Wednesday, January 1

World Youth In Al Ain Draws To Close

David Peng (left) and Awonder Liang stand next to the FIDE President.
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Happy New Year!  Before we continue with 2014, let me wrap up the final results of the 2014 World Youth Chess Championships in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.  GM Ben Finegold reported on Chess Life Online and this post merely provides supplemental material.  Another report on ChessBase website includes photographs from the awards ceremony.

On the bright side, Team USA brought home two medals, both in the U10 division.  Kudos to FM Awonder Liang (10-1) of Wisconsin and CM David Peng (9-2) of Illinois for earning the gold and silver medals, respectively!   Total domination!!  Bay Area youngster Josiah Stearman (7-4) found himself in contention after 8 rounds, but ran out of energy down the final stretch.

Outside of the Playing Hall
On the other hand, the American delegation had hoped to win more hardware.  Six more children finished in the Top 10 for their age.  A pair of girls, Jennifer Yu (U12) of Virginia and Carissa Yip (U10) from Massachusetts, took home 4th place honors, only a tiny bit short of a medal.  In the U18 section, GM Daniel Naroditsky knew his tiebreaks were inferior and played aggressively in a valiant yet unsuccessful attempt to complicate the last game as black against a fellow Grandmaster.  C'est la vie!

Click here for the complete results of Team USA.

  • U18 - Open
    • GM Daniel Naroditsky 7.5 (CA-N)
    • FM Atulya Shetty 6.5
  • U18 - Girls
    • WFM Jessica Regam 6.5
    • Rochelle Ballantyne 5.5
  • U16 - Open
    • FM Michael Bodek 7.5
    • NM Safal Bora 7.0
    • NM Michael Brown 7.0
    • NM Christopher Wu 7.0
  • U16 - Girls
    • WCM Ellen Xiang 6.5
    • WCM Apurva Virkud 6.0
    • Taylor Mccreary 6.0 (CA-N)
    • Margaret Hua 6.0
  • U14 - Open
    • NM Edward Song 8.0 (7th)
    • NM Colin Chow 7.0 (CA-N)
  • U14 - Girls
    • Agata Bykovtsev 7.5 (9th
    • Ashritha Eswaran 7.5 (CA-N)
  • U12 - Open
    • NM Albert Lu 7.5
    • NM Ruifeng Li 7.0
  • U12 - Girls
    • WFM Jennifer Yu 8.5 (4th)
    • WFM Annie Wang 8.0 (8th)
    • Priya Trakru 7.0
  • U10 - Open
  • Awonder
    • FM Awonder Liang 10.0 (1st)
    • CM David Peng 9.0 (2nd)
    • Josiah Stearman 7.0 (CA-N)
    • Christopher Shen 7.0
  • U10 - Girls
    • Carissa Yip 8.5 (4th)
    • WCM Vittal Sanjana 7.5 
    • Shreya Mangalam 7.0
    • Martha Samadashvili 7.0
  • U8 - Open
    • Maximillian Lu 8.5 (5th)
    • Logan Wu 7.5
    • Kevin Chor 7.5 
    • Maurya Palusa 7.5 (CA-N) 
    • Balaji Daggupati 7.0 (CA-N)
    • Advait Budaraju 7.0 (CA-N)
    • Rithik Polavarem 7.0
  • U8 - Girls
    • Maggie Ni 7.5
    • Anh Nhu Nguyen 7.0
    • Annapoorni Meiyappan 7.0 (CA-N)
Closely following the round-by-round results from the tournament, I observed some trends.  Frankly, I was shocked by the sizable role of momentum.  The American kids were remarkably streaky!  One young man won his first three games, then lost the next three!  An unfortunate lady won three straight, then lost the next four!  A boy in youngest division won the first four rounds, but somehow ended up under 50%.  On the other hand, a teenager lost twice to lower rated opponents in the first three rounds, yet finished with a respectable 7-4.

Aside from wavering confidence and difficult competition, the young players faced a variety of challenges off the board.  They slept in a foreign country, in a dorm room, and had to adjust to the 9 to 12 hour time difference.  Many faced unbearably long lines (60 minutes or more!) at the cafeteria.  Towards the end of the fortnight in the Arabian desert, exhaustion and homesickness took its toll on some.  No doubt a few children (and their parents) battled minor illnesses.  Hopefully, most will look back at this journey as an adventure.

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