By GM Arturs Neiksans

The third round is over, and in most of the groups have emerged the first few leaders who most likely will be the main contenders for the gold.
In the youngest groups most of the players are hardly spending any time for thinking – moves are blitzed out with an incredible speed so no wonder that by the end of the first hour many games are finished! This blazing sprinting can lead to tragicomedies which one side often leaves in an elated state while the other – in tears. Here is what happened in today’s top game in the U-8 Girls group where the 9th seed Veronika Iudina (Russia) was facing the 2nd seeded Ekaterina Zubkovskaya (Belarus).

It is obvious that White is easily winning but Black is simply not resigning and fighting it until the very end – perhaps there is a hope? Normally one could expect here 42.a7 and Black can resign. However, White was concerned about some potential checks on f2, so she quickly played 42.Rb2 which changes nothing in the evaluation of the game, and only prolongs it. After 42…Bf2+ followed 43.Kh1 (of course, 43.Rxf2 would have been the end of it) 43…Kf6 44.a7 Ra8 45.Rb8? Rxa7! and here White should have realized that something is wrong, however 46.Rxa7?? followed within seconds and now after 46…Ng3+ 47.Kh2 Nf1+ Black forced a perpetual check! Time on the clock for White 1h 30 minutes for White and 1 h 41 minutes for Black. Sometimes lessons come the hard way.
In the Girls U-8 group after the third round there are four leaders with a perfect score: Diana Preobrazhenskaya from Russia, Kesaria Mgeladze from Georgia, Daria Tiana Litcanu from Romania and Monika Borowik from Poland.

In the Open U-8 section at the top board happened something similar where the 17th seeded Artem Lebedev from Russia was playing against the 2nd seeded Jahandar Azadaliyev (Azerbaijan).

White realized that he probably is dead lost so he decided to try the only practical chance 31.Rfb1. Black immediately found the right defense 31…Kc7 and White continued with the practical 32.e5!? which objectively drops a piece for no compensation. It took Black mere seconds to accept the bait 32…Rxe2 – someone with more experience perhaps would had opted for a safer 32…Bc8 but we can’t ask that from 8 year olds who are only making their first steps in the international chess arena! A piece is a piece after all. Now after 33.Rb7+ Kd8 34.Rxa7 Black would need to find either 34…Rh5 or 34…Bc8, but what happened was 34…Rd2?! and now White could have regained the piece by playing 35.Rb8+ Bc8 36.Rxc8+! Kxc8 37.Ra8+ with some practical chances for a draw. However, he missed it and blitzed out 35.a4?? instead. Now if Black would have spent a few more minutes for the position, he would had found 35…Ke8, followed by 36…Rd8 with a technical win, however he did not sense the danger and played 35…h2?? instead. Here White finally found the aforementioned tactic and was accurate until the very end to hold the draw.
In the Girls U-10 group there are six leaders with 3 points out of 3 – young Russians Alexandra Shvedova, Sofya Svergina, Anna Shukhman, and also Lykke-Merlot Helliesen from Norway, Taja Guid from Slovenia and Milena Sidorenja from Belarus. In the meantime in the Open U-10 group there are 10 leaders with the perfect score but it should be noted that comparing to the girl’s group there are twice as many players. Among the leaders is the top seeded Artem Pingin from Russia and the 3rd seeded Clement Kuhn (France).
The favorites keep going strong also in both U-12 groups. In the girls section among the 10 leaders is the 2nd seeded Zsoka Gaal from Hungary, while the first seeded Machteld Van Foreest from Netherlands suffered an unexpected defeat by the hands of Sofia Blokhin from Estonia. In the boys group the main favorites Volodar Murzin (1st seed), Ilya Makoveev (2nd seed), Robert Safin (3rd seed) and Aleksey Grebnev (5th seed, all from Russia) remain perfect.
While the Russian boys today dominated the O-12 group, a completely different picture was in the Girls U-14 group where three young Russian girls were playing the first three top boards, and all of them suffered losses. In this group after the 3rd round are no less than 6 leaders, and currently the 5th seeded Beloslava Krasteva (from Bulgaria (playing under the flag of FIDE) has become the main favorite as most of the higher rated players have already lost a point. In the Open U-14 group among the 8 leaders with the perfect score is the top seeded Jonas Buhl Bjerre from Denmark and 2nd seeded Dmitry Tsoy from Russia. However, both of them today were in a real trouble!

Bjerre, Jonas (DEN 2423) – Ceres, Dragos (MDA, 2211)

Something has gone horribly wrong for the main favorite – he is down a pawn with no compensation and the time trouble is looming with more than enough time for his opponent to make accurate decisions. Here 32…Bf6 would had ensured Black a big advantage, however… 32…Qxb4?? One extra pawn to calm down the appetite should have been enough! White continued with 33.Ng5! Rf8 34.Nxf7+! Rgxf7 35.Rxf7 Rxf7 36.Rd8+ and now 36…Kg7 is impossible because of mate in one! After 36…Rf8 37.Rxf8+ Qxf8 38.Qxc3+ Qg7 39.Qc8+ Qg8 40.Qxa6 Black lost another pawn and eventually the game.

An even more dramatic turn of events was at the 2nd board.
Van Dael, Siem (NED, 2174) – Tsoi, Dmitry (RUS, 2393)

In a slightly worse position Black made a terrible blunder with the overly optimistic 15…Bg4?? Instead of it, after 15…f5 16.Ng5 g6 Black would be still holding. White went for 16.h3 which is a good move, however after the 16.c5 Be7 17.f5! Black would simply lose his light-squared bishop. 17…h3 is met by 18.Rf4 which might be what White missed in his calculations. The game continued with 16…Bh5 17.g4 Bg6 and now something bizzare happened. Instead of playing the logical 18.f5 and cutting off the black bishop for good, White decided to play 18.c5 first which probably gave Black a great relief, and he responded with 18…Bxe4, trading off the potentially bad bishop. However, now after 19.Bxe4 Be7 followed 20.f5?? which is a few moves late! White blundered the 20…Bxc5! idea, that 21.dxc5 is impossible because of 21…Qg3+ 22.Bg2 Re2 and White will get checkmated. 21.Qd3 Qe5 and White resigned! What a turnaround!

In the Girls U-16 section the main favorite of the tournament Olga Badelka from Belarus was confidently held to a draw by Nadiia Shpanko from Ukraine while the 2nd seeded Gabriela Antova
(Bulgaria, playing under the flag of FIDE) won her game, joining the 5th seeded Govhar Beydullayeva (Azerbaijan) and Kamaliya Bulatova (Russia) in the lead. In the Open U-16 section among the leaders are none from the first six seeded players, making the 7th seeded Russian Tagir Salemgareev the current main favorite.

In the Open U-18 section there were many draws at the top boards, and after the 3rd round there are only two leaders – 3rd seeded Leon Livaic from Croatia and 18th seeded Evgenios Ioannidis from Greece who today won a nice game with a queen sacrifice. The girls U-18 section has 4 leaders with a perfect score, among them the 3rd seeded Alicja Sliwicka from Poland. The 1st seeded Marta Garcia Martin (Spain) today against Ivana Hrescak from Slovenia suffered a crushing defeat with White in the Dragadorf variation (combination of Dragon and Najdorf) and is down to a 50% score.
This round wasn’t particular successful for local plays – after the 2nd round there were four players with the 100% score, however all four of them lost today their games.

Did you know that the length of a chess game is pretty much limitless? Today the longest game lasted 6.5 hours and for 150 moves!