The scores of the 10 world champions and the Indians:


INDIA won a silver medal and two bronzes in the age-group World chess championship, conducted as part of the World Youth Chess Festival every year. This time at Iraklio, Greece, India did better than last year when it got just one silver medal through Dronavalli Harika. But it was a far cry from 1999 when it bagged two gold medals and a silver.



The medallists in the under-18 boys' section (l to r): P. Harikrishna (bronze), Shariyar Mamedyarov (silver) and Ferenc Berkes (gold).

The top four in the boys' under-14 category (l to r): Markus Ragga (fourth), Davit Jojua (bronze), Gogineni Rohit (silver) and Luka Lenic, the winner.

The team was hoping that both Harika and Harikrishna would win gold but eventually they got only bronze in the under-12 girls' and the under-18 boys' sections. The saving grace was Gogineni Rohit who won a silver medal in the boys' under-14 category. Rohit had a disastrous start losing in the the first round to fellow-Indian Namra Haren Pandya but there was a tale to narrate. The first round started very late, nearly 3-1/2 hours behind schedule. And all the players spent those hours just waiting. When the round finally started, it was 9 p.m. local time and when the games stretched into the fourth hour of play it was well past midnight. The game between Pandya and Rohit was a long one with fortunes fluctuating. But when Rohit got the advantage in the ending, he was tired and forgot about the clock completely and lost on time.

Amazingly, in the next seven rounds, Rohit scored seven out of seven to take the lead while his first round opponent just added one more point to his first round victory! The ninth round decided the fate of the top two medals in Rohit's category. He lost that tough game and with it, the lead to Slovenia's Luka Lenic. In the 10th round Rohit drew level with Lenic. He won against Russia's Romanov while Lenic drew with Kononenko of Ukraine. In case of a tie, the progressive scores would have come into consideration to decide the placings. Rohit's first round defeat meant that he had a low progressive score and any tie would have meant a poor final placing for him. In the 11th and final round, Lenic put the issue beyond doubt by winning his final round game and Rohit finished a clear second. The former World Under-12 champion Deep Sengupta, sponsored by Tatas, made a valiant attempt in the same category as Rohit for a medal but only reached 7.5 points and finished in seventh place.



Ian Nepomniachtchi (right), who won the under-12 boys' title, with the trophy.

Eltaj Safarli, the world under-10 boys' champion.

The World under-12 girls championship was a disappointment for Harika who had won silver medals in the previous two Chess Festivals at Oropesa. Unlike Rohit she started off well. In the fifth round she defeated the top seed and Woman International Master Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine in a splendid game, playing black. She was in joint lead with Zhong Yi Tan of China and compatriot Inapuri Ramya Krishna. The doll-like Chinese girl was a known quantity as she had won the World under-10 girls' championship twice, in the last two years. Probably to Harika, Ramya was just a harmless, little-known player who posed no threat.



Levan Pantsulaia (right) won the boys' under-16 title, while Leonid Gerzhoy took the second prize.

Elizabeth Paehtz (right) won the girls' under-18 crown. Tanara Tseretela (left) finished runner-up.

In the sixth round, Harika played the white pieces rather casually against Ramya on the top board. And Ramya, the dark horse, won and jumped into sole lead! It was a free day after the sixth round. The Humpys and Harikas do not go sight-seeing during tournaments. But Ramya, on a high, went with the other Indians to see the ruins of Knossos in a three-hour bus trip. It is said that Knossos is the birthplace of European civilization some 5000 years ago. Playing rather unimpressively, Ramya drew her next two games against Yixin Ding (China) and Maria Ignacz (Hungary) and then plunged headlong into disaster, losing her last three games to Muzychuk, Zhong Yi Tan and Selina Khoo of England. After losing to Ramya, Harika displayed more grit as she drew with Russia's Masyagutova in the seventh round and beat one after the other, Vietnam's Pham Bich Ngoc, Russia's Tairova and Hungary's Maria Ignacz. After Muzychuk was beaten by Balkova (Czech) in the final round, Harika could have won the silver medal but she surprisingly lost to Yixin Ding and had to be content with the bronze.



The under-16 girls' winners (l to r): Maria Fominykh (bronze), Nana Dzagnidze (silver) and Tamara Tchistiakova, the champion.

Winners of the girls' under-14 section (from left) A.Pourkhasiyan (bronze), Polina Malysheva (silver) and Laura Rogule, the winner, with one of the officials.

In this category one must mention Kajri Choksi, the little-known Indian, who kept pace with Harika and Ramya. She overcame her inexperience with determination and resolve. She played almost every game for the full four hours and finally finished just half a point behind Ramya with whom she had drawn in the fourth round.

Harikrishna's road to his bronze medal did not have many alarming ups and downs. But the way he drew in just nine moves with the white pieces against second seed Mamedyarov remained a puzzle. Harikrishna drew with the black pieces and won with white in the first four rounds. Then he went into a winning streak beating Drabke (Ger), Schneider (USA) and the eventual champion, Ferenc Berkes of Hungary in the seventh round. He led by half a point but then in the very next round he inexplicably drew in nine moves and Berkes caught up with him at the top.


The under-12 girls' medallists (l to r): Dronavalli Harika (third), Anna Muzychnk (second) and Tan Zhongzi (first).

Lara Stock the girls' under-10 champion.

In the ninth round the former World under-16 champion Zviad Izoria of Georgia, playing white, built a near winning position against Harikrishna. But the wily Indian engineered an ingenious escape and drew. In the next round Harikrishna had the black pieces for the second time in a row and was again in difficulties against Mark Paragua of the Philippines. But this time the Indian could not escape defeat. However, Harikrishna won the last round and got the bronze medal thanks to a better progressive score than both Tigran Petrosyan of Armenia and Paragua, who had also scored eight points.

India had some good chances in the under-10 boys' section after six rounds through Parimarjan Negi who was in joint lead with the eventual winner Eltaj Safarli of Azerbaijan. They had 5.5 points apiece. But Negi's game collapsed in the second half of the tournament and he finished a poor 10th.

In the under-12 category, the Bank of India-sponsored Dasari Sai Srinivas scored eight points and still came without a medal, finishing ninth. Krutika Nadig came close to the top of the table on a couple of occasions in the under-14 girls, but never achieved anything. A last round defeat stopped her on seven points. Other Indians who finished creditably on seven points were Y. Sandeep (U-10), Deepan Chakravarthy (U-16), Lakshmi Sahithi (U-10 girls), Eesha Karavade and Tania Sachdev (both U-16 girls). Most of the Indian players fared better than before and the coaching camps organised by the All India Chess Federation with men such as Vladimirov, Sorokin and Lyssenko seem to be paying off. Last year at Oropesa, Georgia won four gold medals. This year, with 865 players from over 80 countries participating, the only country to win more than one gold was Russia, which got two this time. There were 28 Indians in the 10 categories and of them 11 were from Andhra Pradesh. Most of them were helped financially either by the AP State government or by private sponsors. The AP government gave a lot of importance to this festival and it could be judged by the fact that it sent V. R. Bobba, secretary of AP Chess Association as the manager of the Andhra players to Iraklio.

U-10 Boys (109 players): 1. Eltaj Safarli (Aze) 9.5; 10. P. Negi 7.5; 16. Y. Sandeep 7; 51. P. P. Prachura 5.5.

U-12 Boys (117): 1. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus) 9; 9. Dasari Sai Srinivas 8; 35. Aswin Jayaram 6.5; 41. Subodh Lakhey 6; 63. Sankalp Modwal 5.5; 71. C. R. G. Krishna 5.

U-14 Boys (100): 1. Luka Lenic (Slo) 9; 2. G. Rohit 8.5; 42. Nikhilesh Kumar 5.5; 96. Namra Pandya 3.

U-16 Boys (89): 1. Levan Pantsulaia (Geo) 8.5; 15. Deepan Chakravarthy 7; 20. Somak Palit 6.5.

U-18 Boys (86): 1. Ferenc Berkes (Hun) 9; 3. P. Harikrishna 8; 29. Poobesh Anand 6.5.

U-10 Girls (70 players): 1. Lara Stock (Cro) 9.5; 11. P. Lakshmi Sahithi 7; 23. Manogna Mandava 6; 41. G. Madanasri 5.

U-12 Girls (85): 1. Zhong Yi Tan (Chn) 9; 3. D. Harika 8; 14. Ramya Krishna 6.5; 26. Kajri Choksi 6.

U-14 Girls (82): 1. Laura Rogule (Lat) 9.5; 11. Krutika Nadig 7; 20. Saheli Nath 6.5.

U-16 Girls (68): 1. Tamara Tchistiakova (Rus) 9; 8. Tania Sachdev 7; 10. Eesha Karavade 7; 35. Amruta Mokal 5.5.

U-18 Girls (59): 1. Elizabeth Paehtz (Ger) 8.5; 25. P. Priya 6.