U.S. Chess Kids off to running start in Ecuador.
By Aviv Friedman   
August 7, 2006
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Tatev Abrahamyan is 5-0. Photo JS.

Cuenca, Ecuador's third largest city, is the host of the 17th annual Pan American Youth chess festival. Nearly 500 players participate in 12 sections: Boys and girls under 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18. The U.S. delegation has 19 players competing in the event, 3 coaches assisting them, and many enthusiastic parents and family members cheering them on.




American players and their scores after five rounds:

Boys U10- Aleksnader Ostrovskiy (3/5), Aaron Schein (2/5), Darwin Yang (4/5)
Girls U 12- Helen Chu (3/5), Darrian Robinson (3.5/5)
Boys U12- Ray Robson (4.5/5) Daniel Naroditsky (4/5), Chris Hueng (3/5
Girls U14- Karsten McVay (3.5/5)
Boys U14- Marc Arnold (4.5/5), Christian Tanaka (4/5),Alec Getz (3.5/5)
GirlsU16- Alisa Melekhina (4/5), Julia Kerr (3.5/5), Nicole Maffeo (2/5)
Girls U 18- Tatev Abrahmyan- 5/5 
Boys U18 Elliot Liu-3.5/5

Website with pairings and results

The arrival day was quite eventful, with 2 members of the delegation detained at the Guayaquil airport for a visa problem, and yours truly running around town in an attempt to free them. After 14 long hours the two were let out, and 2 days later got their desired visas.

Traditionally, the US team has been doing pretty well in this tournament, and if to judge by the way the first 4 rounds went (this is a 9 round event), this year should be no exception. Two of our players have a perfect score (Ray Robson and Tatev Abrahamyan), while some have 3.5 out of 4 and 3 out of 4. Most others have a plus score, and no one has less than 50%.

The entire delegation is camped at a nice four star hotel in the city, and shuttles to the playing venue, a large sports arena nicknamed "The Coliseum." Team spirit is high, and all gather up after the games for analysis and then dinner. In the mornings of the days with one round (2 days have double rounds), the coaches hold preparation sessions with the kids, where we search the opponent in the computer database and try to learn what to expect in the coming game.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that the level we see from our kids remain high, and that some of them will end up on the medal's stand! Here are some photos of our players, the playing venue, and our hotel.

Ray Robson is off to a great start with 4.5/5.

Video games or chessbase? We'll never know. From left to right: Karsten McVay, Darrian Robinson, Marc Arnold, Christopher Heung and Darwin Yang.

The tournament hotel.



Christian Tanaka and Alisa Melekhina


Darwin Yang



Marc Arnold



Darrian Robinson



Nicole Maffeo