Americans Hunt for Medals in Mexico
By Abed Munoz   
October 4, 2009
Around 10:30 p.m on October 3rd, the last American left the tournament hall after a grueling three rounds in day two of the North American Youth Championship 2009 in Mazatlan, Mexico. 

This fifth round was a total domination for TEAM USA as 8.5 out of 10 points were registered against Team Mexico. Our small team is putting up a fight against the huge 124-player Mexican team and four Canadians.

Because of the lack of a proper registration system by the organizers, this tournament is a combined event, boys and girls fighting in the same category. However, for medal and FIDE title purposes, at the end of the tournament the awards will be given to the best three boys and girls of each category.

The female contingent of our American team was limited to three girls, meaning we had no American girl representation in the under 10, 14 and 18. In the end this may be the deciding factor between which of the three countries wins the North American Youth Championship 2009.

Nevertheless, many Americans have chances to win medals for the United States in the next two rounds tomorrow:

1. Kayden Troff of Utah continues undefeated in the U-12 by defeating Mexico's strongest player, Hermes Valenzuela of Mexico.
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2. Stuart Finney of Rhode Island continues undefeated in the U-14. He defeated the strongest Mexican player in his category in the 4th round.

3. Winston Zeng of California continues undefeated in the U-8. He has faced tough Mexican and Canadian players, including Pan American Youth Championship 2009 silver medallist, Carlos Sandoval of Mexico.

4. Rayan Taghizadeh of California is one point behind Winston in the standings in the U-8.

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5. Deepak Aaron of New York is close to the lead in the U-16.

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6. Jeevan Karamsetty of Virginia is one point behind undefeated American Kayden Troff of the U-12.

 7. Although the girls are playing in the boys division, completely combined, WCM Claudia Munoz of Texas U-12 and past gold medallist of the North American Youth Championship 2007 is fighting for a medal in the girls final standing. She is currently in 9th place overall with 34 players, mostly boys with only eight girls.
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8. Emily Nguyen of Texas is also in the medal hunt in the under-8, and with a win over the Mexican official girl representative, she will also be in the medal hunt contention.

9. Ian Gilchrist is not far from the medal standings but will need a strong two round finish.

Most of the 10-player roster is currently within arms length of winning medals for the United States, but the crucial 6th and 7th rounds will determine the aspirations of 10-Americans facing an enormous Mexican team.

See more photos and dispatches from Mazatlan on Claudia Munoz's blog and look for final results on CLO.