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Team USA Shines in Mexico Print E-mail
By Ted Castro   
July 19, 2014
The XXV Panamercan Youth Chess Festival, held in Oaxtepec, Morelos, Mexico from July 10-17 concluded after eight exciting days. The American kids shined, winning the most medals in the classic tournament: 5 Gold, 2 Silver & 1 Bronze. Mexico took six medals: 1 Gold, 2 Silver & 3 Bronze. Peru was next with five medals: 2 Gold, 2 Silver & 1 Bronze. Colombia also got two Gold Medals. 

Out of 29 U.S. kids who participated, eight of them brought home medals. Very impressive indeed. Most of them ended up in top 10 and some had to face each other in crucial rounds. 

In the Open-8 under, Arthur Guo & Andrew Tang both tied for 1st with 8 points apiece with Arthur Guo taking Gold on tiebreak. 

In the Girls-10 under, WCM Martha Samadashvili won the Gold Medal with an amazing performance, scoring 9.0/9.0! In the same section, WCM Aasa Dommalapati earned the Silver Medal.

In the Open-10 under, CM Christopher Shen was also golden by scoring a perfect score (9.0/9.0!)

In the Open-12 under, Frutos Chase tied for 2nd place with 7.0. He eventually got Bronze due 
to tie-break. 

In the Girls-14 under, top-seed WFM Agata Bykovtsev won Gold and scored 8 points (1.5 points ahead of the 2nd place finisher).

In the Open-16 under, NM Vignesh Panchanatham won the Gold Medal by beating his fellow leader in the last round. He earned the FIDE Master title and an IM norm, which was the main reason he decided to play up!

The Mexican Chess Federation did a great job. They provided tons of events during the festival: seminars, training, singing, swimming, playing soccer, etc. They also had a blitz tournament.   They're hoping FIDE will award them to organize the World Youth next year, according to  Mr. Raúl Hernández, President of the Mexican National Chess Federation.  

Mexico was the 1st in the team blitz section with 127 points, USA came 2nd with 116 points, and Peru was placed 3rd with 105 points. A couple of American kids did pretty well in this side event. CM Christopher Shen won 2nd place in the u10 and Abhishek Handigol got 9th place in the U14.

The US team was coached by FIDE Senior Trainer Aviv Friedman, GM Robert Hungaski and FIDE Senior Trainer Michael Khodarkovsky.

IA Russell Smith, General Secretary of the Chess Confederation for Latin America, announced that "we had the participation of 642 chess players from 23 countries, 412 boys and 320 girls, surpassing the assistance of the last Pan American in Brazil with 320 chess players."

Next year's Panamerican Youth Festival will be held in Colombia. 

Parents and kids had a great time during and after the event. 
Ted Castro with the Panchanatham family

On behalf of NorCal House of Chess, I can say our kids were particularly adventurous visiting neighboring towns, checking out some mummies, old churches, hiking up the mountains and trying authentic Mexican food. After the tournament, we even visited the Pyramids, historical buildings in Mexico City, museums, and many more! 

Some relaxing after the event: Chess on the beach, Photo Ted Castro
NorCal House of Chess students/members did great. NM Vignesh got Gold, Jason Zhang got 8th place (tied for 7th), Chenyi Zhao got 10th (also tied for 7th) while Abhishek Handigol had a great 1st half (5.0/5.0) but ended up 16th place (tied for 13th). I had so much fun coaching these kids while taking them around Mexico and trying new things. After all, it's not just about winning. 

Here's a game that NM Vignesh Panchanatham played against his co-leader in the last round. It's worth noting that his opponent immediately offered a draw after few moves. Vignesh knew the only way to win the Gold was to win. 


1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qd2 Qb6 9.Rb1 Qa7 10.Nd1 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 Bc5 13.c3 0-0 14.Be2 f6 15.exf6 Nxf6 16.Nf2= Bd7 17.0-0 Rac8 18.Rbc1
My plan was to open and play on the c-file. 
18...Rc6 19.Rcd1 b5 20.Kh1 Bxd4 21.Qxd4 Qb8 22.Bd3 a5 23.Rde1 Rfc8 24.a3 b4 25.axb4 
25.cxb4 axb4 26.a4 Rc5 27.b3 Rc3 28.Rb1 Qc7= 
25...axb4 26.Nd1 bxc3 27.bxc3 Qb6 28.Qe5 Be8 29.f5 Bf7 
With white's weak pawns, black is slightly better. 
30.Qd4 exf5 31.Bxf5 Rb8 32.Ne3 Qc5 33.Ng4 Nxg4 34.Qxg4 Qxc3 
A supposed mistake, but a good practical chance with my opponent in time pressure. 
35.Re7 35.Qf4 Rcb6 36.Bxh7+ Kxh7 37.Qxf7 Rd8 
35...Qc4 36.Qxc4 dxc4 37.Bxh7+ Kxh7 38.Rexf7 c3 39.Rc1 
The double rook endgame is clearly better for black.  
39...c2 40.Rff1 Rd8 41.h3 Rd2 42.Kh2 Rcd6 43.Rf3 Rc6 44.Rff1 Kg6 45.Kg1 Rf6 46.Rxf6+ gxf6?! 
I missed white's next move. 46...Kxf6 47.Kh2 Ke5 48.Kg3 Kd4 49.h4 Kc3 wins much easier.
47.Kh2 Kf5 48.Kg3 Ke4 49.h4 Kd3 50.Kg4 Rd1 51.Rxc2 Kxc2 52.h5 Rd5 53.Kh4 Rd4+ 54.Kg3 Kd3 55.h6 Ke4 56.Kg4 Ke5+ 57.Kh5 Rd1 58.h7 Rh1+ 59.Kg6 Kf4 0-1

Also find a game by Christopher Shen, who swept his section. 


Christopher Shen
One of the two critical rounds in  the competition for the gold medal. Before this round, I played a long and tough game to knock down Cole Frutos, another young talent from Dallas, Texas, leaving very limited time to rest and prepare for the next round. Galaviz  is a rising star from Mexico and earned the silver medal in this tournament. In a night before, Christopher lost to Galaviz in blitz tournament with the same color. This game reflects common tendencies in young players, for example, exchanges in the middle game and skills in the endgame.  
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 c5 4.c3 d5 5.Bd3 Be7 6.Nbd2 0-0 7.0-0 b6

My US team coach, Michael Khodarkovsky corrected my move, ...cxd4 in blitz and suggested 7. ...b6. [7...cxd4 8.exd4 b6 9.Ne5 Ba6 10.Nc6 Nxc6 11.Bxa6 Rb8 12.Qe2 Bd6 13.Nf3 Ne4 14.Bb5 Ne7 15.Ne5 f6 16.Nd7 Qc7 17.f4 e5 18.fxe5 fxe5 19.Nxf8 Rxf8 20.Rxf8+ Kxf8 21.Qf3+ Kg8 22.Be8 Yeten,H-Aldridge,A (1946) Queenstown 2009 0-1 (34)]

8.Qe2 Bb7 9.dxc5 bxc5 10.e4 Nc6 11.e5 Nd7 12.Re1 Re8 13.Nf1 Nf8 14.Bf4 a5 15.Rad1 a4 16.c4 Nd4 17.Nxd4 cxd4 18.Ng3 dxc4 19.Bxc4 Ng6 20.Bc1 Qb6 21.Bd3 Red8 22.Rf1 Bd5 Burmakin,V (2555)-Aseev,K (2530) St Petersburg 1995 1/2-1/2 (50)
8...dxe4 9.Nxe4 Nbd7

9...Bb7 10.Qc2 h6 11.Rd1 Nxe4 12.Bxe4 Qc8 13.Be3 Nd7 14.Rd2 Nf6 15.Bxb7 Qxb7 16.dxc5 bxc5 17.Rad1 Qa6 18.b3 c4 19.b4 Nd5 20.Bd4 Qa3 21.Ne5 Rfc8 22.Qe4 a5 23.b5 Bg5 24.Rc2 Ferrufino,B (2225) -Pingas,B (2281) Pinamar 2005 1-0 (64)
10.Nxf6+ Nxf6 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.Bg5 Bb7 13.Qe2 Be7

White has an active position.
14.Rad1 Qc7 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Be4 Bxe4 17.Qxe4

Many kids like to trade pieces in the middle game and I used to like to too. I thought this game would turn into an endgame soon.
17...Rad8 18.h3 h6

Prevents intrusion on g5
19.Qe2 Qb7

Black didn't want the White queen to go to a6 and pressure a7 and b6.
20.Rxd8 Rxd8 21.Rd1 Rd5 22.a3 a5 23.Rxd5 Qxd5 24.Qd2

24.Qa6 would not work because now I can go 24...Qb3 and he has to go back to e2.
24...Kf8 25.Qxd5 exd5 26.Kf1 Ke7 27.Ke2 Kd6 28.Kd3 a4! 29.g3

Controls h4

All Black needs here is patience.
30.Nd2 Kc5 31.f3 Bg7 32.b4+

Not the best move because now White's a3 pawn is weak.
32...axb3 33.Nxb3+ Kb5 34.Nd2 Ka4 35.c4??

Another incorrect move common in games of young players. [35.Nf1 Kb3 36.Ne3 Bxc3 37.Nxd5 Ba5; 35.Nb1 is too passive]
35...dxc4+ 36.Nxc4 b5 37.Nd6 Be5 38.Nxf7 Bxg3 39.Kc2?Kxa3-+ 40.Kb1 Bf4 41.Nh8 g5 42.Ng6 Bg3 43.Ne7 h5 44.Nf5 h4

Black's plan is to put all pawns onto dark squares to work with his bishop
45.Nd4 b4?

An inaccurate move because now black's king is stuck on the a-file. [45...Kb4 46.Ne6 Bf4 47.Kc2-+]
46.Kc2 Bf2 47.Nb3 Ka4 48.Na1 Kb5 49.Kb3??

White's another wrong move of his King! [49.Nb3]
49...Kc5-+ 50.Nc2 Kd5 51.Kxb4??

51.Nxb4+ Kd4 52.Kc2-+
51...Ke5 52.Na1

52.Kc4 Kf4 53.Nb4 Kxf3 54.Nd3-+
52...Kf4 53.Nb3 Kxf3 54.Nd2+ Kg2 55.Ne4 Be3

Now the h3 pawn is gone and Black can win!
56.Kc4 Kxh3 57.Kd3

57.Kd5 cannot change what is in store for White 57...g4-+
57...Bf4 58.Nf2+ Kg2 59.Ke2 h3 60.Nxh3 Kxh3 61.Kf2 g4 62.Kg1 g3 63.Kh1 g2+ 64.Kg1 Be3#
Checkmate!! 0-1

Ted Castro is one of the most successful coaches in the US. Find out more about his programs and camps at the NorCal House of Chess.