Know How in the Pawn Endgames (3)

Let us see now how know-how will help us win points:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Snowdrops vs Oldhands"]
[Site "Podebrady CZE"]
[Date "2012.12.13"]
[Round "5.3"]
[White "Uhlmann, Wolfgang"]
[Black "Tania, Sachdev"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A29"]
[WhiteElo "2319"]
[BlackElo "2400"]
[Annotator "www.chesstoday.net"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/p3k2p/P1p2p1P/3p1K2/3P4/4PP2/8 w - - 0 47"]
[PlyCount "6"]
[EventDate "2012.12.08"]
[EventType "schev"]
[EventRounds "8"]
[EventCountry "CZE"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2012.12.16"]

{Diagram [#]} {The legendary German player Wolfgang Uhlmann won the East
German championships eleven times and was a world championship contender in
his best years. At the time that this game is played though he is 77 (!)
years old. This is the main reason why in a very complex position he
blundered with:} 47. e3 $4 {This allowed a break-through:} c4 $1 48. dxc4 d3
49. Kf3 Ke5 {And White resigned due to the zugzwang-} (49... Ke5 50. e4 f4 51.
c5 Ke6 $19) 0-1

As it was pointed out in Chess Today, Uhlmann missed a win.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Snowdrops vs Oldhands"]
[Site "Podebrady CZE"]
[Date "2012.12.13"]
[Round "5.3"]
[White "Uhlmann, Wolfgang"]
[Black "Tania, Sachdev"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A29"]
[WhiteElo "2319"]
[BlackElo "2400"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/p3k2p/P1p2p1P/3p1K2/3P4/4PP2/8 w - - 0 47"]
[PlyCount "33"]
[EventDate "2012.12.08"]
[EventType "schev"]
[EventRounds "8"]
[EventCountry "CZE"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2012.12.16"]

{Diagram [#]} {Things should have ended differently:} 47. e4 $1 dxe3 (47... c4
48. dxc4) 48. fxe3 Kf6 49. e4 $1 {[%cal Gh4h5,Ga4a5] White wants to trade the
central pawns to reach a theoretically won endgame.} fxe4 50. dxe4 c4 51. e5+
Ke6 52. Ke4 c3 53. Kd3 Kxe5 ({Nothing changes:} 53... Kf5 54. Kxc3 Kxe5 55. Kc4
Kd6 56. Kd4 $18) 54. Kxc3 $1 {[%cal Rh4h5,Ra4a5] Diagram [#] Yet another case
of a bishop opposition! The space advantage and the geometry of the board
work in White's favour and he wins no matter which pawn Black will go for-} Kd5
(54... Kf5 55. Kc4 Kg5 56. Kc5 Kxh5 57. Kb6 Kg4 58. Kxa6 h5 59. Kb6 h4 60. a6
h3 61. a7 h2 62. a8=Q $18 {[%csl Rh1][%cal Ra8h1]}) 55. Kd3 Kc5 56. Ke4 Kb5 57.
Kf5 Kxa5 58. Kg6 Kb4 59. Kxh6 a5 60. Kg6 a4 61. h6 a3 62. h7 a2 63. h8=Q $18

How could Uhlmann calculate that deep during the game? He did not have to. All he needed to do was to remember the following study:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1927.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Grigoriev"]
[Black "Space, geometry"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Annotator ",bojkov"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/p6p/P3k2P/8/8/2K5/8 w - - 0 0"]
[PlyCount "19"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2009.03.11"]

{[%csl Ra5,Ya6,Rh5,Yh6] Diagram [#]} 1. Kc3 $1 {[%csl Rc3,Re5][%cal Re5d4,
Rc3d4]} (1. Kd3 $2 Kd5 $11 {[%cal Rd5e4,Rd5d4,Rd5c4]}) 1... Kd5 (1... Kf5 2.
Kc4 Kg5 3. Kc5 Kxh5 4. Kb6 Kg4 5. Kxa6 h5 6. Kb6 h4 7. a6 h3 8. a7 h2 9. a8=Q
$18 {[%csl Rh1][%cal Ra8h1]}) (1... Ke6 2. Kc4 {[%csl Ra6,Rc4,Re6][%cal Rc4d5,
Re6d5,Rc4c5,Rc5b6,Rb6a6]}) 2. Kd3 Kc5 3. Ke4 Kb5 4. Kf5 Kxa5 5. Kg6 Kb4 6. Kxh6
a5 7. Kg6 a4 8. h6 a3 9. h7 a2 10. h8=Q {[%csl Ra1][%cal Rh8a1]} 1-0

The solution of the problem would be the proper equipment with a base of knowledge. You do not need to know every single endgame by heart. It is hardly possible (except perhaps for a genius like Ivanchuk) but more importantly it is not worth memorizing countless endgames which are very unlikely to happen.
On the other hand each player should owe an existence minimum of exact positions in every major endgame (pawns above all but also knight/bishop/rook/queen) endgames. This will help the players a chance to orientate in most of the situations, will suggest them which pieces to trade and which to keep and naturally will support the calculation.
Best of luck in building your own memory library!
You can also check the complete article on the FIDE Trainer's site.


Know How in the Pawn Endgames (2)

Let us see now how the know-how can help us save points:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "30th Metz Open"]
[Site "Metz FRA"]
[Date "2012.04.??"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Lalic, Bogdan"]
[Black "Gurevich, Mikhail"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E01"]
[WhiteElo "2469"]
[BlackElo "2611"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/5k2/8/6Rp/1r5P/6P1/8/5K2 b - - 0 44"]
[PlyCount "25"]
[EventDate "2012.04.14"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "FRA"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2012.04.22"]

{Diagram [#]} {At a glance it seems as Black is lost. he cannot defend the h
pawn and the two passers should win easily. However, the famous player and
renown coach replied with the cool:} 44... Rg4 $1 {It seems insane to allow a
pawn endgame when beind down a pawn. On the top of that the extra pawn is a
defended passer. Still after:} 45. Rxg4 hxg4 $11 {A textbook draw is achieved.
Lalic tried to win for a while:} 46. Ke2 Ke6 {Distant opposition.} 47. Kd3 Kd5
{Normal opposition.} 48. Kc3 {Diagram [#] The black king can no longer follow
the opponent but there is a neat solution.} Ke5 $1 {Bishop opposition. From
here the black king is ready to take the normal opposition no matter which
direction the white king will choose.} (48... Kc5 $4 49. h5) 49. Kb4 (49. Kd3
Kd5 {only repeats moves.}) (49. Kc4 Ke4 $11) 49... Kd4 50. Ka3 {Once again the
black king is limited to the square of the h pawn, but Gurevic uses the
familiar method:} Ke5 $1 {You can name this dstant bishop opposition if you
like :)} 51. Ka4 Ke4 {Normal distant opposition.} 52. Ka5 Ke5 53. Ka6 Ke6 54.
Ka7 Ke7 55. Kb7 Kd7 {Opposition.} 56. Kb6 Kd6 1/2-1/2

Gurevich did not have to invent the hot water. He knew the following position:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1922.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Grigoriev"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/8/4k3/Pp6/1P3K2/8/8 b - - 0 0"]
[PlyCount "19"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2009.03.11"]

{Diagram [#]} 1... Kd5 $1 {[%csl Rd5,Rf3][%cal Rf3e4,Rd5e4] Bishop opposition.}
2. Kf4 Kd4 {[%csl Rd4,Rf4][%cal Rf4e4,Rd4e4]} 3. Kg4 Ke4 4. Kg3 Ke5 {[%csl Re5,
Rg3][%cal Rg3f4,Re5f4] Bishop opposition again. Whenever the norml opposition
does not work, the defender should use the bishop one.} (4... Ke3 $2 5. a5 $18
{[%cal Ra5d5,Rd5d8,Rd8a8,Re3d4]}) 5. Kf3 Kd5 6. a5 Kc5 7. Ke4 Kb5 8. Kd5 Kxa5
9. Kc4 Ka6 $1 {[%csl Ra6,Rc4][%cal Rc4b5,Ra6b5]} 10. Kxb4 Kb6 {[%csl Rb4,Rb6]
[%cal Rb4b5,Rb6b5]} 1/2-1/2

You are not yet convinced? Then check this out:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Cappelle op 28th"]
[Site "Cappelle la Grande"]
[Date "2012.03.09"]
[Round "8"]
[White "Andriasian, Zaven"]
[Black "Sveshnikov, Vladimir"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B04"]
[WhiteElo "2616"]
[BlackElo "2426"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/6p1/4k3/8/Pp3K2/1P6/8/8 b - - 0 51"]
[PlyCount "47"]
[EventDate "2012.03.03"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "FRA"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2012.04.24"]

{Diagram [#]} 51... g5+ $1 {Sveshnikov demonstrates knowledge. He could have
kept the pawn on g7 and only after White captures it he can play Ke7 which
would also be a draw.} 52. Kxg5 Ke5 53. Kg4 Ke4 54. Kg3 Ke5 55. Kf3 Kd5 56. Kf2
Ke6 57. Ke2 Kd6 58. Kf3 Kd5 {Diagram [#]} 59. Kg3 Ke5 60. Kh4 Kd4 61. Kh3 Kd5
62. Kg2 Kd6 63. Kf2 Ke6 64. Kg2 Kd6 65. Kh3 Kd5 66. Kh4 Kd4 67. Kh5 Kd5 68. Kh6
Kd6 69. Kh7 Kd7 70. Kg6 Ke6 71. Kg5 Ke5 72. Kg4 Ke4 73. Kg3 Ke5 74. Kf3 Kd5

Try finding this over the board after a tense four-five hour game. To make things even spicier, imagine that this is a day with a double round, this is your second game and you have played the same four-five hours…
(To be continued.)


Know How in the Pawn Endgames (1)

The knowledge of exact positions is the cornerstone in the understanding of the pawn endgames.
The pawn endgames have their own specifics. Contrary to the other endgames where we can use approximate evaluations like slightly better/worse or much better/worse without definite conclusion, in the pawn endgames we use only three evaluations- win/draw/loss.
The lack of material enables us to calculate the lines till the end but this is easier said than done. At the end of the game players are usually tired and tend to make more mistakes. The time troubles also do not contribute to the proper calculations.
To sum the things up- pawn endgames can be easily compared to mathematical task where you have only one true answer. In order to find this answer the knowledge of a concrete theorem is needed in mathematics, while in chess that would be the knowledge of a concrete exact position.
Let's have a look of a case where one of the opponents is lacking essential exact knowledge. The following game was played at the first Metropolitan open tournament in Los Angeles three years ago. The player who has the white pieces is a strong national master Mikhail Langer. His opponent is a young and promising IM from Canada, Raja Panjwani. It was actually Raja who showed me the game immediately after it was over. It is a strange coincidence as you will see in a moment. In the diagrammed position White chose the natural looking:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Los Angeles Metropolitan op 1st"]
[Site "Los Angeles"]
[Date "2011.08.17"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Langer, Mikhail"]
[Black "Panjwani, Raja"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B02"]
[WhiteElo "2180"]
[BlackElo "2420"]
[Annotator "Mьller,Karsten"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/3p1p2/8/4P3/3K4/6k1/8/8 w - - 0 80"]
[PlyCount "8"]
[EventDate "2011.08.17"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "USA"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2009.03.11"]

{Diagram [#]} 80. Ke3 $2 {The most natural reply appears to be the first and
the last mistake in the endgame. The normal opposition is wrong here as White
cannot keep it up on all the squares.} ({White needed to choose the distant
opposition!} 80. Kc3 $1 {[%csl Gc3,Gg3] this was the only way to draw. For
example-} Kf4 81. Kd4 Kf3 82. Kd3 Kg2 83. Kc2 {[%cal Rc2d2,Rd2e2,Rg2f2,Rf2e2]}
Kg1 84. Kc1 Kf2 85. Kd2 Kf3 86. Kd3 Kf4 87. Kd4 Kf5 88. Kd5 {when Black can
make no progress and the game should end in a draw-} f6 89. exf6 Kxf6 90. Kd6)
({On the other hand, the immediate aggression is wrong on the account of-} 80.
Kd5 $2 Kf3 $19 {[%csl Gd3,Gd5,Gf3,Gf5][%cal Rd5e4,Rf3e4] Black wins the
diagonal opposition and outflanks the opponent's king-} 81. Kd4 Kf4 {[%csl Re5]
} 82. Kd5 Ke3 {[%cal Re3d4,Re3e4]} 83. Kd6 Ke4 84. Kxd7 Kxe5 $19) ({Also wrong
is:} 80. Ke4 $2 Kg4 {[%csl Re4,Ye5][%cal Gg4g5,Rg4f4,Rg4f3,Rg4f5,Yf5e5]} 81.
Ke3 Kf5 82. Kd4 Kf4 {which transposes to the previous note-} 83. Kd5 Ke3 84.
Kd6 Ke4 85. Kxd7 Kxe5 $19 {[%cal Gf7f5]}) {The many lines in which White could
have gone wrong should convince you that things are not as simple as they look.
The game saw-} 80... Kg4 81. Ke4 Kg5 {[%csl Re5][%cal Re4e5] Diagram [#] Now
White can not maintain the vital normal opposition as the e5 square is not
available for his king.} 82. Kd4 (82. Ke3 Kf5 83. Kd4 Kf4 84. Kd5 Ke3 $19)
82... Kf4 {[%csl Gd4,Gf4] Opposition} 83. Kd5 Ke3 {Outflanking. White resigned
due to the line:} (83... Ke3 84. Kc5 Ke4 85. Kd6 Kd4 86. Kxd7 Kxe5 87. Ke7 f5
$19) 0-1

Panjwani did his homework which cannot be said for his opponent. He knew long before the game the following classical example:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1890.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Neustadtl"]
[Black "Combined oppositions"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/8/8/4p1p1/8/5P2/6K1/3k4 w - - 0 0"]
[PlyCount "11"]
[Source "Chess Today"]
[SourceDate "2009.03.11"]

{Diagram [#]} 1. Kh1 $8 {[%csl Rf1][%cal Rh1g1,Rd1e1,Re1f1,Rg1f1] Distant
opposition saves the day.} ({Once again bad is the normal one-} 1. Kf1 $2 Kd2
2. Kf2 Kd3 {[%csl Rf3][%cal Rf2f3]} 3. Kg3 Ke3 {[%csl Re3,Rg3]} 4. Kg2 Ke2 5.
Kg3 Kf1 $19 {[%csl Rf1,Rg3] Outflanking!}) 1... Kd2 ({Black has one more
resource in his disposal-} 1... g4 {but after-} 2. Kg2 {[%cal Rg2f3,Rf3e4,
Re4e5] the draw is inevitable-} gxf3+ ({Or:} 2... Ke2 3. fxg4 e4 4. g5 e3 5. g6
Kd2 6. g7 e2 7. g8=Q e1=Q $11) 3. Kxf3 Kd2 4. Ke4) 2. Kh2 Kd3 3. Kh3 Ke3 4. Kg3
Ke2 5. Kg2 Ke1 6. Kg1 1/2-1/2

Panjwani did his homework which cannot be said for his opponent. He knew long before the game the following classical example:
The lack of know-how prevented Langer of saving the half point after a tough and accurate resistance. Panjwani on the other hand knew the position and if the colours were reversed he would have easily saved the game. The knowledge helped him in the game as well as he knew exactly how to win after his opponent committed a mistake.
(To be continued.)


Stalemate Steals the Point

Round eight of the Olympiad appeared to be tough for the PNG team. we were facing Gambia.

It started with a more or less expected loss on board four where Craig Skehan played unnecessary timidly to his opponent.
Things got worse soon as the top scorer of the team Stuart Fancy also suffered a defeat to Ebrima Bah. This was one of his very few losses but in a highly important situation.
It seems as the chances for something are over as Helmut Marko was in trouble on board two.However, with persistance and will the Austrian born CM managed to outwit his opponent and score for PNG.
All had to be decided in the game Bittaye-Jones. Rupert enjoyed an excellent preparation and soon emerged a pawn ahead, clearly better.

After some imprecise decisions by both sides the following position was reached:

A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "WCO2014"]
[Site "Tromso"]
[Date "2014.08.10"]
[Round "8.38"]
[White "Bittaye Momodou Lamin"]
[Black "Jones Rupert"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A01"]
[BlackElo "1899"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/5B2/8/4k3/1pp5/3b3P/8/2K5 b - - 0 51"]
[PlyCount "14"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:11:13"]
[BlackClock "0:10:15"]

51... Kd4 $6 {Rather unpractical decision. Simple and good is:} (51... c3 {
[%csl Rb2,Rc2,Rd2,Yh3][%cal Ge5f4,Gf4g3,Gg3h3,Rc3d2,Rc3b2,Rd3c2] then Black
wins the pawn and the game.}) 52. Kb2 b3 53. h4 Bc2 54. h5 {Diagram [#]} c3+ $4
{If the previous mistake complicated matters, this one throws away the
advantage! White has a beautiful idea to save the point and the match.} (54...
Kd3 $1 {was called for when the pawns are unstoppable.} 55. h6 c3+ 56. Kc1 b2#)
55. Kc1 Ke5 ({At first I thought that Black can still transpose to the winning
line-} 55... Kc5 56. h6 ({but White can play} 56. Bg6 $1 $11) 56... Kb4 57. Bg8
Bd3 58. h7 b2+ 59. Kd1 b1=Q#) 56. h6 Kf6 {"It is a draw", whispered the
arbiter of the match.} 57. Bg8 {Zugzwang. Rupert was still unaware of what is
going on.} Kg6 {Diagram [#] An incident occurred here. "Check" announced one
of Bittaye's teammates, loud enough for him to hear. I instinctively jumped
and protested loudly (some inappropriate language also took place.) This
changed nothing.} 58. Bh7+ $1 ({And draw due to the stalemate-} 58. Bh7+ Kxh7)


PNG Breaks the Tradition

After laughing heartily on my friend's stories of nearly missed flights I could not miss a chance to miss my own. There is always a first time to do something wrong. Well, the moment was not a very good one. Just try to find a flight to Tromso at the very last moment at the beginning of the Olympiad. Or simply ask Hikaru Nakamura on his experience.
Anyway, after three hours of a thorough research I found an option! And arrived just in time for the first round.
True, my Papua New Guinea team lost traditionally at the beginning with a 0-4 result to Singapore. But yesterday we broke "the tradition" and took good 1.5 points in our second match.
Our top board Stuart Fancy produced a bold positional sacrifice at the position on the diagram:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "WCO2014"]
[Site "Tromso"]
[Date "2014.08.03"]
[Round "2.1"]
[White "Fancy Stuart"]
[Black "Almedina Ortiz Edgardo J."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "2036"]
[BlackElo "2277"]
[Annotator "Bojkov, Dejan"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "1rb1k2r/4bppp/p1n1pn2/qpp5/P2pPP2/1P3NN1/2PPB1PP/R1BQ1RK1 w k - 0 12"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[EventDate "2014.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:37"]
[BlackClock "0:02:05"]

12. axb5 $1 {For the exchange White gets a pawn and plenty of useful central
squares. The position is closed and the extra exchange of Black is not as
strong as one might think.} Qxa1 13. bxc6 O-O ({Stuart felt that Black can do
better if he brings the queen home at once:} 13... Qa5 14. Ne5 Qc7 {Indeed
this is so, but White has decent compensation for the exchange after something
like-} 15. Ba3 O-O 16. Bc4 $44) 14. Ne5 Ne8 15. f5 Nc7 {[%csl Ya1] Now the
queen will be excluded from the game for a very long time.} 16. Bc4 Bd6 17. Nd3
e5 18. Qh5 Ne8 {Diagram [#]} 19. f6 $3 {[%csl Ya1,Yb8,Gc4,Yc8,Gd3,Gf1,Gg3,Rg8,
Gh5] Very energetic play! White uses his piece majority to attack on the
king's flank.} Be6 {Black gets checkmated or loses loads of material in case
of:} (19... Nxf6 20. Rxf6 gxf6 21. Qh4 (21. Qh6 Bg4 22. h3) 21... Be7 22. Nh5
Kh8 23. Nxf6 Bxf6 24. Qxf6+ Kg8 25. Qg5+ Kh8 26. Qxe5+ {[%csl Rb8,Rh8][%cal
Re5b8,Re5h8]}) (19... gxf6 20. Rxf6 $1 Nxf6 21. Qg5+ Kh8 22. Qxf6+ Kg8 23. Nh5
{[%csl Rg7][%cal Rf6g7]}) 20. Bxe6 g6 21. Qf3 $18 {The game is essentially
over.} (21. Qg4 {is a bit faster-} fxe6 22. f7+ Kg7 23. Qxe6 Qa5 24. Nxe5 $18)
21... fxe6 22. f7+ Kh8 23. fxe8=Q Rbxe8 24. Qg4 Rxf1+ 25. Kxf1 c4 26. bxc4 Qa4
27. c5 Bc7 28. Qg5 Qxc2 29. Ke2 Qc4 {Diagram [#]} 30. h4 $1 {The king will
soon have no guards left.} Qb5 31. h5 Qxc6 32. hxg6 Qd7 33. Nh5 Bd8 34. Qxe5+
Kg8 35. c6 Qe7 {Diagram [#]} 36. Ba3 $1 {[%csl Ye7,Rg8][%cal Re5g7,Ra3e7]
Despite the time trouble Staurt finishes in style.} Bc7 37. gxh7+ Qxh7 38. Qg5+
Kh8 39. Nf6 Bd8 40. Nxh7 Bxg5 41. Nxg5 Kg7 42. Nc5 e5 43. c7 Kf6 44. Nge6 Rc8
45. g4 a5 46. Kd3 Ke7 47. Kc4 Kd6 48. g5 Kc6 49. g6 a4 50. Nd8+ Kxc7 51. g7 1-0


In Asuncion

The Panamercian U20 Junior championships were scheduled to take place in the middle of May. For various reasons the dates were moved to the end of June (21-28) and this gave a chance to my student Ashritha Eswaran from USA to take part in the event.
Panamerican championships gather together the players from both South and North America. However, it is not very usual for the North American players to participate at these events. One of the reasons is the distance. Another, I suspect is the language barrier. In most of the South American countries people hardly speak English.

This was not the case though in Paraguay. The organizer of the event Ronald Zarza Pelissier is a man of German origin and speaks fluently Deutsch. His English is also very good. Add to these linguistic advantages the pure will to help and you will know why Asuncion was a very successful host of the event.
The tournament took place in the offices of the ABC color downtown. The venue was easily accessible and comfortable.
Players from eleven countries took part in the women event. The top seed and experienced Ann Chumpitaz of Peru played steadily throughout the event and won the trophy convincingly with 8/9.

Ann is already an established player; she participated at the Olympiad in Istanbul. In general, Peru dominated the event. The silver was claimed by a very talented Mitzy Mishe Caballero Quijano. She scored 7.5/9. Just like Ann she did not lose a game. However there is an important difference between the two players. Chumpitaz played her last championship while Mitzy is only thirteen years old!
The charming Ivette Ale Garcia Morales took bronze. This is a huge achievement for her country and Ivette hopes that Mexico will show even better results in the future.

Ashritha Eswaran took good fifth place, which would not be too bad if we did not see her games. She missed plenty of points in completely won positions. We have a lot of food for thought after the event!

In the boy’s section the rating favourite Cristobal Villagra Henriquez (rated 2459)proved better than his opponents and won the title for Chile. Despite the draw in the third round and the loss in fourth he managed to calm down and win five games till the end of the event.
A curious moment happened during the price giving when Cristobal did not show in time to take his trophy. I thought that he is chasing a flight but it appeared that there was a much more important thing to do- he was watching the football match of his compatriots with Brazil…

In this section a pleasant surprise was the second place of Diego Blandon Villa of Columbia. Third was Giuseppe Leiva of Peru.
Both winners of the boys and girls event earned a GM norm. It is Cristobal’s second norm.
Chess in Paraguay is becoming more and more popular these days thanks to the efforts of their best player. GM Axel Bachman recently crossed the 2600+ rating mark. In fact not only crossed but sky-rocketed to the 2652 mark. Axel is a national hero in his country.
Another remarkable person is the third seeded in the boy’s section Guillermo Vazquez. He is good in there things. Chess, where he is an FM, mathematics (he’s heading for Olympics in South Africa after the Panam) and software. I am using the chance to express my gratitude to his parents for the wonderful barbecue evening that they organized for the players of the event. (A blitz tournament with prices also took place then!)
I would also like to thank Ronald Zarza Pelissier for the wonderful organization as well as to all the arbiters and organizers involved in the event.


North American Youth in Sleepy Hollow

A short journey from the Grand Station with the Metro-North Hudson Line will bring you to a very famous village. Tarrytown is considered part of New York by some although it has an independent status. It is beautifully situated in the forests on the shore of the Hudson River. The fact that the village is close to the City-that-Never-Sleeps and at the same time is away from the pollution made it a perfect location for some of the USA’s finest. Lyndhurst and Rockefeller mansions are certainly points of interest.
However, Tarrytown became famous for the book Sleepy Hollow (and I guess the movie with Johnny Depp afterwards). The creepy story was written by the prominent American author Washington Irving. Sunnyside, the historic home of the author from where he took inspiration for the book is situated close by to the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Tarrytown. This was the venue of the North American Youth Championship which took place between 12-16 Junes.

In the last two years this competition was conducted and Canada (2013) and Mexico (2012) and the Americans were happy to host the event again.
Technically speaking, all the countries from North America are eligible to take part in the tournament, but due to various reasons the medals are in contend of the abovementioned countries. All age groups compete except for the twenty-year old players.
The schedule is tight. Nine rounds in just five days, ninety minutes per game per each player (and thirty seconds increment per move), double rounds every day except for the first one.
Nevertheless, the event attracts a lot of players and the main reason is the norms and titles that the players can earn. For instance, the gold medalists in the under 18 and 16 sections are awarded with an IM/WIM titles, while the under 12 and 14 years receive FM titles. This is also one of the reasons why some of the kids prefer to compete in the upper sections.
The tournaments went smoothly for most of the rating favourites.

Annie Wang and Aleksander Katz won the under 18 sections. Annie Zhao and Viswanadha Kesav took home the gold in under 16 sections. All of them are now proud International Masters.
The rest of the winners are:
Under 14- Jason Shi.
Under 12: Martha Samadashvili and David Brodsky
Under 10: Kylie Tan and Maximillian Lu
Under 8: Julia Kuleshova and Arthur Guo.
Almost all the top honors were for USA, with Canada bringing back home two golds.
Photo gallery by Dora Leticia for the official site here.

A couple of things should be said about the tournament. Although the organization was at a very good level, I believe that the organizers made a mistake by merging the boys and girls groups in the under eight section. There indeed weren’t too many players, but the number of the girls was eight, that would have been a very good round-robin event. By merging the groups, the pairings became more random and the factor luck was increased. It also was not quite clear to me how the arbiters were doing the pairings. In the second round three players with 2 points were facing three players with a point. It was not that they have played each other. These strange anomalies happened later as well.
The second thing was the behavior of a particular participant. A girl, who played in the under 12 section and who seems to be experienced in the art of dirty tricking. In the seventh round in a lost position the girl went to ask for an advice from her father (which is forbidden). He told her to offer a draw. She did it, on four occasions (at least). The father also took part in the process. He approached the mother of the opponent and told her to take the draw, as the tournament is spoiled for both the girls anyways (!) then in the time trouble the tricky girl showed a powerful variety of cheap tricks (like offering a candy while the opponent has ten seconds on the clock). She succeed, the flag felt.
Unfortunately, this was not the only case and as you can see, this school was obviously well supported and trained under the parent’s guidance. This particular lady made it to a decisive game for the medals.
Alas, at the end it all backfired. The girl was pictured while consulting with the father. And the game went for her opponent. Still, the question remains. Do we need to tolerate this?
The tournament was quickly over. It is good that New York never sleeps and I got a chance to briefly visit it with my friend Ted Castro, the founder and head coach of the Norcal House of Chess.