Three Americans Earn Silver At Inaugural FIDE World Cup Youth Event

The first-ever FIDE World Cup for juniors took place from June 22 through July 3 in Batumi, Georgia, with Under-12, Under-10, and Under-8 open sections and corresponding sections for girls. 20 Americans competed across the six sections, comprising just over a tenth of the 198 overall participants.


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Some of the 20 Americans competing in the FIDE World Cup for juniors (Photo US Chess)


In the end, three Americans took second-place finishes on the podium: Stella Xin (Under-8 girls), Aiden Li (Under-8), and Chenxuan Ling (Under-10).


From left: Chenxuan Ling, Aiden Li, and Stella Xin all earned second-place finishes in their respective sections (Photos courtesy Sophie Nikoladze and Tornike Tavadze/FIDE)


The unique format of the tournament consisted of two stages. The first was a seven-round Swiss event, with each of the six sections divided into two sub-tournaments. From there, each player was paired into a two-game classical match against the player who finished in the corresponding place in the other sub-group’s preliminary tournament.

As a result of this match, and subsequent rapid (and blitz, if necessary) tiebreaks, the winner of the two first-place finishers would claim first place overall, with the loser finishing second. The pattern repeated all the way down the standings, with the winner of the two second-place finishers claiming third, the winner of the two third-place finishers claiming fifth, and so on.

This format allowed for the inclusion of the match play that is emblematic of the FIDE World Cup while allowing all of the juniors to play nine classical games, rather than seeing half of them “knocked out” after only two games.

As can be inferred from their second-place finishes, this means an American won their preliminary Swiss in one subgroup of three of the six overall sections, but none of the three managed to win their head-to-head match.

In the Under-10 open, Chenxuan Ling had a chance to clinch the match in the second classical game after holding a draw with the black pieces in round one.



After failing to convert in what was presumably a nervy time scramble, the first rapid game got away from him after a risky Exchange sacrifice proved to be too much for his position to handle.



Also in this section, Lev Shangin finished third in his preliminary tournament, but lost his head-to-head match against Yu Zechen to finish sixth overall.


In the Under-8 open, Aiden Li (coming off a win in the FIDE Cadet Blitz Championship) employed a risky line of the French Defense in his first classical game, and was unable to bounce back after his opponent consolidated.



In the Under-8 girls, Stella Xin also came ever-so-close to the gold. In her first game, a few late inaccuracies from her opponent gave Xin winning chances before she had to settle for a draw.



In the return game, slightly overambitious play at the expense of king safety saw her having to settle for a second-place finish.



Also in this section, Elizabeth Xia was fighting for the bronze, ultimately losing her match 2–0 and finishing fourth overall. Much like Xin’s match, Xia had serious winning chances in her first game, but was over-eager with the black pieces.




Of the remaining sections, CM Ethan Guo had the highest overall finish of the remaining Americans, finishing fifth in the Under-12 open. Below is his first-round classical match victory:



The top American in the Under-12 Girls section was WFM Laurie Qiu, who finished 11th. Her instructive bishop-versus-knight endgame victory is included below:




In the Under-10 Girls section, WCM Romi Milner was the top American finisher, landing eighth overall. Below is an instructive game where she underestimated the value of her opponent’s grip in the center:



All games from the preliminary sections can be viewed here. Read more about the tournament here. Final standings can be viewed on