Young Stars return to in-person session

by Kasparov Chess Foundation
9/17/2021 – The Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) and Saint Louis Chess Club have been running the very successful Young Stars – Team USA program for the past six years. Team USA’s program has helped develop several American chess prodigies from across the country. including the likes of GM Jeffery Xiong and GM Sam Sevian. Team USA has been capped off with individualized training sessions with Kasparov’s coaching staff and special training sessions with Garry Kasparov himself. | Photo: Left to Right standing: Christopher Yoo, Michael Khodarkovsky, Garry Kasparov, Brandon Jacobson. Sitting: Carissa Yip and Rochelle Wu | Photos: Kasparov Chess Foundation

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The Saint Louis Chess Club is an organization that knows no rest! The day after finishing the Chess 9LX: Champions Showdown, the club hosted the summer session of the Young Stars – Team USA program. Garry Kasparov lead the session and was assisted by FIDE Senior Trainer Michael Khodarkovsky. The session was an intimate one, with four talented youngsters participating:
  • WIM Rochelle Wu – u10 World Girls Cadet Chess Champion 2016
  • IM Carissa Yip – Reached the third round of this year’s FIDE World Cup
  • GM Brandon Jacobson – Winner of the 2020 Charlotte Open
  • IM Christopher Yoo – Obtained his second GM norm days before the session

This year has been a tough one for young players: despite their list of accomplishments and willingness to participate in every event imaginable, many international competitions were cancelled or postponed in the last year and a half due to Covid.

This session marked a return to “over the board” training, as Covid regulations allowed for travel and a small session to be held. The players welcomed the ability to ask questions in person while practicing against each other in blitz games and regaining a feel for the pieces.

Garry Kasparov scored a strong 5.0/9 performance in the Chess 960 tournament against some of the best players in the world, and it is clear that his feel for many positions is still spot on. He was able to use fragments of these games to show some key concepts:

Kasparov, G – So, W Chess9LX: Champions Showdown 2021. White to play.

Despite the fact that this is clearly a Fischer Random game – as hinted by the awkward bishops on b1/b8 and queens in the corners, positional chess concepts are still of incredible importance, as well as knowing your classics. Here Kasparov uncorks the positionally correct idea of 12. Nxe8! eliminating a “bad” bishop that would hold on to the light squared structure while preventing the sacrifice of an exchange on f6. White went on to achieve a dominant position. This was certainly reminiscent of Fischer’s exchange of a “good knight for bad bishop” in his duel against Petrosian in 1971: 50 years ago!

Brandon Jacobson balances his life as a college student at Columbia University and as a grandmaster.

Carissa Yip celebrated her 18th birthday by attending the Young Stars training camp! Carissa’s last over the board tournament before the pandemic featured her win against World Champion Ju Wenjun at the Cairns Cup in Saint Louis.

The camp was extremely fast-paced: with only four players and two days of training, the amount of chess looked at and solved was quite intense. Brandon Jacboson was particularly impressed by the following composition which was selected from the treasure cove of Michael Khodarkovsky.

White to play and win. Remember to find the best resources for black as well! Solution at the end of the article. N. Elkies, 5th prize at the Assiac Memorial Tournament 1988. 

Even “over the board sessions” have the need for plenty of technology. Engines and databases are a necessary part of a strong young player’s set of resources.

Rochelle Wu has been a Young Star since 2017, and she just hit her new rating peak of 2211! Here she is relaxing at the Kingside Diner, part of the Saint Louis Chess Campus

The players are preparing for a strong return to over the board chess: most notably Carissa Yip will be back in Saint Louis in a few weeks for the 2021 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, where will fight for her first national championship title. Christopher Yoo will continue his quest to obtain his final grandmaster norm in the upcoming tournaments.

The Young Stars Program has open admission for talented kids from all over the World to apply to this elite program. Candidates may apply by submitting the application found here: KCF YoungStars Application. The program is open for talented players that are nine (9) years of age on January 1, 2021, and not older than thirteen (13) years of age on January 1, 2021.

Send the full applications to:

Study’s solution:

1. Nf7 g3! distracting the king is the most resilient 2. Kxg3 Kg6 and now it is the spectacular 3. Nh8+!! that is the only winning move. 3…Kg7 4.a4! (this one, because if 4.Kf4?, then 4…b5! 5.Ke5 Kxh8 6.Kd6 Kg7 and black survives since his King reaches c6 square just on time) 4…Kxh8 5.Kf4 Kg7 6.Ke5 Kf7 7.Kd6 Ke8 8.Kc7 Ke7 9.Kxb6! Kd7 10.Kxb7 wins.

The article first appeared on the website of the Kasparov Chess Foundation. Republished with kind permission.

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