The United Arab emirates have pulled off the largest World youth Chess Championships in the history of the event albeit with many an organisational challenge!
Over 1,800 of the planet’s brightest young minds congregated in the desert oasis of Al Ain from 17to 29 December to determine winners in 16 categories (U-8, U-10, U-12, U-16 and U18 in both Open and Girls’ sections).
Kenya sent 31 of its strongest junior players too but alas returned empty-handed. WCM Sharanya Iyengar participating in the U-12 Girls category was the only player of the contingent to finish the tournament with a higher than 50 per cent result with 6 points in 11 rounds.
What was impressive was that she lost only 3 of her 11 games. Trailing her with 4.5 points each were Jia hiranandani (U-8 Girls) and Anish Sudalaimuthu (U-8 Open) who rounded off the team’s three best performances.
In the overall standings for the main event, Team India were the runaway success gathering 8 medals (3 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze).
China followed in second place with 3 gold medals while Russia had to settle for third place with 1 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze.
The blitz tournament was also dominated by India as they finished with a whopping 13 medals (5 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze).
In second place were Iran with 2 gold and 2 bronze followed by Russia in third place again with 1 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze. It is interesting to note the chess world’s dominance by Western Europe and USA has been gradually shifting to Eastern Europe and Asian superpowers India and China over the years.
In other news, the Kenyan contingent’s official player in the U-16 Open category Moses Maina has been selected by the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa to receive one of only two academic study grants worth USD 1,000 – the other going to Joel Klo of Ghana.
Puzzle solution: 11. Rxh7!! (The game continued 11.... Rxh7 12. Qxg6+Kf8 13. Bh6+!Rxh6 14. Qf7# to punish black’s greed mercilessly)