Exciting moves ahead at the World juniors

Indian challenge led by Karthikeyan Murali and Aravindh Chitambaram in boys, and P.V. Nandhidhaa and M. Mahalakshmi in girls will be hoping to put up a strong show to compete for the top spot.

The World Junior Chess Championship, which resumes in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday after the rest day, looks set for an exciting finish.   -  P.K. Ajith Kumar

Jeffrey Xiong, a hugely promising 15-year-old from the United States, is sitting on top in the boys’ event. He may be among the younger players in this Under-20 championship, but he has played the most solid chess.

He has benefited from some weak moves from his Indian rivals, Karthikeyan Murali and Aravindh Chithambaram, in the last two rounds. He has 6.5 points.

Four players are just half-a-point behind, though. Xu Yinglun of China, Iran’s Parham Maghsosdloo, Grzegorz Nasuta of Poland and Karthikeyan must be hoping to catch up with him on Wednesday.

In the ninth round, Karthikeyan will face Nasuta on the second board, while on the first, Maghsoodloo will meet Xiong.

Top seed Vladimir Artimiev has to work harder; he is one point behind Xiong. A loss in the seventh round to Xu set him back, but the smile was back on the face of this friendly Russian youngster following his victory against Syed Khalil Mousavi of Iran on Tuesday. He is more than capable of a strong finish; he is ranked 81st in the world among senior men, after all.

Janelle Mae Frayner of Philippines and Russia’s Dinara Dordzhieva lead the girls event with 6.5 points. Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan, Alina Bovil of Russia and P.V. Nandhidhaa of India are second on six points.

Two other Indian girls, Michelle Catherina and M. Mahalakshmi, are among four players on 5.5 points.

The girls’ top two boards will see Dordzhieva taking on Bivol and Sadauakassova squaring up against Frayna. On the third board, Michelle will play Nandhidhaa.

The standings (after eight rounds): 1. Xiong Jeffrey (USA) 6.5; 2-5. Karthikeyan Murali (Ind), Xu Yinglun (Chn), Parham Maghsosdloo (Ira) and Grzegorz Nasuta (Pol) 6; 6-10. Rasmus Svane (Ger), Vladimir Artimiev (Rus), Christoph Menezes (Aut), Bozidar Ivekovic (Cro) and Stefan Buekema (Bel) 5.5.

Girls: 1-2. Janelle Mae Frayna (Phi) and Dinara Dordzhieva (Rus) 6.5; 3-5. P.V. Nandidhaa (Ind), Alina Bivol (Rus) and Dinara Saduakassova (Kaz) 6; 6-9. Paula Rodriguez Rueda (Col), Michelle Catherina (Ind), Nataliya Buksa (Ukr) and M. Mahalakshmi (Ind) 5.5.

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