Young Stars USA Hold Holiday Session With Kasparov

Young Stars Team USA trains virtually with former World Champion Garry Kasparov
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The Young Stars program trains virtually with former World Champion Garry Kasparov.


The year of 2020 was certainly full of challenges, but challenge is exactly what chess players are prepared to face. The Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) and the Saint Louis Chess Club have been running the successful Young Stars Team USA program since 2011, and it continued throughout 2020 by holding its sessions over Zoom instead of in-person. After a positive initial session held virtually over the summer, the talented students returned during the holiday season for their training with former World Champion Garry Kasparov. 

The Team USA program has helped develop several American chess prodigies from across the country, including the likes of GMs Jeffery Xiong and Sam Sevian. The Young Stars receive regular, individualized training sessions with the KCF coaching staff and special training sessions with Kasparov himself.  


U12 World Girls Champion WCM Alice Lee
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U12 World Girls Champion WCM Alice Lee goes deep with the KCF Young Stars training program.

With the success of the overall program, a new opportunity for young talents was started in 2018 with the Young Stars Global Team. This holiday season saw the Global Stars begin offering training sessions in two different languages, both English and Russian. 

Both sessions were conducted by Garry Kasparov with the assistance of FIDE Senior Trainer Michael Khodarkovsky, and GM Dmitry Gurevich was a guest in the English language session.  

The English language students were: 

  • WCM Alice Lee, gold medalist at the 2020 U12 World Online Girls Championships 
  • IM Carissa Yip, gold medalist at the 2020 U18 World Online Girls Championships 
  • IM Abhimanyu (Abhi) Mishra, youngest IM in world chess history 
  • GM Jonas Bjerre, youngest Dane to achieve the GM title 
  • GM Brandon Jacobson, Young Stars’ newest minted GM 
  • IM Christopher Yoo, gold medalist at the 2020 U16 World Online Championships 

The Russian language session students were: 

  • CM Ihor Samunenkov, Ukraine , silver medalist at the 2020 U12 World Online Championships 
  • IM Volodar Murzin, Russia, silver medalist at the 2020 U18 World Online Championships 
  • Teimur Toktomushev, Ukraine 
  • Alua Nurmanova, Kazakhstan 


IM Christopher Yoo trains with the Young Stars Team USA
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IM Christopher Yoo virtually trains with the Young Stars Team USA program.

Each student was requested to annotate six of their games and present them to the former World Champion. By presenting their games, the students had the opportunity to analyze various positions with Kasparov and take in his comments and recommendations. GM Mikhail Kobalia, the newly appointed Chair of FIDE’s Trainers Commission, was present as a guest. Despite the pandemic, some of the players have had the opportunity to keep active both in over-the-board and online competitions. 

[pgn][Event "Rated Classical game"] [Site ""] [Date "2020.10.10"] [Round "?"] [White "Gadir Guisenov"] [Black "Christopher Yoo"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C06"] [WhiteElo "2665"] [BlackElo "2455"] [Annotator "Yoo,Young-Kyu"] [PlyCount "50"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [TimeControl "1500+5"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 {Trying to wait for Ngf3 as f4 is not possible after Nf6 e5 Nfd7} 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 Nc6 8. O-O g5 $5 { White has problems to solve involving what to do against h5-g4 ideas for Black} 9. dxc5 (9. Qe2 g4 10. Ne1) (9. b4 g4 (9... cxb4 10. Bb2) 10. bxc5 (10. b5)) 9... Ndxe5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Nb3 Nxd3 12. Qxd3 f6 {Preparing e5 as the pawn will be defended} (12... e5 13. Qe2) 13. f4 gxf4 14. Bxf4 e5 15. Bh6 Rg8 $1 { Making sure Bg7 is not with tempo. I was still in preparation here.} 16. Qxh7 Be6 17. Kh1 $6 {White should focus on coordinating his minor pieces instead of this king move} (17. Bg7 Qd7 $1) (17. Be3 Qd7 18. Rf2 O-O-O 19. c6 bxc6 20. Qd3 $13 {The bishop finds itself quite well placed on e3 here}) 17... Qd7 18. Be3 { Now it is a little too late to coordinate the pieces for a potential c6-break as shown in the game} O-O-O 19. c6 Qxc6 $1 (19... bxc6 20. Nc5 Bxc5 21. Qxd7+ Rxd7 22. Bxc5 Rg6 $15 {This does not promise nearly as much as the game}) 20. Qxe7 d4 {Black's attack is crushing here.} 21. Rg1 Bd5 $1 {I am now setting myself up for Rxg2 followed by Rg8 in some cases} 22. Qc5 dxe3 23. c4 Qxc5 24. Nxc5 Bc6 25. Rae1 Rd2 {A very dominating final position for Black.} 0-1 [/pgn]

“I’m happy that we could still continue our sessions over Zoom in the middle of this pandemic,” said Yip, the three-time US Chess Junior Girls Champion. “I really do love working on chess with talented juniors, and working with Garry especially has been and will continue to be such an amazing experience. Being able to discuss variations and access the mind of one of the greatest chess players of all time has been invaluable for my chess progress.” 

Kasparov wished the students to stay positive and continue studying, and said he was looking forward to seeing them in-person during the Summer sessions. 

Young Stars has open admission for talented kids from all over the world. To apply to this elite program, candidates can find the application here: KCF Young Stars Application (download). The program is open for players aged nine (9 years) and not older than 13 years on January 1, 2020. 

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