A shared experience – report from European Youth Chess Championships

ChessYesterday I said that Pavel Asenov would have “an easier draw for his second round” because he lost in the first round. Of course, “easier” is all relative. There really are no easy games playing at this level.

In fact, I’ve heard the European Youth Chess Championships described as the toughest junior chess tournament of them all, because unlike the World Youth, it does not have a tail of less experienced players from countries where chess is played at not such a high level amongst juniors.

When the results do not go one’s way, it is helpful to celebrate the victories of other players in the team. Although the chess games are played individually, the team work to support each other. I will not be focussing too much on the overall team’s progress in this blog, since you can follow this elsewhere: e.g. on the ECF Juniors web page and via the ECF Juniors Twitter feed.

England team in Batumi
England team in Batumi

In fact, Pavel did win his second round game fairly quickly, having set a few traps for his Russian opponent who eventually missed one of them. Zoe Varney’s game was longer, but she was pleased to draw as Black against her opponent from Belarus. The game finished after 36 moves, very close to the time control. The rules of this tournament specify that no draws may be offered until after Black’s fortieth move. However, a draw by three-fold repetition of a position can still be claimed. This is what Zoe did.

In this case the claim was rejected by the arbiter as incorrect (even though it is clear from Zoe’s score sheet that the claim was legitimate). Unfortunately, the arbiter looked at the wrong initial position, and Zoe was too confused by language barriers to fight her cause. Thus Zoe was penalised with a two minute penalty (added to her opponent’s clock). Fortunately, her opponent’s best move was to repeat the position, and so Zoe was able to claim the draw again the very next move!

Another way in which experiences can be shared at these international tournaments is between coaches and players. We were sat next to John Emms at dinner, and in the context of talking about Zoe’s game, I mentioned an incident in the British this year where Richard Pert made many incorrect draw claims in one game. It turns out that John Emms was his opponent in that game, so we received an interesting first-hand account of what happened, apparently with six separate claims in the one game!

For those who are interested, here is that game:

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Andrew Varney

Andrew is an ECF-accredited chess coach and very active in coaching juniors in the Oxfordshire area on a professional basis. He attends Cumnor Chess Club when he gets a chance to take a break from coaching on Thursday nights. One of the books he recommends to his students is ‘How to Beat Your Dad at Chess’ but his own children are definitely beyond the point of needing such a reference!

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