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.