Panamercian Youth Championships

Pocos de Caldas is small town in Brazil, situated approximately 250 km away from Sao Paolo. The place is famous for its thermal waters and is one of Brazilian beloved resorts. This year it hosted the Panamerican Individual Championships for girls and boys aged up to eighteen.

From 25-th of July to 1-st of August the best players of South and North America competed in the event. By character the tournament is equivalent to the European Championship. By scale it should be bigger than that as there are two continents involved in the competitions.
North America was represented mainly by USA, Jamaica and Mexico, while South by almost all the countries. The most impressive was the group from Peru with approximately a hundred of competitors.

It is winter on the south part of the hemisphere and during the first couple of days it was rainy and gloomy. Not the kind of weather one should expect from Brazil. It was the people that made the days fine though. No matter if they speak your language or not, with a smile on their faces Brazilians will try to help you in every aspect they can in a most patient and polite way. And once that the rains were over none could guess what the actual season was. Warm and pleasant weather, plus 25 degrees Celsius all day long- just the perfect conditions to enjoy your stay. The majority of the players were accommodated in the nice Golden Park hotel, which was equipped with swimming pool, sauna, and tennis court and situated five minutes away from the venue. Food was perfect, exuberant and tasty, and…
The kids had only six days to take advantage of these wonderful characteristics of Brazil. Throughout those days they had also to play nine games of chess. A tough program which included three double rounds, an opening round at 7 p.m and a last round at 9 a.m. On the top of that the blitz tournament took place soon after the classical tournaments were over. Indeed, chess is getting more and more competitive in any sense.
I flew to South America as a coach of three of my American students. All of them are members of NorCal House of Chess in Bay Area, California. This remarkable club is run by the Pilipino-born coach Ted Castro who cooperates with a bunch of Grandmasters and experienced coaches all over the world to provide the best education for his students. Many of the club members belong to the list of Top Kids in the country.
My students did well in Pocos de Caldes. Ashritha Eswaran ended sixth in the group under fourteen, Chenyi Zhao-fourth under ten while Aksithi Eswaran took home the trophy of the youngest girls (under eight). Aksithi owes her success not only to coach Ted, but to coaches Mathew Benson, Ronald Cusi and Ricardo de Guzman.

Two more American kids deserve special attention in this report as both Kevin Chor (under 8) and David Peng (under 10) left no chance to their opponents and won all their games!
Overall the seventeen Americans took eight medals and the cup of the second best team. First place came naturally for the Peruvians. In some categories they swept all the medals! My personal award for most supportive team went to the Chile fellows. They were most expressive during the closing ceremony! Which was a feast of colours and sounds.
Results in each group and games here.
On the way back I enjoyed the hospitality of a friend of mine. IM Herman Claudius van Riemsdijk is a living legend of the Brazilian chess. Born in Netherlands, he was raised in Brazil and won the national title three times. Many of the country records are owned by him, including the number of finals that he played-30! Herman is a walking encyclopedia who met all the world champions starting with Euwe and was one of the arbiters at the WCC in San Luis.
He showed me in a fast mode the sights of Sao Paolo, all the famous chess spots including the place where Najdorf game his famous simul.
Thank you for the hospitality, Brazil!


Material Unbalance

In our chess games often situations occur in which one side can trade two light pieces (six pawns) for a rook and a pawn (also six pawns). Nominally speaking, this should be equal, but in reality it is one of the sides who profits from the exchange.
The general rule states that the pieces are stronger, especially at the beginning and in the middle game, but this is not always the case.
If the rooks have open files and can create direct attack against the enemy king they might be the better pieces.
Have a look at the following example:

Short,Nigel D (2440) - Tempone,Marcelo (2335)
Wch U20 Mexico, 1981

White's activity is overwhelming and it is no wonder that he can start decisive attack.

16.Bxf7+! Rxf7 17.Nxf7 Kxf7 18.Rae1!

The last reserves are coming in the action and Black cannot hold the king's flank.

18...Bf8 [Or: 18...Bd6 19.Bxf6 gxf6 (There is an in-between check in the line- 19...Qxf6 20.Ne4 Qxf3 21.Nxd6+) 20.Qh5+ Kg7 21.Ne4 where Black is helpless. Just have a look at his flanks and you will know why.]

19.Ne4 Ra5 [The rooks are ruling in the line- 19...Nbd5 20.Nxf6 Nxf6 21.Bxf6 Qxf6 (21...gxf6 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.Rg3+) 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.Rf3

While 19...Bg4 loses material- 20.Bxf6 Bxf3 21.Bxd8]

20.Nxf6 gxf6 21.Re8 Qd6 22.Qh5+ Kg8

23.R1e7! Qxe7 24.Rxe7 Bxe7 25.Qe8+ [Black resigned because of the line-]

[25.Qe8+ Bf8 26.Bh6 Nd7 27.Qxc8]