The World Youth Chess Championship – 2017 being played at Shereton Hotel, Montevideo, Uruguay has come halfway with Indians fighting for the top spots.
WCM L Jyotshna shares the joint lead with FM Salimova Nurgyul of Bulgaria. Closely followed by WCM Mrudul Dehankar and WFM Jishitha D with 4 points.
The other Indian in the U-14 girls’ section WFM Saina Salinaka is on 3.5 points.
In the fifth round, FM Arjun Erigasi was paired against CM Talukdar Rohan of Canada. He opened the game with Reti set up and soon it got transposed to Neo Grunfeld defense – a weapon of Garry Kasparov who has registered many beautiful wins with this setup. On 14th move Rohan allowed his white bishop getting exchanged with Arjun’s Knight and probably this was quite fatal. Arjun threatened to grab black’s f7 pawn which Rohan defended but met with a Knight sacrifice on the very next move! Initially, Arjun’s idea was masked by a feeling that he is just playing for some initiative. When Arjun offered his exchange on 23rd move and then again a Rook on 26th move. It was clear that Rohan’s King is getting checkmated. This game could be Arjun’s one of the best-attacking games.
Arjun shares the joint second spot with 4.5 points.
Other Indians in the fray, Koustav Chatterjee is on 4 points and Anuj Shrivatri is on 3 points.
American WIM Wang Annie is in the lead with her slate clean. Indians in this group Harshita Guddanti, Meenal Gupta are with three points whereas Toshali V is at 50% score.
FM Rajdeep Sarkar shares joint second with six other players. FM Mitrabha Guha faltered to FM Quirhuayo Chumbe German Gonza of Peru after having had jointly led the tournament. Now he has a score of 3.5 points.
India’s brightest hope, second-seeded WIM Vantika Agarwal had to, unfortunately, withdraw from the tournament after being diagnosed with Dengue before the start of first round.
WIM Sakshi Chitlange emerged as a sole leader with 100% score after outplaying Polish WIM Kiolbasa Oliwia with white pieces after three rounds. But she couldn’t continue her winning momentum after losing to Yao lan of China and Injac Teodora of Serbia. She now stands at 3 points.
Following Sakshi, WFM Arpita Mukherjee also has 3 points in her kitty.
FM Karthik Venkatraman started his expedition with 2.5 out of 3 rounds; winning two games and drawing higher rated IM Moroni Luca Jr (Elo: 2499) of Italy.
He played a marvelous game to crush IM Yeletsky Ivan in the fourth round. It was a Sicilian opening game where Karthik playing with white pieces chose a very rare setup and threw his experienced player in uncertain lines. It was a complicated struggle in the opening as both players were trying to control the centre with skilful positioning of their minor pieces. Karthik’s 21st move – Rc5 put him in rider’s seat and thereafter he never let it go. Having gained upper hand on the Queenside, Karthik started attacking black’s game and opened up the king’s side. It couldn’t have materialised had Karthik not visualised the brilliant pawn sacrifice – g4 on the 32nd move. Karthik launched a massive attack and clinched the game on the 41st move.
Fifth round proved to be easier for Karthik as he held second-seeded German GM Dmitrij Kollars (2500). Karthik had replied with his favorite Sicilian Najdorf variation but Kollars diverted and chose a less familiar set up. The 17-year-old Indian played very confidently and never allowed his higher-rated opponent to take control in any stage of the game. The pieces were exchanged at regular intervals and both players decided to split the point after 38th move.
With 2567 rating performance, Karthik has emerged as a joint leader with 04/5 points.
Other Indians in the fray, Kaustuv Kundu and Sai Vishwesh.C are staying afloat after registering 2.5 and 2 points respectively.