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World Juniors Rd.05: Shtembuliak beats Praggnanandhaa

by Sagar Shah - 19/10/2019

Praggnanandhaa had unbeaten streak of quite some games having won the under-18 gold at World Youth and playing some inspired chess in first four rounds of the World Juniors. However, this came to an end at the hands of Ukrainian GM Evgeny Shtembuliak. Pragg sacrificed yet another exchange in the game, but it was not enough. Shtembuliak is now the sole leader with 4.5/5, with three players following him on 4.0/5. In the girls section Mobina Alinasab joined the leader Boldbaatar Altantuya at the top. Something from Iran to cheer amidst their player Aryan Gholami withdrawing from the event and Amin Tabatabaei facing Or Bronstein. In this report we bring you detailed analysis, photos and videos from New Delhi. 

Evgeny Shtembuliak refutes Pragg's exchange sacrifice

The top board clash of round five was Shtembuliak vs Praggnanandhaa | Photo: Angela FJ

Praggnanandhaa has been sacrificing exchanges at the World Juniors, and quite successfully as well. In round five he tried it once again. But this time without success. His opponent Evgeny Shtembuliak made a lot of moves which were all about ensuring that his opponent doesn't get activity and he succeeded to outwit the young Indian talent.


Shtembuliak vs Praggnanandhaa

Shtembuliak played his knight to d4. Pragg now took the pawn on e5 with his knight, allowing a knight fork on e6, but after Ne6 Qd6 Nxf8 Rxf8, Black has decent compensation

A move that really surprised me was h4. Why did Shtembuliak play a move like h4 when he had simpler ideas like Bxc5 Bxc5 and Bd3 in hand. What is the reason to push the pawn and create light squared weaknesses? Well, I have not been able to understand concretely why Evgeny did this, but the general idea could be to stop his opponent's pawn from coming to h4 and clamping his kingside pawns. Whatever was the logic behind this move, it worked really well in the game!

Praggnanandhaa made the not so useful move Qg6-f5. The queen on f5 doesn't really do much to improve Black's position. Instead the critical line, that should have been looked at is ...c6 Bxc5 Bxc5 Bd3 Bxd3 Qxd3 Qxd3 Rxd3 Re8

What is the evaluation of this position? In my opinion, Black should be able to hold this endgame. He has no real weaknesses and his rook is all set to enter the position with Re2. This was Pragg's best chance to hold the game, but we can understand why the youngster didn't go for this - he has no chances to play for a win.

The way the things panned out in the game, Black was just lost as his d5 pawn was very weak and Shtembuliak showed great technique to win his game

One thing that has been quite impressive about Evgeny Shtembuliak is his level headed approach to the game. Often there is nothing flashy about his play, but he is consistent with his plans and approach and is extremely good at playing common sense chess! His conversion of winning positions is also quite good and this has helped him to take the sole lead in the event with 4.5/5.

Evegeny Shtembuliak's classical rating graph

Within a year Evgeny has moved from being a 2470 player to a 2577 GM. "I would say our director and head coach of Texas Tech chess Alexander Onischuk is guilty for this improvement!", says Shtembuliak. The shift from Ukraine to USA has truly worked out in favour of the youngster as he is showing unprecedented level of play in his games. His live rating is already 2590 and he would be aiming to breach the 2600 barrier in this event.

When 1868 rated Toshali beat 2507 rated Zhu Jiner!

Zhu Jiner, the top seed in the girls section, is having quite a forgettable tournament. She is on 2.5/5 and already losing 21 Elo points. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

There are days when you lower rated opponent plays quite well. At that point you have two options - take a draw, lose some rating points and say that it's part of the game. Or you can try to push hard hoping that your opponent will show why her rating is low, make a mistake and you will get your chance. While the second approach is preferred by many, there is a danger that lies in it - you may well lose your game if you lower rated opponent keeps playing one good move after another! This is exactly what Toshali did against Zhu Jiner! She made no real mistake and before the Chinese girl could recover, she had already landed in an utterly lost position. There was a moment in the game when Toshali was clearly better, but was still repeating the moves. Zhu Jiner should have grabbed the half point there. She wanted more, but it was not to be!


Toshali vs Zhu Jiner

The move ...e6 was an excellent pawn sacrifice by Toshali

Bibisara Assaubayeva was pushing right from the word go against overnight leader Boldbaatar Altantuya. The Kazakh player even won a pawn, but the Mongolian WFM didn't give up. The end result was a draw with Boldbaatar maintaining her lead with 4.5/5. | Photo: Angela FJ

Mobina Alinasab joined Altantuya at the top by getting the better of Priyanka Nutakki | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Iran has been facing a tough time at the World Juniors 2019. Aryan Gholami forfeited his game against Israeli opponent Alexander Zlatin and subsequently withdrew from the tournament. The poor luck of the draw continues as in round six Amin Tabatabaei is paired against Or Bronstein. Another point will be lost for the Iranians. In all of this gloom, it is Mobina's performance that is providing the much needed cheer for the Iranian fans. And Mobina has to currently keep performing well and keep a distance from her Israeli players, in terms of points, so that she is not paired with them.

Stavroula Tsolakidou suffered a tough loss in round two of the event to Mrudul Dehankar. Since then she has recovered herself quite well and with three back to back wins is now on 4.0/5. In this video we speak to her about her fifth round win.

Sakshi Chitlange played a fine game with the black pieces in the Caro Kann to beat her higher rated opponent Mai Narva | Photo: Angela FJ

Polina Shuvalova played a marathon 115 move game to beat her country mate Ekaterina Diakonova | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Vantika Agrawal, the under-18 girls silver medalist, lost her game to R.Vaishali | Photo: Niklesh Jain

On the second board Arpita Mukherjee drew her game against Rakshitta Ravi. They both moved to 4.0/5 | Photo: Angela FJ

In the game between two Nagpur girls, it was Divya who came out on top against Mrudul Dehankar | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Aram Hakobyan from Armenia managed to defeat his Spanish opponent Miguel Ruiz on the second board | Photo: Angela FJ

Miguel Ruiz's idea with the move ...b5 is pretty clear. He would like to play his knight from b8-d7 and then to b6 to look at the c4 square. How should White counter this idea?

Aram went into the deep thinking mode and came up with a nice solution. He played the move a4! here. Black would not like to take on a4 and so he cemented his structure with c6. Now the b4 pawn is hanging.

What should White do now?

This is where the knowledge of classics comes in handy. Let me show you a famous position from the game between Karpov and Spassky from their Candidates Semi-final in 1974.


Karpov vs Spassky

How did Karpov react against Spassky in this position? He played the powerful move e4! This is the right reaction to Black's pawn structure and White went on to win the game in a few moves.

Coming back to Aram vs Miguel, this is exactly how the Armenian GM continued!

The move e4! was what Hakobyan played. And tactically things work giving White a good advantage. The game was quite complex, but Aram navigated the terrain quite well and went on to win.
Apart from showing his win, Aram also speaks about what makes him a good blitz player in this video

GM P. Iniyan seems to have found his touch in the event. He is now on 4.0/5 after a fine win over Gonzorig Amartuvshin | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Annotations by WIM Angela Frank Jain:

P. Iniyan explains the importance of intermediate moves

Harshit Raja had a very good position out of the opening against Karthikeyan Murali. The Pune based IM, went wrong with the queen trade and subsequently was subjected to a passive endgame where he was systematically ground down by his experienced opponent. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Annotations by WIM Angela Frank Jain:

Volodar Murzin, just 13 years of age, is one of the biggest hopes of Russian chess. He played a very nice endgame in round five against IM Neelash Saha. We invited him to the media room for an interview and the boy agreed. This was a great gesture on his part. Even though Murzin is not very fluent in English, it is a treat to see him analyze variations. We really are impressed with his endgame skills and after watching the video, we are sure you too will be of the same opinion.

Harsha Bharathakoti played a wonderful endgame to score a full point against Sankalp Gupta | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Leon Mendonca is playing solid chess at the event and is on 3.5/5 with no losses. In round five he draw against IM Semen Khanin. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

A very interesting duel was played between Wang Shixu and Mihnea Costachi | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Mihnea Costachi vs Wang Shixu

How should Black hold the draw here?

Results of round five in the open section

Bo.No. NameBdldFEDRtgPts. ResultPts. NameBdldFEDRtg No.
17GMShtembuliak Evgeny UKR2577 1 - 0 GMPraggnanandhaa R IND25678
29GMHakobyan Aram ARM25613 1 - 0 GMSantos Ruiz Miguel ESP256010
331IMRaja Harshit IND24403 0 - 13 GMKarthikeyan Murali IND26172
438IMAgmanov Zhandos KAZ24033 ½ - ½3 GMSargsyan Shant ARM25806
543FMAmartuvshin Ganzorig MGL23913 0 - 13 GMIniyan P IND250916
646IMMendonca Leon Luke IND23883 ½ - ½3 IMKhanin Semen RUS250717
725IMCostachi Mihnea ROU24633 ½ - ½3 Wang Shixu B CHN237050
826IMHaria Ravi ENG24633 ½ - ½3 FMAaryan Varshney IND223970
951IMRaja Rithvik R IND23693 ½ - ½ GMTabatabaei M.Amin IRI26421
103GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr. IND2609 ½ - ½ Sammed Jaykumar Shete IND239241

Standings after round five in the open section:

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgBdldPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
GMShtembuliak EvgenyUKR25774,50,013,015,0
GMHakobyan AramARM25614,00,013,015,0
GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND26174,00,012,514,0
GMIniyan PIND25094,00,011,012,5
IMAgmanov ZhandosKAZ24033,50,015,015,5
GMSantos Ruiz MiguelESP25603,50,014,517,5
GMSargsyan ShantARM25803,50,013,516,5
GMPraggnanandhaa RIND25673,50,013,516,0
FMAaryan VarshneyIND22393,50,013,516,0
IMKhanin SemenRUS25073,50,013,015,0

Results after round five in the girls section

Bo.No. NameFEDRtgPts. ResultPts. NameFEDRtg No.
FMAssaubayeva Bibisara KAZ2381 ½ - ½4 WFMAltantuya Boldbaatar MGL2277
WIMArpita Mukherjee IND2271 ½ - ½ WIMRakshitta Ravi IND2310
WIMAlinasab Mobina IRI2239 1 - 0 WIMPriyanka Nutakki IND2248
Yakubbaeva Nilufar UZB22813 0 - 13 IMTsolakidou Stavroula GRE2431
Diakonova Ekaterina RUS22313 0 - 13 WIMShuvalova Polina RUS2412
WGMVaishali R IND23853 1 - 03 WIMVantika Agrawal IND2283
WIMDivya Deshmukh IND23583 1 - 03 WCMMrudul Dehankar IND2227
WFMOlde Margareth EST22053 ½ - ½3 Berdnyk Mariia UKR2349
FMAntova Gabriela BUL23183 ½ - ½3 WFMAfraoui Anaelle FRA2106
WFMKatkov Michelle ISR21063 0 - 13 WIMSolozhenkina Elizaveta RUS2283

Standings after round five in the girls section

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
125WIMAlinasab MobinaIRI22394,50,013,515,0
220WFMAltantuya BoldbaatarMGL22774,50,012,514,5
36FMAssaubayeva BibisaraKAZ23814,00,014,016,5
414WIMRakshitta RaviIND23104,00,014,016,0
55WGMVaishali RIND23854,00,013,516,0
64WIMShuvalova PolinaRUS24124,00,013,515,5
721WIMArpita MukherjeeIND22714,00,013,015,5
817WIMSolozhenkina ElizavetaRUS22834,00,011,513,0
92IMTsolakidou StavroulaGRE24314,00,010,512,5
109WIMDivya DeshmukhIND23584,00,010,512,5