Sucesso in Brazil Print E-mail
By Andrea Rosen   
November 30, 2011
Eric Rosen
At the Brazilian resort hotel where we stayed during the World Youth Chess Championships in Caldas Novas, Brazil, our attempts to get on the Internet often failed because the system was overwhelmed by the number of people trying to use it at once.  Even when we were logged on, it would frequently boot us off, requiring another login attempt.  Each time we achieved a connection, the word “Sucesso!” would flash on our screen, and it was always a celebratory moment.

It felt somehow appropriate to see that word so often, because over these past two weeks I found myself frequently pondering what constitutes success.  As the chess players were trying to achieve it at the board, I laid out by the pool (there are decided advantages to chess being a non-spectator sport!), and read “Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating study of the factors that contribute to success.

Not surprisingly, Gladwell found that people who are successful in any venture work hard at it.  In fact, he says, to master any activity requires an extraordinary investment of time---he pegs it at 10,000 hours.  Successful people are also more likely to come from families who support them. Certainly, every single one of the players who came from across the globe to attend this tournament had much support---from parents, teachers, schools, and often chess federations or sponsors that provide the funding not only to travel to the tournament, but required for players to get to such a high level to qualify for it in the first place.

Like any parent of a player here, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t very much hoping that my kid would come home with a medal. 
Awonder Liang

And as part of the U.S. delegation, I am exceptionally proud of the achievements of Awonder Liang and Ruifeng Li, who earned the gold and silver medals respectively in an intensely competitive field of the best young players in the world, Awonder in the Under 8 section and Ruifeng in the Under 10 section.  Both have incredible talent, and undoubtedly will bring honor to U.S. chess for many years to come. Play through a couple of their World Youth triumphs below and find more games on


Coach IM Armen Ambartsoumian with Eric Rosen

Other U.S. players also had notable results.  My son, Eric, who got to face three of the top four players in the Under 18 group, the tournament’s most competitive section, finished in ninth place in his section with 6 points, enough to earn him his first norm for an International Master title. Eric picked his win over the Latvian representative to share with CLO readers:


SarahChiang.jpgAlso with very impressive results:  Sarah Chiang, fourth place in Girls U14 with 7 points; Jeffrey Xiong, fifth place in U12 with 7 points; Tianming Xi, 8th place in U10 with 7 points; Mariya Oreshko, 6th place in Girls U12 with 6.5 points; Albert Lu, 12th place in U10 with 6.5 points; and Varun Krishnan and Kevin Wang, 14th and 15th places respectively in U14 with 6.5 points. Agata Bykovtsev also earned 6.5 points and finished 8th  in Girls Under 12.

Agata Bykovtsev with her coach IM Andranik Matikozyan
But measuring success by the number of points scored is, in some way, missing the point.  The ultimate key to success does not lie in the result of any one particular tournament or event, but in having the determination and perseverance to learn from mistakes and improve over time.

In the U.S. team room, where coaches and players spent hours together, it was very clear that all the players were learning important lessons about where they could improve in their next games.  That type of self-reflection and willingness to work hard to improve can only lead to future “sucesso”, not just in chess, but in life.


Browse complete standings on and see Andrea Rosen's Chess Life Magazine piece, An Encouraging Purr, which was picked up by the Huffington Post. Also see CLO editor Jennifer Shahade's 2008 chess-centric piece on Gladwell's Outliers.