French star wins world junior

November 15, 2009|By Jack Peters

Position No. 6081: Black to play and win. From the game Jaan Ehlvest-Andrew Karklins, Reno 2009.

Solution to Position No. 6080: White wins efficiently by 1 Ba6! bxa6 2 b7 Bc7 3 Rxe8 Bxe5 4 dxe5 Kxe8 5 b8Q+. If 1 . . . Rh3 2 Bxb7 Rxf3+ 3 Kb4 Rf1, one simple method is 4 Rxe8 Kxe8 5 Bxc6+ Kf7 6 b7, gaining at least a piece.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France edged Sergei Zhigalko of Belarus to win the World Junior Championship in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. Each scored an undefeated 10 1/2 -2 1/2 in the 82-player tournament, the most prestigious age-limited event. Only players born in 1989 or later were eligible.

Vachier-Lagrave, 19, earned the grandmaster title in 2005 and won the French championship in 2007. He entered the tournament as the top seed with a rating of 2718 (23rd in the world), but his triumph was hardly guaranteed in an upset-filled melee that included 16 other grandmasters, including six rated above 2600.

Zhigalko, 20, was seeded third at 2646. He and his brother Andrei, 24, form one of only three families to boast two grandmasters. Sergei is already top-rated in Belarus.

Alex Lenderman, 20, of New York tied for third place at 9 1/2 -3 1/2 , but the bronze medal went to GM Michal Olszewski, 20, of Poland.

The second U.S. representative, Ray Robson, 15, of Florida, faced particularly difficult opposition and gained rating points with a score of 7 1/2 -5 1/2 . Both Lenderman and Robson have apparently fulfilled the requirements for the grandmaster title and are awaiting official confirmation from the World Chess Federation. Both also lost to Vachier-Lagrave.

Swaminathan Soumya, 20, of India won the 45-player World Junior Girls Championship on tiebreak over Deysi Cori Tello, 16, of Peru and Betul Yildiz, 20, of Turkey.

Local news

The Westwood Fall Open attracted a good turnout of 44 players last Sunday at the Los Angeles Chess Club. Favorite GM Melikset Khachiyan defeated four masters and took first prize with a 5-0 score. Masters Garnik Baghdasaryan, Alexandre Kretchetov, Garush Manukyan and Ryan Porter and top expert Robert Akopian were next at 3 1/2 -1 1/2 . Mitch Jayson, Al Pena Jr. and Karl Tolentino shared first place in the Reserve (under-1800) section. John Hillery directed.

The Los Angeles Chess Club, 11411 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles, will host the Harold Cardinal Valery G/60 Championship next weekend. Entrants will play three one-hour games Saturday and three more Sunday. For details, call Mick Bighamian at (310) 795-5710.

The American Open, California's traditional Thanksgiving tournament, is scheduled for Nov. 26 to 29 at the Renaissance Hotel, 9620 Airport Blvd. in Los Angeles. For information and online entries, see

Craig Clawitter won the 40-player La Palma Chess Club Championship with a nearly perfect score of 5 1/2 - 1/2 (five wins and a half-point bye). The club runs tournaments continuously on Friday evenings in Central Park, 7821 Walker St. in La Palma. See for much more.

The 34th annual Staser Fall Scholastic takes place Saturday in Hangar 244 at the Great Park in Irvine. The tournament is free, but players should register in advance by calling Dewain Barber at (714) 998-5508.

Today's games

IM Ray Robson (USA)-Ioannis Stavrianakis (Greece), World Junior Championship, Puerto Madryn 2009: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 The ever popular Najdorf Sicilian. 6 Be3 e5 7 Nb3 Be6 8 Qd2 Nbd7 9 0-0-0 Be7 10 f4!? Instead of the customary 10 f3. b5 Black does not quite equalize after 10 . . . Ng4 11 g3. 11 Kb1 Qc7 Slow. Better is 11 . . . b4 12 Nd5 Nxe4 13 Qxb4 Bxd5 14 Rxd5 Nef6 15 Rd1 0-0, with a solid formation. 12 h3 Nb6 13 f5 Bc4 14 g4 Nfd7 Not 14 . . . b4?? 15 Bxb6. 15 a3 White should secure an edge with 15 Na5. Rc8 16 Qf2?! Na4! 17 Nd5 Bxd5 18 exd5 Ndb6 Equal chances. 19 Bc1? Correct is 19 Bxb6, as Black could now thwart White on the Kingside by 19 . . . Bh4! 20 Qg2 f6. Nc5?? 20 Nxc5 dxc5 21 f6! Bxf6 Not 21 . . . gxf6? 22 d6 Bxd6 23 Qxf6, hitting Rook and Bishop. 22 d6 Qd7 23 g5 Bd8 24 h4 0-0 25 Bh3 The Bishop and the d-pawn benefit most from White's pawn sacrifice. Qc6 26 h5! Scorning the Rook and going for the King. Rb8 27 g6 Nc4 Futile, but Black has no defense. If 27 . . . h6 28 gxf7+ Kh8, then 29 Bxh6! foresees 29 . . . gxh6 30 Qe3, mating. 28 h6! hxg6 29 hxg7 Kxg7 Or 29 . . . Re8 30 Be6! Rxe6 31 Qh2, with mate. 30 Bh6+ Kg8 31 Bxf8 Kxf8 32 Rhf1?! Quickest is 32 Bg2 e4 33 Rh8+ Kg7 34 Rh7+! Kxh7 35 Qxf7+ Kh6 36 Rh1+ Kg6 37 Rg1. f6 33 Bg2 Qd7 34 Qg3 Qg7 35 Be4 f5?! Black holds out longer with 35 . . . Rb6, although 36 Bxg6 Rxd6 37 Rxd6 Nxd6 38 Qxe5 will win for White. 36 Bxf5! gxf5 37 Rxf5+ Kg8 38 Rg1!, Black Resigns.

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