Claudia's Journey to India: Ups and Downs and a Trip To Mumbai Print E-mail
By Claudia Munoz   
October 14, 2014
I have had the honor of playing for TEAM USA in two World Youth and three Pan American Youth Championships but the World Junior Chess Championship is an entirely different international tournament than any that I have ever played. This event is a U-20 tournament and being here as a 16-year old provides me a glimpse of what I can achieve internationally in the next 4-years as I balance school and chess.


By the end of the 3rd round I was in the 17th position of a 78 player field. I had achieved this by drawing Ioana Gelip of Rumania (2154 FIDE), defeating WIM Sarvinoz Kurbonboeva of Uzbekistan (2212 FIDE) and drawing FM Marina Brunello of Italy (2275 FIDE). I could not believe the rounds I was having - then I hit a wall.



When I sat on board 10 to face PV Nandhidhaa of India (2174), there were two things I did not think were going to happen. I never thought the game would last close to 6 hours and that in the endgame after being offered a draw, which I declined, I would end up blowing an endgame in time troubles. I was upset with myself but I must tip my hat to my opponent because she demonstrated calmness and poise:



If I could erase any round from existence in this tournament, it would be the 5th round. I played another girl from India and although I did not feel it, as if I was carrying my 4th round defeat around my neck. In my morning training session my coach stated I was going to play the French Defense, but I made my case for the Alekhine Defense. He patiently heard my points and decided to let me show him what I could do. Needless to say, it was not pretty. What followed were two additional defeats against Tihana Ivekovic of Croatia and Angelina Fransson of Sweden.


Thankfully yesterday was our rest day and after seven rounds, we all needed a one day breather, so Mr. Laxman Lyer came to the rescue! Laxman is the nephew of the Texas Chess Association President Viswanath Lakshmana and he lives here in Pune, India. He was highly recommended by his uncle. He took my mother and me for dinner right after the 7th round and then yesterday he drove us to Mumbai or Bombay as he prefers to call it.
As a westerner we are used to seeing monkeys in the zoo but on the road they literally line up on the highway to observe traffic! Maybe there is something to the Hollywood movies "The Planet of the Apes".  When I saw the monkeys, my first thought was about my sister Faith Munoz - she loves monkeys! Also the weather change from Pune (cooler weather) to Mumbai (hot and humid) is very noticeable in a driving span of 3 hours! The buildings in Mumbai are so beautiful and the British influence is so dominant in the architecture of the older buildings. I had my own opinion about India based on what I had read in the Internet but so far what I perceived compared with reality are two different things. Surely in other parts of India things might be different but between Pune and Mumbai a lot of those misconceptions of India were simply that - misconceptions. One thing I cannot get over is how friendly people are towards foreigners.
The World Junior Chess Championship is a 13-round event and not the typical 11 rounds of the World Youth Championship. Therefore both FM Will Fisher of New York and I have to hit the accelerator in the final six rounds. He has faced the same adversities in the Open Section that I have faced in the Girls Category. However as Americans and as representatives of the United States Chess Federation in times like these we must recall the story of John Paul Jones as his ship was almost sinking in battle during our American Revolutionary War, "I have not yet begun to fight!"  I would have to substitute the pronoun "I" for "We" as I speak for Will as well. 

"We have not yet begun to fight!"


Pictures Courtesy of Claudia Veronica Munoz of

2014 World Junior Chess Championship