- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2015

India was the big winner and the U.S. team came home with some hardware but no gold at the just-completed World Youth Class Championships in Halkidiki, Greece. Indian youngsters took home gold medals in five age categories, including a surprise gold for WFM M Mahalakshimi in the Under-18 Girls section.

In the strong Under-18 Open tournament, rising chess power Iran captured its second gold in three years, with untitled Masoud Mosadeghpour beating a string of higher-rated rivals for the top prize.

Despite having the tournament’s biggest delegation (129 players), the Americans this year took home just four medals, including bronze medals for Agata Bykovtsev (Under-16 Girls), David Peng (Under-12 Open) and Justin Wang (Under-10 Open). The best result was turned in by rising Massachusetts junior star Carissa Yip, who tied for first in the Under-12 Girls tournament, but lost on tiebreaks to Bulgarian WFM Nurgyul Salimova and had to settle for silver.

Yip’s last-round win over Vietnamese WFM Ngoc Thuy Bach was a classic illustration of the pressures even young players face when the complications mount and the clock ticks. It’s by no means a classic game, but White deserves credit for persevering through her trials and finding a saving defense after Black misses some killer shots.

A fierce battle for the center erupts early in this King’s Indian Attack, with Bach as Black threatening to overrun the White kingside. With every tempo counting, Yip gets into trouble after 20. Ncd5 Nxd5 21. Nxd5?! (safer was 21. Qxd5+ Qxd5 22. Nxd5 Be6, and White holds the balance in lines such as 23. e5 Nxe5 24. Nxc7 Bxa2 25. Nxa8 Bxb1 26. Rxb1 Rxa8 27. Bxd6) Be6 22. h3 Bxd5 23. exd5 Ne5, and the Black pieces are buzzing around the White king.

Both players falter in a fiendishly complex position, and Yip benefits from a fair amount of luck: 24. Rfc1 Qh4 25. Rxc7? (Rb4 was tougher) Rf2 26. Qe3 (see diagram), and Bach misses the deadly 26…Rf3! 27. Qe2 (Bxf3 Qxh3+ 28. Kg1 Nxf3+ 29. Kf2 Bd4 and wins) Rxa3, winning a piece. White fights on after 26…Raf8?! 27. Bxd6! R8f3 (the same idea as before, but things are now much trickier) 28. Rxg7+! (the only real chance) Kxg7 29. Bxe5+, and the White bishops come back to aid in the kingside defense.

Again, the contest see-saws back and forth before Yip emerges as the battered but triumphant survivor: 29…Kf7? (Kh7! would produce a remarkable drawish ending after 30. Qe1 Rxh3+ 31. Kg1 Rxg2+! 32. Kxg2 Qg4+ 33. Bg3 Rxg3+! 34. Qxg3 Qe4+ 35. Qf3 Qxb1, and White would be hard-pressed to cash in the extra pawn) 30. Bxf3?? (this should lose; with 30. Qe1! [Qxf3+ is also good] Rxh3+ 31. Kg1 Rf5 [Rh1+ Bxh1 and the bishop on e5 covers the h2 square] 32. Bxh3 Qxh3 34. Rb3, White is winning) Qxh3+ 31. Kg1 Rxf3?? (missing 31…Rg2+! 32. Bxg2 Qxe3+ 33. Kh1 Qxe5, and Black has a big edge) 32. Qe2!? (good enough, but the no-nonsense 32. Qxf3+! Qxf3 33. Rf1 would have quickly decided the affair) Qf5 33. Rf1 Qg4+ 34. Qg2 Rxf1+ 35. Kxf1, and White is a piece ahead.

In the final position, Black is busted after 40…Kd8 41. Bf6+ Kc7 42. d6+; Bach resigned.

Yip-Bach, World Under-12 Girls Championship, Halkidki, Greece, November 2015

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. e3 d6 6. Nge2 f5 7. d3 Nf6 8. 0-0 0-0 9. Rb1 Qe8 10. b4 g5 11. f4 h6 12. b5 Ne7 13. e4 Qh5 14. Qd2 fxe4 15. dxe4 gxf4 16. gxf4 exf4 17. Nxf4 Qc5+ 18. Kh1 Qxc4 19. Ba3 Ng4 20. Ncd5 Nxd5 21. Nxd5 Be6 22. h3 Bxd5 23. exd5 Ne5 24. Rfc1 Qh4 25. Rxc7 Rf2 26. Qe3 Raf8 27. Bxd6 R8f3 28. Rxg7+ Kxg7 29. Bxe5+ Kf7 30. Bxf3 Qxh3+ 31. Kg1 Rxf3 32. Qe2 Qf5 33. Rf1 Qg4+ 34. Qg2 Rxf1+ 35. Kxf1 Qd1+ 36. Kf2 Qd2+ 37. Kg1 Qb4 38. Qg7+ Ke8 39. Qg8+ Ke7 40. Qe6+ Black resigns.

Moscow will be the venue and seven of the eight coveted slots are now taken as FIDE has announced its lineup for the Candidates Tournament in March to determine a challenger to world champion Magnus Carlsen later in the year. Two Americans — GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana — have been invited, along with former world champs Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov, GMs Sergey Karjakin and Peter Svidler of Russia and Armenian wild card Levon Aronian. Dutch star Anish Giri and former titleholder Vladimir Kramnik of Russia are among those fighting for the eighth and final slot.

Breaking … Anish Giri of the Netherlands has been given the eighth and final slot in the FIDE Candidates Tournament next March, the international chess federation announced Tuesday. It will be Giri’s first appearance in the candidates’ cycle.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at [email protected]

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