Round 11. Awards Come to the Heroes
The final round of junior championships often becomes a formality, just making official what has already been known. Not this time, though! In Khanty-Mansiysk, five champions out of six were determined only in the concluding round.
The only man who could not care less about the final round is the undisputed winner of the Open 14 championship Semyon Lomasov from Russia. He could hardly force himself to fight in the last round, and his opponent Shant Sargsyan used the occasion, playing focused and strong game. However, this victory did not even give the Armenian a top-3 spot. The highest rated player of the championship Andrey Esipenko (Russia) took the silver, scoring the same 9 points as Lomasov, and Nodirbek Yakubboyev from Uzbekistan won the bronze.
The champion of the Girls 14 category was determined the quickest of all. Who could ever expect seeing the Indian Vantika Agrawal (15th ranked player of the tournament) and the American Annie Wang (14th ranked) on top of the leaderboard on the last day? And who could expect both of them losing in the last round, thus handing the gold medal over to the Chinese Zhu Jiner (12th ranked)?
Wang lost a very one-sided game to Aleksandra Maltsevskaya – the Russian was disappointed by her poor performance at the championship and tried really hard in the last round. Agrawal had a decent position against Zhu Jiner and just needed to hold as White to clinch the title. However, the time pressure took its toll.
48.Be3?? After 48.Bc2 g3 49.hxg3 Rg8 50.Rg2 Bb7 51.Ree2 White still holds. The text-move gives Black a winning attack.
48…g3! 49.hxg3 (49.Rg2 does not help either – 49…Rg8 50.Bf1 Bb7 51.hxg3 Nxe3 52.Rxe3 Bxg2 53.Bxg2 Rxg3, and Black wins an exchange) 49…Rg8. Black could win even quicker by 49…Qxg3+! 50.Kf1 Qh3+ 51.Kf2 Nf6!, and White cannot defend against all threats.
The rest was easy: 50.Rg2 Rxg3 51.Bf1 Rxe3 52.Rg7+!? Kf8 53.Bxh3 Rxe5 54.fxe5 Rxg7+, and Black eventually converted an extra piece. Zhu Jiner gets the crown!
Thanks to her today’s victory, Maltsevskaya unexpectedly jumped on the second place. The disappointed Annie Wang finished third.
The struggle in the Open 16 championship was even more tense. The fate of the title looked sealed a long time ago – the Armenian Haik Martirosyan started with 7 straight wins, while his main rival, Olexandr Triapishko from Russia, had just 4 points in 6 games. However, while the leader was busy making short draws to secure the gold, the chaser kept winning game after game, and in process obtained a superior tie-break!
Had Triapishko defeated the Croatian Leon Livaic in the last round, Martirosyan could miss the title. To secure the gold, he needed to beat Tran Minh Thang from Vietnam. The Armenian played for a win, but also kept an eye on a game of his rival, and such “war on two fronts” proved quite costly.
White ties Black’s forces with protecting the c7-pawn, but he has nothing forced yet. However, Haik is not willing to stand still, and he initiates a suicidal maneuver.
28.Kf2?! Bh6 29.Ke2? hxg3 30.hxg3 Nf6 31.Be1 Nh5 32.Nf1 Qg5! Now Black always has a perpetual, and his attack shows promise as well. The Armenian still does not sense the danger.
33.Qd7 Qc1 34.Kf1? (after 34.Qxc8 Black gives a perpetual: 34…Qc2+ 35.Nd2 Bxd2 36.Bxd2 Nxg3 37.Ke1 Qd3 38.Bh6+ Kxh6 39.Qh3+ Nh5 etc., but now the white king is in danger) 34…Rf8 35.Rxc7 Nxg3 (35…Qb2+ 36.Kg1 Qe2 37.Bf2 Qxf3 38.Qxd6 Bf4! is unclear) 36.Nxg3 Qe3+ 37.Kf1 Qxf3+ 38.Bf2 Be3 39.Nf5+! (the only move) 39…exf5 40.Qxf5 Qd1? Black could transpose to a very favorable and possibly winning ending after 40…Bf4! 41.b5 Qd3+ 42.Kg2 Rg8! 43.Rc8 (of course not 43.Qxf7+?? because of 43…Kh8+ with mate) 43…Rxc8 44.Qg4+ Bg5 45.Qxc8 Qxe4, etc. However, it is difficult to calculate such lines on the control move.
Now the game ends peacefully: 41.Kg2 Bxf2 42.Qg5+. Draw.
Fortunately, Martirosyan did not have to worry too much – Triapishko never had any winning chances. He played an ambitious opening, but then hesitated for too long, and the game eventually dried out following exchanges in the center. To be fair, Olexandr’s play in Khanty-Mansiysk probably did not deserve the gold. And silver is a fine metal, too.
The unexpected 10th round loss of Polina Shuvalova made the Girls 16 title up for grabs. Both Anna-Maja Kazarian (Netherlands) and Hagawane Aakanksha (India) were half a point ahead of the Russian. The Indian also had an advantage in form of a victory in the individual duel with Kazarian, and this turned out to be decisive.
Kazarian was desperate to win, but overextended and lost to Mobina Alinasab. The evaluation of Aakanksha-Sliwicka was jumping back and forth, but the player from Poland was last to make a mistake, and Hagawane brought India the only gold of Khanty-Mansiysk. Alinasab from Iran finished second, Shuvalova, who managed to pull herself together in the final round to beat Battsooj Amina, took third place.
The number of contenders in each Under 18 championship was narrowed to two names: Maksim Vavulin or Manuel Petrosyan in the Open 18, Alexandra Obolentseva or Stavroula Tsolakidou in the Girls 18. In both cases the Russians had the advantage of a superior tie-break, so they only needed to perform not worse than their rivals. However, went the dust settled, the titles went to Armenia and Greece.
Vavulin, despite all his effort, could not do anything with the Frenchman Bilel Bellahcene, who played very solid as White and did not react to provocation. And Petrosyan, playing very methodically, slowly broke the resistance of Rakotomaharo, who defended very tenaciously and even had a chance to survive in the endgame, but missed it due to the time pressure. Thus, Petrosyan surpasses Vavulin for the second time – first at the European, and now at the World Championship. Shahim Lorparizangeneh from Iran took third place.
In the girls tournament, Obolentseva was unable to cope with her nerves. While Tsolakidou was confidently outplaying Uuriintuya, who blundered a pawn and did not use all the resources in the endgame, Alexandra got stuck in a defensive line of Irina Drogovoz. A draw was not enough for Obolentseva, therefore she tried to squeeze a win at any cost and eventually lost.
Thus, Stavroula Tsolakidou became a World Champion for the third time in her career. The 15-year-old Greek won titles in all three categories – under 14, under 16, and now under 18. The young Russian will have another chance to challenge the title next year, and this time she can console herself with the silver. Michal Lahav from Israel won the bronze.