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Claudia's Journey to India: Team USA Arrives Print E-mail
By Claudia Munoz   
October 6, 2014
People say that I smile even in my sleep because I am basically a happy person but when I unfolded our flag right after the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Junior Chess Championship and had my picture taken, I did so in the name of every single member of the United States Chess Federation and American chess. It is an enormous honor to be here among the future of international chess and I can honestly say that the future looks very bright.


We left the Dallas airport without any problems or delays straight to Newark, New Jersey for a 4-hour layover. There FM Will Fisher joined us on the next stage of our trip to Mumbai. Will is the offical American representative in the Open section. He also had VISA problems but his mother was able to perform a last hour miracle at the Indian Consulate with help from the organizers of the World Junior Chess Championship. Samir Sen, the extra player was on another flight with his father. When we arrived in Mumbai we swiftly passed through customs as the organizers were waiting for us in the arrival section to transport us to Pune, approximately around 100 miles away. We, the American delegation made of three players and my mother, are being housed at the Hyatt Regency - a nice hotel!


After a good night rest (or day according to our Jet Lag) we woke up ready for our first day in Pune, India. I hope GM Ben Finegold is reading this but breakfast was good! The food was spicy but being Hispanic my DNA seemed to agree with it. I did enjoy their tea. Afterwards we walked out of the hotel to peak around but we did not go far.

 We were told that the playing hall was half a kilometer away.  We were transported in a car to the Opening Ceremony but what made it special was that we were from different countries. As we arrived for the ceremony what impressed me was the organization! There was media everywhere as well as sponsors and organizers. During the event a video of Anand welcoming us to the tournament was played. I understood how much Anand having been world champion meant to India as a nation. Here is a picture of myself with Samir Sen and William Fisher, we are TEAM USA!
My mother found out that she was the Head of Delegation as we arrived in India. She was unaware who had nominated her for that position but after a decade of being a Chess Mom - she was more than qualified! The decisions that were reached in the meeting were simple: the timetable for the rounds changed from 3:00 pm to 2:30 pm. The Zero Tolerance Rule is in effect, which worried me for one simple reason, the organizers are shuttling us. I am never late to a round but I control that, here the only control that I have is to be in the pick-up area before time hoping that the organizers will be on time. There are no draws prior to 30 moves and if there is a repetition it must be verified by the tournament director before the 30 moves. No phones or any devices are allowed in the player's section of the tournament hall. There will be a spectator area.

The first round pairings were posted on www.chess-results.com eight hours prior to the first round. So, I analyzed several of my opponent's game before to my coaching session. Then I had an hour and a half hour session followed by an hour nap when suddenly I found out through an Italian Twitter follower that during my rest break the pairings had been changed as well as color. My coach quickly told me what my opponent would open with as I downloaded a few games right before we headed to the transportation zone for the first round. The same happened in the open section. However as a 16-year old teen who is on her 7th international tournament, these things happen before a first round and we must be prepared for the unexpected.


I am a firm believer in the term ‘TEAM USA' although this is an individual sport, here outside the United States we are representing our country and the entire United States Chess Federation. Today in our first day we ate together as a team and that really meant a lot to me. I am sure that when this event is over both Will Fisher and Samir Sen and I will be lifetime friends!
My next report will be after our rest day before the 8th round so wish us well!

2014 World Junior Chess Championship