Skip to main content

The Canadian delegation at the World Youth Chess Championships in Antalya, Turkey, was 25 players strong.

The 11-day event saw more than 1,500 players compete in six age categories and both genders.

Top scorer for Canada was Janak Awatramani, with 7.5 points in the under-8 category. No Canadians won a medal. In the final round, he had Black against Matyas Marek.

1.d2-d4 b7-b6

Before 1970, this was a favourite defence of future grandmaster and Canadian champion Peter Biyiasas. Its formal name is Owen's Defence, but Mr. Biyiasas preferred Halley's Comet, because it comes around so rarely.

2.e2-e4 Bc8-b7 3.Bf1-d3 e7-e6 4.c2-c3

Mr. Biyiasas burned a lot of midnight oil on the variation 4.c2-c4 f7-f5.

4. ... Ng8-f6 5.Qd1-e2 d7-d5 6.e4-e5 Nf6-d7

The position now bears the hallmarks of the French Defence (1. ...

e7-e6), but also somewhat of a mirror image King's Indian Defence. In that vein, White could consider 7.f2-f4.

7.Nb1-d2 c7-c5

Not bad is 7. ... a7-a5, intending Bb7-a6, trading off Black's less-active Bishop, but the text is more dynamic.

8.Nd2-f3 Nb8-c6 9.a2-a3

Otherwise, after trading pawns on d4, Nc6-b4 would be annoying.

9. ... Bf8-e7 10.Ng1-h3 h7-h6 11.O-O

Elod Macskasy said that beginners tend to castle too late, but more advanced players sometimes castle too early. Grandmasters, of course, castle at the right time. Here, White should play 11.Nh3-f4, eyeing the h5-square.

11. ... g7-g5!

It is usually bad to advance pawns in front of a castled King, but Black has not castled yet. The fork threat g5-g4 is particularly nasty because retreating the Knight at f3 would lose the d4-pawn.

12.g2-g4 c5-c4

Black had other good moves, but he proceeds methodically, closing the queenside to improve king safety, prior to opening the kingside.

13.Bd3-c2 Qd8-c7 14.b2-b4

As White can now never open the queenside, this move is worse than useless. White dearly needed to rearrange the kingside, whether by Nf3-e1, intending f2-f4, or by the setup used in the game, but two moves earlier.

14. ... O-O-O 15.a3-a4 Rd8-g8 16.Kg1-h1 Qc7-d8 17.Rf1-g1 h6-h5!

Black might have played this earlier, but it is still strong after preparation.

18.Qe2-f1 Kc8-b8 19.Ra1-b1 f7-f6 20.b4-b5? Diagram: 20. ... Nc6xe5!

This uncorks the latent power of the Bishop at b7. The genie will never return to the lamp.

21.d4xe5?! d5-d4! 22.Bc2-d1 Nd7xe5 23.Rg1-g3 h5xg4

It's a dream or nightmare, depending on the point of view. The rest is a rout.

24.Kh1-g1 Bb7xf3 25.Bd1xf3 Ne5xf3+ 26.Kg1-h1 Rh8xh3 27.Rg3xh3 g4xh3 28.Qf1xh3 Qd8-d5 29.Qh3-g3+ Be7-d6 30.Qg3-g2 Rg8-h8 31.c3xd4 Rh8xh2+ 32.Qg2xh2 Bd6xh2 33.Rb1-b2 Nf3-h4+ 34.Kh1xh2 Qd5-g2+

Checkmate. A remarkable game by young Janak, demonstrating both strategy and tactics. This was the best under-8 game of the final round, the other major encounters being decided by blunders or time forfeit.

Also finishing well for Canada were Lloyd Mai (7 points,under-14), Nikita Gusev (7, under-12), Christopher Knox (7, under-10), Thomas Kaminski (6.5, under-12), Richard Wang (6.5, under-10), Kelly Wang (6.5, under-8 girls), Victor Kaminski (6, under-16), Yelizaveta Orlova (6, under-14 girls), Myriam Roy (6, under-12 girls), Jingzhou Lai (6, under-10), Arthur Calugar (5.5, under-14), and Donovan Zhao (5.5, under-10).

In October, Lloyd had won a $1,000 bursary from the Chess and Math Association in recognition of becoming a master, a title bestowed by the Chess Federation of Canada. His performance in Turkey was par, or a bit better, for a player of his strength, because even the under-14 section had a dozen players with international titles.

Gold medals in any of those sections would have required 8.5 to 9.5 points. Russia won five of the 12 golds. Long-time women's chess power Georgia won two golds. New chess powers India (one gold) and Azerbaijan (no golds) were prominent, but not at the top of the podium. The United States was resurgent, with a gold and a silver.