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World Youth 05

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The World Youth Championships are nearing conclusion in Belfort, France. The site is nice, although I understand that it wasn't ready in time for the start of the event. As expected, there are Russian and Indian players near the top of almost every age group. Actually, the Russians are almost a surprise considering the relative drought of top talent from Russia in recent years. Poland is also well represented.

The World Junior title is still good for a few invitations, but since Fischer's day there have always been many strong eligible players who don't bother with these age-restricted events. But they are for the kids, who usually have a great time.

There have been problems this year in France, however. One national federation president wrote me to say that some parents have been in tears over "the appalling conditions, arrogance of the French, and the awful hotels and places they had been put in (for lots of money, mind you)." Of course the parents and coaches always complain more than the kids.


- the site is very slow generally
- the photos were very small. plus: the photo- area was extremely slow
- now they put the photo-area off completely
- the most imporant part of a tournament site - the standings - are not showed correctly with IE

PS: the first round started with a delay of 3+ hours because the organizers didnt check the participants-lists. they should take the kids-tournaments more seriously.


You meant the World Youth (not Junior) title is good for a few invitations, right?

This tourney is different from World Juniors which is under-21 (open tourney) and usually held in the Fall season.

That's my understanding, but it's somewhat confusing.

I know the difference. I was referring to the world junior. The winner gets a FIDE WCh invite and several tournaments make a habit of inviting the winner. I don't recall seeing any invitations to elite events based on a world youth title.


Yes, Daaim, you are correct. The event being contested now is the World Youth Championships. I know several of the members of the American contingent, and I am happy to see most of them doing well, even if not well enough to earn prizes. I have been especially surprised by the play of Alex Barnett, a young man from Maryland who has pulled several upsets in the U16 boys section. He has tapered off now, but that is only because he has met with stiff competition following a 4-0 start which included victories over two mid-to-high-2300 FIDE players (his rating is in the high 2100's) and a draw with another. Robert Hess is also playing well in terms of quality of games, but Lev Milman is struggling and dropping points to lower-rated players. (It seems he can only really be Lev when playing the GMs!) A student I worked with is also out there, playing the U14 girls section, and she is holding her own, although we were hoping for more. Alisa Melekhina seems to be picking it up for the US contingent in that section, however. Regardless of how they finish, I am proud of these kids for the effort they are putting forth with, in most cases, fewer opportunities for proper training.

Hotep, Maliq

I saw Medina's game against Hazel Smith. She was winning, but allowed counterplay and lost. Exciting game though. Alisa Melekhina is playing well although she lost badly to German's Elena Winkelmann in a brutal kingside crush.

I remember playing Robert Hess a few years ago. I won, but he's grown up now (2300)! Milman got a nice sacrificial win in round 7.

What is interesting to note is that every year the US sends youth to these tournaments and they are home-grown talents. By the time, they become adults, they'll fallen off the radar screen and never make the Olympiad team. What happened to those participating in youth tournaments 10 years ago? Why haven't they broken through? In contrast I remember seeing one of Surya Ganguly's games when he played in (I believe) under-10! Shows that the U.S. has a long way to go.

Interesting to look at player efficiency in the World Youth (points/player). India has sent 34 players for 65.5 points while France has 107 entered and only 58 points. Kazahkstan has best player efficiency with 50.5 points from only 10 players; Azerbaijan is on 51.5 points from 12 players; Armenia is on 52.5 points from 14 players; Georgia is on 60 points from 18 players. This may indicate something about overall quality of talent pool.

All true Maliq, if you remember that Barnett won the 20,000 U2300 solo in the HB challenge, so it may just be part of something bigger. Milman struggled in the World Open as well and so I can only guesss that he is affected by being denied the norm at HB. There were GMs for Lev to play, but, like always, you have to beat the rest first. Alot of players seem to be around 9-11th place,which is really great. It would be nice if someone like Lenderman or Hess could get a medal, but it is hard for 2200 or 2300 players to really compete with famous guys like Ian Nepomniaschii. Also some players, like Ray Robson, are even undefeated which is also something to be proud of. Overall, I am impressed.


The thing with Barnett is that he does not really have a grasp of opening theory nor of serious positional concepts, but he is very dangerous tactically and incredibly fast over the board. I usually do not use a lot of time on my clock, often finding myself up a half-hour or so in many games, but Barnett is one of the few players I have ever competed against who stayed with my pace for the entire game. I recall that in the same tournament in which I played him, he met IM Stephen Muhammad in the blitz event and won both games with ease. Barnett ended up winning the blitz tournament ahead of Ivanov. Like Hikaru, the pace of his play may be a concern for some of the international players at the lower levels.
Milman is definitely displeased about the situation with regard to the GM norm at HB, as he and I talked about it soon after he got back from Minnesota, but I don't think that this is what ails him. Lev is getting ready to move to Durham, North Carolina, to attend Duke University in the fall and has been making preparations for this move, so I guess that this has taken some of his focus off of chess. He is still a strong IM and will possibly be a GM soon if Duke pressures do not get in the way (and the pressures of that school DEFINITELY have the potential to do that!).
Hess impressed me when I first met him as an 8-year-old because he has a bulldog mentality. He goes at you, regardless of who you are, and fights with anyone and everyone. I recall the shock at the Marshall Chess Club when he turned down a draw offer from Fed. He went on to lose the game, but all of the titled players gained a lot of respect for him that day, and it has helped him because they approach battles with him differently, never assuming that he will settle for the draw. He and I have also spent some time on basketball courts, so I know that he is a well-rounded kid, which serves him well in our society. Of the young pre-teen or barely-teen players (Caruana, Thaler, Arnold, etc.), he is my favorite, although I have fond memories of playing mini-golf with Marc Arnold and Joel Benjamin that make Marc a close second.
Overall, I am thrilled with not only the play but the character of our young players. They are fun to talk to and it is interesting to see them growing toward adulthood before one's eyes. I will miss being around them, but will follow their progress and catch up with them when I am back in NYC.



another young man to keep your eyes on is daniel naroditsky ... top rated 9 year old in the states and having a terrific tournament in the under 10 group so far.

I know barnett and maliq's comments about him are correct.

re: player efficiency

daaim shabaaz you are slightly off in the stats you cite. The points are only for the best 10 players. So France has 58 not from 107 but from their top 10 players.

Thanks gansy for you graciouness. I would be waaaay off! (smile)

Well... that makes it easy. Still it would be interesting to see what the quality of the talent pool is for each team (points/player). That may not be a true assessment, but intereseting nevertheless.

OK... did recalculations on overall team results. Average indices for top 10 teams including all players are:

POL (157.5 points/25 players) = 6.30
RUS (168.0 points/27 players) = 6.22
GEO (106.5 points/18 players) = 5.92
AZE (68.5 points/12 players) = 5.71
KAZ (56.5 points/10 players) = 5.65
ARM (76.5 points/14 players) = 5.46
CHN (113.0 points/21 players) = 5.28
IND (180.0 points/34 players) = 5.29
USA (160.0 points/31 players) = 5.18
ROM (67.0 points/13 players) = 5.15

France is on 342 points with 107 players for an average index of 3.1981.

Top five teams when counting only top 10 players:

RUS (72.0) = 7.20
IND (69.5) = 6.95
POL (69.0) = 6.90
GEO (67.0) = 6.70
USA (64.5) = 6.45
FRA (64.5) = 6.45
CHN (63.5) = 6.35
ESP (60.0) = 6.00
GER (59.0) = 5.90
AZE (58.5) = 5.85

There are some basic statistics one can run on this (standard deviation), but no one will find these too important except the people funding these trips and maybe the coaches! France, of course, shows a diluted talent pool as their top top are carry a disproportionate amount of the overall points scored.

Poland has a consistent performance and little deviation between top 10 and the other 15 players. Good stuff for those who are box score junkies like me. I used to get paid for reading the box scores when I did a stint at Sports Illustrated. Fun!

Sorry for the typos guys... .

"India has sent 34 players for 65.5 points" -Daaim Shabazz.

India has not sent 34 players. Official entries are here. http://indianchessfed.org/WorldYouthChess/news01.asp

Balance are Kids of over-enthusiastic rich parents.

As Mig pointed out, facilities are bad, it looks like. Likely world U/12 champion Narayanan Srinath's father told me that the rooms do not have phone connections and the kids have to come to reception to take calls!

Standard of games in U12 and above (at least in the top boards) is quite impressive.

>>There have been problems this year in France, however. One national federation president wrote me to say that some parents have been in tears over "the appalling conditions, arrogance of the French, and the awful hotels and places they had been put in (for lots of money, mind you)." Of course the parents and coaches always complain more than the kids.<<

Mig, is what this single guy had to say all the evidence you have to say that there have been problems is France this year?

Forgot to add one thing. Those interested in a future star should watch Narayanan Srinath in Board No 1. His style is akin to Anand's and dishes out 20-25 moves within the first 6-7 minutes in his clock. The man himself has noticed the kid and sigled him out as a future talent.

I think the comments of a federation president who is a good friend and reliable source is more than enough to say there were problems. I'm not looking for problems. Those were the only on-site comments I've received. I'll be speaking to a few US parents and trainers when they get back.

There are indeed problems, they are discussed on a few web sites and forums. For example, this article on on the NAO site : http://www.nao-cc.com/naocc/index.html
or this thread on France-Échecs :

However it looks like everyone agrees that the *playing* conditions (as opposed to lodging) are excellent. The attention of the French audience is now focused on chess, particularly "our" prodigy, national U20 champion IM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (boys U16), and Sophie Aflalo (girls U10), after vice-U10 world champion FM Jules Moussard (boys U10) left the competition for health reasons.

Oh, and while I'm at it, just a little picture :
isn't that cute ?

sorry, the right link for José de Sousa's article is : http://www.nao-cc.com/naocc/edito_index.php?idn=630&action=lire

I don't know how understandable it is for a non-French speaker (try Babelfish), translating the whole of it would be tedious and it would be illegal to post it here anyway.

Nice? That site??
"The site is nice, although I understand that it wasn't ready in time for the start of the event"

Nice? We were lucky it wasn't ready in time...
In someway it is hard but still possible to have information about players in order of ranking.
If you are very very clever you can even see how many points they have after last round.
Findinf a player in the ranking page is very hard but still not impossible.
Check the names of all the opponents of that player needs biblical patience.

If the webmaster had time to finish this sort of informatic devastation I cannot immagine what kind of crazy result we had to see.

Ah good old textual files!...See how is simple and perfect Mark Crowther's The week in Chess.

Marco, you will find this kind of information on the web site of the French chess federation : http://www.echecs.asso.fr/

Thank you nozigan, I really needed it: many Italian boys are in that tournament.


The 34 from 65.5 error was cleared up in a later post that you missed (only top 10 are counted). Nevertheless, what I am counting are what the organizers are counting... the players registered by the federations. Perhaps the federations didn't pay for all 34, but that's irrelevant. There are 34 players playing under the flag of India.


there were problems the first day
but everything has been corrected.
everyone in Belfort is having a blast.
one negative comment at the beginningof the vent
shouldn't cast doubts on the whole event.

its just like saying the HB tournament was poorly
managed because it took two weeks on the official website ( and chessbase) to produce a report
after the final ROUND

actually the website is excellent. I have been checking since round 3. see


for the cross table etc.

btw, for those following the american kids, Lenderman seems to be winning against the top seed Nepomniatchi, as I type.

Lenderman is tied for first at 8 points. All the others that have been singled out like Hess, Dobson, and Barnett have kept it up nicely. Among the girls, Melekhina and Pelletier are ticking along nicely. It seems like the older people like Milman, Itkis and Ross are struggling, which means... I am not sure what. Probably it is not worth analysing too much in Milman's case but with Ross and Itkis they have been almost the same level for a long time now. They are also not too much stronger than Pelletier or Melekhina. Why is it that they were able to become so strong so fast, but cannot improve. Will Melekhina or Pelletier be destined for the same? It seems to me that addressing this question seems relevant to understanding better why we don't have as many really strong women players as we would like

Also does anyone know anything about Roberto Hungaski. He is registered with FIDE as an American but he has played all of his tournaments in Argentina. Mig ?

He also has a USCF account. I presume Roberto Hungaski is the same guy. He is from CT. He played in the World Open and did pretty well for his US rating of 2167, which makes sense because he probably some large fraction of his time in Argentina, which would mean his USCF rating would not adequately reflect his true skill level. He seems to only play the world open suggesting he is in the states just for summers. Some simple sleuthing, but sounds like an interesting story.

On the Canadian website Chess Talk, one of the Canadian parents posted a description of the accomodations:

We could not figure out in advance how far (our hotel) was from Belfort, but our hope was not farther away than 3-5 Km. Well, we were wrong by quite a bit with our expectations: the hotel was more than 30 Km away on the outskirts of Mulhouse!...

For most of us were at our destination, home for the next 11 days. The moment we opened the door, we remained speechless: a room approximately 3m x 4m greeted us, a metal framed queen size bed with (pat deasupra), a small TV set squeezed in a corner, a small table under it coming off the wall on 3 sides and probably suitable for no more than an open binder, plus something resembling a portable bathroom: one small sink, a toilet and a shower for someone athletic.

There is no word to describe the feeling of emptiness. Is this what we paid for? Are we on a different continent, in a forgotten country in the middle of nowhere? We paid quite of a price (more than 100 CAD a day per person) and we got this???...

Some of us went directly to bed incapable of any other reaction. A couple of us were still standing, trying to catch our breath. We might be able to block some of this disaster, but how will the kids react?

The storm came out of nowhere disturbing the peacefulness of this little spot at the intersections of highways, right beside a field of wheat and a typical Home Depot store accross the street. The electricity went off and we considered it a sign from above to go to bed. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe it all was just a bad dream, going away at dawn..."

I truly hope our CFC will get the refund we deserve for all of us at Premiere Classe!!

"We might be able to block some of this disaster, but how will the kids react?"

Hazel SMITH 7

Looks like those kids are reacting well. ;-)


I don't agree at all with the assertion that Laura Ross has been at the same level for a long time. She has made herself into a solid 2200+ player now after flirting with the rating a couple of times. She is SIGNIFICANTLY stronger than Pelletier and Melekhina, and she had a pretty good performance at the World Open a few weeks ago. I cannot comment too much in Itkis, because I am not familiar with her play beyond a few games I saw her play when I was seated next to her in Philly. I know that academic requirements have weighed heavily on Laura, as she goes to the high school I used to attend, which happens to be one of the best in the country but also one of the most challenging, and she has complained about the amount of work required of students who go there. Itkis, I believe, is also looking at some elite college situation, so it is likely that such requirements have slowed her down, as well.



Here is an excerpt from a story out of Kenya...

"Meanwhile, Kenyan youth players continue making a spirited comeback after posting poor results in the opening rounds of the ongoing World Youth Chess Championships in Belfort,France. Aashna Dodhia leads her compatriots after collecting one and half points after four rounds. Sharan Shah, Devisalini Sivaraj, Prishail Dodhia, Charity Waweru and Ankush Nagda have one point apiece. Charles Karuga, Tina Sathyanarayan and Sayyam Shah are yet to get any points.

Earlier at the start of this world showcase event, a lot of heat was generated as many delegation heads threaten to boycott the opening ceremony following serious organisational shortcomings. Among the contentious issues were transport, below par accommodation and communication - internet was only installed after three days and the website is only partly operational."

Well, okay, I realise Laura Ross is quite a decent player and she may be happy with that. But based upon her initial success you might have thought she would be a really high class player. Considering that around this time 5 years ago she was around 2000 it can be said that chess probably has not been her absolute top priority. She clearly has a real talent for the game. If the reason chess goes into the background is their studies that is interesting, and I fully understand that, having gone through that whole ordeal of elite high school and the so called "selective college". Maybe boys are more willing to put that aside. However, I am not sure that could possibly be the complete answer. On the one hand, I'd love to blame my math research or school on my inability to become a good player. But if I really cared, these would not be mitigating factors.

I spend so much time debating with Maliq and others here for example...


It is one thing to care, and another to be negligent of your other talents which may serve you better in adulthood. Milman told me that he is not sure how much he will play once he goes to college, although it is good that he will be going to a school with a strong chess team, which may allow him to continue. (Duke now has Milman on Bd. 1, Hoekstra on Bd. 2 and several experts to take turns on the bottom two boards for Pan-American Intercollegiate Championships, for example.) Princeton is another elite school at which people may continue to play without divorcing themselves from the school community to do so. I contend that all of our young talents meet with this issue at some point, and that highlighting the cases of Ross and Itkis misses the point that this is not a gender issue, but rather a teenage American issue. (For example, what became of Jordy Mont-Reynaud, who once held the record for youngest master, or Harutyan Akopian, who had such an incredible run of perfect scores in national scholastic championship competition?) Note that even Hikaru is now thinking about the college issue, having recently taken the SAT.

On another note, Laura hit 2000 a while ago, but she did not actually maintain that strength. When we played the US Open in 2002, she was just barely over 2000 at that point, having just made it back from some 1950ish area. She is now 200 points higher, which is good progress for any chess player over the course of three years unless one is starting from some Class E (1000-1199) level or thereabout. She actually does continue to get stronger, but ratings can only do so much to keep up with this progress.



I meant no offense to Ms. Ross or Ms. Itkis and regret singling people out as I don't really like to do that at least in what could be interpreted as a negative connotation(which it is not.I know Ross and Itkis have talent and thats it about choices). I also hope Lev continues. Nakamura barely studies anyway, so I don't think college will make that much of a difference except for the ICC part, which may not be so horrible for his chess(not that I am qualified to say, being neither very good at chess nor on ICC). I understand the college thing, although not fully having never been a teen superstar myself or quite frankly having never been that serious about my chess playing. But that is college, and neither Ross nor Itkis has started college. Therefore I can safely say that college has not affected their chess for the last 5 years. Sure there are the apps and the SATs and so on. But I am not even sure that either one of them is even at that point. I guess that I either don't know something or I am missing your point entirely.


DP, I can speak specifically about Laura's situation because she and I have discussed it. Laura goes to the Bronx High School of Science, one of the elite specialized high schools in New York City. (Entrance exam scores are the way to gain admission.) She has lamented that the workload at this school is incredibly heavy, especially when compared to what her friends at other schools are required to take on. This is because Bronx Science does not measure success by how many students go to college, as this is a foregone conclusion; it measures itself by how many students end up in Ivy League schools, or at other elite schools such as M.I.T., Duke, or Stanford, as well as how many national math and science competitions the students win on their way to the diploma. The downside of this is that, as one progresses throughout their academic curriculum, one is actually required to do more than necessary to graduate a high school in New York state. (We had classes that I later found out would have counted for absolutely nothing in most other schools.) Laura stated that she has been criticized for not taking chess study seriously, but that she does all she can in between completing lengthy homework assignments and other academic requirements of the school. She said that people who criticize do not understand the pressure of having to be successful amongst a sea of others who also are supposed to be the cream of the crop and that they do not realize how difficult it is to make up work when she misses classes for tournaments. Amusingly, she asked me for advice on how to make it through the school while being able to experience life outside of it, but I had to be honest and tell her that I am not the ideal person to ask about being successful at that school! During my high school days, I tended to focus more on the experiencing of life than on being successful in school. These young players, to their credit, are much more wise and take their academics more seriously. They do this well before they begin college in order to allow themselves the best possible opportunity to get into a school of choice and live up to expectations. This is a higher priority than success over the board, and I am hard-pressed to challenge their order of priority.



Mr Srikanth is being a little harsh in saying “Balance are Kids of over-enthusiastic rich parents”.

Take Under-12 boys. After 10 rounds the official entry P. Negi is placed 12th on 7 points.

NARAYANAN Srinath is placed 1st on 8.5 points.

RAJESH V A V is 4th on 7.5 points.

SETHURAMAN S.P. is 6th on 7.5 points.

With more than one good player in a big Federation, its hard to tell in advance who is going to have a good tournament.


Has anybody noticed an entry from that obscure country Malaysia?

This kid called Yeap Eng Cheam (U10) from Malaysia is in top 5 position going into the final rounds of the championship. He doesn't even have a proper coach accompanying him. He is only accompanied by his club-level father. Now that's talent.

'Take Under-12 boys. After 10 rounds the official entry P. Negi is placed 12th on 7 points.

NARAYANAN Srinath is placed 1st on 8.5 points.

RAJESH V A V is 4th on 7.5 points.

SETHURAMAN S.P. is 6th on 7.5 points.'

so, whats your point? All four are official entries (part of the 22), not the 12 'kids of over rich parents' alleged by the prior poster.

Alex Lenderman won.

Congrats to GM Bluvshtein on his 8/11 showing.

good on you to danny naroditsky for his 8/11

Belfort 2005
Winner of the Girl's under 16: Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia)

Incredible talent from China: Jie Wang, under 10 champion

does somebody have mail or something from barnett?

I am the father of Daniel Naroditsky, one of the participants from US Team. Just want to say that the conditions of this tournament were totally deplorable. The letter of Mr. Aviv Friedman is very soft indeed - it does not address even half of the horror stories which I personally heard there and experienced first-hand.
Food, playing conditions, restrooms, the attitude of the so-called organizers, temperature in the playing hall, transportation, internet connection, hotel accomodations, award ceremony, total disorganization of everything including opening and closing ceremonies, charging $100 for the badges which were falling apart as soon as we got them, selling water for tokens in the playing hall and in the dinning hall, and the list goes on and on.
It is just beyond understanding how something like that can go unpunished. I am considering creating a website where the parents and coaches can put their comments. Then we might consider a class-action law suit against the organizers.

Best to everybody.


At http://www.jmrw.com/Chess/Belfort.htm#2 I have added photos of
- a russian player
- an indian player
- a bulgarian player
- a swiss player
(According to flags)
I am looking for the names of these players and their result.

That Indian boy is VAV Rajesh U/12

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 26, 2005 6:09 AM.

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