Girl power in chess too, as Nandhidhaa moves into lead

P.V. Nandhidhaa is in contention for the title after a shock win over second seed Alina Bovil of Russia in the 11th round at the KIIT University campus here on Friday.

India's P.V. Nandhidhaa shocked second Alian Bovil of Russia to move into the lead of the World junior girls' chess championship at Bhubaneswar on Friday.   -  PK Ajith Kumar

P.V. Nandhidhaa is in contention for the title after a shock win over second seed Alina Bovil of Russia in the 11th round at the KIIT University campus here on Friday. Opting for Larsen’s Opening once again, she reached a clearly superior rook-and-pawn ending to win in 58 moves.

Nandhidhaa is now one of the four players in the joint lead with eight points. Paula Rodriguez Rueda, the fifth seed from Colombia, top seed Dinara Saduakassova of Russia, and ninth seed Janelle Mae Frayna of the Philippines are the others.

Interestingly, the player with white pieces won on all the top five boards. That meant Frayna’s brilliant run was stopped by Rueda. There are three players on 7.5 points – India’s Michelle Catherina and the two Russians Bivol and Dinara Dordzhieva.

While the girls’ championship looks wide open, Jeffrey Xiong is looking unstoppable in the boys’ event. The second-seeded American cleared his biggest hurdle, as he drew with top-seeded Vladislav Artemiev of Russia in the most eagerly awaited clash of the tournament.

He looked determined to get a draw, playing on the white side of a Slav Defence Exchange variation. “I am happy to draw this game, as I always knew Artemiev was going to be my toughest rival here,” he said. “Though I reached an equal position featuring queen-and-a-minor-piece, I had to play very accurately, as Black had a slight edge, I felt.”

Xiong has one full point lead over his nearest rivals – Artemiev and Grzegorz Nasuta of Poland.

Important results (11th round): Jeffery Xiong (USA) 9 drew with Vladislav Artemiev (Rus) 8; Xu Yinglun (Chn) 7.5 drew with Parham Maghsoodloo (Ira) 7.5; Grzegorz Nasuta (Pol) 8 bt Bozidar Ivekovic (Cro) 7; Paulo Bersamina (Phi) 7.5 bt Rasmus Svane (Ger) 6.5; Aravindh Chithambaram 7.5 bt Christoph Menezes (Aut) 6.5; Shahin Lorparizangeneh (Ira) 6.5 drew with Masoud Mosadeghpour (Ira) 6.5; R. Pragnananda 6 lost to Cristobal Villagra Henriquez (Chi) 7; S.L. Narayanan 7 bt Patrik Grandadam (Swi) 6; G. Akash 6.5 drew with Karthikeyan Murali 6.5; Shardul Gagare 7 bt N.R. Visakh 6; Srijit Paul 7 bt Tran Tuan Minh (Vie) 6; Irakli Beradze (Geo) 6 lost to Xu Yi (Chn) 7; Dhulipalla Bala Chandra Prasad 6.5 drew with Dennis Wagner (Ger) 6.

Girls: Paula Rodriguez Rueda (Col) 8 bt Janelle Mae Frayna (Phi) 8; P.V. Nandhidhaa 8 bt Alina Bovil (Rus) 7; Dinara Saduakassova (Kaz) 8 bt R. Vaishali 7; Michelle Catherina 7.5 bt Nataliya Buksa (Ukr) 7; Dinara Dordzhieva (Rus) 7.5 bt Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova (Uzb) 6.5; P. Bala Kannamma 6.5 drew with Teodora Injac (Srb) 6.5; Gu Tianlu (Chn) 6.5 drew with Karnia Ivanova (Rus) 6.5; Parnali Dharia 7 bt V. Varshini 6; Mobina Alinasab (Ira) 6 lost to Uuriintuya Uurtsaikh (Mgl) 7; Saina Salonika 5.5 M. Mahalakshmi 5.5; K. Priyanka 5.5 lost to Du Yuxin (Chn) 6.5; Srija Seshadri 5.5 drew with Harshita Guddanti 6.

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