Comebacks Come Up Short for Yip, Niemann at World Junior Championships

Top-seeded Americans GM Hans Niemann and IM Carissa Yip were both playing with a chance for first in the final round of the 2023 FIDE World Junior Championships in Mexico City, but their paths could not have been more different. 

After storming to a 6½/7 start in the Girls section, Yip found herself playing catchup after losing her ninth round game against 13-year-old Chinese WIM Miaoyi Lu.



The back-and-forth game was bookended with a close-to-losing eighth-round draw and a close-to-winning 10th round draw against the two players battling on board one in the final round. 


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Yip (L)'s fight with Miaoyi Lu captured many spectators' attention, and even garnered an Agadmator game recap on YouTube (courtesy David Llada/FIDE)


Bulgarian WGM Beloslava Krasteva took a full-point lead into the final round, meaning that Yip would have to win her game against Irish WIM Trisha Kanyamarala and hope for Argentinian WGM Candela Francisco to win with the black pieces against Krasteva, and have better tiebreaks than Krasteva. 


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Yip (L) watches a game critical for her standings (courtesy David Llada/FIDE)


First: Yip won her game.



Second: Francisco pulled off the on-demand win.



Third: the tiebreaks. Unfortunately for Yip, Francisco finished with stronger tiebreaks, and Yip ended up with the silver medal and Krasteva the bronze. A well-deserved result for all three players. 


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The winner! Argentinian WGM Candela Francisco (courtesy David Llada/FIDE)


Of note, then, is that the podium results all came down to a theoretical endgame from the tenth round game between the silver and gold medalists. Yip, with under two minutes on her clock, was unable to find the only winning move here:



Earlier reports have not mentioned the other American participant: eight-year-old WCM Romi Milner.


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8-year-old Romi Milner (R) using every inch of leverage in her first-round game (courtesy David Llada/FIDE)


Milner finished with a sturdy 5/11 score. Here's one win that shows her strong grasp of the principles, given her persistent attack of the enemy king both before and after castling. 



Full standings are available here, and this report will be updated with photos of the closing ceremony. 


In the Open, Niemann had been fighting his way back to the top boards since his third-round upset by his compatriot IM Andy Woodward. Things seemed to be going well, as evidenced by this win with the black pieces against a fellow grandmaster.



But a number of tough draws put Niemann a half-point behind the co-leaders in the final round. French GM Marcandria Maurizzi and Serbian GM Luka Budisavljevic agreed to a quick draw, meaning that a Niemann win over his Russian opponent could vault him into a tie for first. 



The standings explained why Niemann rejected the chance to take a perpetual, as 8/11 would not be enough for a podium finish. Also of note are strong finishes from American IMs Kirk Ghazarian and Josiah Stearman on 7/11. Woodward finished a half-point back. The full standings are available here