The fifth round of the World Youth Chess Olympiad 2017 was something the pundits were looking forward to, with saliva dropping from their mouth. First up was the Russia vs. Uzbekistan clash on the top table.
IM Semen Lamasov, rated 2516, the Russian trump card on the top board lived up to his billing and defeated Uzbek top seed IM Nodirbek Yakubboev, rated 2448. Meanwhile, IM Sergei Lobanov, rated 2441, settled for a draw with IM Shamsiddin Vokhidov.
FM Artur Gaifullin, rated 2417, won on the thid board. WIM Alexandra Obolentseva, rated 2328, lost to Daler Vakhidov, rated 2250. But this was not enough for Uzbekistan as the Russians won 2.5-1.5.
But the real excitement was not so much for the clash on the first board, as much for the clash of the tournament – India vs. Iran. The two powerhouses today when it comes to talented young chess players.
GM Aryan Chopra, the only grandmaster of the tournament, was facing IM M. Amin Tabatabaei, rated 2573, the highest rated player in the tournament. In the white side of the Berlin Defence in a Ruy Lopez, Tabatabaei kept pressing Chopra until the grandmaster finally began to crack. The Iranian was clearly holding a great position and he eventually converted his chance to a win.
Orimi Mahdi Gholami was clearly better against IM P. Iniyan, rated 2452. Iniyan was very close to losing the game but in the very end, under time pressure, the Iranian player committed a double blunder and Iniyan got a checkmating net around Orimi’s King.
IM Alireza Firouzja, rated 2526, is clearly one of the few ‘chosen ones’ in today’s chess world. He is a super talent of his own right, and the greatest hope for Iran in its chess history. He was facing the Indian super-talent – IM Praggnanandhaa R.
The game remained equal for a very long time before Praggnanandhaa went under time pressure and began to lose the thread. Eventually, the pressure was just too much for the Indian youngster and Firouzja won. Iran had pulled ahead yet again.
IM Nihal Sarin counterattacked just in time. It was clear that Nihal had to go for the win to make sure India saves the match. Anything lesser than a win would mean Iran would beat India. Nihal was playing IM Aryan Gholami, rated 2479.
Aryan had the white pieces and played the London System and Nihal went to a setup he knew to be all right for Black. It was equal position for a long time when towards the end, Aryan went for ambitious play. Nihal grabbed his chance with both the hands and counterattacked with all his powers and a dose of luck.
Fortunately for India Green, Nihal was ahead by a tempo in his counter and Aryan was forced to resign. India Green had equalized the match 2-2.
India’s second team, India Red, had FM Rajdeep Sarkar, rated 2406, on the top table. India Red was facing Israel. Rajdeep unfortunately lost to Israel’s top seed FM Or Bronstein, rated 2335.
But the rest of India Red team did well. S. Jayakumaar, rated 2254, beat FM Nisim Iliaguev, rated 2294. FM Arjun Erigaisi, rated 2359, also defeated FM Dan Poleg, rated 2268. FM Mitrabha Guha, rated 2315, won a nice game against Alexander Zlatin, rated 2227.
Rest day on 15 December 2017. Photos by Priyadarshan Banjan.