Thursday, November 8

World Youth 2012 Kicks Off

Town Square in Maribor
The World Youth Chess Championship 2012 began this afternoon in Maribor, the second largest city of the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia.  Out of nearly 1600 juniors from around the world, a record 87 came from the USA, including 13 from Northern California.  Through November 18, players will compete for 11 rounds in sections segregated by age (U8, U10, U12, U14, U16 and U18) as well as gender (Open and Girls). 

Board, set and clock are all provided.
The Bay Area has a rich history of success at this tournament.  In the past five years, three local talents have finished at the top of the world for their age!  Daniel Naroditsky captured gold for U12 in 2007; Sam Shankland shared first for U18 in 2008; and Steven Zierk took gold for U18 in 2010.  Daniel and Steven both now hold the IM title while Sam rocketed to Grandmaster and an impressive 2600 international rating.  Who will step up to continue the magic in 2012?

Here are the local participants in Maribor:
  • U12 - SM Sam Sevian (top seed)
  • U12 - NM Cameron Wheeler (fifth seed)
  • U12 - Kevin Moy
  • U12 - Vignesh Panchanatham
  • U12 - Siddharth Banik
  • G12 - Ashritha Eswaran
  • U10 - Rayan Taghizadeh (ninth seed)
  • G10 - Joanna Liu
  • U8 - Ben Rood
  • U8 - Milind Maiti
  • U8 - Balaji Daggupati
  • U8 - Kelvin Jiang
  • G8 - Zhiyi Wang
Team USA hopes to build on the results from last year: one gold and one silver, with ten players finishing in the top 10 for each division. This year's squad appears to be strongest in the U12 section, with SM Sam Sevian and FM Jeffrey Xiong rated at the very top of the entire field.  They are not alone; indeed 14 of the top 40 in U12 wear the red, white and blue.  In the U10 section, NM Praveen Balakrishnan and 2011 U8 gold medalist FM Awonder Liang are both ranked in the top 5.  The top contenders among the girls include Ashritha Eswaran of Northern California in U12 and WFM Annie Wang of Southern California in U10. 

The official website contains links to pairings and standings (filter by Federation = USA) and many live games (starting at 6:00am PST for most rounds).  For a quick overview of Team USA, check out the Chess-Results website.  For daily news and reports from Maribor, surf to Chess Life Online and the blogs for Cameron Wheeler and Vignesh Panchanatham.

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