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Evgeny Shtembuliak and Polina Shuvalova are World Junior Champions 2019

by Sagar Shah - 26/10/2019

The World Junior Championships officially came to an end on 26th of October 2019 when players from over 50 countries proceeded back to their home. Two new World Champions were crowned - Evgeny Shtembuliak in the open section and Polina Shuvalova in the girls section. The silver and the bronze medal in the open section went to Armenians Shant Sargsyan and Aram Hakobyan respectively. In the girls' section it was Mobina Alinasab from Iran who won the silver and Elizaveta Solozhenkina who won the bronze. We bring you all the pictures from the closing ceremony as well as photos of the 17 norm makers. We also take you to the moments of the final rounds where the six medals were decided. A huge report from New Delhi by Sagar Shah, Amruta Mokal, Niklesh Jain and Angela Franco.

The final round of the World Junior Championships 2019 had a different feel to it. Instead of the usual time, the round began five hours in advance. Most of the players wouldn't even be waking up at 10 a.m. but that's how things are! You form a routine throughout the event to get to the board at 3 p.m. in the best possible shape and when the time comes for the most important game, where just about all your previous efforts are at stake, everything has completely changed! But Champions rise to the occasion and that's what happened at the World Junior Championships 2019.

A very nice picture captured by Niklesh Jain. Shtembuliak gets up from his chair out of respect for his opponent Volodar Murzin, who is just 13 years old! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

A draw was enough for Evgeny Shtembuliak to become the World Junior Champion. If you look at it, becoming the World Junior Champion not only gives you 3000 euros as the winner, but it also opens up new avenues for you. For example, the winner qualifies for the next World Cup, he also gets invited to several prestigious events like Tata Steel B-group, Biel Masters, Sigeman & Co. and others. Overall, you become a recognized figure in the chess world. So, quite a lot was at stake here. But Shtembuliak had two contradicting thoughts in his mind while he was playing - a draw meant the title, but he would tie with someone (Shant Sargsyan later won his game), a win would mean he would be the sole champion. The latter was tempting, but it involved fighting his demons on the board. And that he did with great self confidence, picking a leaf out of the Fabiano Caruana's book. When Fabi was at the Candidates 2018, he only needed a draw in the last round against Grischuk to get his match against Carlsen. But once the American got a winning position, he did not back down. He decided to go full throttle and scored the win! The same happened with Shtembuliak as well. Once he won the pawn and realized that things were going his way, he played with confidence and brought home the full point. With 9.0/11, he deservedly became the sole World Junior Champion.

Evgeny Shtembuliak shows his win over Volodar Murzin from the final round

Shuvalova had a one point lead over the field. She was up against Song Yuxin from China. She landed in a tough situation after she lost a pawn around move 20, but fought back when her opponent made some mistakes and held a draw quite easily | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The fight for the silver medal in the open section was quite intense. Aram Hakobyan had the best tiebreak score, but he had the black pieces against Aravindh Chithambaram. This was not going to be an easy game for the Armenian. On the second board Shant Sargsyan faced Miguel Santos Ruiz with the black pieces. Fighting for a win in the final round with the black pieces is never easy, that too against a 2560 opponent. But Shant managed to create imbalances right out of the opening. Playing 5...Bd7, he took his opponent out of theory. And then came the blackout moment.


Miguel Santos vs Shant Sargsyan

Black has just played ...Qb7 attacking the pawn on e4. Nd5 or f3 are the natural moves to be played. Instead Miguel just went Rd2? completely forgetting about the e4 pawn. It's quite amazing that he could drag the game on for 94 moves. The above position is just completely lost after Ncxe4!

With the win Shant Sargsyan moved to 8.5/11, just half a point behind the leader. Miguel Santos Ruiz on 7.5/11 had to settle for the fourth place.

Shant won the silver medal at the World Youth under-18 and now another silver at the World Juniors 2019. Quite a successful trip to India for the Armenian youngster | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Aram Hakobyan faced a few tense and stressful moments before he managed to hold his game against Aravindh Chithambaram | Photo: Niklesh Jain
Aram Hakobyan speaks to ChessBase India after winning the bronze medal. We ask him what he needs to do now to bridge the gap between being a 2570 GM that he already is and becoming a world class grandmaster.

Mobina Alinasab had absolutely no chances against Bibisara Assaubayeva as she landed in an utterly lost position. But the Iranian girl didn't give up and managed to swindle her opponent! | Photo: Niklesh Jain
The final moments of Mobina's win captured on camera

For Iranian players who faced quite a tough event in Delhi with both Aryan Gholami and Amin Tabatabaei withdrawing, Mobina's silver medal was a silver lining! She gave the fans of her country something to cheer about.

Elizveta Solozhenkina beat her countrymate Dinara Dordzhieva in the final round to clinch the bronze medal | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Solozhenkina vs Dordzhieva

As we have already seen, last round pressure can make people blunder big time. White to play and win some material!

Although Solozhenkina won a pawn early on in the game with Bxb5! in the above position, she couldn't keep her advantage intact. Black got quite a bit of counterplay. However Dordzhieva could not manage to keep the accuracy level going and after a long struggle, it ended in Solozhenkina's favour.

Annotations by WIM Angela Franco:

WIM Angela Franco annotates two games from the girls section - both the players who won - Mariia Berdnyk and Aakanksha Hagawane ended on 8.0/11.

Final standings in the open section:

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgBdldPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
17GMShtembuliak EvgenyUKR25779,00,073,077,5
26GMSargsyan ShantARM25808,50,067,072,0
39GMHakobyan AramARM25618,00,069,073,5
410GMSantos Ruiz MiguelESP25607,50,071,576,0
52GMKarthikeyan MuraliIND26177,50,069,074,0
650Wang Shixu BCHN23707,50,068,572,5
73GMAravindh Chithambaram Vr.IND26097,50,066,071,5
825IMCostachi MihneaROU24637,50,065,570,5
98GMPraggnanandhaa RIND25677,00,068,574,0
1032IMMurzin VolodarRUS24337,00,067,070,5
1146IMMendonca Leon LukeIND23887,00,065,067,0
124GMKollars DmitrijGER25877,00,064,068,5
1337IMBronstein OrISR24137,00,063,568,0
1430IMRaghunandan Kaumandur SrihariIND24497,00,063,567,0
1518GMKuybokarov TemurAUS25017,00,062,066,5
1613GMHarsha BharathakotiIND25307,00,060,565,0
1731IMRaja HarshitIND24407,00,056,560,0
1853IMPogosyan StefanRUS23646,50,065,070,0
1922IMDrygalov SergeyRUS24706,50,063,568,0
2026IMHaria RaviENG24636,50,063,567,5

Final Standings in the girls section:

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
WIMShuvalova PolinaRUS24129,50,073,077,5
WIMAlinasab MobinaIRI22399,00,071,075,5
WIMSolozhenkina ElizavetaRUS22838,00,067,072,5
Berdnyk MariiaUKR23498,00,066,571,0
WIMAakanksha HagawaneIND21818,00,063,567,5
WIMSong YuxinCHN22927,50,061,565,0
WFMLi YunshanCHN22897,50,060,565,0
IMTsolakidou StavroulaGRE24317,00,073,078,0
WGMAssaubayeva BibisaraKAZ23817,00,071,576,5
WIMDordzhieva DinaraRUS23357,00,067,573,0
WIMPriyanka NutakkiIND22487,00,067,072,0
FMAntova GabrielaBUL23187,00,065,569,5
WIMChitlange SakshiIND21757,00,064,568,5
WFMProtopopova AnastasiyaRUS22637,00,062,567,5
Diakonova EkaterinaRUS22317,00,062,066,5
WIMMunkhzul TurmunkhMGL23327,00,061,065,5
WIMCervantes Landeiro ThaliaUSA21767,00,060,565,0
WFMKatkov MichelleISR21067,00,060,563,5
Yakubbaeva NilufarUZB22817,00,057,561,5
WIMKiolbasa OliwiaPOL22237,00,057,061,0

Closing ceremony

India and the All India Chess Federation can be proud of the fact that two of the most important events in the world of chess - World Youth Championships and the World Juniors were held back to back in the country and were successfully conducted. It just goes to show that India is trying to become a super power in chess not just in terms of players, but also in terms of organizing bigger events. These two tournaments coming to the country gave so many young talents of India a chance to cross their swords against the best in the world, something they wouldn't have been able to had the event been held somewhere else.

The closing ceremony of the World Junior Championships 2019 was attended by the minister of state for Finance Anurag Thakur. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The secretary of All India Chess Federation Mr. Bharat Singh Chauhan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The tournament director A.K. Verma congratulating the chief arbiter Hamid Majid on a job well done. Also in the picture is FIDE delegate Mikhail Kobalia | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Tenth: Dinara Dordzhieva | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Ninth and eighth placed Bibisara Assaubayeva and Stavroula Tsolakidou could not attend the closing ceremony.

Seventh: Li Yunshan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Sixth placed Song Yuxin came close to giving a scare to the winner Polina Shuvalova in the last round | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Fifth: Aakanksha Hagawane - the highest finishing Indian | Photo: Amruta Mokal
Aakanksha Hagawane speaks about trying a new opening in the final crucial round

Fourth: Mariia Berdnyk. She also scored her WIM norm | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Top three finishers of the event: Polina Shuvalova (gold), Mobina Alinasab (silver), and Elizveta Solozhenkina (bronze) | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The top three finishers along with Chief Guest Anurag Thakur, AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan (right) and Tournament Director A.K. Verma (left) | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The future World Championship contenders?! Pragg finished ninth while Murzin finished tenth. In the photo you can see Praggnanandhaa congratulating Volodar for getting his first GM norm! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

IM Mihnea Costachi showed excellent chess and capped of the event with a win over IM Arjun Kalyan | Photo: Amruta Mokal

This one is for posterity. The future of Indian chess! (From left to right): Karthikeyan Murali (fifth), Praggnanandhaa (ninth) and Aravindh Chithambaram (seventh) | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Untitled Wang Shixu was the surprise of the event. He scored his maiden GM norm and also finished sixth | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Miguel Santos Ruiz played a fine event. A last round loss to Shant Sargsyan pushed him to the fourth spot. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Top three in the open section: Evgeny Shtembuliak (gold), Shant Sargsyan (left, silver), Aram Hakobyan (right, bronze) | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The winners along with the dignitaries | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Polina Shuvalova with her trainer GM Sergey Zagrebelny who helped her to win both under-18 and under-20 titles within one month!  | Photo: Sagar Shah

Shadi Paridar played a key role in Mobina Alinasab winning the silver medal! | Photo: Sagar Shah

The two Armenians who made their country proud - Shant Sargsyan and Aram Hakobyan (silver and bronze respectively at the World Juniors 2019). | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The Norm Makers:

The World Juniors proved to be an excellent event to score norms for the youngsters. As many as 17 norms were scored - 2 GM norms, 4 IM norms 1 WGM norm and 10 WIM norms!

GM norms:

Two of the best performers of the event were unheralded Chinese Wang Shixu and 13-year-old Volodar Murzin. Both of them deservedly made their maiden GM norms. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

IM Norms:

Aronyak Ghosh not only scored an IM norm, but also became India's latest International Master. He scored his three norms in three months and is in great form currently. He will be leading the Indian charge at the World Youth Olympiad 2019 starting in a couple of days. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

 Audi Ameya scored his second IM norm at the event | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Garidmagnai Byambasuren lost his last two rounds, but before that he had already scored his IM norm! | Photo: Amruta Mokal
Aaryan Varshney scored his second IM norm with one round to spare. In this video he shows how he played the Sicilian Dragon without any concrete preparation and yet beat a strong IM.

Yair Parkhov from Israel scored his final IM norm

WGM norms:

Polina Shuvalova did score her WGM norm, but by the virtue of becoming the champion of the event, she won the WGM title directly. 

WIM norms:

Antova Gabriela lost the last round to Aakanksha Hagawane, but she did make a WIM norm | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Boldbaatar Altantuya was playing on the top boards at the start but subsequently slid down. She made a WIM norm  | Photo: Amruta Mokal

WIM norm for Mariam Avetisyan of Armenia | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Srishti Pandey scored her maiden WIM norm | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Already very strong Mariia Berdnyk scored her WIM norm. She also finished fourth in the event. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Beating the top seed is a great achievement. Toshali V got a WIM norm for her achievements | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Supreetha Potluri scored a WIM norm. In 2014 when Amruta and I covered our first major event - the World Juniors 2014, she performed excellently gaining nearly 200 Elo points. Even here Supreetha did very well. Maybe World Juniors is her favourite event! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Michelle Katkov of Israel scored her WIM norm | Photo: Amruta Mokal

 Lakshmi C played much above her rating and scored her first WIM norm | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Elene Tsotsonava made her WIM norm at the event | Photo: Facebook page of Elene

The ChessBase India team, with top three Indian talents and respected journalist Rakesh Rao. We hope you enjoyed our coverage of both the World Youth Championships 2019 as well as World Juniors 2019. In case of any feedback, do let us know in the comments section below.

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