October 4, 2014

World Juniors- Memory of a lifetime!

World Junior! The very words evoke a sense of enthusiasm and youthfulness in the minds of everyone. After all it is a tournament organized for players who are below the age 20. The World Junior 2014 is all set to be held from 5th October-20th October 2014 in Pune, India. Rakesh Kulkarni takes you on a beautiful journey of the 2013 World Junior, a tournament that he played. It will surely leave you with a smile on your face!
The World Junior Chess Championship!
By Rakesh Kulkarni
William Ritson-Morry came up with this idea in 1951 when the first World Junior took place in Birmingham, Endgland.In 1983, a separate tournament for girls was established.
This is “THE” tournament that a chess player has to play at least once in his/her lifetime! It is like a chess player's dream! A very prestigious tournament! It is the last “WORLD” title, before the Absolute “World Champion’s" title and no wonder, many winners of World Juniors have gone on to win the ultimate prize - The World Championship title!

Boris Spassky (USSR)Anatoly Karpov (USSR), Garry Kasparov (USSR) and Viswanathan Anand (INDIA) are the four players who have won both the World Junior and the World title!

Other Notable Winners of this Championship (Open) include :
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is the only player who has won the World Junior title twice.
P.Harikrishna and Abhijeet Gupta are the two Indians who have won this title.

Notable Winners in the Girls Section:
Zhu Chen is the only player who has won the girl's section twice.
Koneru Humpy, Dronavali Harika and Soumya Swaminathan are the Indian achievers.

It is the perfect tournament! The top ranked Juniors are out there to win it. Two World Cup Spots (reserved for the Winners) that catapults both of them into the World Championship Cycle.

Just Imagine! All the players are young, dynamic and blood-thirsty! There are no dull or agreed draws! Youthful and vibrant! Fighting for every point and calculating each position till the end! Tirelessly! And only six medals are distributed after 13 long and hard fought games!
Yeah! It is unique! It is special! It is a historic and prestigious Event!
It is the “World Junior”!!

I could go on and on about the importance of this event.
But to give you a better idea here are my experiences of the World Junior Chess Championship 2013 held at KocaeliTurkey!

About 196 players flocked to Kocaeli, Turkey in September last year to take part in the World Junior Chess Championship 2013.

The Official Hotel of the Event was the Luxurious "Ness Hotel" which boasted of having three outdoor pools! An indoor thermal pool, Turkish Bath, Hamam and gymnasium!
Perfect amenities for a vacation! And maybe also for a tough and long tournament!

Home to the players for the next 15 days – THE NESS HOTEL

This was what all the players were playing for!

In the Open section, defending Champion and local favorite GM Alexander Ipatov of Turkey was seeded second! Only behind the mighty Chinese GM Yu Yangyi!

Yu Yangyi (CHINA) was the Top seed and justified his Top Billing.

After the games were over, everyday, most of the players indulged in recreational activities like Table – Tennis, Snooker and Swimming provided to the players by the hotel to relax after their long and hard fought battles!

The usual hangout place for all the players! It had a Snooker Table, a Ping-Pong Table, Analysis Boards (as seen in the background) and a Fussball Table!

Infact, this was the Ice-Breaker room! All the players with their opponents walked into this room after their Games and ended up having more fun after analyzing their games!

Players from all the over the world became friends all because of this place! Analysis of games, long chats over drinks, exchanging tips/advices on the Ping-Pong table! Discussions of any latest chess stuff! Players adding each other on social media! And exchanging phone numbers! You name it!
This was the place to be! To make new friends! To have fun with your country-mates! To learn and speak new languages! And of course how to swear in those languages! :)

This room helped each player to get over their lost game or to celebrate his/her victory with new found friends!

Click on the Link to see how GM Ipatov thinks at Pinball! 

For every World Juniors between the 13 rounds, there is a rest day after the seventh round. This is given to help players rest, recover, recuperate and prepare for the forthcoming all important games.

Some players do rest! Some watch a movie! listen to music or catch up on some sleep!
While some others…
Well! This is the Latino style to rest and recover on the night before rest day. (Thank you all for teaching me Spanish)

The night before the rest day, all the interested players were invited to a party organized by the players themselves!
There was dancing! drinking (Optional!) and music by the swimming pools!

 Soon, Everyone came! The  Europeans also made their presence felt at the Party!

A great night! A real stress buster for me! As before the rest day, I had only scored 1.5/6! And finished strongly with 5/7.
Ending up with a respectable 6.5/13 at 50% with a mid-table Finish!

On the Rest day, there was the customary football match planned! Turkey (Hosts) [Players with Florescent Bibs] vs Rest of the World!
And yours truly played a significant role for Rest of the World Team to help them defeated the Hosts 10-11!!

Before the start of the  8th Round! I decided to put my newly acquired Spanish speaking skills! 
So, how is my Spanish??

Not bad eh! With the WIM’s and WGM’s from South America!
(L-R) Belen Matute (Ecuador), WIM Ayelen Martinez (Argentina), Yours Truly, My Favorite! – WGM Paula Andrea Rodriguez (Columbia) and WGM Deysi Cori (Elder sister of GM Jorge Cori) (Peru)

The tournament was heading for a exciting finish!
GM’s Yu Yangyi and Alexander Ipatov had shot ahead and were clear of the field! They were only going to finish top 2!
But, the 3rd Place! (Bronze Medal) was all up for grabs!

Indian GM Vidit Santoshi Gujrathi rose up to the occasion and came up with the goods!

Vidit! Looking to the side, for a sideline maybe?

He thrashed GM Jorge Cori of Peru in a Sideline 4)h4!? of the Grunfeld! After this round, he had to draw Yu Yangyi in the last round! Almost assuring each other their rightful medals!

Things in the Girls Section heated up too. With the lead switching several times amongst the top players, but finally “15” year old Alexandra Goryachkina of Russia emerged victorious! Narrowly edging out “13”-year-old Zhansaya Abdumalik of Kazakhstan!
The most experienced, top seed and “oldie” of 20 years WGM Alina Kashlinskaya of Russia came through with the bronze!

Good friend and GM Alexander Ipatov (Turkey) could have easily said “Shukriya”(thank you in Hindi) to WCH Garry Kasparov! He learnt Hindi as fast as scored an incredible 10.5/13 to win silver!

(L-R) GM Alex Ipatov (TUR) Silver , GM Yu Yangyi (CHN) GOLD – GM Vidit Gujrathi – Bronze

(L-R) 13 Year Old!! WGM Zhansaya Abdumalik (KAZ) Silver, 15 Year Old WGM Alexandra Goryachkina (RUS) GOLD and WGM Alina Kashlinskaya (RUS) Bronze

So, as this World Junior had come to a close! I could just wonder!
What a great and unique experience! A must have for each and every Chess player! Atleast once in his/her lifetime.

So glad to have made new friends! Right from Columbia to Kazakhstan! And from Sweden to South Africa! Easily, the most Memorable Fortnight of my life until now!

And Yes! We of course celebrated our country mate GM Vidit’s  Bronze that night! A fitting end to a glorious and memorable 15 days.

An event won by one! But cherished by many! A big thanks to all the players playing there for making this a great and a world event indeed!

On 5th October night, a preview of 2014 World Junior Chess Championships which are going to be held in Pune will be uploaded on this website. So stay tuned!

About the Author :
Rakesh Kulkarni is 21-year-old with a FIDE rating of 2284. He is made all his IM norms. He is not only a Commonwealth Under-20 Bronze Medalist but also Commonwealth blitz Gold Medal winner. His biggest strength however lies in Rapid chess. He has won so many rapids in the city that he is now known as the rapid king of Mumbai!

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