World Youth Chess Championship: Praggnanandhaa wins gold as India collects record seven medals

With one gold, three silver and as many bronze medals, this is India’s best performance since 2015 — when the tournament was reduced to three age groups.

This is the third world title for Praggnanandhaa, who was the under-8 champion in 2013 and the under-10 winner in 2015.   -  Special Arrangement

As expected, 14-year-old R. Praggnanandhaa provided the ‘golden’ embroidery to India’s best-ever haul of seven medals in the World Youth chess championship here on Saturday.

But unexpected was India’s eventual tally that was made possible by a series of favourable 11th-round results in five age-groups. In terms of quality, Russia finished ahead with five medals including three gold medals.

Out of the 18 medals at stake across six competitions in three age-groups, India collected three silver and as many bronze medals, in spite of drawing a blank in the girls’ under-16 section. Since 2015, when this championship was reduced to three age groups from six, this is India’s best performance.

India’s silver medals came from Vantika Agarwal (girls’ under-18), S. L. Srihari (under-14) and Divya Deshmukh (girls’ under-14). The bronze medals went to Aronyak Ghosh (under-16), M. Sreeshwan (under-14) and Rakshitta Ravi (girls’ under-14).

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Making his debut in the under-18 section, Praggnanandhaa (9 points), drew the final round against Valentin Buckels, once nearest contender and top seed Shant Sargsyan (8.5) did likewise against Arjun Kalyan on the second board.

For Praggnanandhaa, the under-8 champion in 2013 and the under-10 winner in 2015, this was a third world title.

“I chose to play in the under-18 category because I was looked for stiffer competition. Being the second seed and winning the title feels good,” said the soft-spoken champion, who now travels to New Delhi to play the World junior championship next week.

R. B. Ramesh, coach of Praggnanandhaa, Divya and Rakshitta and head of the Indian delegation here was satisfied with the overall home tally. “I expected gold medals in the two under-14 sections but liked the way the Indians fought back to reach the podium. A lot of work needs to be done, especially in the girls' section, and I’m you’ll see better results as we go along,” said the country’s finest chess trainer.

Important 11th round results (Indians unless stated)

Under-18: R. Praggnanandhaa (9) drew with Valentin Buckels (Ger, 7.5); Arjun Kalyan (7.5) drew with Shant Sargsyan (Arm, 8.5); Artur Davtyan (Arm. 8) bt Aryan Gholami (Iri, 7.5).

Medallists: 1. Pragnanandhaa, 2. Sargsyan, 3. Davtyan.

Under-16: Stefan Pogosyan (Rus, 8) drew with Rudik Makarian (Rus, 8.5); Arash Daghli (Iri, 8) drew with Aronyak Ghosh (8); Kazybek Nogerbek (Kaz, 7) drew with Kushagra Mohan (7.5).

Medallists: 1. Makarian, 2. Pogosyan, 3. Aronyak.

Under-14: Sultan Amanzhol (7) lost to Aydin Suleymanli (Aze, 9); Vo Pham Thien Phuc (Vie, 8) drew with L. R. Srihari (8); Marc Morgunov (Aut, 8) drew with Alex Kolay (USA, 8); R. Abinandhan (7.5) lost to M. Sreeshwan (8).

Medallists: 1. Suleymanli, 2. Srihari, 3. Sreeshwan.

Girls’ Under-18: Assel Srikbay (Kaz, 7.5) drew with Polina Shuvalova (Rus, 8.5); Alexandra Obolentseva (Rus, 7.5) drew with Vantika Agarwal (8).

Medallists: 1. Polina, 2. Vantika, 3. Alexandra.

Girls’ Under-16: Govhar Bueydullayeva (Aze, 8) bt Nazerke Nurgali (Kaz, 8.5); Leya Garifullina (Rus, 8.5) drew with Svitlana Demchenko (Can, 7.5); B. Mounika Akshaya (7) lost to Anousha Mahdian (Iri, 8); Laman Hajiyeva (Aze, 7) drew with Saina Salonika (7.5).

Medallists: 1. Leya, 2. Nazerke, 3. Anousha.

Girls’ Under-14: Bat-Erdene Mungunzul (Mgl, 8) lost to Rakshitta Ravi (8); Meruert Kamilidenova (Kaz, 8.5) bt Eline Roebers (Ned, 7.5); Divya Deshmukh (8) bt Ekaterina Nasyrova (Rus, 7.5); Ayan Allahverdiyeva (Aze, 7.5) drew with Bhagyashree Patil (7.5).

Medallists: 1. Meruert, 2. Divya, 3. Rakshitta.

Medals table (Read as Country-Gold-Silver-Bronze-Total)

1.    Russia 3-1-1-5

2.    India 1-3-3-7

3.    Kazakhstan 1-1-0-2

4.    Azerbaijan 1-0-0-1

5.    Armenia 0-1-1-2

6.    Iran 0-0-1-1