to the players.

Well, this time even a pen is not allowed! The organizers are providing the pens to all the participants for all the rounds.

What is that? A "pen"! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Understanding the exchange French

The sole leader in the girls under-18 section is Honorata Kucharska. She is rated 2114 and in the third round she was facing the former under-16 girls world champion Annmarie Muetsch.


Annmarie who is the higher rated player went for the Exchange French! Why would she do that, you may ask. Well, first the opening isn't as drawish as one would imagine. But more importantly it could be quite possible that Honorata is an aggressive player and against attacking players Exchange French often is a very potent weapon.


Black didn't wish to get a solid/boring position out of the opening and hence went for 8...d7 and 9...0-0-0 plan


White starts the attack on the queenside with the move 10.b4. The idea is to push the knight back with b5, develop the queen to a4 and overall have strong initiative on the wing.


With 13.e5 White began some concrete actions. Black took 13...xe5 and White took back with the rook on e5. Instead, taking back with the pawn would have been much better. White could then get his knight from b3 to d4 and have a very pleasant position.

As White went wrong, Black managed to get his pieces near White's king: 


How should Black finish off the game? Hint: Try to find a pretty way to win!


Honorata Kucharska is the sole leader in the under-18 girls section | Photo: Wojciech Zawadzki

Sargsyan's brilliant play in round two and miss in round three

Shant Sargsyan should have ended the day with 3.0/3. He played a nearly flawless game in round two to beat his opponent Wang Shixu. He made great use of his knight and pawns to overpower his opponent's rook.


For his brilliant play in round two, Shant wins the best game of the day award by ChessBase: Volume one of Navigating the Ruy Lopez by Fabiano Caruana.

Shant Sargsyan

That's the amount of concentration you need if you want to do well at these high pressure events! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

In the third round, Shant was pitted against Mumbai's young talent IM Aditya Mittal (2430). Aditya played not so well in the opening and soon landed in a lost position.

Aditya Mittal comes to the board with his box of snacks, as his mother keeps a watchful eye on him | Photo: Amruta Mokal 


It seemed clear that White is winning in this position. He has an extra pawn, the rook is behind the passed pawn. Yet, Aditya managed to hold the draw, which is quite amazing!

Aditya Mittal shows how he managed to draw the seemingly lost endgame

Praggnanandhaa's Fischer like play

Just like Shant Sargsyan, Praggnanandhaa too played a fine game in the morning and drew a better position in the evening.

Praggnanandhaa | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Do you recollect the game Fischer versus Benko? Well, if you don't then try solving this position. What should White play here? 


Fischer wanted to play e5 in order to unleash a mate on h7. However, e5 is met with f5 and the mate is averted. Hence, it is important to block the f-pawn. Fischer began with the powerful 19.♖f6!! blocking the f-pawn and after e5 it's a mate! A brilliant concept!


How did Pragg continue? Hint: Play like Fischer!


Praggnanandhaa discusses his win

A tale of two complex pawn endgames

Two pawn endgames that were reached on day two, one in round two and one in round three are especially instructive. Let's have a look at both of them carefully and learn from them. How do you assess this position? 


White to play

White has a clear edge because of his queenside majority. Black cannot do anything with his central majority because a move like ...f5 is met with f3 and there is no way to make progress on that wing. One would imagine that white would win in just about anyway he plays. My recommendation is to play against the diagram and try to win with white. Mind you, it is not trivial. The white player in the game, Vatsal Singhania, learnt that the hard way.


Look at the fortress. It doesn't matter if White takes on b6 or plays c6, he will not be able to make progress. Check out the important role played by the pawn on h5 which stops the white king from coming to g4 and pushing ahead with f4-f5. Black has the perfect setup, and he managed to draw the game!


Last Women Sitting

Vantika Agrawal and Aashna Makhija were the last players to finish in round two.

In the diagram below, Black has just attacked White's rook on h5. How should White continue?


Playing the rook to h8 would not be a good idea because after 65...♚g7 66.♖c8 ♝xh4 67.♖xc7, the position is a theoretical draw! Vantika played the correct move in the above position:


Vantika Agrawal vs Aashna Makhija | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Black took the rook and the important question is, with which pawn do you recapture the rook? In the game the rook was captured by the h-pawn which turned out to be a mistake.


Black pushed her pawn to c5 and brought her king closer to the pawn. When White comes to c4 with his king, Black plays ♚d6 and it is a deadlock!


Instead, taking with the f-pawn 66.fxg5 was better. White was worried that Black would have two passers. However, the square formed by the pawns do not reach the edge of the board. That's the reason why this is winning for White.


The feeling of drawing a winning position is never great | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Photo Gallery

Rakesh Rao, the well-known journalist from The Hindu, greets under-14 top seed Sreeshwan Maralakshikari  | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Sreeshwan escaped miraculously from the jaws of defeat.


When the coach turns into a photographer — Elshan Moradiabadi, the coach of team USA | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Hans Niemann from the USA, talks about his win in round two and his draw from a losing position in round three

Head of delegation of Iran takes a photo of his top player, Aryan Gholami | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Aryan Gholami talks about his exchange sacrifice in the London System

Boris Gelfand liked to juggle his pieces under the table, this guy likes to do it differently! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

11-years-old Arhan Chethan Anand, the ChessBase India Juniors analyst, is playing in the under-14 section | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The nervous moments before the game! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Lost in thoughts! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

All games


U14 Open


U14 Girls


U16 Open


U16 Girls


U18 Open


U18 Girls


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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