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World Juniors Rd.03+04: Petrosian would have been proud

by Sagar Shah - 18/10/2019

On 17th of October 2019, the World Juniors 2019 had two rounds. After the final game ended we already had clarity on who has the early lead in the event. In the open section we have three players who are sharing the lead with 3.5/4 - Miguel Ruiz from Spain, Evgeny Shtembuliak from Ukraine and the local favourite R. Praggnanandhaa. In this article we analyze one game of Praggnanandhaa and one game of Shtembuliak in great depth. While Pragg teaches you the art of exchange sacrifices, Shtembuliak shows you how to play positions in which you are winning. In the girls section we have Boldbaatar Altantuya from Mongolia who is on 4.0/4 and is the sole leader. A detailed report from New Delhi. 

Praggnanandhaa's exchange sacrifice

A rook is worth five pawns and a bishop's worth is three pawns. This is taught to us right from the initial stages of our chess journey. However, material as a concept in chess is not static. It is dynamic in nature. A better placed bishop may well be more valuable than a rook. A rook without open files can often be quite useless. The more experienced and knowledgeable a player becomes, the better is his understanding of the material imbalance in chess. In my opinion, in the fourth round of the World Junior Championships 2019, Praggnanandhaa showed the positional understanding of highest nature. He played an exchange sacrifice which would have made the master of exchange sacrifices Tigran Petrosian smile, if he were alive.

Tigran Petrosian was known as the master of positional exchange sacrifices. He would often sacrifice an exchange and not worry about doing something concrete immediately. This is exactly what Praggnanandhaa also did in round four. | Photo: Niklesh Jain    

Praggnanandhaa was up against IM Dambasuren Batsuren in round four of the World Juniors 2019 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Praggnanandhaa vs Batsuren, round 4

White has maximized his position. Time for a plan. Anyone?

Praggnanandhaa took 15 minutes on his clock and came up with a very interesting plan. He saw that the Black weaknesses are mainly on the queenside - the c6 and a6 pawns being the main ones. Hence, a knight on b4 would be ideally placed. How to get it there?

Pragg played the move Qd2!? with the idea of Na1-c2-b4. His opponent at first didn't grasp what Pragg was up to, but when the youngster moved his knight to a1, Dambasuren was jolted into action.

The Mongolian IM played the move ...h5!? His plan was to attack the queen with Bh6. The normal move would be to move the queen or the rook. But Pragg boldly went ahead with Nc2!?

White is a complete exchange down. But Pragg is not looking for immediate returns. He would like to build up his position and at the appropriate moment, open up things with f4.

Blacks decision of resolving the tension in the centre with ...dxe4 dxe4 was incorrect as now the bishop comes to b3 and and becomes an extremely powerful piece. Also the dark squared weaknesses around the black king will start to make itself felt when White goes f4!

The f4 move finally comes in. Notice how Black's extra material is not at all important in this position. White's quality of pieces is so much superior

The final blow to open up the position. The picture says it all. Praggnanandhaa went on to win a very nice game!

Praggnanandhaa's opponent was no pushover. He is a strong IM with an Elo of 2454. But he was unable to sense the changing nature of the position and its dynamics as well as the 14-year-old could. This game is an excellent example to illustrate the talent of the youngster.

Praggnanandhaa discusses his round four win and the reason why he took certain decisions

Winning a won position masterclass by Shtembuliak

In round four Evgeny Shtembuliak played on the top board against Miguel Ruiz and the game ended in a draw | Photo: Niklesh Jain

However, in round three Evgeny Shtembuliak (left) was able to play a wonderful game against Sergey Drygalov | Photo: Niklesh Jain

After the game ended we caught up with Evgeny and he gave us a masterclass in how to win winning positions.

1. When you are winning, you must try and not to hurry.

2. You must calculate each and every possibility carefully so that your opponent cannot surprise you.

3. You must have the energy to sustain throughout the game. In this respect it is important that you are physically fit.


In a nutshell to become a better converter of winning positions into full point you must be patient, you must be a good calculator and you must be physically fit!


Let's have a look at how Shtembuliak managed to show all of this in his game:

Shtembuliak vs Drygalov, round 3

White attacks the rook on f8 and also the bishop on f5 is hanging

White did not hurry here to take on f8 and instead stopped Black's plans of ...e3 with Rbe1

It is important here not to be too materialistic. Your bishop on g2 and the protected passer on a5 already guarantee you an excellent position, so why do you want the rook on f8? White just took on e3 with his bishop and was clearly better.

One of the variations that Shtembuliak considered reached this position. It is easy to say White is winning here. But a good converter of better positions always looks at opponents resources. Here Shtembuliak saw that Black can play Rxg2+ and after Kxg2 Qa8+, he can pick up the a6 pawn. Yes, White is still better, but the win is greatly complicated. If you are able to see such resources for your opponent, you can convert better positions more frequently.

This is one position which I simply fell in love with. Black to play. What do you think is the evaluation of the position?

White is a rook up, so he must be better, right? Well, Black plays the move ...f6! here and...

...The queen on e8 is greatly overloaded! It cannot defend both the bishop on a8 and the rook on e1. The game ended in a draw!

Miguel Ruiz shows his win over Martin Hollan. The video is recorded in Spanish

Sole leader in the women's section:

Boldbaatar Altantuya won her game against Michelle Katkov and is now the sole leader of the with 4.0/4. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Altantuya vs Katkov

White has taken the pawn on e5. How do you recapture as Black? | Photo: Niklesh Jain

It was important here to give up some material starting with ...Nxe5. Nxe5 Rxe5 Bxa8 Qxa8. The resulting position is not so bad for Black and he has very good compensation. In the game Black went ...dxe5 and after Ng5! it was all over. There were just too many things hanging - a8, d7 and also pressure on h7.

Bibisara Assaubayeva between Anastasiya Protoropova and is on 3.5/4 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Shuvalova vs Alinasab on board three ended in a draw. Both players are now on 3.5/4 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

On board no.2 we had the all Indian clash with Priyanka Nutakki (left) facing Arpita Mukherjee. Arpita was in control throughout the game, but couldn't convert her advantage and the game ended in a draw. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The Iran - Israel issue

In round four Iranian Aryan Gholami lost his game when he didn't arrive for his game even past the walkover time

This is not something new anymore in the chess world. We have seen a number of cases where the Iranian players did not turn up for their games when paired against Israeli opponents. Aryan Gholami not just lost a point, but he got so depressed that he withdrew from the tournament as well. A medical certificate was submitted to the arbiters to show that the youngster was not feeling well and hence didn't play the round.

After reading this tweet, I wonder if we can blame the Iranian youngster for not showing up to the game. The boy if he plays the game would have to face dire consequences back home. As a player who has just become Iran's latest GM, he would have loved to play his fourth round and not throw away his point. But, it is quite possible that playing this game would put his entire chess career at risk. It seems as if this incident affected Aryan in a way that he has decided to withdraw from the event. Spare a thought for the youngster. Being an Iranian chess player is not easy. Especially when you have guys like Firouzja, Maghsoodloo, Tabatabaei etc. who are always fighting for the top places in most of the tournaments they play. Whenever, they participate in a tournament they have to worry about being paired against an Israeli opponent and losing a full point. The Iranian Government must do something about this or else these youngsters who can bring pride and glory to their nation, actually find themselves in a Zugzwang like situation, like it happened for Aryan at the World Juniors.

Tense moments for the arbiters | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Chief Arbiter Hamid Majid had to make sure that all the protocols of FIDE were being followed | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Interesting positions:

Karthikeyan beat the in form youngster Aaryan Varshney in round three | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Karthikeyan vs Aaryan Varshney

White to play. What would you do here?

Karthikeyan realized that there is a nice juicy square on e5 waiting for his knight. Hence, he played the move Ng2 with the idea of Ne1-f3-e5. Here's the complete game with annotations by WIM Angela Frank Jain:

Raja Rithvik was extremely alert to beat his higher rated oppponent Igor Janik | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Black to play. How do you continue?

Time to finish off the game!

Percivaldi vs Hakobyan

Black to play

India's triple crown national champion (classical, rapid and blitz) Aravindh Chithambaram managed to convert a completely equal endgame into a full point. It was an endgame from which one can learn a lot! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Standings after round 4 in the open section:

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgBdldPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
110GMSantos Ruiz MiguelESP25603,50,09,011,0
27GMShtembuliak EvgenyUKR25773,50,07,59,5
8GMPraggnanandhaa RIND25673,50,07,59,5
438IMAgmanov ZhandosKAZ24033,00,08,59,0
56GMSargsyan ShantARM25803,00,08,010,0
617IMKhanin SemenRUS25073,00,08,010,0
72GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND26173,00,08,09,5
826IMHaria RaviENG24633,00,08,09,0
970FMAaryan VarshneyIND22393,00,07,59,5
109GMHakobyan AramARM25613,00,07,59,5
1143FMAmartuvshin GanzorigMGL23913,00,07,59,0
1216GMIniyan PIND25093,00,07,59,0
1325IMCostachi MihneaROU24633,00,06,58,0
1450Wang Shixu BCHN23703,00,06,57,5
1531IMRaja HarshitIND24403,00,06,08,0
1646IMMendonca Leon LukeIND23883,00,06,06,5
1751IMRaja Rithvik RIND23693,00,05,56,5
1829IMBatsuren DambasurenMGL24542,50,08,59,5
194GMKollars DmitrijGER25872,50,08,010,5
48CMAronyak GhoshIND23802,50,08,010,5


Standings after round 4 in girls section

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
120WFMAltantuya BoldbaatarMGL22774,00,07,09,0
214WIMRakshitta RaviIND23103,50,08,510,5
21WIMArpita MukherjeeIND22713,50,08,510,5
424WIMPriyanka NutakkiIND22483,50,08,09,5
25WIMAlinasab MobinaIRI22393,50,08,09,5
66FMAssaubayeva BibisaraKAZ23813,50,07,09,0
729WCMMrudul DehankarIND22273,00,09,59,5
85WGMVaishali RIND23853,00,08,09,5
945WFMKatkov MichelleISR21063,00,08,08,5
104WIMShuvalova PolinaRUS24123,00,07,59,5
1143WFMAfraoui AnaelleFRA21063,00,07,59,0
1231WFMOlde MargarethEST22053,00,07,59,0
139WIMDivya DeshmukhIND23583,00,07,58,5
1410Berdnyk MariiaUKR23493,00,07,58,0
1518WIMVantika AgrawalIND22833,00,07,08,5
1617WIMSolozhenkina ElizavetaRUS22833,00,07,08,5
172IMTsolakidou StavroulaGRE24313,00,07,08,0
1813FMAntova GabrielaBUL23183,00,07,08,0
1919Yakubbaeva NilufarUZB22813,00,06,08,0
27Diakonova EkaterinaRUS22313,00,06,08,0

Highlights of rounds 3+4 by WIM elect Amruta Mokal

In this video you will not only find interesting moments from the playing hall but also analysis of some very useful chess positions to improve as a player

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