GM Hess on the World Cadet: Final Round Medal Watch

Group Photo at the World Cadet in Poco de Caldas, Photo Young-Kyu Yoo
Heading into the final round of the World Cadet Chess Championships (live game link), Americans in all sections have at least an outside shot of earning a medal. There is no need for introduction; let’s jump right into the standings. Under 8 Girls (click for standings after 10 rounds) Both Iris Mou and Alice Lee have 7/10 and can tie for second place with a win. Of the two, Iris’ chances are better because of her superior tiebreaks. As the girls face players with 8/10, a victory catapults them into a tie with their final round opponent. In terms of a podium finish, both are rooting for Mongolian player Gantulga Lkhagvajed (7.0) to do no better than a draw. If that happens, the surest way to a bronze is for the second American player to not win, as the first tiebreak is direct encounter. Thus, a win by either Iris or Alice and a draw by Lkhagvajed assures the U.S. a bronze medal. If both win, then it is anyone’s guess who gets a medal. Lila Quinn Field deserves serious recognition in this section, for she plays a major part in which player will win the gold medal. Though her 6.5 points leave her out of medal contention, she will have a shot at knocking off the tournament leader on board 1 in the final round! Under 8 Open
Abhimanyu Mishra before his ninth round game, in sponsor Two Sigma jacket. 
Abhimanyu Mishra was simply dominating this section after 8 rounds, as his perfect score led the field by a point and a half. However, a draw in round 9 and a loss in round 10 has narrowed the gap between him and the rest of the field. Board one features an all-American matchup with Aren Emrikian (8.0) trailing Abhimanyu by just half a point. Aren has reeled off four straight wins, including this picturesque display of positional domination:
[pgn] [Event "World Cadet Championship"]
[Date "2017.08.30"]
[White "Emrikian, Aren C"]
[Black "Wei, Xiaoxi"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1408"]
[BlackElo "1453"]
[PlyCount "109"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "China"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "CHN"]
[WhiteClock "0:28:11"]
[BlackClock "0:13:27"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Ndb5 Bb4 7. Bf4 e5 8.
Bg5 O-O 9. a3 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. Nd5 Nd4 12. c3 Nxb5 13. Bxb5 a6 14. Bc4 d6
15. O-O Be6 16. Qe2 Bxd5 17. Bxd5 Qc7 18. Rad1 Rad8 19. Rd3 Qe7 20. b4 Rc8 21.
Rc1 Rc7 22. c4 Rfc8 23. Rdc3 h6 24. Qa2 Kf8 25. Qb3 b6 26. Qa4 Ra7 27. R1c2
Rcc7 28. Qb3 Rc8 29. a4 a5 30. b5 Qc7 31. Bc6 Rd8 32. Rd3 Be7 33. Rf3 Bf6 34.
Rd2 Kg8 35. Rfd3 Be7 36. g3 Qc8 37. Kg2 Rc7 38. Rd5 Kf8 39. R2d3 Kg8 40. Rf3
Kf8 41. c5 bxc5 42. Rxc5 Bf6 43. Rcc3 Qb8 44. b6 Re7 45. Qb5 Bg5 46. Rfd3 f5
47. h4 Bf6 48. Qxa5 fxe4 49. Bxe4 d5 50. Rxd5 Rxd5 51. Bxd5 e4 52. Rc7 Re5 53.
Rf7+ Ke8 54. Qb5+ Kd8 55. Qd7# 1-0[/pgn]
If Abhimanyu wins with the white pieces, he secures a gold medal. If Aren draws or wins, then Russian sensation Savva Vetokhin (8.0) can swoop in for gold with a win of his own. He owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over both Americans, whom he beat in round 2 (Aren) and round 10 (Abhi).
Aren Emrikian, Two Sigma shirt, Photo Jerry Nash
Under 10 Girls This section is unlikely to have an American medalist. However, there’s still a chance! Ellen Wang has played a phenomenal tournament and her constant smile is uplifting to all of her friends and coaches. I ran into Ellen before today’s game and told her that I love how upbeat she is. Though she lost a tough battle, she has the best tiebreaks in the entire tournament and her 6.5/10 score gives her a puncher’s chance at a bronze if the following were to happen:
  1. Ellen wins
  2. China’s Wei Yaqing, with 8.0, at least draws her opponent with 7.0
  3. The game between the only two players with 7.5 is decisive
  4. The two remaining players with 7.0 do not defeat their opponents with 6.5
  5. A humongous tie for third with 7.5/11 and the tiebreaks continue to favor Ellen.
Just wow. It’s certainly unlikely to play out this way, but stranger things have happened. Shoutouts to both Tianna Wang and Rui Yang Yan, who both also have 6.5/10 Under 10 Open
Liran Zhou in his tenth round game, Photo Jerry Nash
Liran Zhou (8.5) survived a topsy-turvy penultimate round and secures a gold medal with a draw in the finale, since he beat the only player that can catch him. That player? Arthur Xu, whose 8 points put him half a point above three competitors. Zhou gets the black pieces against the section’s second-highest rated player, who has 7 points. That’s a fairly favorable pairing. Xu, on the other hand, gets black against the highest. The difference between the top seeds is 242 ELO, so Xu will look to hold India’s Bharath Subraminayam. If Xu succeeds, he should earn a silver medal. Under 12 Girls There’s been a two-player race at the top of the event for many rounds now. India’s Divya Deshmukh leads with an impressive 9/10.
Aleh Matus, coach GM Illia Nyzhnyk, Nastassja Matus vs Amina Kairbekova. Photo Melik Khachiyan
Nastassja Matus’s 8.5/10 would run away with most tournaments, but in this one she finds herself in second. A match between Indian compatriots Deshmukh and Rakshitta Ravi (2050 FIDE) will occur on the top board, while Nastassja plays with the white pieces against the Czech player Anna Lhotska (1697 FIDE). Nastassja certainly will be rooting for Rakshitta to make use of her white pieces to knock off the tournament leader. Under 12 Open Justin Wang floated up and defeated strong Russian players in consecutive rounds, leaving him with 8/10 and in clear first place. His road only gets harder: his final round game is with black against IM-elect Javokhir Sindarov (7.5 points), the top player in the section. Sharing 2nd-6th with 7.5 is Vincent Tsay, who receives black against Russia’s Martin Stukan (2146 FIDE). Vincent (2033 FIDE) has already upset three players rated over 2280, so he will show no fear. Other top Americans in this section have no shot at a medal, but it’s worth noting that Anthony He and Maximillian Lu face off on board five. They have 7 points. Unfortunately, Christopher Yoo suffered two straight losses after starting 6.5/8. Watch top boards in the final round of the World Cadets in Poco de Caldas, Brazil live at chess24 and follow standings here.  GM Robert Hess's earlier piece includes an in-depth look into the atmosphere and preparation techniques on Team USA. Find out more about sponsor Two Sigma here.