Saturday, August 20, 2011

Young Generation’s Best Skip a World Title Event

From The New York Times

Published: August 20, 2011

[I'm not sure this will work - try it to see if you get the gameboard to play through the game talked about below.]

At the recent World Junior Chess Championship in Chennai, India, Dariusz Swiercz of Poland, 17, won the overall title, and Cori T. Deysi of Peru, 18, captured the girls’ crown.

Twenty years ago, junior champions were considered up-and-comers, possibly future world champions. Swiercz and Deysi are certainly talented, but it is a measure of how much the game has changed that they are overshadowed by some of their contemporaries.

Consider that on the day before the championship ended, Hou Yifan easily won the Women’s Grand Prix in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, a tournament that included 8 of the top 12 women in the world. Hou is 17 — eight months younger than Deysi — and already the women’s world champion.

Swiercz is still not on the list of the top 20 juniors in the world. It does include Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, 20, Fabiano Caruana of Italy, 19, and Anish Giri of the Netherlands, 17, who are also ranked in the top 40 among all players. They did not compete in the World Junior Championship because, well, it was beneath them.

Ray Robson, 16, who was the tournament’s American representative, finished fourth on tie-breakers and has several more years of eligibility as a junior. But as he said in an article on the Web site of the United States Chess Federation, “Hopefully my rating will be high enough so I won’t even want to play in it” next year.

Hou has struggled over much of the summer, but she won six of her first seven games at the Grand Prix. Among her best performances was her victory in Round 6 over Elina Danielian of Armenia.

Against the opening system adopted by Hou, Danielian could have played 3 ... e6, but she chose 3 ... e5, which was more aggressive. Hou could not play 4 de5 because 4 ... Qh4 would have regained the pawn and exposed White’s king to an attack.

Hou did not play 6 de5. After 6 ... Qd1 7 Kd1 Nd7 8 Bf4 Ne7 9 h3 Bf3 10 gf3 Ng6, Black would have eventually regained the pawn, and chances would have been equal.

Instead of the natural 10 ... 0-0, Danielian should have secured the c4 square by playing 10 ... b5. She also made a mistake by playing 12 ... Bg6; 12 ... Bf3 would have been better.

After 14 ... gf6, Danielian’s weakened pawn structure gave Hou a distinct edge.

Danielian sacrificed a pawn with 19 ... c5, hoping to gain some counterplay. But Hou was able to maneuver carefully and hold onto her material advantage.

She missed a way to shorten the game with 33 Rf4, but it did not matter. She wore Danielian down and finally won a piece by 40 Qe1, leading her opponent to resign.

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