The Greek Youth Individual Championships

The Greek Juniour championship under 18 and 20 years took place n Athens between 2-8 January. Almost all best juniours competed for the medals, the right to represent Greece at the World and European championships, and for some extra university bonuses. The Greek educational system states that if a player qualifies in the top three in one of these championships he/she receives extra points for the university exams. This is very important for the players, since the educational system in Greece is rather difficult, and any additional advantage in the struggle for the university is welcomed.
There are qualification tournaments for the under 18 section in all Greek chess centers, while under 20 everyone can participate without qualification, but must pay for his stay. However, there is a bonus for the top five-they receive their expenses back by the Greek federation.
The elo favourites in the female section performed more than convincingly. Both Zoi Iordanidou (G-18) and Ekaterini Pavlidou (G-20) secured their titles with a spare round. While the first one preferred to make a short draw in the last round, the latter won her last game. Both girls are established players. Zoi’s trainer is the national women player WIM Vera Papadopoulou, while Ekaterini is trained by the former Greek national trainer GM Slavoljub Maranovic. The Serbian now lives and works as a trainer in the second largest city- Thessaloniki. The silver medal under 18 is for G. Sirnioti, bronze for A. Hristodulaki. Under 20 these medals went for M. Ikonomopoulou and A. Paganoglou respectively.
The boys section saw a less predictable fight for the medals. The under 20 section was convincingly won by George Kanakaris, who scored 7.5/8, and had a clear 1.5 points advance before the last round. Runner-up is N. Aggelis, third is G. Panagiotakopoulos. The elo-favourite Anastasios Pavlidis (Ekaterini’s brother) ended only sixth.
The most interesting was the under 18 group. Three players could win the gold in the last round. However, the luckiest of all appeared to be Sebastian Filippas, who edged N. Galopoulos and E. Kourousis. Fourth remained another very talented player- Antonis Pavlidis, who lost in the last round.
Among the other trainers who could be met in the playing hall were the seven-time (already) Greek champion GM Christos Banikas, former top-ten player GM Igor Glek (who now lives and works in Crete), national women trainer Nikolaos Gavrilakis, GM Ioannis Papaioannou and many others. Banikas showed me one of his best students- I. Stathopoulos, young talent who did well under the twenty section.
Currently the top chess centers in Greece are the two biggest cities- Athens and Thessaloniki, and Crete Island and Kavala, where I live and work.
Greece enjoys a nice organization of the championship. The tournament site was immediately updated with pairings, cross-tables, games, and nice pictures from the event. In the lobby of the venue all the parents enjoyed refreshments and sweets for free, while waiting for their children, and chat each other peacefully.
After the protests against the tragically killed young boy in Athens now the situation looked relatively calm. However protests against the Israeli embassy was organized during our stay, and there was a serious danger of a Metro strike. Fortunately for us the latter was postponed.
Athens is remarkable city to be seen. Everywhere you can touch pieces of history (even at the Metro stations!), interesting people. Life is hectic and exuberant in the city. The main attraction here of course is the Acropolis (literally means city on the edge), which is one the most significant ancient monuments remained. There are other acropolises in Greece, but this one is the most important one and is simply called the Acropolis. But do better let the pictures speak for it…

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