Following the footsteps of greats

by Nima Javanbakht
1/22/2012 – Visiting Brazil for the World Youth Chess Championships was a dream come true for many young players. Here is a report from Nima Javanbakht, a 15-year-old Iranian, whose main interest was not simply to visit another country, but to follow in the footsteps of two famous Iranian explorers and anthropologists, who traveled around the world and were the first Asians to reach the South Pole.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Following the footsteps of greats

Visiting Brazil for the World Youth Chess Championships was a dream come true for many young players, and after sharing a proud report by a young Indian last month, we received another report, quite different, from a 15-year-old Iranian. The reason for his interest was not simply to visit another country, however exotic, but to be able to follow in the footsteps of a couple of famous Iranian explorers and anthropologists, who are probably relatively unknown to westerners.

Nevertheless, these pioneers were the first Asians to explore the South Pole, and followed this up with extensive travels to Africa, South America, and of course the Amazon. All of which they thoroughly documented with photographs and films.

Nima Javanbakht shares with us a little history on these local heroes, as well as his trip to the World Championship in Caldas Novas, Brazil.

Brazil shares borders with all South American countries except
Ecuador and Chile. It is the fifth largest country in the world in size.


One of its most famous attributes is the Amazon forest which provide an important
source of oxygen and sometimes referred as the "breathing lungs of the world". The
Amazon ​​forests cover no less than 60% of the Brazilian territory. | Photo: 
lubasi CC BY-SA

Due to the indiscriminate cutting of trees, the Amazon forests are under serious threat. In 1850, each person in the world benefited from 622 trees from the forest. In 2011 that number dropped to 60 trees per person, and it is estimated that in 2020, there will only be 20 trees per person!

The Amazon forest is known to Iranians not only through books and films, but due to the explorations of two Iranians, Issa and Abdullah Omidvar, who decided to visit the Amazon in the 50s.

The brothers did not take such a trip lightly, and planned it very carefully as best as
they could.

Their preparation did not only involve studying maps, but any skill that might be of importance, such as mountain climbing...

... or motorcycle riding.

When they went to the Amazon, they had taken some rice with them but it was not
enough. So they had to eat just as the natives who lived in the forest. Food such as
worms and monkey brains. Such foods may seem unimaginable to us but Issa explained
that in hard situations humans have to eat whatever that they can find.

They studied and documented the habits and rituals of the Yagoa tribe

The Omidvar brothers made friends with children of the tribes with puppets and balloons

Issa Omidvar wrote, “We took off carrying some 500 kilograms of foodstuff, a boat engine and gifts for the indigenous people. An hour later we found ourselves above the Andes and soon after got our first glimpse of the dense Amazon forest, realizing that hard days lay ahead. Progressing in the rainforest and dealing with the indigenous tribes were not easy tasks. After flying for several hours in a single engine aquaplane, we arrived on Potomayo River, near a village by the name of Mitu, inhabited by a few families of fishermen. We spent one week in this village gathering information and preparing our trek. We were able to communicate with the members of the tribe, who had occasional contact with white people and spoke some Spanish. Here we acquired a large boat carved out of a tree trunk, intending to travel as far as the Yagua tribe, one of the most primitive communities living in the Amazon rainforests.

We approached the area of the Yagua tribe after traveling thirteen days in our boat and facing various dangers. Our troubles did not end there. Indeed, the most perilous part of our trip was only the beginning. No other white men had ever set foot in this region and those who had approached it had been killed."

A dangerous game! The Omidvar brothers said that in this game 
the child is thrown up to five meters in the air and when it falls,
just inches before the body hits the knife, then they turn it sidewards
and the child falls into their arms!

The Omidvar brothers were the first Asians to reach the South Pole, all of which started
in 1954, when these daring Iranians decided to leave their country's frontiers to discover
the world.

They spent six months in temperatures as low as 60 below zero! They accompanied
the second Chilean expedition to the Antactica in 1966. One of the brothers lives
today in Chile, though the other lives in his native Iran.

A reporter accompanying the mission asked them, "Mr. Omidvar! After the South Pole, is there any place other than Antarctica that you have not visited yet? Abdullah answered, "Yes, the planets..."

The world ethnology Museum of the Omidvar Brothers, occupies an imposing position
at the old entrance gate to the Green Palace of "Pahlavi" Period. This beautiful building
was built in the middle of 18th century was renovated to serve as a museum opened
to the public in 2002.

A short video introducing the Omidvar brothers and their accomplishments

If you wish to find out more about the Omidvar brothers, please visit their excellent website,, with many pictures and material on their travels.

All pictures of Omidvar brothers belong to

The 2012 World Youth Chess Championship

In 2011 Brazil hosted its first World Youth Chess Championship. The event took place in Caldas Novas, one of the world's largest hydrothermal resorts. The city has more than 80 hotels, all with swimming pools with warm water. The main source of income of Caldas Novas is tourism and ecotourism.

Although Iran cannot compete in number of medals with nations such as Russia, it had prominent moments of distinction nonetheless, notably in the boys under 16 group, where no fewer than three Iranians placed in the top eight.

Boy's under 16 final ranking

Rk Tit Name FED Rtg Pts  TB1 
1 GM Cori Jorge PER 2482 7.5 35.5
2 IM Pouya Idani IRI 2427 7.5 34.0
3   Igambergenov Alibek KAZ 2259 7.0 33.0
4 FM Gabuzyan Hovhannes ARM 2393 6.5 35.0
5   Doros Radu-Marian ROU 2320 6.5 34.5
6 FM Javanbakht Nima IRI 2299 6.5 32.5
7   Antonio Viani D'cunha IND 2245 6.5 32.0
8 FM Kowsarinia Amir IRI 2233 6.5 29.5

Our other proud medal winner was 13-year-old Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, rated 2211, who was bronze in the Girl's under 14 section.

Iranian teen chess team with staff supervision and coaching in Brazil. I am the second
from the top left. | Photo: GM Elshan Moradiabadi)

The playing hall with more than 1120 participants from 80 countries around the world

Here is a game I played from the tournament. Due to a complete lack of pairings until the very last minute, one of the many organization problems, I could not prepare for the game.

At the closing ceremony, a unique medal was given to everyone, shaped in the form
of the Christ the Redeemer statue from Rio de Janeiro.

Christ the Redeemer, known as Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, is one of the Seven
Wonders of the Modern World, and the only wonder built in the last one hundred years. | 
Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) CC BY

Before I went to Brazil, I had heard about Feijao (black beans with spice and meats),
the famous Brazilian food, and interestingly it was served with every meal in the hotel.

One more thing: Here's a delicious cup of Brazilian coffee, alongside the sweet and delicious Iranian candy ‘gaz’ from my hometown Isfahan. It is a perfect combination! Bon appetite!

15-year-old FM Nima Javanbakht

Nima Javanbakht is an International Master originally from Isfahan, Iran, who believes chess is more than just a boardgame! He earned a Bachelor’s degree in 2018 and is pursuing PhD studies (from January 2020) at National University of Singapore (NUS).


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register