The World Youth Olympiad is an annual team tournament held for youth 16 years and under. The tournament brings together talented teams of youngsters from all parts of the world. It’s sort of like the kid’s Chess Olympics 🙂 This year’s edition was held in Chongqing, China, and concluded yesterday. Going into the tournament, the favorites to win were the biggies Russia, and India. As usual, Russia was able to assemble a daunting group, with three IM’s ( one of them being 2554 !), one 2450 FM, and an average team rating of 2480.
|Russia (RtgAvg:2480 / TB1: 17 / TB2: 30)|
India was also able to muster up a strong, talented group of players. Their main roster consisted of 3 IM’s, an FM , and an average team rating of 2426. Incidentally, these youngsters were my chess acquaintances and peers in India. I played with all 5 of them.
|India (RtgAvg:2426 / TB1: 18 / TB2: 30.5)|
|1||IM||Shardul Annasaheb Gagare||2419||6.0||9.0|
As some of you know, I previously played under the Indian Federation, as India was where I’d discovered chess! I got the opportunity to play with these players, and let me tell you – the road to the best Indian Youth title goes through these guys 🙂
Team China 1, the local favorite and also a strong medal contender, was spearheaded by the only GM of the event ! 14-year old GM Wei Yi had become a GM earlier in the year at the Reykjavik Open, and is currently the youngest GM in the world.
|1||GM||Wei Yi||2557||China 1|
USA decided to send two teams to the Olympiad, USA 1 and USA 2.
|USA 1 (RtgAvg:2167 / TB1: 11 / TB2: 22)|
|6. USA 2 (RtgAvg:2338 / TB1: 14 / TB2: 26)|
|1||FM||Michael H Bodek||2386||4.0||8.0|
I had some friends on USA 2 that I’d met at a US Chess School. So naturally I was pulling for them to earn a medal.
The first few rounds went as expected. The favorites piled up the Match Points (MP’s). After 5 rounds, Russia was leading with a perfect 5-0 after barely beating USA 2, 2.5-1.5. That really stung, since USA 2 had hung close for most of the match. Round 6 was a crucial and decisive round. Russia and India squared off, with India pulling of the upset by winning 2.5-1.5. From there on, it was smooth sailing for my acquaintances on the Indian team and they coasted to victory and a gold medal. Russia had to settle for second, and Turkey placed third. Team USA 2 finished a commendable 6th, despite having another loss in R7 and a draw in R8. On the other hand, Team USA 1 was struggling throughout the tournament and finished at 25th, well below their 9th seed position.
Congrats India for achieving the coveted gold medal and for the USA 2 team for finishing in the Top 10 !!
It rocks being able to root for two countries ! 🙂
I hope I can play for Team USA at the Olympiad one day (I do need to first figure out the rules to get in 🙂
For a more entertaining and comprehensive article on this tournament, please click here on GM Ian Rogers piece.