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Players Arrive for 2015 World Youth Print E-mail
By Jerry Nash   
October 26, 2015
Girls Under 14 at the World Youth, sporting Two Sigma unforims: Sasha Konovalenko, Serafina Show, Ritika and Divia Pandey, Marissa Li, Tianhui Jie

Contact: Jerry Nash
FIDE Youth Events
[email protected]

(Halkidiki, Greece) 130 players from across the United States have arrived in Halkidiki, Greece, for the 2015 World Youth Chess Championships, October 24 - November 6.  The US has the largest delegation for this event which has attracted 1600 players from 91 countries.

The first general meetings for the contingent were held at the Sithonia Hotel at Porto Carras and included introductions to the Heads of Delegation Aviv Friedman and Michael Khodarkovsky as well as a time for instructions regarding tournament-related issues. With 300 persons in the delegation, a Google Group created for the event provides the primary means of communication. 

Divya-Ritika Pandey 3.jpgCoaching is provided by US Chess for the top three players in each age/gender category, personal rights players, and for those who pay for coaching. Coaches this year include Armen Ambartsoumian, Andranik Matikozyan, Sam Palatnik, John Fedorowicz, Nick de Firmian, Ben Finegold, and Alejandro Ramirez. They are responsible for preparing players prior to games and offering post-game analysis in a group setting after each round.

This year brings an exciting change for the team. Two Sigma has sponsored team apparel for the players (http://www.uschess.org/content/view/13207/141/). Parent Mark Huston (his son, Gus, is in the Open U10 section) notes, "The uniforms, as expected, are presenting a very professional image. The design stands out with its clean lines and very modern look, yet is at once noticeable as Team USA." Many of the parents have commented on how much they like the design and appreciate the sponsorship. They believe that team uniforms make a strong impression on the players and provide them a greater sense of representing their country.

Gus Huston 2.JPG
Gus Huston

What attracts players to the World Youth? "It's nice to be able to travel and play opponents from all over the world," offers Apurva Virkud, who is the official representative in the Girls Under 18 section. Apurva, who has a USCF rating of 2189, is a Michigan standout who has played in five previous World Youth events.

Apurva Virkud
For New Yorker, Nicolas Checa (Official Representative in the Open Under 14 section), "the World Youth is a good benchmark to monitor progress and plan training." Nicolas is currently ranked number 7 in the world in his age group - FIDE Under 14 - and recently achieved two International Master norms. This is his fourth World Youth trip. He concludes, "The logistics can be challenging, but I always look back to the event with great fondness. I am looking forward to tough competition in my section this year."

From a parent's perspective, the World Youth represents a wonderful educational experience. "It expands the kids' horizons while allowing them to do something that they enjoy," Punita Vurkud explains, "I would definitely recommend participation at World Youth to others." Owen Capocyan (his son, John, is in the Open Under 8 section) agrees, "Participation in International tournaments is absolutely a good exposure for cultural diversity and gives the player a chance to gain friends from other nations. Chess may be a board game but team work is developed in international competitions like this." No matter what results occur at the chessboard, it's obvious the parents believe their players are already winners.