India began their campaign in the World Youth Chess Championship 2019 on a thumping note, with Grandmaster R. Praggnanandhaa, Woman Candidate Master Mrudul Dehankar and Woman International Master Divya Deshmukh scoring emphatic victories in Round 1 here on Wednesday evening.
Fourteen-year-old prodigy Praggnanandhaa, who has opted to play in the Under-18 category, beat Italy’s Botta Massimiliano in 35 moves.
Mrudul, India’s top player in U-16 Girls, had it far easier, overcoming Kristyn Otrubova of Czech Republic in 19 moves.
Mrudul started the game with her king’s pawn while Kristyn opted for the Sicilian Defence. Mrudul pounced on a couple of inaccuracies on moves 12 and 13 to take charge of the board. Six moves later, Kristyn had no option but to resign.
In the same group, top seed Woman Candidate Master Leya Garifullina of Russia too began with a convincing win over Bangladesh’s Woman FIDE Master Noshin Anjum. Leya, playing white, opted for the popular Ruy-Lopez opening.
She craftily dragged her opponent into a winning end-game and eventually emerged victorious on the 39th move.
Most of the games were still on at the time of going to press.
India is hosting the World Youth Chess Championship for the first time. More than 450 players from 65 countries are participating in this 11-round event, being played across six categories: Under-14 Open and Girls, Under-16 Open and Girls, and Under-18 Open and Girls.
Open U18: Shant Sargsyan (Arm) bt Vladyslav Sydoryka (Ukr) 1-0; Massimiliano Botta (Ita) lost to R Praggnanandhaa (Ind) 0—1; Aryan Gholami (Iri) bt Vojtech Sramek (Cze) 1-0; Vedant Panesar (Ind) drew with Viktor Gazik (Svk)
Girls U18: Polina Shuvalova (Rus) bt Kristyna Laurincova (Cze) 1-0; Kseniya Zeliantsova (Blr) bt Anna Afonasieva (Rus) 1-0
Open U16: Moke Hans Niemann (USA) bt Sai Karthik (Ind) 1-0; Costamilan Tomiello (Bra) lost to Mamikon Gharibyan (Arm); Daghli Arash (Iri) bt Szymon Skurniak (Pol) 1-0
Girls U16: Leya Garifullina (Rus) bt Anjum Noshin (Ban) 1-0; Mrudul Dehankar (Ind) bt Kristyn Otrubova (Cze)
Open U14: Vinay Jumani (Ind) lost to Volodar Murzin (Rus) 0-1; Aydin Suleymanli (Aze) bt LMST De Silva (Sri) 1-0; Pranav Anand (Ind) bt Manish Kadam (Ind) 1-0
Girls U14: Divya Deshmukh (Ind) bt Marium Fatima (Ind) 1-0; Anastas Abdala (Chi) lost to Rakshitta Ravi (Ind)