India’s Candidate Master Aronyak Ghosh scored a thrilling victory over top seed Hans Niemann of the USA to become the joint-leader in the Under-16 Open category of the World Youth Chess Championship in Mumbai on Thursday.

Eighth seed Aronyak played a strong strategic game in Round 9 to outwit his formidable opponent in 42 moves. He now has seven points along with Hans and Russian IM Rudik Makarian, who was held to a draw by another Indian hopeful CM Kushagra Mohan (now joint-second with seven points).

The Under-18 Open too was intriguingly poised, with India’s biggest hope, GM R Praggnanandhaa eking out a well-fought victory over IM Viachaslau Zarubitski of Belarus to jump into the lead with 7.5 points.

Top seeded GM Shant Sargsyan of Armenia, however, was back in the title race with seven points by scoring his second straight victory. The break on Tuesday seemed to have rejuvenated Shant as he punished the in form IM Aryan Gholami of Iran.

India suffered major setbacks in the Under-14 Open, though, with surprise package R Abinandhan and top seed S Maralakshikari losing crucial matches, with just two more rounds to go after this. Abinandhan, seeded 55th, who was enjoying a dream run, was beaten by Azerbaijan’s IM Aydin Suleymanli to slip to joint-second.

Aydin was in sole lead while Abinandhan has Austria’s Morgunov Marc for company on the second rung. Morgunov overcame Maralakshikari.

The Under-14 Girls too went against the host country, with second seeded WIM Rakshitta Ravi suffering a tough loss against Azerbaijan’s WFM Ayan Allahverdiyeva. In a Ruy-Lopez opening, Ayan gained the upper hand in the middlegame after Rakshitta’s aggression with her pawns backfired, to move into the second position.

Rakshitta’s defeat helped untitled Dutch player Eline Roebers, who downed Russian WFM Ekaterina Nasyrova to take the sole lead in the section.

Russia’s WCM Leya Garifullina (7.5) clung on to her top position in the Under-16 Girls, scoring a 47-move draw against India’s WFM Salonika Saina. Kazakhastan’s Nazerke Nurgali joined her by the end of day, after drawing with India’s BM Akshaya.


Under-18 Open: Viachaslau Zarubitski (BLR, 6) lost to R Praggnanandhaa (IND, 7.5); Sargsyan Shant (ARM, 7) bt Aryan Gholami (IRI, 6.5); Mitrabha Guha (IND, 6.5) drew with Felix Blohberger (AUT, 6);

Under 18 Girls: Polina Shuvalova (RUS, 7) drew Alexandra Obolentseva (RUS, 6.5); Lara Schulze (GER, 6.5) drew Vantika Agrawal (IND, 6.5); Turmunkh Munkhzul (MGL, 6) drew Tianqi Yan (CHN, 6.5);

Under 16 Open: Aronyak Ghosh (IND, 7) beat Hans Moke Niemann (USA, 7); Mohan Kushagra (IND, 6.5) drew Rudik Makarian (RUS, 7); Arash Daghli (IRI, 5.5) Nikolozi Kacharava (GEO, 5.5); Raja Rithvik (IND, 5.5) Miguel Soto (COL,); GB Harshavardhan (IND, 6.5) bt Sankalp Gupta (IND, 5.5);

Under 16 Girls: Leya Garifullina (RUS, 7.5) drew Salonika Saina (IND, 6.5); BM Akshaya (IND, 6) drew Nazerke Nurgali (KAZ, 7.5); Kamaliya Bulatova (RUS, 6.5) beat Anousha Mahdian (IRI, 6.5)

Under 14 Open: R Abinandhan (IND, 7) lost to Aydin Suleymanli (AZE, 7.5); S Maralakshikari (IND, 6) lost to Marc Morgunov (AUT, 7); Phuc Vo Pham (VIE, 7) bt Jakub Chyzy (POL, 6); Jeet Shah (IND, 6) lost to LR Srihari (IND, 7);

Under 14 Girls: Eline Roebers (NED, 7.5) bt Ekaterina Nasyrova (RUS, 6.5); Ayan Allahverdiyeva (AZE, 7) bt Rakshitta Ravi (IND, 6.5); Erdene Mungunzul (MGL, 7) bt Astghik Hakobyan (ARM, 6)