World junior chess: Polina set to be ‘double’ champion

Russia's Polina Shuvalova virtually sealed the under-20 title by establishing a one-point lead after the 10th and penultimate round.

Goan talent International Master Leon Mendonca who scored a stunning win over Slovenian Viktor Gazik in the 10th round of the World junior chess championship in New Delhi on Thursday.   -  Chess Base India

Polina Shuvalova is set to be crowned the girls’ champion in the World junior chess championship.

The fourth seeded Russian, who defended her World under-18 title less than a fortnight ago in Mumbai, virtually sealed the under-20 title by establishing a one-point lead after the 10th and penultimate round here on Friday.

Polina battled to a 66-move win over Ukraine’s Mariia Berdnyk while displaying her uncompromising approach in squeezing out a win from a seemingly drawn position. The triumph raised her tally to nine points from 10 rounds. Her nearest rival Iran’s Mobina Alinasab (8) is also a point clear of those following her.

In the open section, Ukraine’s Evgeny Shtembuliak (8 points) retained his half-point lead after the top two boards ended in draws. This involved Aravindh Chithambaram’s 31-move deadlock with joint-second Spaniard Miguel Santos Ruiz.

Aravindh’s draw, coupled with M. Karthikeyan’s 45-move defeat to Armenia’s Aram Hakobyan, further diminished India’s medal chances.

Away from the medal-hunt, Goa’s talented youngster Leon Mendonca (2388) outwitted former World under-18 champion Viktor Gazik (2546) in 48 moves. The most memorable factor of the game was that Gazik had two queens on the board but could little when Mendonca delivered the knockout punch.

Among the girls, where Rakshitta Ravi withdrew following three straight losses, N. Priyanka upstaged Divya Deshmukh. Priyanka was later joined at seven points by Aakankha Hagawane, who beat higher-rated Mongolian Boldbaatar Altantuya.

Now much depends on the last-round pairings and results of the leading boards to bring India a highly improbable medal.

Important 10th-round results (Indians unless stated)

Open: Wang Shixu (Chn, 7) drew with Evgeny Shtembuliak (Ukr, 8); Miguel Santos Ruiz (Esp, 7.5) drew with Aravindh Chithambaram (7); Aram Hakobyan (Arm, 7.5) bt M. Karthikeyan (6.5); Shant Sargsyan (Arm, 7.5) bt Or Bronstein (Isr, 6.5); Igor Janik (Pol, 6.5) drew with K. S. Raghunandan (6.5); R. Praggnanandhaa (6.5) bt Sergey Drygalov (Rus,
5.5); Harsha Bharathakoti (6.5) bt Rahul Srivatshav (5.5); P. Iniyan (6) drew with Harshit Raja (6); Artur Davtyan (Arm, 5.5) lost to Arjun Kalyan (6.5); Viktor Gazik (Svk, 5) lost to Luke Mendonca (6.5).

Girls: Polina Shuvalova (Rus, 9) bt Mariia Berdnyk (Ukr, 7); Dinara Dordzhieva (Rus, 7) drew with Mobina Alinasab (Iri, 8); Turmunkh Mkunkhzul (Mgl, 6.5) lost to Elizaveta Solozhenkina (Rus, 7); Li Yunshan (Chn, 6.5) drew with Stavroula Tsolakidou (Gre, 6.5); Oliwaia Kiolbasa (Pol, 6) lost to Bibisara Assaubayeva (Kaz, 7); N. Priyanka (7) bt Divya Deshmukh (6); Gabriela Antova (Bul, 7) bt P Supreetha (6); Sakshi Chitlange (6) lost to Song Yuxin (Chn, 7); Boldbaatar Altantuya (Mgl, 5.5) lost to Aakanksha Hagawane (7).

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