Happy Thanksgiving From Brazil
By Andrea Rosen   
November 23, 2011
Brad and Andrea Rosen, parents of Under 18 participant Eric Rosen
The first word in Portuguese that Brad, Eric and I  learned upon arriving in Brazil was “obrigado”, the word for thank you, and it’s the word we’ve used most often to express our sentiments to everyone we meet, especially the very friendly and accommodating hotel staff who have somehow understood our needs despite the lack of a common language.
It’s appropriate that as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, the coaches, players and parents in the U.S. delegation reflect on what we’re thankful for.  First, at just past the halfway point of the tournament, we are thankful that there are several players who are in contention for medals in their sections. 

Awonder Liang
Leading the U.S. pack with perfect scores so far are Awonder Liang of Wisconsin in the Under 8 Open section, and Ruifeng Li of Texas in the Under 10 open section.  Several other players have 4 out of 5 and will be seated at the top boards of their sections today:  Brian Gu in U8 Open; Simone Liao and Mariya Oreshko in Girls U12; Jeffrey Xiong in U12 Open; Sarah Chiang in Girls U14; Michael William Brown in U14 Open, and my son Eric Rosen in U18.

Ruifeng Li
But beyond results over the board, we are thankful in many more profound ways for the experience of being here.  It is hard to convey in words what it feels like to be in the playing hall with more than 1,000 children and teenagers from dozens of countries, including places as far away as South Africa, Mongolia, Iran, Kazakhstan and Latvia, all having made the trip to this remote town in the interior of Brazil to compete in an activity that they have excelled at and are so passionate about.  In a world of conflict, it inspires hope for the future, and gratitude for the present.
“I feel blessed and humbled to have, through their pursuit of chess these past years, been able to offer my children the opportunity to achieve dreams and to accumulate experiences and memories which surpass what I was privy to as a child,” said David Chiang, father of Jonathan and Sarah, both of whom are playing in the tournament.

We are grateful for the support that our communities and our families have offered to give us this opportunity.  Many families, including my own, find themselves separated at Thanksgiving.  I am profoundly grateful to my son Alex, who stayed home and then ended up calmly and expertly handling our dog’s medical emergency and saving his life.  Kathy Tallo, who from her home in Indiana is cheering on her daughter Emily, is grateful to the Indiana Chess Association for providing the financial support necessary for Emily to make the trip; and to coach Jim Dean for his years of support.
We are very grateful to the U.S. coaching delegation, whose enthusiasm, passion, and countless hours of game preparation and analysis have been an inspiration to the players. “I’m thankful that my son has an opportunity to work with Grandmasters that spend time with him individually to prepare him before every game and thoroughly analyze every game after it is completed, no matter how long it takes. The coaches are doing an amazing job with the kids,” said John Burke of New Jersey.  His son, John Michael Burke, is grateful that in the last round, his opponent didn’t play 29. Rxd4!
As for the coaches, they are grateful to be able to combine their work with their passion.  "I am thankful for having the opportunity for doing something I love as my profession which not many people can say. I am also thankful the opportunity to travel extensively and experience different countries and cultures,” said Coach Aviv Friedman.
I’ll give the last words to my husband Brad, to whom I’m very grateful to have had as a partner in raising our two children: “I am thankful for the game of chess as it has given my son Eric endless opportunities to find, explore, and express his passions in a world of infinite complexity and countless challenges. I am thankful for the world of chess as it has permitted my family and I to become friends with, and continue to meet incredibly diverse, highly intelligent and fascinating people from all of the planet earth,” he said, and then upon further reflection, added, “and from time to time,  perhaps from some other planets as well!”

I leave you with a slideshow of photos from the tournament. From Caldas Novas, Brazil, a Happy Thanksgiving to all. 

Find more information on the official site, and follow the entire US delegation on chessresults.com. You can also find selected games in pgn format on chessresults.com.