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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 11, 2011
Surprise leaders in World Junior Championship
By Peter Henner
Axel Rombaldoni, an Italian International Master, and Girish Koushik, a relatively unknown Indian Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) Master, are leading the 50th World Junior Championship, held in Chennai, India ahead of 18 International Grandmasters who are also competing in the tournament. The American Grandmaster Ray Robson was in a tie for 6th through 15th, and 16-year-old Schenectady player Aaron Deepak was tied for 75th through 92nd place.
The event is a 13-round Swiss system Tournament, with 126 players. At the same time, there is a Junior Girls Chess Championship, with 69 players. Unfortunately, there are no United States competitors in the Girls Championship.
As young players have gotten stronger, the World Junior Championship has changed. In the past, it was primarily known for providing an opportunity for young players to obtain international titles. Today, when many young players already hold titles, the top competitors hope for a strong showing, to obtain invitations to the elite tournaments of the world.
The fact that the tournament is being held in India highlights the rising strength of that country, and the growing number of internationally recognized chess players in India. At the opening ceremonies, World Champion V. Anand, from India, described his own experiences playing in his first World Junior Championship in 1984, and the important role that the tournament plays in developing friendships between chess players around the world.
The tournament has become a source of national pride: Five Indians have won either the World Junior or Junior Girls Championships in the last few years. This year, because the tournament is held in India, and Indian junior players with FIDE ratings over 2000 are eligible to compete, there are 61 contenders from India, and 29 Indians in the Girls Championship, where the minimum rating is 1800.
Although Rombaldoni is ranked only 26th in the field, with a FIDE rating of 2459, he won his first six games, including two victories over Grandmasters, before drawing his seventh-round game against another Grandmaster, to lead with a score of 6 1⁄2 - 1⁄2.
Girish Koushik, although rated only 2309, has won three straight games against Grandmasters to place him in a tie for second with the Armenian Grandmaster Hovhannisyan with a score of 6-1. Although the American Robson has a score of 5-2, he lost rating points as a result of his loss to Russian International Master Goganov and his draw with the Turkish Grandmaster Firat Burak and will need a strong showing in the second half of the tournament to regain the lost rating points.
Our local player, Deepak Aaron from Schenectady, has played some tough games against higher rated internationally titled players, losing to Grandmaster Salgado Lopez, the third-ranked player, and Indian International Master Ramnath, on his way to a 3-4 score. Bill Little's blog on the Eastern New York Chess Association website (www.enyca.org) contains all of Deepak Aaron’s games, as well as several other games from the tournament, together with his usual insightful commentary.
Deepak, who was born in India, moved to the United States when he was 2 years old. His grandfather, Manuel Aaron, was India’s first International Master and a nine-time national champion. His father, Ashok, is a strong local player with an Expert rating who does not usually play in tournaments.
The tournament will conclude on Aug. 15, and I will have a complete report on the results in two weeks, in the Aug. 25 Enterprise.
This week’s problem
This week’s problem is the conclusion of Rombaldoni's fifth-round win against Grandmaster Salgado Lopez. This was a very tactical free-flowing game arising from Rombaldoni playing the Keres Attack against Salgado Lopez’s Sicilian defense.
Black’s 36th move, Bc7 is a tactical blunder, which allows a quick and pretty finish to the game. See if you can find it.