The 20-year-old IM Kazybek Nogerbek won the 2024 FIDE World Junior Chess Championship despite only being the ninth seed and defeating 13 grandmasters. The top-seeded Indian player, IM Divya Deshmukh, 18, dominated the girl’s division, winning with an unbeaten 10/11 score.

Gandhinagar, India hosted the World Junior Chess Championship from June 2–13. There were 226 players in the Open division and 101 in the Girls division.

If Kazybek Nogerbek’s name is unfamiliar to you, it most definitely should be now. The Astana native, who finished ahead of Armenian GM Emin Ohanyan on stronger tiebreaks with a score of 8.5/11, now stands on the esteemed list of world junior winners. With eight points, Serbian GM Luka Budisavljevic won the bronze.

Nogerbek’s first major title isn’t the World Junior championship. He was the World Youth U18 Championship’s rapid and blitz champion in 2023. Prior to that, he gained notoriety at the 2022 Chess Olympiad, where he began with a 6/6 and finished with a fantastic 8.5/10 on the fourth board.

He didn’t need the direct title awarded to the world junior champion because he had already met all the qualifications for the grandmaster title earlier this year.

GM Mamikon Gharibyan of Armenia led by half a point over four players, including Nogerbek, heading into the final round with eight points. In the last round, the two squared up, with the Armenian trying to salvage a difficult conclusion when he made a critical error in time difficulties.

ChessBase India covered the dramatic end of the match and a brief interview with Nogerbek, saying,”It feels very good. To me this is a very big feeling,” the newly crowned world champion explained.

He noted that GM Darmen Sadvakasov, the current President of the Kazakh Chess Federation, won the title in 1998, making him the second Kazakh to win the world junior championship.

The World Junior Championship (Under 20 years) dates back to 1951, when it was first held. Legends like Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, and Viswanathan Anand, who all went on to win the World Chess Championship, are among the former world junior champions.

However, elite juniors are no longer giving the event priority as more appealing events have surfaced in recent years. There were 26 grandmasters who participated in all in 2018, but only 13 this year. Only GM Yu Yangyi (2013) and GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2009) among the last 15 world junior champions have placed in the top 10.

Only two of the top 30 juniors in the world competed in this year’s event. Among them was the world’s youngest grandmaster ever, 15-year-old top-seeded GM Abhimanyu Mishra, who withdrew after scoring 4/7 following a dismal campaign.

The average rating of the five Indians the American prodigy faced was 2068, over 600 points lower than his own. Some were incredibly underappreciated, like Harshit Pawar, his opponent in the first round with a rating of 2132, who decisively won.

Pawar gained a staggering 175 rating points and achieved an IM norm, indicating that the tournament was a great success for him.

Unsurprisingly, Indian home favourite Divya, who won on 10/11 after going unbeaten, dominated the girl’s division. The 18-year-old maintained the only lead from the sixth round onward, although Armenian WIM Mariam Mkrtchyan was never far behind. She had an unblemished 9.5 points, finishing barely half a point behind. Azerbaijan’s WIM Ayan Allahverdiyeva won the bronze medal.

Similar to the Open, the majority of the top players were absent from the Girls division; the only players listed in the world’s top 20 were Divya, Mkrtchyan, and WGM Beloslava Krasteva.

Less than a month has passed since Divya’s victory in the Sharjah Challengers competition. “It is definitely going beyond my expectations. I am glad, and I hope this is the foundation for bigger achievements,”

Divya is now ranked number 20 on the Women’s list overall and the second-highest rated girl under the age of 20. She will compete for India in the Budapest, Hungary, 2024 Chess Olympiad.

Topics #Chess Championship #Divya Wins Girls #Nogerbek Wins #World Junior Champion