Heading to Brazil: World Youth Awaits
By Andi Rosen   
November 16, 2011
Andi Rosen with Eric at the 2010 US Junior Closed in Saint Louis
Greetings, chess friends, from Atlanta airport’s international terminal, where Brad, Eric and I are awaiting our flight to Brazil, Eric’s first trip to the World Youth Chess Championships.  As next year he will be too old to qualify, it will also be his last.
Along with 40 other U.S. players and their families (see chessresults.com for the full list), and the very talented U.S. coaching delegation, we’ll converging on the resort town of Caldas Novas, Brazil along with about 1,200 other players from all over the world.
We’re really excited to be going, but have had almost no time to prepare---Eric to prepare for his chess competition, or me to do my usually thorough pre-travel research, or learn even a single word in Portuguese. I think our experience heading into the tournament is probably similar to many other U.S. families.  When Eric visited Dallas last month to check out UTD and play in the Dallas Open, I had the pleasure of getting to know Wayne Xiong, father of Jeffery Xiong, a prodigy who at age 10 is already a veteran of these events. 

Jeffrey Xiong
Wayne observed that in many other countries, the players have been intensely studying for months---this is part and parcel of their school day.  Their countries are supporting them, and they are under pressure to do well.    In the U.S., kids have to secure special permission from their schools to get this time off, and are scrambling to get their homework done.    This has certainly been true for Eric, who between taking 3 AP classes, serving as graphic design editor and sports photographer for his school yearbook, teaching in an after-school chess program, giving regular private chess lessons to several students, and finding time to do college applications has barely had time to look at a chess board.  While I write this from the airport, he is looking at Chess Base and ICC and beginning his preparation. As Wayne observed that in last year’s World Youth tournament, the U.S. kids’ pure passion for chess served them well, and I hope that will be the case this year too.
As far as pre-travel preparation, I was excited to see an article in last Sunday’s New York Times about what to do if you have 36 hours in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital and the city that we’re flying into.  Author Seth Kugel also wrote about a charming small town in the opposite direction from Caldas Novas.  On a lark, I emailed him and asked if he might know of places that might make an easy day trip from Caldas Novas that might be worth visiting.  I got a response, but not quite what I expected: “Wow, this is a tough question. You're really in the middle of nowhere out there, as far as I can tell. At least, from what I can see on the map.”
Caldas Novas is a resort town very popular with Brazilians, and has attracted visitors since the 1700s because of its natural hot springs.  It seems to be barely known outside Brazil, although it did get a mention in the latest editions of the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books about Brazil.  We’ll look forward to exploring it once we get there.  Meanwhile, Brad and I still have time to crack open our Portuguese Phrases for Dummies book.
We can’t wait to meet todo mundo (all the world) in Brazil.  Until then, Tchau!

Find out more about the World Youth on the official website and look for more from Andi Rosen as the event progresses--the first round begins on Friday, November 18th. Browse through the entire list of US players on chessresults.com , where you can also stay posted on all our players.