The main excitement in the 5th round of the FIDE World Junior Championships came from the Girls’ tournament, where WGM Carissa Yip made quite a statement beating IM Mariam Mkrtchyan. The Armenian had won all her 11 games at the World Championship U18 last year, and the first four games here in Mexico, but her fantastic run came to an end today. The aggressive and tactical style of the players immersed us in a chaotic game where both strived for the win. The American came up with an interesting novelty, 8.f3.
A key moment in the game was the advance 16.f4?! by Carissa, which gave Mkrtchyan a clear advantage, not with just one, but several different answers. However, the position remained very double-edged, and both players made their share of inaccuracies. The Armenian missed several tactical blows that would have been decisive, and somehow allowed her opponent to survive and advance not just one but two of her pawns to the 7th rank, allowing Yip to get away with one of the biggest swindles in the competition so far.
The other decisive result on the top boards came in the game between Alessia-Mihaela Ciolacu and Ravi Rakshitta. Just when the Romanian had achieved a clear edge, around move 29, she made a couple of mistakes that allowed Rakshitta to get the pair of bishops and open the position in her favour. The fatal mistake was 53.Nxc5?, a move that tied the White King to the defence of the Knight. A fine swindle too by Rakshitta, who comes from chess-playing parents with international titles and several medals at national and regional championships. She will have the White pieces against Carissa Yip in the sixth round against her co-leader, in a game that could be decisive for the final victory.
In the open category, French Grandmaster Marc’andria Maurizzi continues to lead. He drew, with the White pieces, against Arseny Nesterov, in a very correct but not-so-exciting game. “It was a solid game where there were no combat opportunities”, summed up Nesterov in the post-game interview. This result was good enough for Maurizzi to continue leading, as all the games in the top seven boards ended with the same result. He is followed by no less than 16 players with 4 points; among them, the Americans Hans Niemann and Andy Woodware, who won their round 5 games, as well as Latin American Santiago Avila Pavas.
Monday 25 will be a rest day, and most of the players will take an excursion to the Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan, some 50km northeast of Mexico City, to visit the pyramids. Built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D., this archaeological site is characterized by the vast size of its monuments – in particular, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon.
Play will be resumed on Tuesday, at 16:00 local time (-7 GMT)
Standings after Round 5:
Written by David Llada
Photos: David Llada