Niemann Leads at World Youth after Seven Rounds

Seven rounds have come and gone at the 2019 World Youth Championships in Mumbai, India. 15 Americans are among the 462 competitors representing 64 countries, with more than a third of the competitors holding international titles. The U.S. team, led by Head of Delegation GM Elshan Moradiabadi, is the third largest in Mumbai, trailing only India (146 players) and Russia (16 players) in size.

While all the Americans are on the scoreboard and fighting hard, the biggest news after seven rounds has to be the performance of IM Hans Niemann. He leads the Open Under 16 section with a score of 6/7, and has a performance rating of nearly 2600 thus far.

Hans Niemann (photo Carol Meyer)

Niemann’s Round 7 game against IM Rudik Makarian shows that the old truism – ‘kids aren’t good at endgames’ – can no longer be trusted.

ChessBase India’s dynamic duo of IM Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal have been doing yeoman’s work covering the World Youth Championships, and Shah sat down with Niemann after yesterday’s round to talk about the game. In the video we learn that Niemann is in Mumbai without his computer (as he lacks the proper adapter!), that he is being prepared by IM Brandon Jacobson via phone, and that he credits his study of rook endings with Jacob Aagaard at the 50th US Chess School with helping him win!

Shah also talked to Niemann after the third round, where he drew with German FM Oliver Stark.

Other notable American results thus far:

  • WIM Thalia Cervantes Landerio is in 9th place in the Girls U18 with 4.5/7.
  • Two players are in striking range in the Open U14: Logan Wu (5/7) is in 11th place and Alex Kolay (4.5/7) is in 14th place.
  • WFM Annapoorni Meiyappan is in 21st place in the Girls U14 with 4.5/7.

A Global Game

Many of the top juniors in the world are in Mumbai, including India’s 14 year old phenom GM R Praggnanandhaa. “Pragg” is currently tied with IM Guha Mitrabha, also from India, for second place in the Open Under 18 section. Both trail Iranian IM Aryan Gholami by half a point. Pragg’s fifth round win over IM Kalyan Arjun (IND) is perhaps his best of the event.

One of the biggest stories of the tournament thus far is the emergence of R Abinandhan (IND) and Vo Pham Then Phuc (VIE) in the Open Under 14 section. Abinandhan, rated 1830 coming into the event, is tied for the lead with 6/7 and has a current performance rating of 2568! Vo, rated 1807, is in shared second with 5.5 points. It will be interesting to see if these two can keep it up, or if the clock will strike midnight on their Cinderella turns.

Rest Day

Some of the US Delegation ventured out on Tuesday’s rest day. US Chess Executive Director Carol Meyer is in Mumbai and tells CLO:

Approximately half of the US Chess player, family and coaching delegation made their way into South Mumbai today to see important historic and cultural sites. Much of the day was spent traveling by boat to Elephanta Island, to see the Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once there, the delegation saw many things, including wild monkeys (some of which were quite precocious and stole food from children), feral dogs, and a roaming goat. Of course, the main attraction was the caves, built some 1200-1400 years ago, and damaged prior to the British settlement during colonial times. The delegation also saw the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Gateway to India. The trip was cut short due to a spectacularly hot and humid day (107 degrees F heat index).

Current American point totals:

Section Leaders after Round 7:

Open U14: IM Aydin Suleymanli (AZE), FM L.R. Srihari (IND), R. Abinandhan (IND), 6/7
Girls U14: WIM Ravi Rakshitta (IND), WFM Ekaterina Nasyrova (RUS), Eline Roebers (NED), 6/7
Open U16: IM Hans Niemann (USA), 6/7
Girls U16: WFM Nazerke Nurgali (KAZ), WCM Leya Garifullina (RUS), 6/7
Open U18: IM Aryan Gholami (IRI), 6/7
Girls U18: WIM Polina Shuvalova (RUS), 6/7

Wednesday’s Round 8 pairings:


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