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Seven medals, and controversy in Ecuador Print E-mail
By Aviv Friedman and Jennifer Shahade   
August 12, 2006
Elliott Liu won first place in the Boys U 18 section. Photo Jacob Okada.

Sixteen-year-old Elliott Liu, winner of the U18 Gold Medal, in Cuenca Ecuador (further update below from coach Aviv Friedman) is happy to be home in San Diego, and not just to show off his medal. There was an ugly cheating incident involving Elliott's competition. In the last round, on board two of the U18, two Venezeulan players, both half a point behind Elliott were paired. One needed to win in order to catch Elliott. They played a ten-move game with no trades. The player with fewer tiebreak points resigned for seemingly no reason! Here is the game:


After Elliott drew his game on board one, tie-breaks would normally decide the winner.

However, Elliott together with captain Aviv Friedman and coaches Michael Khordokovsky and Armen Ambartsoumian issued a formal complaint to the appeals committee and finally won after two hours. The second board game was decided as a draw, paving Elliott's way to clear first. Elliott was not too disappointed to miss the awards ceremony, especially after he found out why the Venezeulan players had colluded against him: " When interviewed by the appeals committee, I was shocked to learn that he completely admitted it and did it as a personal protest against me and the US!" The tension had built over a touch-move dispute between Elliott and a Venezuelan player in a previous round.

View of Cuenca

Elliott Liu won't miss Cuenca. It's winter time in Ecuador right now, and the hotel and playing hall lacked heating. "I wore 5 layers of like ski clothing every single day, so I ran out of clothes to wear." he said.

Still, the 2005 U.S. Cadet Champion is proud of his accomplishment. Ranked tenth going into the event, Liu was hardly the favorite. "I'm extremely happy and proud- it was my best tourney ever," he tells Chess Life Online.

Here is one of his games, a nice tactical Sicilian victory:


"On move 16, I saw the idea (of Rxe2!) and pretty much calculated it to the end."

Tatev wows with a 9-0 sweep.

Tatev Abrahayman from Los Angeles cemented Southern Californian domination with a 9-0 sweep of her section. "The opposition wasn't too strong at the end", she said, "but it never gets boring to win."

Here is one of Tatev's favorite wins from her tournament:


Forced to infight

Unfortunately, the strength of our players and the length and size of the tournament results in a lot of U.S.-U.S. pairings. Ray Robson and Daniel Naroditsky fought it out in the Boys U12 section. Ray outplayed Daniel on the White side of a Sicilian, and won the game, and eventually the silver medal. Daniel can still be proud of his bronze finish.


Ray Robson and Daniel Naroditsky, silver and bronze medalists in the Boys U12.

Precociously positional

Darwin Yang, silver medalist in the U10 section ground down his fifth round opponent in an impressive display of patience and understanding.


Darwin Yang: Wise beyond his years.

American Results- (medalists in bold)

Boys U18- Elliot Liu -7/9- Gold Medal!
Girls U18-Tatev Abrahayman - 9/0 Gold Medal!
Girls U16- Alisa Melekhina- 7/9- Silver Medal, Julia Kerr-6.5/9 and Nicole Maffeo-5.5/9
Boys U14- Alec Getz 6.5/9, Marc Arnold 6/9 and Christian Tanaka 4.5/9
Girls U14-Karsten McVay-4.5/9
Boys U12- Ray Robson-8/9- Silver Medal(tied for first, Silver on tiebreak), Daniel Naroditsky 6.5/9-Bronze Medal, Christopher Hueng-5/9 and Justin Karp-4/9.
Girls U12-Darrian Robinson and Helen Chu- 5/9
Boys U10-Darwin Yang-7.5/9-Silver Medal (tied for first, silver on tiebreak), Aleksander Ostrovskiy 6/9 and Aaron Schein-5/9
Girls U10- Eileen Dai- 7/9

Click here for Complete standings, results and more.

Skittles between rounds. Looking at the camera are Darrian Robinson, Christopher Hueng and Aaron Schein.

Alec Getz, top U.S. finisher in the Boys U14 with 6.5/9.

From left to right:
Row 1: Ray Robson, Daniel Naroditsky, Eileen Dai, Alexandr Ostrovskiy, Darwin Yang, Marc Arnold, Aaron Schein, Darrian Robinson.
Row 2: Michael K, Nicole Maffeo, Helen Chu , Aviv Friedman, Chirstopher Hueng, Alec Getz, Justin Karp, Julia Kerr.
Row 3: Alisa Melekhina, Karsten McVay, Martha Baquero Armen Ambartsoumian, Christian Tanaka.

Report from Aviv Friedman

The Pan American Youth is over! The US team has earned a total of 7 medals: 2 Gold, 4 Silver, and 1 Bronze! Despite missing representatives in 3 of the 12 age categories, the US team also got a 3rd place overall, behind Peru and Columbia, who had very large delegations: undoubtedly, a fantastic feat.

Most of our players ended with scores of 50% or above, quite good considering that for many this has been their debut in international competition. All showed great fighting spirit and good sportsmanship, and so the trip was an enriching experience to everyone.

Leading our medal winners was WFM Tatev Abrahamyan who went through the under 18 girls section like a buzz saw in plywood. Her perfect 9/9 score left her opponents in the distant background, fighting for Silver and Bronze. She ears a WIM norm for her victory.

Completing our under 18 domination was Elliott Liu, with a 7/9 result and clear first place. Winning the Gold and also earning an IM norm, Elliott started in low gear but finished strongly, beating among others the top seed IM from Venezuela.

First place once again eluded veteran Alisa Melekhina, this time in the under 16 girls section. She was held to a few draws, bringing her final tally to 7/9 and unshared second place and the silver medal.

Ray Robson was once again in a 2-person race with Peruvian Jorge Cori for the championships of the Boys under 12 category. Like last year Ray got a fantastic 8/9 score, but again that 'only' sufficed for shared first and 2nd on tie breaks.

Playing in the same section, young Daniel Naroditsky managed 6.5 points (losing to the 2 winners) and thanks to his great tie breaks, picked up 3rd place and the Bronze medal.

In the Boys under 10, Darwin Yang scored an impressive 7.5 out of 9 and tied for first, winning the Silver medal on tie breaks.

Eileen Dai, our representative in the under 10 girls saved a lost endgame in her last game and earned a sole second place and the Silver medal.

A full report with annotated games and more details will appear in Chess Life.