Juli 24, 2024

World Junior Championship: Maurizzi, sole leader again after a brilliant victory

Marc’Andria Maurizzi is again the sole leader of the FIDE World Junior Championship (open) since he was the only player to score a victory in the top three boards in Round 9. That puts him on 7½/9, half a point ahead of a group of four players, with just two rounds to go. In the Girls‘ section, top seed Carissa Yip lost the leadership after being beaten by the sensational Miaoyi Lu, who is just 13 years old; the first place in the standings belongs now to the Bulgarian WGM Beloslava Krasteva, who defeated Roxangel Obregon.

Maurizzi’s victory over Schitcowas immediately picked up by chess columnists and Youtubers worldwide, who rushed to publish their analysis of this brilliant game. The French GM played a novelty in the Ruy Lopez, 10.d5, which allowed Black to win a pawn in exchange for ruining his opponent’s structure. The ensuing unbalanced position allowed Marc’Andria to show his class: his original double Knight sacrifice, speculating with his advanced pawns, was remarkable and makes for a lovely diagram:

While Maurizzi’s game stole the show in the 9th round, all other games were well fought, too. Gleb Dudin and Santiago Avila drew on board one, in a London System. Hans Niemman came out of the opening with some initiative against Gharibyan, but it didn’t materialize in any tangible advantage: his best chance was when the Armenian played the dubious advance 32…b4, where the exchange of Queens – on his own terms – with 33.Qd8 would have given the American a favourable ending. Instead, he went for a line that allowed Black to give a perpetual check.

Luka Budisavljevic joined the group of players trailing the leader by half a point, thanks to his victory over Shawn Rodrigue-Lemieux on the fourth board. The game was a Caro-Kann – by transposition – where Luka came out of the opening one pawn up, first, and then installing an “Octopus Knight” on d6. Shawn managed to hold until time control, but his position became almost desperate much earlier.

In Round 10, the leader will have Black against Jan Subelj, while Santiago Avila will face Luka Budisavljevic on board two, and Frederik Svane will play Gleb Dudin on board three.

In the Girls’ section, the main surprise was the defeat of Carissa Yip at the hands of the Chinese youngster, Miaoyi Lu. That, combined with Krasteva’svictory, propitiated a change of leader. While Carissa’s play in this event seems to be slightly superior to that of her rivals, her opening preparation is not at the same level. Miaoyi was very aggressive right from the opening, demonstrating her resourcefulness and inclination for small tactical tricks that created all kinds of headaches for Yip. Lu’s pawn advance 20.g4 was objectively not a good move, but in practice, it allowed her to create some complications that turned out in her favour after Carissa made one mistake, 30.e4. With both Kings very exposed, Miaoyi’s killer instinct proved correct.

Beloslava Krasteva outplayed the Cuban WIM Roxangel Obregon right from the opening, an exchange variation of the Slav Defense. Like her victory in round 7 against Mkrtchyan, Krasteva’s way of playing certain positions is reminiscent of the classics, following a linear, logical and sound plan from beginning to end. Her upcoming round-10 clash with Miaoyi, apart from decisive, couldn’t be any more interesting, due to their different styles.

Carissa Yip will have the White pieces on round 10 to try and bounce back from her defeat, but her opponent, the American Continental Champion Candela Francisco, has demonstrated to be on top form in this event and, having just turned 17, she keeps progressing at a fast face.

Standings after Round 9:

OPEN

GIRLS

Written by David Llada

Photos: David Llada

Official website: juniorchesschampionship.fenamacajedrez.com/