Victory song for Xiong, ahead of schedule

The second-seeded American raced to his title in style, winning with black pieces against Paulo Bersamina of the Philippines in the 12th round. The victory took him to 10 points and made him the second youngest winner of the World Junior Chess Championship.

Jeffery Xiong (right) of the United States beat Paulo Bersamina of the Philippines to win the World Junior Chess Championship with a round to spare, in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.   -  P.K. Ajith Kumar

To win the World Junior Chess Championship with a round to spare is rare. To win it at the age of 15 in an Under-20 tournament is rarer.

Jeffery Xiong achieved both the feats on a warm Saturday night at the KIIT University campus. The second-seeded American raced to his title in style too, winning with black pieces against Paulo Bersamina of the Philippines in the 12th round. The victory, in 78 moves of Sicilian Grand Prix Attack, took him to 10 points and made him the second youngest champion in the 55-year-history of this prestigious tournament.

“I never expected to win such a strong event with a round to spare,” said Xiong, shortly after getting the better of Bersamina in a minor-piece ending. “I was well prepared for the game and was able to get a good position from early on.”

His title was confirmed because the second-board game between top-seeded Russian Vladislav Artemiev and Grzegorz Nasuta of Poland had already ended in a draw. That meant Xiong would have an unassailable lead of 1.5 points over his nearest rivals, Artemiev and Nasuta.

The girls’ championship, however, is far from decided. Top seed Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan has moved into the lead after scoring a crucial win with black pieces against Paula Rodriguez Rueda of Colombia, but half-a-point behind her is Russia’s Dinara Dordzhieva, who defeated India’s Michelle Catherina.

The host received an even bigger setback when its best hope for the title, P.V. Nandhidhaa, was beaten by Uuriintuya Uurtsaikh of Mongolia. The Tamil Nadu girl is one of the six players on eight points, going into Sunday’s final round.

Important results (12th round; Indians unless specified): Paulo Bersamina (Phi) 7.5 lost to Jeffery Xiong (USA) 10; Grzegorz Nasuta (Pol) 8.5 drew with Vladislav Artemiev (Rus) 8.5; Parham Maghsoodloo (Ira) 8 drew with Aravindh Chithambaram 8; Masoud Mosadeghpour (Ira) 8 bt Xu Yinglun (Chn) 7.5; Cristobal Villagra Henriquez (Chi) 7.5 drew with Shardul Gagare 7.5; Tran Tuan Minh (Vie) 7 lost to S.L. Narayanan 8; Xu Yi (Chn) 8 bt Bozidar Ivekovic (Cro) 7; Rasmus Svane (Ger) 7.5 bt Dhulipalla Bala Chandra Prasad 6.5; Yuan Qingyu (Chn) 6.5 lost to Karthikeyan Murali 7.5; Karthik Venkataraman 6.5 lost to Shahin Lorparizangeneh (Ira) 7.5; Arjun Kalyan 7 drew with Christoph Menezes (Aut) 7; Basso Pier Luigi (Ita) 6.5 drew with G. Akash 7.

Girls: Paula Rodriguez Rueda (Col) 8 lost to Dinara Saduakassova (Kaz) 9; Janelle Mae Frayna (Phi) 8 lost to Parnali Dharia 8; Uuriintuya Uurtsaikh (Mgl) 8 bt P.V. Nandhidhaa 8; Dinara Dordzhieva (Rus) 8.5 bt Michelle Catherina 7.5; Alina Bivol (Rus) drew with Nataliya Buksa (Ukr) 8; M. Mahalakshmi 7 drew with R. Vaishali 7.5; Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova (Uzb) 7 drew with Gu Tianlu (Chn) 7; Du Yuxin (Chn) 7 drew with Teodora Injac (Chn) 7; Karina Ivanova (Rus) 7 drew with P. Bala Kannamma 7; Soyunlu Narmin (Aze) 6.5 drew with Anna Styazhkina (Rus) 6.5; Saina Salonika 6.5 drew with Mobina Alinasab (Ira) 6.5.

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