Irina Krush on the World Youth: From Bratislava to Batumi

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When I think back to my early years in chess, the most vibrant memories are from the World Youth Championships; of course, the competition itself, but also the traveling to a new place and making friends from around the world. One game from the World Youth has a special place in my memory to this day. It was from the 11th round of the 1993 Girls U-10 Championship in Bratislava, Slovakia, a new country beginning from January 1st of that year. I had 8/10 and, having three extra pawns in this rook and bishop ending, was not far from a final score of 9/11, which would have been a tie for first place (although I would have been second on tiebreaks). But history was written differently...

[pgn] [Event "Wch U10 Girls"] [Site "Bratislava"] [Date "1993.??.??"] [White "Danilchenko, Mari"] [Black "Krush, Irina"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B56"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/4kpp1/8/1B6/8/K3R3/5p2/2r1b3 b - - 0 63"] [PlyCount "2"] [EventDate "1993.??.??"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "SVK"] {Diagram [#]} 63... Kf8 $4 64. Re8# 1-0[/pgn]
I wound up getting clear fourth place, out of the medal spots. I remember walking the streets with my dad after this game and crying for a long time. I remember how sad it was at the closing ceremony, where there were no prizes at all for anyone besides the medal winners. Now, where else will a child learn such valuable lessons? :) I'd play at many World Youths after that, but that was the closest I'd come to medalling until much later, when I finally won a bronze medal at the 1998 World Junior. Now it's 2016, and for the first time since 1999, I return to the World Youth, in a slightly different role. In Batumi I am chaperoning/coaching Nura Baalla, a New Yorker playing in the Girls Under 10 section.

20161020_145825 Nura Baalla in the World Youth, sporting Two Sigma jacket.

The US delegation has over 50 girls and boys in Batumi, with the bulk of them in the under 8 and 10 categories. I'm trying to get to know our players and their parents, but admittedly it's difficult to make the acquaintance of more than a fraction of our total representatives. One major differentiation between the kids is geography: I've met kids who live in or near to big chess centers, and get to play tournaments frequently, while others have to fly or drive 3-5 hours to get to a tournament. Chess is a big commitment in any case, but you've gotta admire those families who face the extra hurdle of geography to support their children's pursuit of chess. To my surprise, I learned that some of our top rated kids are emerging from chess-remote locations, like Alabama! When I heard that Rochelle Wu, our nation's top ten year old girl, is from Alabama, I tried to make some association in my mind between this state and chess/chess players/ chess tournaments and drew a complete blank. Arthur Guo's father told me that there are only a couple of tournaments per year in Georgia for Arthur to compete in, such as the Castle Grand Prix and the Georgia State Championship, and the rest of the time they fly to big open tournaments across the country. The venue for this World Youth (it's recently been renamed the World Cadet, following the division of the World Youth into two events, one for under age 12, and one for under age 14 and up) is pretty great. Batumi is a port city on Georgia's Black Sea coast. Although we were greeted with heavy, nonstop rain when we arrived, the weather  gradually got better, giving us a very sunny day for the first round. Most of the American team lives in the Sheraton hotel, which is also the playing site. We're a minute's walk from the famous Batumi Boulevard, a 7 km promenade along the beach adorned with numerous sculptures, which make for great photos.

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The center of Batumi is quite small and easily coverable on foot.

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The Chess

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Ellen Wang in the Girls Under 8, wearing a sponsor Two Sigma jacket.

The under 8 section is too young to have any internationally recognizable  names, but among the top players from the US we have Marvin Gao and Dimitar Mardov. Marvin ran into a strong unrated Chinese player in round 1, who made a timely transition to the hanging pawns structure which he ably exploited, very impressive to see in the youngest section!

[pgn] [Event "World Cadets U8, U10, U12 Championships"] [Site "Batumi"] [Date "2016.10.19"] [White "Chen, Muye"] [Black "Gao, Marvin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A00"] [BlackElo "1475"] [PlyCount "101"] [EventDate "2016.10.19"] 1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 O-O 6. Nf3 b6 7. Bd3 Bb7 8. O-O Nbd7 9. Qe2 c5 10. Rfd1 Rc8 11. Rac1 Re8 12. cxd5 exd5 13. dxc5 bxc5 14. Bf5 Rb8 15. Bf4 Ra8 16. Qb5 Qc8 17. Ne5 Rd8 18. Nxd7 Nxd7 19. Nxd5 Bf8 20. Nc7 a6 21. Qa4 Nb6 22. Bxc8 Nxa4 23. Bxb7 Nxb2 24. Bxa8 Nxd1 25. Be5 f6 26. Bd5+ Kh8 27. Ba1 Rd7 28. Rxd1 Rxc7 29. Be6 Be7 30. Kf1 Rc6 31. Bc4 Bd6 32. Ke2 h5 33. Rd5 g6 34. Bxf6+ Kh7 35. Bd8 Kg7 36. Kf3 Kf8 37. h4 Ke8 38. Bg5 Kd7 39. Bf4 Rb6 40. Bxd6 Rxd6 41. Rxd6+ Kxd6 42. Bxa6 Kc6 43. Bc4 Kb6 44. Bf7 Kb5 45. Bxg6 c4 46. Bxh5 c3 47. Bg6 Kb4 48. h5 Ka3 49. h6 Kb2 50. h7 Ka1 51. h8=Q 1-0 [/pgn]

20161020_145728-1 Arthur Guo prior to the start of his second round game. He seemed to be in a good mood and moved to 2/2

In the younger sections, ratings are not very indicative of a player's strength; country of origin is more so. It's safe to assume that countries with a strong chess tradition will have the most competitive players, but that list is ever-evolving. Twenty five years ago one would not think of India as a strong chess country, but now it definitely is. A few years back Kazakhstan didn't have much of a presence in the world youth championships, but now it can fill many sections with players seeded in the top ten. The open under 10 section has some already familiar names, such as 9 year old Islombek Sindarov from Uzbekistan, rated 2229, and Ilya Makoveev from Russia, winner of multiple Russian, European, and World Youth titles. There is a lot of strong US representation in this section, led by Arthur Guo from Atlanta, seeded third at 2168. Also perfect in the Open Under 10 is Nico Chasin. Here's his first round win:

[pgn] [Event "World Cadets U8, U10, U12 Championships"] [Site "Batumi"] [Date "2016.10.19"] [White "Shapovalovi, Vasiko"] [Black "Chasin, Nico Werner"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A00"] [WhiteElo "1453"] [BlackElo "1903"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2016.10.19"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. O-O O-O 6. b3 c5 7. Bb2 Ne4 8. Nbd2 Nc6 9. e3 f5 10. Qe2 b6 11. Rab1 cxd4 12. exd4 e6 13. a3 a5 14. Rfc1 Ba6 15. Qd1 Bh6 16. c4 Rc8 17. Rc2 Qd7 18. Nxe4 fxe4 19. Ne5 Nxe5 20. dxe5 a4 21. b4 Bxc4 22. Bxe4 Bb3 23. f4 Qf7 24. Bd3 Bxc2 25. Bxc2 g5 26. Qd3 gxf4 27. gxf4 Bxf4 28. Rf1 Be3+ 29. Kg2 Qxf1+ 30. Qxf1 Rxc2+ 31. Kg3 Rxf1 32. b5 Bf4+ 0-1[/pgn]
The American field in the girls under 10 section is spearheaded by ten year old Rochelle Wu from Alabama, who recently made expert, and Rianne Ke, also approaching that milestone. Rianne had a tough start in Batumi, defeated by a girl from the surging chess nation of India. As we go to the higher age category, under 12, we see markedly fewer US representatives. The top three 12 year old boys in the country are missing from the US roster, for example. That likely has something to do with the fact that it becomes more difficult to miss school in the higher grades. The World Youth is always held in the fall of the school year, and it's a shame that so many of our top young players have to make the choice between fulfilling their academic duties and participating in the World Youth. It would be so much better if schools would offer their support to kids who've shown passion and commitment to excel at something. In the girls under 12, we are led by Marta Samadashvili and Nastassja Matus, currently ranked top US girls in the 12 and 11 year old category, respectively. The open section sees masters Andrew Hong, Andy Huang, and Aydin Turgut vying with the international stars R Praggnanandha of India (the world's youngest IM ever at age 10 years, 10 months, 19 days), who recently made headlines by defeating GM Axel Bachmann (2645) in 18 moves with the Black pieces at the Isle of Man tournament, Javokhir Sindarov (probably the older brother of Islombek Sindarov), Vincent Keymer of Germany, and Jonas Bjerre of Denmark. So much exciting chess is in store! US Chess will keep you posted on the journeys of our top young players! After two rounds, here is the full list of perfect 2-0s. Find full results here.  Girls under 8- Kally Wen Open under 8- Dimitar Mardov, Brian Huang Girls under 10-Gauri Menon, Nura Baalla Open under 10- Arthur Guo, Jason Wang, Nico Chasin, Boris Peter Theodore, Kevin Pan, Davis Zong, Jr, Christopher Yoo Girls Under 12-Nastassja Matus, Evelyn Zhu Open Under 12-Andrew Hong, Andy Huang, Aydin Turgut Also follow along on twitter, facebook & chessresults.com. Find out more about Two Sigma sponsorship here. 

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

great to see read more reports from GM Krush. always a refreshing take.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Irina, really great to read about your disappointing loss so many years ago. As the parent of a young chess enthusiast, I see how the losses, though painful, provide the greatest opportunities for growth. Its nice to read about similar such experiences from such a formidable talent as yourself!! And great pictures and commentary--love seeing all the two sigma jackets and the picture of you by the black sea.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My guess is that Batumi, Georgia is a more interesting place for a “chess-cation” versus Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, the site for the recently-completed 2016 World Youth tournament (as well as many other international chess tournaments). It’d be interesting to read the opinions of parents and coaches who have been to both places.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] Also follow along on twitter, facebook & chessresults.com. Find out more about Two Sigma sponsorship here.  Also see GM Irina Krush’s first piece from Batumi here.  […]

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] facebook & chessresults.com. Find out more about Two Sigma sponsorship here.  Also see GM Irina Krush’s first piece from Batumi here and her post rest day report […]

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] facebook & chessresults.com. Find out more about Two Sigma sponsorship here.  Also see GM Irina Krush’s first piece from Batumi here and her post rest day report […]

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] facebook & chessresults.com. Find out more about Two Sigma sponsorship here.  Also see GM Irina Krush’s first piece from Batumi here and her post rest day report […]

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] out more about Two Sigma sponsorship here.  Also see GM Irina Krush’s first piece from Batumi here and her post rest day report here. US Chess would also like to thank all the parents who helped […]

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] Irina Krush on the World Youth: From Bratislava to Batumi […]

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