Tuesday, July 30

USA 6th at World U16 Olympiad

Team USA-2 from left to right: Arthur, Chris, Yian, Michael, Kevin and Mr. Shen.
After ten rounds over eight days, the World Youth Chess Olympiad in Chongqing, China ended with a Closing Ceremony on Monday.  As expected, the race for gold came down to the top two seeds.  Russia and India, both featuring lineups rated over 2400, scored eight wins each.  The difference came in round 6, when the scholastic chess superpowers squared off in a match that saw three tense draws and only one victory, by India's third board.  The #2 rated Indians faced 8 of the top 10 teams, impressively beating 6 and splitting with #3 Hungary and #7 Turkey.  The higher rated Russians still could have shared top honors; alas, they halved a match with the upstart China-2 team right after the rest day.

Final Team Standings
  1. #2 India (18 MP, 30.5 GP)
  2. #1 Russia (17 MP, 30.0 GP)
  3. #7 Turkey (15 MP, 26.0 GP)
  4. #3 Hungary (15 MP, 25.0 GP)
  5. #4 China-1 (14 MP, 29.0 GP)
  6. #6 USA-2 (14 MP, 26.0 GP)
  7. #16 SCWY School (14 MP, 24.5 GP)
  8. #8 Iran (14 MP, 23.0 GP)
No doubt the host Chinese are disappointed not to have earned a team medal.  Indeed, three Chinese squads were among the top 5 going into round 9, after China-1 crushed #5 Australia by 4-0 and China-2 nicked the Russians 2-2.  And as a pleasant surprise, SCWY School checkmated the Czech Republic.  However, all three local teams lost in round 9, shattering their medal dreams.  Nonetheless, the future appears bright for the talented students at the elite Chinese chess academies.

SM Kevin Wang
SM Chris Gu
The American teams also hoped for better results.  To their credit, the official team USA-2 managed to claw back to respectability with a share of 5th place.  They faced only two higher rated squads, halving the match against #3 Hungary and subsequently losing a showdown with #1 Russia by the narrowest margin.  The low point came following the rest day, when the Americans lost to #10 Kazakhstan and, a few hours later, tied with the overachieving students of SDQD School.  Each member of USA-2 tasted defeat at least once, some due to an embarrassing blunder or with a match hanging in balance.  Board 3 Kevin Wang (78% record) and alternate Chris Gu (81% record) posted the best results, both scoring six wins.  Kudos to Chris for earning 3rd board prize among eligible alternates!

The extra team USA-1 struggled throughout the event, especially against the underrated local schools.  They finished above 50% with 11 MP, good for 25th place out of 72 teams.

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