All's Well in Al Ain
By GM Ben Finegold   
December 20, 2013
ElAinbw.jpgThe situation at the World Youth Championship has improved significantly the last two days. The lines for food are shorter, pairings are up several hours before the round. Rounds start on time and some games were shown live today.  I think things will continue to improve, although, I am bit worried about Saturday, as there will be two rounds, at 9AM and 4PM! This is the only day with two rounds, but it allows December 25 to be a rest day.

Many Americans are doing well. I'll try to give some highlights from our 94 (!) player squad.

Each coach has 6 or 7 kids each to work with before the rounds, and of my six kids, one has 2.5 out of 3, and that is Michigan Junior Ed Song, in the U14 section. Pairings get tougher as the event goes on, so there are not many players with 3 out of 3.  Reigning U.S. Junior Champion Daniel Naroditsky has 2.5-0.5 in the U18 section, and doing well in the U10 section is top rated Awonder Liang and 3rd rated David Peng, both with 3 out of 3, and both with excellent chances to medal.

Another American with 3 out of 3 is Nicolas Checa, who won a fascinating tactical battle in a Winawer French Defense.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Ne7 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.Qg4 cxd4 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 Qc7 10.Ne2 Nbc6 11.f4 dxc3 12.Qd3 d4 13.Nxd4 Nxd4 14.Qxd4 Bd7 15.Rb1

Juniors like to play tons of theory. Instead, 15.Rg1 is most common, but the text move is played quite often as well.
15...Nf5 16.Qf2 Qc6

16.. Bc6 is more common, but Nicolas knows what he is doing, having studied this line before.
17.Rg1 Mamedyarov, and USA Coach Mitkov preferred 17.Rb4.
A fine novelty! Previously 17..Qe4+ was always played, but the text move is just as good.
18.g4 Qe4+
Too late! Black should play 18...Nd4 with a dynamically equal position.
19.Qe2 Qa4 20.Kf2?! Nd4 21.Qd3 b5
Several of the coaches and Nicolas were having fun analyzing this position. Now white makes a serious error. Best is 22.Qh7! 22.Qxc3? Rc8 23.Qd3 Rxc2+ 24.Bd2 White is still better, but black has serious counterplay now.
24...Nc6 25.Ke1! Ra2 26.Qh7?

Giving away his advantage. White is still better after the cold-blooded 26.Rxb5!
26...Rf8? 27.Bxb5 Qd4 28.Rg2 Ra1 29.Qd3 Rh8?
Now black is lost, but the position is so complicated there are always chances.
30.Rxa1 Qxa1+ 31.Kf2 Qb2 32.Kg3 a6 33.Ba4 Qb8 34.Bc3 Qd8 35.g5 Ne7 36.Rd2 Nd5 37.Bb3??


It just takes one misstep to lose in this kind of position!
37.Bxd7+ Qxd7 38.Qxa6+–
38.Kxh3 Nxf4+ 39.Kg4 Nxd3 40.Rxd3 Qb6 41.Rh3 Qg1+ 42.Kh5 Qg2 43.Kh4 Bc6 44.Bd1 Be4 45.Bg4 Bf5 46.Rg3 Qxh2+ 47.Bh3 Kf8 48.Bb4+ Kg7 49.Be7 Kg6 50.Rg4 Bxg4 51.Kxg4 Qxe5 52.Bf6 Qf5+
A tough loss for white, but it's important to note that even in a winning position, one tactical error can turn everything to ruins. 0–1

I asked several coaches, parents, and players what they thought of everything here in Al Ain, from the food, to the playing hall, to the chess sets and clocks, and for the most part everyone had a positive attitude and thought things were improving.  I think a lot of the parents are hoping many more games will be shown live and not have glitches in the broadcast, and that is sure to get better as the event goes on.

Marcell Szabo won an extremely complex Caro-Kann in the U12 section, and now stands at 2-1.


1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bf4 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bd3 Bg4 7.Ne2 Qb6 8.Qb3! Qxb3?! 9.axb3
White has a nice edge in this queenless middlegame. Black has trouble getting play and white can play on the queenside.
9...e6 10.Ng3 Nh5 11.Nxh5 Bxh5 12.b4 Bg6 13.Bxg6

White should keep pieces on with 13.Be2. Now black has almost equalized.
13...hxg6 14.b5?!
No hurry to play this move. Just developing with 14.Nd2 is best.
14...Ne7 15.Nd2 Nc8 16.b3 Bd6 17.Be3 Bc7 18.c4 Nd6? 19.b6!

A brilliant tactical shot! Now white is winning!
19...Bxb6 20.c5 Bc7 21.cxd6+–
20.c5! Nb5 21.c6! a5 22.c7 Nxc7 23.bxc7 was the easiest way to win.
20...a6 21.Bxd6 Bxd6 22.c5 Be7 23.Nf3 f6 24.b4
This is the position I saw in the analysis room which attracted me to this game! Both sides have majorities, but white is a bit quicker.
24...Kd7 25.Kd2 g5 26.h3 Rhe8 27.Rhe1 Bf8 28.Kc3 g6 29.Re2 Bg7 30.Rea2 Rac8 31.Re1?!
Best was 31.b5! axb5 32.Kb4+–]
31...Ra8 32.Rae2 Rac8 33.Nd2 e5 34.Nb3 e4 35.Na5 Rb8 36.b5 axb5 37.Kb4 f5 38.Rd1 Re6 39.Kxb5 f4 40.Rc2!

Now white is clearly winning, and has made the time control!
40...e3 41.fxe3 fxe3 42.Nxb7! Rc6
Now 43.Na5? allows 43... Rbxb6+!
43.Rf1 Bf6 44.Rxf6! Rxf6 45.c6+ Kc8 46.Nc5 Rf2 47.b7+ Kd8?
47...Kc7 48.Na6+ Kd6 And now white needs to find 49.Rc1! to win.
Marcell writes... 48.Kb6 Rxc2 49.c7+ Ke7 50.cxb8Q If I played this, it would have been over sooner. But what I played was a forced win too.
48...Rb2+ 49.Ka5 e2 50.Re3 Ra2+ 51.Kb6 Rb2+ 52.Ka7 Kc7 53.Na6+ Kxc6 54.Nxb8+ Kc7 55.Na6+ Kc6 56.b8Q Rxb8 57.Nxb8+ And white won easily. 1–0

Last year when I was a coach in Maribor, Slovenia, one of my kids was 7-year-old Anthony He of Seattle.  Anthony is coached at home by GM Emil Anka, the founder of and he's back this year, and is once again playing in the U8 (although he has already turned 8 years old) and, in my opinion, has a good chance for a medal this year.  He lost to fellow American Kevin Chor, who is in excellent shape to get a medal this year, being 3rd ranked to start and 3-0 as well!  It's tough for the coaches and parents when American's are paired, but with such a large number of kids from the USA, it's bound to happen.   

Chor,Kevin (2014) - He,Anthony (1918) 

WYCC 2013 (2), 20.12.2013

After a sharp Ruy Lopez, Anthony has a chance to get a decisive advantage. 20...Be6? [Instead, black is winning with 20...h6! 21.Bd2 Nf6 as Anthony suggested after the game. He thought Be6 was strong but missed Kevin's reply] 21.Ba4! Bxd5?! [If 21...Bd7 Anthony was correctly worried about 22.e5! with a winning position] 22.exd5 0–0 23.Bxc6 And white won shortly thereafter. 1–0

I want to mention all the hard working coaches and others who help make things run smoothly and give the kids great chess insight.  I hope I remember everyone, but if I don't, there is always the next article to make up for omissions!

COACHES:  GM John Fedorowicz, GM Nick deFirmian, IM Jan van de Mortel, GM Sam Palatnik, IM Andranik Matikozian, FM Aviv Friedman, Michael Khodarkovsky, GM Michael Rohde, GM Magesh Panchanathan, GM Robert Hungaski, GM Mackenzie Molner, IM Armen Ambartsoumian, GM Melikset Khachiyan, and GM Nikola Mitkov.

Co-Heads of Delegation (and coaches!): Aviv Friedman and Michael Khodarkovsky

Everything Else, Money Man, Point Man: Jerry Nash

Of course, many of the parents are very helpful as well, and things would not run so smoothly without help from everyone.

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