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World Juniors 2018 Round 9: Varshini's immortal

by Sagar Shah - 14/09/2018

We are entering the final leg of the World Junior Championships 2018. With the completion of ninth round two Indians have a realistic chance for finishing with a medal. In the open section Abhimanyu Puranik continued with his excellent form as he downed GM Alireza Firouzja in a complex game coming out of the Accelerated Dragon Opening. The hero of the day, however, was V. Varshini who not only beat FM Gabriela Antova, but played one of the best games of her life, sacrificing one piece after another on four different moves. We bring you both the games of Abhimanyu and Varshini along with the performance of other Indian players. 

Two performers for India stood out in the ninth round of the World Junior Championships 2018. They were V. Varshini and Abhimanyu Puranik. While Varshini did beat a strong player, more than that it was her moves which made a deep impact. She sacrificed her rooks on four different moves! Such tactical play is very uncommon, especially in girl's section. And Varshini not only played enterprisingly, those were all great moves in the position, objectively as well! 

Varshini played a splendid game of chess to down Gabriela Antova

Nd2, retreating the knight was a bad idea as now Black was able to...

...get her knight to h4. and create some unpleasant pressure.

The bishop soon joined into the attack sacrificing itself on h3

The rook took the pawn on e3! It cannot be recaptured because Qg3+ would be fatal!

The rook is living on the edge!

The other rook also gets inspired!

This time the gift cannot be declined!

Check out this beautiful game played by Varshini analyzed by Amruta Mokal:

Abhimanyu beats Alireza Firouzja

Abhimanyu Puranik showed some classy chess and beat Alireza Firouzja | Photo: Amruta Mokal

After beating Jorden van Foreest in round 8, Abhimanyu kept up his great form and beat another world class junior - Alireza Firouzja. In fact just yesterday, we published an article in which Ivan Sokolov said, "Looking at Alireza reminds him of a young Anand!" What a compliment. For Abhimanyu to beat such a strong player is an amazing feat. And the way he did it was also impressive. He positionally outplayed his opponent and in the middlegame his superior knight on e5 was just no match for Alireza's bishop on e2. The rooks and queen penetrated and it was all over!

Final moments of Abhimanyu's game. Look at the calmness with which he converts a win
Abhimanyu's interview after his win over Alireza

Overview of Indian performance:

Karthikeyan lost his ninth round and with it his chance for a podium finish. Aravindh Chithambaram has found the going tough since the rest day. He has lost one game and drawn three. S.L. Narayanan would be pretty sad about his missed win against Johann Sebastien Christiansen, where he was 2 pawns up in the queen endgame or else he might well have been on 7.0/9. Karthik Venkatraman was going strong with 6.0/7, but lost his last two rounds. Harsha, Nubair, Harshit, Shailesh and Krishna Teja have all performed close to their rating mark.


In the girl's section the best performer is surely Varshini. With 6.5/9 she is just half point behind the leaaders and on eighth position. Two other girls who should receive notable mention are Isha Sharma gaining 118 Elo points and Meenal Gupta who has pumped up her rating by 110 Elo points.

4GMKarthikeyan Murali2605IND11½½½1½½05,52810-5,50Open
10GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.2578IND111010½½½5,53610-5,20Open
13GMSunilduth Lyna Narayanan2573IND1½101101½6,01610-2,00Open
23GMPuranik Abhimanyu2524IND1½1101½117,041016,80Open
27IMKarthik Venkataraman2519IND11½½111006,0121017,00Open
40IMHarsha Bharathakoti2474IND111100½½½5,527108,10Open
50IMMohammad Nubairshah Shaikh2443IND½1½01½½105,05710-4,10Open
56IMRaja Harshit2419IND10½11001½5,05510-4,00Open
77IMKrishna Teja N2356IND1001101015,07410-6,80Open
94FMShailesh Dravid2325IND0110½01½15,066204,80Open
12WIMChitlange Sakshi2279IND1½½½½½1105,52240-29,60Girls
21WIMMahalakshmi M2213IND½1½1½½0½04,54720-16,00Girls
32WIMVarshini V2173IND101½011116,582022,80Girls
36WIMIvana Maria Furtado2144IND1½10½½0014,544204,40Girls
55WCMIsha Sharma2012IND10½0111015,51940118,80Girls
65Meenal Gupta1963IND½011½10105,03540110,40Girls

Isha Sharma makes her second WIM norm at the tournament!

Related news:

1) World Juniors 2018 Round 1: Isha Sharma stuns WGM Hojjatova, Indians off to a good start @ 06/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

The World Juniors is an extremely exciting tournament where some of the best junior players in the world of chess have gathered together in Gebze, Turkey from the 5th to the 16th of September 2018. The competition is stiff with the likes of Maghsoodloo, Van Foreest, Donchenko, Martirosyan, Esipenko, Firouzja and others participating. However, Indians are no less. Three of our GMs are extremely strong - Aravindh Chithambaram, Karthikeyan Murali and S.L. Narayanan. We also have Abhimanyu Puranik, Karthik Venkatraman, Harsha Bharathakoti and a few other strong players. In the girls section Sakshi Chitlange, Mahalakshmi lead the pack, but the surprise of day one was surely young Isha Sharma from Karnataka who won an excellent fighting game against the sixth seeded Aydan Hojjatova. Report from Turkey by IM Sagar Shah with photos by Amruta Mokal.

2) World Juniors 2018 Round 2: Karthikeyan, Aravindh, Harsha and Karthik on 2.0/2 @ 07/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

After two rounds of the World Junior Championships 2018 we have four Indian players who are on 2.0/2. They are GMs Aravindh Chithambaram, Karthikeyan Murali, Karthik Venkatraman and IM Harsha Bharathakoti. Abhimanyu Puranik, S.L. Narayanan, Nubairshah Shaikh are on 1.5/2. In the girls section we have Sakshi Chitlange, Ivana Maria Furtado and M. Mahalakshmi who are all on 1.5/2. The tournament is heating up and 7th of September will be double rounds. For now we bring you an interview with Karthikeyan Murali on how he was able to outplay his strong IM opponent from the black side of the two-knights Tango.

3) World Juniors R3+4: Harsha Bharathakoti's magnificient day! @ 08/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

India has a strong contingent at the World Junior 2018. We have four GMs representing our country - GM Karthikeyan Murali, Aravindh Chithambaram, Karthik Venkatraman and Abhimanyu Puranik. However, the star of the tournament so far has been IM Harsha Bharathakoti who has scored four points in four rounds and is clearly on track to achieving his GM title. Harsha already has three GM norms already and now needs just 10 Elo points to become 56th GM of India. On the third day of the World Juniors, which was a double round day, Harsha showed some high class chess to beat to strong GMs - Alan Pichot and S.L. Narayanan. In this report we have both the games lightly annotated as well as an interview with Harsha. You will also find the link to follow the live games, along with live commentary, where Harsha takes on Maghsoodloo in round five.

4) World Juniors 2018 Round 5: Karthik Venkatraman beats the top Armenian junior Martirosyan Haik @ 10/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

In 2017 a match was held in USA between the stars of USA and the World. The world team consisted of some of the best players from the world, who got excellent coverage and became well known personalities in chess circles. A few of them were Haik Martirosyan from Armenia, Andrey Esipenko and Aleksey Sarana from Russia, Anton Smirnov from Australia, Pragg and Aryan Chopra from India, and a few more. Of course these are extremely talented players, there is no doubt about it. But there are many in the world who are equally good, but haven't received the same amount of exposure or coverage. One such boy is Karthik Venkatraman, the latest GM of India and based on his sheer playing skills managed to outplay Haik Martirosyan, who was rated 2597.

5) World Juniors 2018 Round 6+7: Can Karthik Venkatraman stop Parham Maghsoodloo? @ 12/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

The Indian team at the World Juniors has had a mixed bag of performance. Our star players Aravindh Chithambaram, Karthikeyan Murali and S.L. Narayanan have not been able to reach the top. But there is one guy who is simply in cruise mode at this event - that's GM Karthik Venkatraman - India's latest GM. Karthik has beaten three extremely strong juniors in the last three rounds - Haik Martirosyan of Armenia, Aravindh Chithambaram of India and Amin Tabatabaei of Iran. With three wins in last three rounds he is now on 6.0/7, just half a point behind the leader Parham Maghsoodloo. On 12th of September 2018 at 5.30 p.m. IST he takes on Parham Maghsoodloo on the first board. Will Karthik manage to stop the Iranian super talent?

6) World Juniors 2018 Round 8: Abhimanyu Puranik stuns Jorden van Foreest @ 13/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

Karthik Venkatraman on the top board suffered a loss to Parham Maghsoodloo. Indians chances for someone winning a medal at the World Juniors are still alive as both Karthik and Abhimanyu Puranik are on 6.0/8 and in top ten spots. Abhimanyu played a highly entertaining game to beat Jorden van Foreest with the white pieces. In this report we have both the critical games - Karthik-Maghsoodloo and Abhimanyu-Jorden analyzed as well as video interviews of Parham and Abhimanyu. In the girls section Isha Sharma and Meenal Gupta have been performing admirably, but Saskhi Chitlange and V. Varshini have a realistic chance of winning a medal if they win their games in the ninth round.