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Round 2: It’s Getting Tougher and Tougher in Gebze
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Photos by Amruta Mokal/ChessBase India  

Although first round was by no means a one-sided battle for favorites, the second round was destined to be even tougher as the rating differences between paired opponents got less. All the games were hard-fought and contained interesting and bold play from young stars.


In the open section it was a good day for 2600+ players as Maghsoodloo, Donchenko and Karthikeyan -despite the draw in the first round you can count Jorden van Foreest as well- all won fine games against their lesser rated opponents, thus entering the third round unharmed with 2 points.

One of the greatest upsets of the round was the defeat of the 16 years old Russian star Andrey Esipenko, at the hands of 18 years old Kazakh player Denis Makhnev. IM Makhnev played the opening phase of a Semi-Tarrasch game not too well and allowed Esipenko to equalize easily. At one point it looked like Black could even take the initiative but things have changed with Esipenko’s very quickly played move 18…Rd8? Makhnev found the best way of playing, namely with the idea of trapping the awkwardly placed black queen; a problem which Esipenko found very hard to deal with. By move 25 Makhnev won the f7-pawn and then went on to calculate a brilliant sequence of tactics to reach a double rooks ending with an extra bishop vs two pawns; which he converted perfectly. A great performance by the Kazakh player!

The fifth board also saw a brilliant win by the Chinese grandmaster Xu. The intermediate move 20. Rxf6! was a beautiful exchange sacrifice after which the passivity of black pieces and mate threats led to a material down and totally lost ending for Janik from Poland.

Two other notable games in both of which underdogs have won against their opponents need to be mentioned. IM Percivaldi from Denmark won what seemed to be a very well played game against GM Bai from China, punishing his opponent for his reckless play. The 13 years old Işık Can of Turkey, one of the brightest stars of Turkish chess, managed to win against IM Lobanov from Russia; thanks to a very dangerous passed pawn on c-file. A very well played ending by the young FM! At 2 points Işık Can is also leading the race between the local players as of now.

By the end of the second round only 25 players remain with full score in the open category and with the exception of Işık Can -against GM Martirosyan (1.5 pts)- they will play against each other. We are still nowhere near the climax of the tournament and the best is yet to come!


It was a day of missed opportunities and twists in girls section. There were four draws in the first five boards but it could easily have been five decisive games as well.

IM Tsolakidou of Greece, the top seed of the championship, had a significant advantage in a queenless middlegame position against Chinese WIM Chu but when she missed a couple of nuances at critical moments her advantage dissipated and the game ended in a draw. Bibisara Assaubayeva won on second board against Indian WIM Varshini, a game which went equal for a long time but when the Indian WIM finally faltered FM Assaubayeva didn’t give a second chance to her opponent.

Perhaps the most incredible game of the round was played on third board, between German FM Schneider and the Uzbek WGM Tokhirjonova. Schneider opted for a wrong setup in Giuoco Pianissimo and handed down a very dangerous kingside attack to her opponent which was probably winning at a few moments of the game. However WGM Tokhirjonova lost her way and somehow a winning ending for white emerged on the board! FM Schneider played very well, all the way until the promotion after which she was an exchange up with a very easily winning position. Just pushing her passed pawn or mopping up the a-pawn of black was enough to win the game easily but instead miracles began to happen and in the end one can even say that it was white who had to make the draw! If someone speaks of the merits of resigning in completely lost positions show him/her this game!

The wins of Egyptian WGM Wafa and Polish WFM Dwilewicz against WIM Unuk and WIM Haussernot were also very impressive in different ways, the former being a slow grind whereas the latter a 27 move mate after some power play by White!

Third round of 2018 World Junior Chess Championship will start on September 7, 10:00 local time as the next one will be played in the afternoon at 17:00! A tiring day for sure, both for players and our commentators IM Arduman & FM Selbes! See you tomorrow at the live broadcast!

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