The 2012 World Youth Chess Championship in full swing

11/14/2012 – The World Youth Chess Championship began on November 8 in Maribor, Slovenia, and has a record number of participants – with 1584 players from 91 countries. The event has attracted many established names, from the top-seed Darius Swiercz (2611) to the 11-year-old Samuel Severian (2347), and will unveil many more. Here is a large illustrated report with videos and GM analysis.

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The 2012 World Youth Chess Championship in full swing


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The World Youth Chess Championship began on November 8th 2012 in Maribor, Slovenia. Before the start of the first round, the opening ceremony took place in Dras center – one of the playing venues. Jonas Znidarsic, a Slovenian television personality and a huge chess fan, together with the mayor of Maribor Franc Kangler, the tournament director Adrian Mikhalchishin and the general secretary of FIDE Ignatius Leong, greeted the participants and spectators. They all listened to the national anthem and to the FIDE anthem.


The beautiful old city on the Drava river


The city castle

After a first dramatic day, which is completely normal for a tournament like the WYCC, the championship continued with a second round. The championship reached a record number of participants – there are 1584 participants from 91 different countries! The countries with the greatest number of are Slovenia (148), Russia (106) and the USA (89). The player with the highest ELO rating in the tournament comes from Poland – GM Swiecz Darius, who was the winner of last year’s World Junior Champion U20. Russian girl – WGM Aleksandra Goryachkina is one of the most famous faces in the girls' section. She is competing in the U18 group, even though she is only 14 years old.  


Children from all over the world wearing their unique hats

The first two rounds of the championships were full of surprises. Many favorites did not win, including GM Swiercz, who gave away a half point already in the first round.


Despite dropping half a point earlier than expected, top-seed from Poland, Darius Swiercz
is back in the leader group with 5.0/6.

After an exhausting double program the World youth championship shifted to the second half. On Monday the fifth and the sixth round were played. 1584 players from 92 countries showed a fantastic fighting spirit, as some of the games lasted till 11 pm or even longer.


A hero's job: organizing an event with nearly 1600 children


The best way to keep the event from breaking into chaos: parents and coaches are
not allowed in the playing hall.

The heroes of the first half of the championship are certainly the players with the maximum number of points. There are three such players left in the championship: Priyanka from India (group U10 girls), Nodirbek Abdusattorov from Uzbekistan (U8 open) and Nguyen Anh Khoi from Vietnam (U10 open). All three of them come from Asia, which was unthinkable a decade ago. Nowadays it’s a different story, as the players from Asia and also from USA are dominating in the lower categories and the players from Europe are slowly falling behind.


Defeat is never an easy pill to swallow


Standing tall

Among the various highlights, are the two Americans in the boys U12,  Samuel Sevian and  Jeffery Xiong who are in the lead with 5.5/6 and also have the highest ratings by far in their division. Sevian, who only turns twelve in a month, is rated a huge 2347 points, having gained 167 Elo in the last 12 months, while Xiong weighs in at 2252, and has also gained nearly 200 Elo in the same period.


On board one (not the picture above) in the U12 Open, FM Jeffery Xiong faced Bharathakoti Harsha from India
with US teammates Samuel Sevian and Nicholas Checa (neither pictured above) paired on board two.

Scrutinizing the players in the various doing best brings out a rather extraordinary pattern: how incredibly well the young Iranian participants are doing no matter their ratings. If it were one or two, so be it, but truly it goes up and down the gamut of genders and age groups. The most striking is probably in the Girls U18 which contains stars closing in on 2400 FIDE, yet after six rounds, in second place is Minoo Asgarizadeh, ranked 22nd on the starting list with a modest 2106 FIDE rating, yet is on 5.0/6 with a hefty 2440 performance. Note that she is not the only one. In the Girls U8 group, the sole leader with 5.5/6 is unrated Motahare Asadi, also from Iran. In the U8 Open, we see Pouya Mohammadi in 4th, whose 5.0/5 streak was only broken by the top seed Abdusattrov from Uzbekistan in the 6th round. In the U16 Open section, we see young FM Nima Javanbakht (2416), in 3rd, with 5.0/6 and also outperforming his rating expectation. Quite remarkable for a nation that is not particularly famous for a longstanding chess tradition.

All in all, the tournament brings what we expect: great fights, surprises, and a glimpse at the future.


A fierce glance

Commented games by GM Adrian Mikhalchishin:

Click here for full tournament standings and pairings

Excellent video reports by Vijay Kumar:


Round one report


Round two report


Round three report


Round four report


Round five and six report

Pictures by Vijay Kumar and WYCC

Previous articles (this year) on Maribor

Simultaneous Blindfold Exhibition in Maribor
26.10.2012 – The Slovenian city of Maribor is set to host the 2012 World Youth Chess Championships in November. It has also been nominated European Capital of Culture, and as such has been staging a number of interesting events. Recently Luka Lenic, Slovenia’s strongest player, a former World Youth Chess Champion, gave a blindfold simultaneous exhibition against six youthful opponents.
Ashley Chess Girl – fundraising for Maribor
10.09.2012 – From November 7 to 19 there is a World Youth Chess Championship in Maribor, Slovenia, with over 1500 participants. Ashley Tapp from Canada has just qualified, but unfortunately there is no state or federation sponsorship for the trip, and the family cannot provide the substantial funds involved. So this enterprising young lady is trying to raise the amount herself. Ashley is twelve years old. >
The 100-board Austria-Slovenia match – a unique spectacle
25.06.2012 – On the 16th of June 2012, the city of Maribor hosted a true spectacle – a friendly match on 100 chess boards between Slovenian Styria and Austrian Styria. This singular initiative was a part of Georg Mohr's Black and White World project, and brought together politicians, artists, and players of all kinds and strengths. Read about this amazing match in the report by Miša Hrenic.
Maribor: European Capital of Culture to host chess events
04.06.2012 – It is the second largest city in Slovenia and jointly with Guimarães in Portugal, the 2012 European Capital of Culture. Recently it staged the meeting of Nobel peace prize laureates, and from May to September it will host chess tournaments, which will include top players, politicians, sportsmen, women to the youngest novices. The slogan is: Maribor will be the capital of chess in 2012!

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