Chess Piece

World Junior (Under-20) Championship
New Delhi, India
Oct. 15–25, 2019

Final Top Standings

1. GM Evgeny Shtembuliak UKR 2577, 9.0/11

2. GM Shant Sargsyan ARM 2580, 8.5/11

3. GM Aram Hakobyan ARM 2561, 8.0/11

4–8. GM Miguel Santos Ruiz ESP 2560, GM Murali Karthikeyan IND 2617, Wang Shixu B. CHN 2370, GM Chithambaram Aravindh IND 2609, IM Mihnea Costachi ROU 2463, 7.5/11

Total of 94 participants

Time Control: 90 minutes for first 40 moves then 30 minutes for the rest of the game with 30 seconds added to your clock starting move 1

GM Evgeny Shtembuliak

GM Evgeny Shtembuliak was an unfamiliar name to most of us until October last year when the won the World Junior (Under-20) Championship. He started off as the seventh seed with a rating of 2577 behind favorite Tabatabaei of Iran (2642), Murali Karthikeyan (IND 2617), Chithambaram Aravindh (IND 2609), Dmitrij Kollars (GER 2587), Carlos Daniel Albornoz Cabrera (CUB 2581) and Shant Sargsyan (ARM 2580). Then he jumped into the lead right from the start with 3/3 and kept it all the way to the end.

Shtembuliak, Evgeny (2577) — Praggnanandhaa, Rameshbabu (2567) [A18]
Wch Junior 2019 New Delhi (5.1), 18.10.2019

Playing Black is Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, the new chess star from India. Born Aug. 10, 2005, he is the fourth youngest person in history to achieve the grandmaster title behind Sergey Karjakin, D. Gukesh and Javokhir Sindarov, achieving the title at the age of 10 years 10 months and 19 days. Pragg achieved his first GM norm at the 2017 edition of the World Junior Championship, finishing fourth with 8/11 points. Now he wants the full title.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.cxd5

The main line is, of course, 4.e5 but the text move seems to be enjoying some popularity at the top level lately.

4…exd5 5.e5 Ne4 6.Nf3

Many years ago the famous GM Savielly Tartakower used this line a lot with White and he preferred to grab the pawn with 6.Nxe4 dxe4 7.Qa4+ Nc6 8.Qxe4 but it seems to me that 8…Be6 9.Nf3 Bd5 10.Qe3 Nb4 Black has more than enough compensation.

6…Bf5 7.d4 Nc6

[7…Bb4 is the main line]

8.Bb5 Be7 9.0–0 0–0 10.h3 f6 11.Be3 fxe5 12.dxe5 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Be4 14.Nd4 Nxe5!?

Gives us the exchange but grabbing the initiative.

15.Ne6 Qd6 16.Nxf8 Rxf8 17.f4 Qg6 18.Qe2 Nd3 19.Rad1 Nc5 20.Kh2 h5 21.h4!?

This is a move not to be made lightly. It weakens the squares around his own king but prevents …h5–h4 and fights for space. Shtembuliak does not like passive play and aggressively pushes back.


[21…Bxh4? 22.Bxc5 Bg3+ 23.Kg1 Black does not have a follow-up]

22.Bxc5 Bxc5 23.Bd3 Re8 24.c4 c6 25.cxd5 cxd5 26.Bxe4 Rxe4 27.Qd3

White has weathered the storm and is now winning.

27…Bd4 28.Rde1 Bb6 29.g3 Ba5 30.Rxe4 dxe4 31.Qc4+ Kh8 32.Rb1 a6 33.Rxb7 e3 34.Re7 Bd2 35.Re8+ [35.Re8+ Kh7 36.Qg8+ Kg6 37.Re6+ wins the queen] 1–0

That was not all. In his very next tournament he became the Champion of Ukraine which, as most of our readers know, is the 5th strongest chess country in the world (after Russia, USA, China and India).

Ukraine Men’s Final — 2019
Lutsk, Ukraine
Dec. 10–19, 2019

Final Standings

1. GM Evgeny Shtembuliak 2600, 7.0/9

2. GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko 2675, 6.5/9

3. GM Andrey Volokitin 2641, 5.5/9

4. GM Alexander Moiseenko 2623, 4.5/9

5–7. GM Pavel Eljanov 2663, GM Yuriy Kuzubov 2667, GM Spartak Vysochin 2512, 4.0/9

8–9. GM Vitaliy Bernarskiy 2593, GM Alexander Kovchan 2572, 3.5/9

10. IM Petro Golubka 2479, 2.5/9

Time Control: 90 minutes for first 40 moves then 30 minutes for the rest of the game with 30 seconds added to your clock starting move 1

Ivanchuk, Korobov and Ruslan Ponomariov weren’t playing, but Kryvoruchko, Volokitin, Moiseenko, Kuzubov and Golubka are all former champions, and Pavel Eljanov is a long-time national team player.

Shtembuliak won five games (versus Volokitin, Moiseenko, Eljanov, Kuzubov and Golubka) without losing any.

Shtembuliak, Evgeny (2600) — Volokitin, Andrei (2641) [D41]
88th ch-UKR 2019 Lutsk UKR (1.1), 10.12.2019

GM Andrey Volokitin was one of the brightest young stars in Ukraine a few years ago. He achieved the grandmaster title in 2001, when he was 15 years old. In 2004, he entered the top 100 of the FIDE world ranking list, won the 73rd Ukrainian Chess Championship and was a member of the gold-medal winning national team at the 36th Chess Olympiad. In 2005 he won the Lausanne Young Masters tournament with a rating performance of 2984.

Since then he has slowed down a bit but still remains a formidable opponent.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 c5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 0–0 11.Bc4

This is the Semi-Tarrasch line of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. I have written several columns on this already but suffice it to say that if you want to play this line you have to familiarize yourself with Polugaevsky versus Tal and Spassky against Petrosian. For your reference I will show them again here.


[11…Nc6 12.0–0 b6 13.Rad1 Bb7 14.Rfe1 Na5 (14…Rc8 15.d5 exd5 16.Bxd5 Na5 17.Qf4 Qc7 18.Qf5 Bxd5 19.exd5 Qc2 20.Qf4 Qxa2 21.d6 Rcd8 22.d7 Qc4 23.Qf5 h6 24.Rc1 Qa6 25.Rc7 b5 26.Nd4 Qb6 27.Rc8 Nb7 28.Nc6 Nd6 29.Nxd8 Nxf5 30.Nc6 1–0 Spassky, B-Petrosian, T Moscow 1969) 15.Bd3 Rc8 16.d5 exd5 17.e5 Nc4 18.Qf4 Nb2 19.Bxh7+ Kxh7 20.Ng5+ Kg6 21.h4 Rc4 22.h5+ Kh6 23.Nxf7+ Kh7 24.Qf5+ Kg8 25.e6 Qf6 26.Qxf6 gxf6 27.Rd2 Rc6 28.Rxb2 Re8 29.Nh6+ Kh7 30.Nf5 Rexe6 31.Rxe6 Rxe6 32.Rc2 Rc6 33.Re2 Bc8 34.Re7+ Kh8 35.Nh4 f5 36.Ng6+ Kg8 37.Rxa7 1–0 Polugaevsky, L-Tal, M. Moscow 1969]

12.0–0 b6 13.Rfe1

Our Ino Sadorra has a nice win here from the 2017 World Open: 13.a4 Bb7 14.Bd3 Nf6 15.Qe3 Rc8 16.Ra3 Qe7 17.Rfa1 Qb4 18.h3 a5 19.e5 Nd5 20.Bxh7+ Kxh7 21.Ng5+ Kg8 22.Qe4 Nf6 23.Qh4 Rc1+ 24.Rxc1 Qxa3 25.Rc7 Qd3 26.exf6 Bd5 27.Rc3 (as Sadorra pointed out himself, he missed here a much quicker win: 27.Nxf7 Rxf7 28.Rc8+ Rf8 29.Rxf8+ Kxf8 30.Qh8+ Kf7 31.Qxg7+ Ke8 32.Qe7#) 27…Qb1+ 28.Kh2 gxf6 29.Rg3 fxg5 30.Qxg5+ Qg6 31.Qf6 Qxg3+ 32.Kxg3 b5 33.axb5 a4 34.Qe7 Rc8 35.b6 Rc3+ 36.Kf4 Rb3 37.Qe8+ Kg7 38.Qxa4 Rxb6 39.f3 Rb2 40.Kg3 Ra2 41.Qb4 Kg6 42.h4 Kg7 43.Qe7 Ra8 44.Kf4 Rh8 45.Qg5+ Kh7 46.Qf6 Kg8 47.g4 Rh7 48.h5 Rg7 49.g5 Rh7 50.Qd8+ 1–0 (50) Sadorra, J. (2585)-Yang, K. (2415) Philadelphia 2017.

13…Bb7 14.Rad1 Rc8 15.Bb3 Re8 16.d5 exd5 17.exd5 Qf6 18.Rxe8+ Rxe8 19.Ba4 Rd8 20.Bc6! Nc5

[20…Bxc6 21.dxc6 Qxc6 22.Ne5 wins the knight]

21.Nd4 Ba6 22.Qe3 Bc4 23.h3 Bxa2 24.Nb5 a5 25.Nc7 Qh6 26.Qe2 Qf4 27.Ne8 Bb3 28.Re1 h6?! 29.Qb2 f6 30.Re3 Kf8

Black wanted to play 30…a4 but noticed that it is met by 31.Rg3 Qe5 32.Nxf6+! so first he moves his king out of the potential pin on the g-file.

31.Rf3! Qg5 <D>

This is Black’s point. If now 32.Rg3? Qe5! equalizes. However, White is not obligated to push his rook to g3.


[32.Nxf6 gxf6 33.Rxf6+ Ke7 Black holds]


32…Qxh4 33.Nxf6! gxf6 34.Rxf6+ Kg8

With the Black queen now located on h4 instead of g5 White will mate his opponent starting with 34…Ke7 35.Qe5+.

35.Rg6+ 1–0

Shtembuliak’s dream run was not yet over. Earlier the Ukrainian-turned-American GM Alexander Onischuk recruited him to study in Texas Tech University on a chess scholarship. After winning the Ukrainian championship he hurried back to the USA to represent his school in the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Championship. This is not just another school competition, the Pan-Ams is the western hemisphere’s most prestigious university open chess tournament. These schools treat their chess seriously — the Webster University Chess Team, for example, includes GMs Jorge Cori (Peru), Lazaro Bruzon (Cuba), Aleksandr Shimanov (Russia), Vasif Durarbayli (Azerbaijan), etc. Former players include Wesley So, Le Quang Liem, Ray Robson, but you get the idea.

The Texas Tech “Check Them Tech” squad won its second-ever Pan-Am Intercollegiate Championship, and its first outright. They did this over the heavily-favored Webster University Gorloks. Ever since the inception of their college chess program Webster had won or tied for first in seven years in a row. It took Texas Tech and their Ukranian connection of GMs Andrew Baryshpolets, Evgeny Shtembuliak and Pavlo Vorontsov to dethrone them.

In a space of three months GM Evgeny Shtembuliak has risen from unknown status to World Junior Champion, Ukrainian chess champion and member of the Pan-Am Champion team. We will eagerly await to see what new surprises he will spring on us in 2020.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.