Home Page arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2014 arrow September arrow Medal Hunt Intensifies in Durban, South Africa
Medal Hunt Intensifies in Durban, South Africa Print E-mail
By GM Ben Finegold   
September 24, 2014
Ashritha and Aksithi Eswaran & Chenyi Zhao, Photo GM Dejan Bojkov

We are six rounds into the 2014 World Youth in Durban, South Africa. There are five rounds yet to be played, and each remaining day will have only one round, and the players can prepare.

Wednesday, September 24 is the free day, and the players, coaches, parents are enjoying some time to relax.

Thus far, there are some surprises, as some of the main contenders (Chris Guo and Awonder Liang for example) have lost a game or two, whereas WCM Aksithi Eswaran and Rohun Trakru are undefeated!  Aksithi has 5.5 out of 6, and Rohun has 5. 

Jennifer Yu is sitting pretty at 5.5-0.5 and the following players certainly can't complain with scores of 5-1: Andrew Hong, Rayan Taghizadeh, and Christopher Wu. 

I would not be surprised if we see strong finishes from the American players who currently have 4.5 and 4 points, as they also can win medals by winning games in the late rounds.
The tournament hall, Photo Nayli Taghizadeh

What is amazing is the love of chess shown by all the kids.  Of course, nobody can match GM John Fedorowicz's zest for the game of chess, but they are trying. Christoper Wu, in particular, does not want to leave the analysis room. He wants to analyze everyone's games.  I have seen Christopher at tournaments for years, and even won a nice game against him at the Chicago Open 2013, but I have never seen such a hunger for chess! With five points, he is certainly in the hunt for medals.

Another young hungry player is Angel (Josh) Hernandez-Camen, who played a great game in round six against a much higher rated opponent, and stands at 4-2 in the U14 section.

Hernandez-Camen (USA),Angel (2046) - Burri (FRA),Quentin (2312)


1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4 5.Qb3 Qb6 6.Nc3 e6 7.Nh4

Often this position occurs with white to move! This would occur if black had played an earlier Bf5 and only after Nh4, then Bg4. Here black usually plays Bh5, in preparation for white's eventual h3.
7...Nbd7 8.h3 Bh5 9.g4 Bg6 10.Nxg6 hxg6 11.Bg2 Be7
Black usually plays 11...g5 locking down the kingside. In fact, I looked at this position a couple of days ago, since one of my players would have had black in this position!
Wang Yue has played 12.g5 more than once with good results. Wang Yue also plays the Slav with black!

GMs prefer Ng8, and hope to eventually maneuver the knight to a better square (f5 for example). Knight on the rim is dim!
13.h4 Qc7 14.Bd2
White has two bishops and although black is solid, he is quite passive.
14...a6 15.0-0-0 b5 16.cxd5 exd5?!
Black should have played 16...cxd5, although white is also clearly better there.
Always play Kb1!
17...Nb6 18.e4! 
Incisive play by "Josh." This is typical for two reasons: Black's king is still on e8, and with this pawn structure (a6, b5, c6, d5) black is in trouble after white attacks the pawns.
18...dxe4 19.Bxe4
19.d5! cxd5 20.Nxd5 Nxd5 21.Qxd5 0-0 22.Bxe4 is also very strong for white. The two bishops and black's bad knight on h5 give white a clear advantage.
19...Rd8 20.d5?
This throws away most of white's hard work. Best was the simple 20.Ne2
Better was 20...c5! 21.Be3 Bd6 and white is still better.
Refuting 20...b4
21...c5 22.Na4 0-0?? 
Black needed to play 22...Bd6 23.Nxb6 Qxb6 24.Rc1 and white looks very good, but black is fighting.
A great shot winning the game immediately!
23...fxg6? 24.d6+ c4 25.dxc7 cxb3 26.cxd8Q winning for white.
24.Bxh5! Qa5 25.Bxf7+! Rxf7 26.g6 
White has run over black tactically. The game is over.
 26...Rb8 27.d6 Bf6 28.Qxf7+ Kh8 29.d7 Nc3+ 30.Ka1 Rg8 31.Bg5 b3 32.Qxb3 Nxd1 33.Qxd1
The threat of Qh5+ is quite annoying.
33...Bxb2+ 34.Kb1 


The tournament schedule has been brutal, with little time to prepare for the games, as the days with "double rounds" were played on days 2 and 4, and with games at 10AM and 5PM it seemed more like a weekend US swiss than a World Championship. 

The funniest quote of the tournament was seen from Australian coach, GM Lubomir Ftacnik, who said the scheduling of the double rounds so early and close together was "criminal!"  I am not sure if this "crime" lives up to the standards of impeachment, but certainly, it was tough on the players who arrived only the night before round 1, and likely a very long plane ride.

The food is the same, or similar to my last report.  Great breakfast and lunch and dinner that leaves something to the imagination.  But almost everything else is great in Durban, so I will complain much less than usual!
Soccer game on a free day, Photo Nayli Taghizadeh

The rest day is a National holiday in South Africa, Heritage Day, and Head of Delegation Aviv Friedman, IM Armen Ambartsoumian, and I went to a rather large shopping mall, and shopped 'til we... ate lunch!  The mall was nice, the people are nicer, and the weather is spectacular.  It is 60s and 70s all day and night, with a nice breeze. Not hot enough for some, but perfect for this GM.

There is much preparation to do for the final run at medals, and the coaches will work even more the last few days to ensure the kids have the best chance for medals.  Much thanks to all the helpful parents and especially FST Aviv Friedman, who is the "star" of the event.  Aviv coaches the kids before the round, takes care of problems, analyzes games after the round, and somehow manages to be funny (not just funny looking) all at the same time.

Go Team USA!!

For results, standings, games, video, and other info go to: