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The final two weeks of 2013 bring one of the most exciting events on the international chess calendar: the annual World Youth Chess Championships. Usually held in late October or November, the organizers in the United Arab Emirates chose to host the tournament over the European winter holidays. The change in dates helped boost the overall turnout to 1800+ from 120 countries, up from 1584 children last year. The American delegation has swollen to more than 90 players, not counting parents, siblings and coaches! There are 12 sections differentiated by age (U-18, U-16 through U-8) and gender (Open + Girls). The chess competition promises to be fierce; for example, the U-18 section features a record 10 Grandmasters, including the Bay Area's own Daniel Naroditsky.
Attending an event of this magnitude requires careful planning. A typical flight to the United Arab Emirates includes a stopover of several hours in Frankfurt or London. Upon arrival in Dubai, the weary travelers must endure a 2-hour bus trip to the inland oasis of Al Ain. All delegates will spend two weeks living at a modern university campus. The next challenge is overcoming the jet lag--a 12 hour time difference from California. Many families flew in several days early to adjust to the complete reversal of the body clock.
|United Arab Emirates University|
The tournament runs 11 rounds from December 18 to 28, with one game daily except for a double-round on the 21st. The rest day after round 8 will coincide with the major religious holiday of Christmas. Will Santa and his reindeer find their way deep into the Arabian desert? Perhaps Santa should hire a camel instead. On the bright side, the relaxed schedule allows young players time to review their games with a professional team coach (GM or strong IM) and learn from the inevitable mistakes.
|Royal family at Opening Ceremony (Photo: McCarty)|
|Museum (Photo: McCarty)|
Good luck to all. Go U-S-A!