September 30, 2016

With three rounds to go, we can fairly confidently name three future World Youth Champions. The Russians Maksim Vavulin (Open 18) and Semyon Lomasov (Open 14) are a full point ahead of their pursuers and have already played with all major rivals. The Chinese Zhu Jiner (Girls 14) is even farther ahead – 1.5 points. In three other categories nothing is clear yet.

Vavulin Maksim (RUS)

Vavulin Maksim (RUS)

In the Open 18 section, Maksim Vavulin scored another victory, while his arch-rival Manuel Petrosyan made the fourth draw, which increased the gap between them to a full point. Considering the fact that the Russian also has a better tie-break score, only a miracle can prevent him from winning the title. Miracle – or inexplicable enervation, which is something he has never shown in Khanty-Mansiysk. Contrary to that, his games are distinguished by tenacity and determination – he won six games out of eight, often not having the slightest opening advantage and coming through lost positions in some of them!

The game he played today against Aram Hakobyan is a good example of his chess. Maksim deviated from theoretical lines early, unwilling to compete in the French Defense knowledge. He did not mind trading the queens, losing the right to castle, or lagging in development. White’s only pluses were a slightly superior pawn structure and spatial advantage. It took just a couple of moves for Vavulin to convert it into something real.


Black’s queenside is weak (the a7 and c6 pawns), but he has nothing to worry about in a rook ending. Both 18…Nf6 and 18…h6 look natural. Instead of that, Black starts fighting for the center – 18…f6?!

19.Be3! a6? Creating a new target and missing the forced sequence that totally ruins Black’s position. He could still hold after 19…Ra8 or 19…Rc8.

20.a3! Ba5 21.Bc5+ Kf7 22.Nd6+ Kg6 23.Nb7 Nxc5 24.Nxc5! (weaker is 24.Nxa5 e5, and although Black is down a pawn, he puts the knight on d4 with some chances) 24…Bb6 25.Nxe6. White gained a pawn, the weakness on a6 and c6 remain, the knight is stronger than a bishop. Conclusion: White is winning.

The rest was easy: 25…Rde8 26.Rae1 Kf7 27.c5! Ba7 28.b4 Bb8 29.Nd4 Rxe2+ 30.Rxe2 Rc8 31.Nf5 g6 32.Re7+! (poor coordination of Black’s pieces allows White to carry out a small combination and grab another pawn) 32…Kf8 (also after 32…Kg8 White remains on top) 33.Rxh7 Re8 34.Rh8+ Kf7 35.Nd6+. Black resigns.

Vavulin’s task is almost complete. After a draw in the first round he managed to catch up with Petrosyan, then surpassed him and increased the gap, winning game after game. Well done!

Ghukasyan Siranush (ARM)

Ghukasyan Siranush (ARM)

In the Girls 18 championship, everything is just getting started. Eight players are tightly packed within a single point on top of the standings. The key game of the round was played on the first board between Siranush Ghukasyan and Alexandra Obolentseva.


White got nothing out of the opening, but instead of accepting a draw started to play too ambitiously.

21.Bd2?! Better is 21.Qc3 Qxc3 22.Nxc3 Bb7 with a draw. Now the queens getting exchanged, but Black’s pieces also gain power.

21…Qa4 22.Qxa4 Nxa4 23.Nb4 Nb2! 24.Rf1 Bb7 25.Bc3?! Being consistent with her line. Stronger is 25.Rc2 Na4 26.Rb1 Rad8, and Black is just slightly better. But now…

25…Na4 (25…a5 is also interesting) 26.Ba1 (after 26.Bxe5 Bxe5 27.Nxe5 Nd4 White has problems) 26…Nec5 27.Nh2 Rad8 28.Rfd1 h5 29.Nf1 f6 30.Ne3 Bh6 31.Nbc2 Kf7 32.Kf1 a5! 33.Ke2 Ba6 34.Na3 Ke7 35.f3 h4! Obolentseva has excellent sense of dynamics – she gradually turns Black’s pieces into dummies.


36.gxh4 Ne6 37.Bf1 Rh8 38.h5 Rxd1 39.Rxd1 Bxe3? (Siranush was playing on an increment, and Alexandra makes a hasty move; much better is 38…Nf4+! and …Nxh5, maintaining the pressure) 40.Kxe3 Rxh5 41.Nb1 Nec5 42.Nd2 Bc8 43.Nb3 Nb7 44.Rc1 Bxh3 (Black has an extra pawn and a more active position) 45.Be2 Be6 46.Bd1 Rh2 47.Nd2 Nbc5 48.Rb1 Bd7. The white king is in a mating net, Black only needs to advance the f- and g-pawns.

49.Rb8 Kd6 (49…g5!) 50.Ra8? A careless move. With 50.Bxa4 Nxa4 51.Rf8! Ke7 52.Ra8 White could defend more tenaciously. Now she has to part with a piece.

50…f5! 51.Bxe5+ Kxe5 52.f4+ Kd6 53.e5+ Ke7, and White resigned soon.

Khomeriki Nino (GEO)

Khomeriki Nino (GEO)

The 15-year-old Russian became a sole leader with 7 out of 8. However, her competitors are not giving up. Nino Khomeriki recovered from yesterday’s nerve-wrecking game and did not give a chance to Khanim Balajayeva. Josefine Heinemann was close to a victory against Uurtsaikh Uuriintuya, but carelessly allowed Black to transpose to a opposite-colored bishops’ ending, and did not achieve more than a draw. Stavroula Tsolakidou also drew today, although she should consider it a success, as she had big problems against Michal Lahav.


Black has a protected passed pawn. If she transfers the knight to d3, the game will be over. White’s counterplay is linked with the passed a-pawn. Surprisingly, it proves sufficient.

29.a4 Kd6 (more accurate is 29…Ke6, keeping the light squares under control) 30.Rb3 Ne5 31.a5?! It seems this adventurous move confused Black. Objectively it is weaker than 31.Kd2 (controlling the d3-square!) 31…Kd5 32.Rb5+ Kd4 33.Rb4+ Nc4+ 34.Ke1 Kd5 35.Rb5+ Kc6 36.Rb3, and Black cannot break through the third rank, so the game should probably end in a draw.

31…Kd5 32.Kd2 Kd4 33.Rb4+ Nc4+? A fatal mistake in the opponent’s time trouble. The outflanking 33…Kc5 wins: 34.Rb3 Kc4 35.Re3 f6!, and White is helpless.

34.Ke1! Kd3 35.Rb3+ Ke4 36.Rb4 Kd3. The only move. 36…Kd4? runs into 37.b3, and on 36…Kd5 White begins to attack the bishop on the third rank. Therefore, a draw. Starvoula managed to calculate everything under the time pressure.

Now, the 16-year-olds. In the Open 16 tournaments, Haik Martirosyan conceded his first half a point. However, a draw as Black against the rating favorite of the championship, Parham Magsoodloo from Iran, is not a bad result at all, considering a 1.5-point gap between them. The Russian Olexandr Triapishko moved to a second place, following his surprising win over the second Iranian, Amin Tabatabaei, who overplayed a slightly better endgame.

Tabatabaei M.Amin (IRI) and Triapishko Olexandr (RUS)

Tabatabaei M.Amin (IRI) and Triapishko Olexandr (RUS)

Both top games of the Girls 16 event ended peacefully. Polina Shuvalova from Russia got a winning position against Yao Lan from China, but failed to covert an extra exchange. The Indian Aakansha Hagawane, who was half a point behind, had a huge advantage over the Italian Desiree Di Benedetto, a girl with a romantic name and model looks, but gradually, one poor move after another, lost all her winning chances. Only Anna-Maja Kazarian celebrated a victory. Shuvalova remains half a point ahead of the pack.

Lomasov Semen (RUS)

Lomasov Semen (RUS)

Semyon Lomasov, the leader of the Open 14 championship, also did not win his 8th game in a row. The Russian made a draw as White against Pawel Teclaf, having a suspicious position along the way. The game could take a different course, though, had Semyon played a different 23rd move.


After 23.Bf3 White would keep his pawn line intact, retaining the threats against the black king. The immediate 23.Nd5?! totally released the pressure.

23…Kf8 24.Nxe7?! This mistake could be very costly. After 24.Nxf6 Bxf6 25.Qd6+ Kg7 26.Qxd7 Qb6 Black makes a draw: 27.Qb7 Bxb2+ 28.Kb1 Qxb7 29.Bxb7 Rb8! 30.Rd7 Ba3, etc. The text-move brings White trouble, however, the player from Poland does not show much ambition.

24…Qxe7 25.Qxf4 hxg4 26.Qh6+ Ke8?! (much stronger is 26…Rg7 in order to take on g4 with a knight) 27.hxg4 Rxg4 (after 27…Nxg4 White captures on a6) 28.Bf3 Rg8 29.Qf4 Kf8 30.Qh6+. Draw, as neither side has resources to make progress.

The second Russian, Andrey Esipenko, won his game and reduced the gap to a full point. The highest rated player of the event will not be content with less than a silver medal. Four players have half a point less.

Zhu Jiner (CHN)

Zhu Jiner (CHN)

In the Girls 14 championship the situation is very clear. The Chinese Zhu Jiner scored 7.5 out of 8, and is 1.5 points ahead of the pursuers. Aleksandra Maltsevskaya tried to challenge her authority today, but without success. The Russian’s  attempt to seize the initiative after the opening was completely groundless. Zhu Jiner refuted Black’s play and developed a winning attack. The second Russian star of this category, Elizaveta Solozhenkina, also lost today – she played poorly in the opening against the Indian Agrawal Vantika, and resigned already on the 31st move.