Robson Close But No Medal in India
By Jamaal Abdul-Alim   
August 15, 2011
GM Ray Robson at the World Junior
Chennai, India -- Scoring an impressive nine points in a grueling, two-week, 13-round tournament, U.S. GM Ray Robson came within striking distance of winning a medal in the SDAT-Ramco 50th World Junior Chess Championship but ultimately ended in fourth place.

Despite coming oh so close, Robson says he isn’t necessarily interested in playing future World Junior competitions.

 “Hopefully, my rating will be high enough (next year) so I won’t even want to play in it,” Robson, 16, said in an interview following the closing ceremony of the 50th annual World Junior and 29th Junior Girls Chess Championships.

Currently rated at 2556, Robson mentioned 2630 as his ELO goal.

“That’s good,” GM Ben Finegold, Robson’s coach for the event, said approvingly of Robson’s goal.

At the same time, judging by the outcome of the tournament, a 2630 rating doesn’t necessarily prove or indicate dominance at the junior level.

Russia’s Matlakov Maxim, for instance, the tournament’s highest-rated player, was rated at 2632 going into the tournament but ended up in 13th place with only 8.5 points.

And Aaron Deepak, (2288) the only other U.S. competitor, got upset by several lower-rated Indian players and left with only six points -- an outcome his father, Ashok, speculated is attributable to a a hidden strength among Indian players that isn’t always reflected in their ratings due to not playing in rated tournaments.

“A 2100 is like 2300,” Deepak’s father, a native of this chess hub, said of the young Indian players.

While Robson said his play in the tournament wasn’t spectacular, he and Finegold both left relatively satisfied with Robson’s performance, particularly with black. (See more of Finegold's impressions of India and coaching Ray on his CCSCSL blog). Ray employed the Dragon with black on two occasions and won each time.

Can you guess what Ray played in the dragon position below? (Full game included with solution)


Show Solution

Robson said his most disappointing game came in the penultimate Round 12 game against Armenian GM Robert Hovhannisyan (2560), who ultimately took second place in the tournament, when Robson got into time trouble and began to make mistakes. Prior to that point, Robson felt he played well.


The loss is one of many that enabled Hoyhannisyan, as well as youths from Poland and India, respectively, to walk away from the tournament with top honors, which included crowns, money and medallions.

First place went to 16-year Swiercz Dariusz, of Poland, who told Chess Life Online that he believed from the outset that he would take first place.

GM Robert Hovhannisyan, of Armenia (second place), GM Dariusz Swiercz, of Poland (first place), and Sahaj Grover, of India (third place) 

“My aim was to win the tournament, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said Dariusz, who edged past Armenian GM Robert Hovhannisyan for first place on tiebreak. Both Hovhannisyan and Dariusz had scored 10.5 points. Hoyhannisyan might have scored 11 points but blew a seemingly winnable game in the endgame of the last-round that ended with a draw by repetition.

Dariusz said his toughest game came in Round 12 against Samvel Ter-Sahakyan, of Armenia, in a game in which Dariusz, staying true to his Polish roots, opened with the Najdorf variation of the Sicilian defense, going on to follow moves he had seen played by Polish GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek.


“I reached my goal for the year,” said Dariusz, who was crowned with an Indian bejeweled turban, given a gold medal and a check for 1,500 euros.

Hovhannisyan also received a crown, a silver medal and a check for 1,000 euros, while Sahaj Grover, 15, of India, got the bronze and a check for 750 euros.

Grover was the only Indian to win top honors in a tournament where locals had pinned their hopes on higher-rated Indian players to do the host country proud. He said the tournament, which concluded on India’s Independence Day, ended up being better than he expected.

“I just wanted a norm,” said Grover, who earned his second GM norm in the tournament.

In the 29th Junior Girls Championship, first place went to WGM Cori Deysi, of Peru. 18. who scored 11 points. Second place went to WGM Olga Girya, of Russia, who scored 10.5 points, and third place top seed Georgian Woman Grandmaster Nazi Paikidze, who scored 9.5 points. The girls won checks for the same amounts as their male counterparts, respectively.
WGM Olga Girya, of Russia, (second place), Cori Deysi, of Peru (first place), and Nazi Paidkidze, of Georgia (third place)

The tournament was hosted by the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association. Find more information including pgn files on the official website and see the final World Junior and World Girls crosstables on