World Youth: Upset of under-18 defending champion

by Sagar Shah
10/3/2019 – The World Youth Championships 2019 kicked off on October 2nd 2019 in Mumbai, India. The biggest upset of round one was defending champion Viktor Gazik losing his game to local lad Vedant Panesar. Gazik sacrificed an exchange in the style of Petrosian, but never really had enough compensation. In the past, players like Tiviakov and Andersson have been successful with a similar idea, and IM SAGAR SHAH probes the differences between those sacrifices, plus a brave effort from a girl playing in the Open section. | Photos: Amruta Mokal.

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Nervous energy in Mumbai

The first day of any youth event is quite chaotic. The parents who have come to drop their kids for the first game want to ensure that their children have safely reached the board. In order to do that they enter the tournament venue, but once that happens, it's very difficult for the organizers to control things. In this respect the organizers of the World Youth Championships 2019 found quite an interesting solution.

The parents were cordoned off so that they couldn't enter the playing hall, but they could still see everything that was going on!

Some parents and coaches were quite relaxed on day one, while some were visibly tense!

Anxious parents in the parent pen | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Some more relaxed parents | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Youth = Freshness!

When you visit a youth tournament, the first thing you see is that these youngsters aren't afraid to experiment. Both on and off the board! We will come to the on-the-board experiments later in this report, but let's first have a look at same off the board ones!

Girl with purple hair

You can find different colours and styles of hair at the tournament! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

If things don't work in a straight forward manner, reverse the order! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Boy in Sherwani

A youngster looking smart in a Sherwani! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

scoresheet at the board

The organizers too were creative as they provided all players with a unique pen! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

A brave heart


I have always wondered why players like Judit Polgar or Humpy Koneru or Hou Yifan became the best in women's chess? One common thing between all three of them, is that they wanted the strongest competition right from a very young age, and were therefore open to the idea of playing in the open section! In fact Judit, the greatest female player of all time, hardly ever played in the girl's section.

Yet today I see few girls ready to take the chance to fight it out with the boys! At the World Youth 2019, we have one exception: Harshita Guddanti in the U18 open!

Although Harshita lost her first round game, we applaud her for their bravery, fighting spirit and the ability to challenge the established norms. We wish her good luck fighting against the boys!

Harshita Guddanti speaks about why she decided to play in the open section

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Round 1: Not so smooth sailing for top seeds!

The biggest upset of round one was definitely India's under-17 champion Vedant Panesar getting the better of the defending under-18 world champion Viktor Gazik.

Vedant Panesar receiving his National under-17 title in 2018

Here's the game by Vedant to beat his opponent who was rated over 300 Elo points above him. The sacrifice by Gazik 12...♜xe3 isn't uncommon. In fact Ulf Andersson had once held a draw against World Champion Garry Kasparov with this similar idea. Sergey Tiviakov in fact was even able to beat Razuvaev with this same sacrifice. (Replay all three games below.)


Click or tap a game in the list to switch games

However, if you look at the above games closely you will realize that Gazik's sacrifice wasn't well-timed.


Yes, 12...xe3 looks tempting. However, after 13.fxe3, White has all his pieces nicely developed and more importantly he can just play ♖c1 and start putting pressure on the c7 pawn. In both Kasparov-Andersson and Tiviakov-Razuvaev, the c7 pawn was never weak!

It will be tough for Viktor Gazik to repeat his 2018 performance after this upset

Games not yet live

According to the situation on the ground, a key part of the live broadcast setup was missing on day one. The organizers are trying their best to get that before round two begins. As a result of this glitch, most of the games in round one were not broadcast live.

Under-14 open

Top seed Sreeshwan had a not so easy game in round one against local talent Anirudh Potawad, but managed to win his game!

Volodar Murzin, the second seed also won his game against Vinay Jumani.

Sreeshwan Maralakshikari | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Sreeshwan talks about his win over Anirudh and how he won the queen versus rook endgame

Volodar Murzin | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Aditya Varun Gampa provided the upset of the round in the under-14 boys when he held Andrey Tsvetkov to a draw. Pranav V (2308) lost his round one game against Abinandhan (1830).


Under-14 girls

The favourite in the under-14 girls Divya Deshmukh had very little difficulty in winning her first round game against Fatima Marium.

Divya Deshmukh (left) | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Under-16 open

from USA, the top seed in under-16, won his game against Karthik Sai Ch.

Adrian Zetocha (2043) from Slovakia provided a mini-upset by holding Nikolozi Kacharava to a draw.

Niemann and Zetocha

Hans Niemann and Adrian Zetocha | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Under-16 girls

Leya Garifullina beat Anjum Noshin on board one. Two mini-upsets occurred on boards nine and ten: Ge eva (1673) drew her game against Alessia-Mihaela Ciolacu (2095) and Arushi Kotwal (1657) held Zhang Xiao (2053) to a draw.

Leya Garifullina vs Anjum Noshin | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Under-18 open

Shant Sargsyan gained 18 Elo points in the October rating list and is now the top seed in the under-18 section.

Shant Sargsyan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Praggnanandhaa is still just 14 years old but is playing in the U18 Open. In the first round he beat Massimiliano Botta with the Vaganian Gambit.


Praggnanandhaa | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Pragg discusses his win in round one


Under-18 girls

Polina Shuvalova is the defending champion in the under-18 girls section and she began with a win against Kristyna Laurincova. The second seed of the event Turmunkh Munkhzul was held to a draw by her Singaporean opponent Emmanuelle Hng.

Shuvalova and Hng

Polina Shuvalova and Emmanuelle Hng | Photo: Amruta Mokal



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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