Chess Moves

Chess Moves
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European Youth Chess Championships – Day 2

This was a tough first day for team Junior England at the European Youth Chess Championships – with a slightly disappointing overall score of 9.5.  Novice and veteran players alike can take heart from Head of Delegation Jim Wadsworth’s counsel – ‘there are no easy matches at this level in chess’. And it’s undeniable – as coach Andrew Martin points out – we travel over 2000 miles to the eastern shores of the Black Sea, don’t speak the language, can’t drink the water, arrive lagged and dazed. Different if you’re a Turkish or Russian junior. With allowances made for missing bags, long delays, and arriving in the wee small hours of the morning (Josh Higgs, Catherine Shephard, Ezra Kirk are all still sleep-deprived)  – it’s all about what happens on the board.

Triumphs first: Richard Zhu (U14)  took a magnificent scalp – defeating Pole  Kamil Koziol, ranked over 300 points higher. Zoe Varney (U16 G)  and Josh Higgs ( U 14) both held superior forces (on paper, at least ) at bay. Russian Ayyyna Egorova struggled for a draw with Zoe  and Josh held off both sleep and German Martin Kololli, again achieving half a point. Mention must be made of young Anita Somton (U10 G) –  winning her first match against Armenian Nadezhda Khachatryan. Go Girl!

A Blue on Blue pairing is always frustrating   – do we have to travel this far to play at home? – but, alas,  it’s unavoidable. The match between Matthew Wadsworth and Theo Slade (U 14) went as the ranking would suggest, the formidable Matthew chalking up his first win. With luck, civil wars over the remaining eight rounds will be kept to a minimum. Whoever said chess wasn’t physical (HMG’s Department of Media, Culture and Sport?) should try matching Charlie McLaren , Sacha Brozel or Alex Golding (all U12) for sheer stamina: they notched up nearly fourteen hours of match-play between them on Day 1. Charlie and Alex battling to wrench half a point from – respectively – Georgian Giga Goderdzishvili and Azeri Muhammed Ismayilov. By 8pm, Sacha finally succumbed to the higher-ranked Edoardo di Benedietto. And the same was true for James Moreby against his far-outranking Russian opponent. Koby Kalavannan compensated in part for those losses in the section with an impressive win over home-boy Mate Todashvilli.

With eight long matches to go, and weather as variable as England international football , the parents are starting to eye one of the dozen-so casinos in town — but, far safer to bet on this squad of talented and resourceful juniors and their coaches.

- Mark Brozel

European Youth Chess Championships 2014 – Batumi, Georgia

Saturday 18th October 2014, 10pm

We’ve arrived – or at least most of us have! The 2014 European Youth Chess Championships are finally about to start.

Just over 6 months ago, 28 of England’s top juniors accepted an invitation from the ECF to represent their country in one of the strongest and most prestigious tournaments on the junior international chess calendar. The planning for this tournament has been difficult and time consuming but excellently marshalled and meticulously organised by Head of Delegation, Jim Wadsworth. Vaccinations and visas had to be arranged, not to mention dealing with the hotel booking, insurance and entry forms.  With no direct flights from the UK and 28 players, 7 coaches and 35 parents travelling in 8 different groups arriving into 3 different airports, it’s enough to give you a headache! No wonder when I bumped into Jim this morning in Istanbul airport he was in the duty free, purchasing a large bottle of Scotch!

We travelled as a family, leaving Cornwall first thing on Friday morning, with a 4 hour drive to Heathrow, followed by a 4 hour flight to Istanbul, a 15 hour stopover in Istanbul airport and a 2 hour flight to Batumi in Georgia. Thankfully the coach journey to the hotel was a matter of minutes, although the Georgian authorities seemed to take an age over passport control (a full 5 minutes checking Andrew Martin’s credentials – I can’t think why!) Actually, although that might seem a bit of a long trek, I think we had it quite easy compared to some. Quite a number of players and parents opted to try to get some form of sleep in the departure lounge of the ridiculously busy Istanbul airport (we opted instead for the comfort of a ridiculously expensive airport hotel!), some decided to travel via Trabzon in Turkey, involving a rather long road trip from the airport across the border (some of them are still in transit as I type) and unfortunately we also had the almost inevitable case of lost luggage – hopefully they will be re-united with their belongings soon!

And so we come to the start of the tournament! 989 players from 45 different countries, having to cope with not only the clash of cultures and change in diet that we have already experienced in our first few hours here in Georgia, but also with the ultra strict “zero-tolerance” rule (if you are not sitting at your board when the arbiter starts the round you will be defaulted) and a 40 move “Sofia draw” rule (if you agree a draw in the first 40 moves you forfeit the game). It’s a tough life being a chess player!

Oh, and I almost forgot – it’s our son, Theo’s birthday today! He had to remind us when we woke up in Istanbul this morning. What a way to spend your 14th birthday – half of it in Turkey and half of it in Georgia – crazy isn’t it? But he wouldn’t have it any other way – and nor would any of the other 27 players! They are all ready, they are all excited and they can’t wait for 3pm tomorrow when the competition finally starts!

- Andrew Slade

Congratulations – Alan Merry

alanmerryCongratulations to Alan Merry, who not only made his third and final International Master norm (his first came at the Big Slick International in June 2013 and his second at the Winter Chess IM all-play-all in Mallorca in November 2013) but also scored his first Grandmaster norm with a score of 6/9 and a performance of 2624 at the Poker Stars Isle of Man International Chess Tournament 2014. He now needs to raise his rating to 2400 to be awarded the IM title.
His result can be viewed here – and the tournament website is here –
[picture courtesy of John Upham]

James Horton in India

Good luck to James Horton (pictured with his dad, Tim) who is representing England in the World Junior U20 Championships which started today in Pune, India. To follow his progress over the 13 rounds click on this link –

WYCC 2014 – final photos