Kenyans Well Represented At 2014 World Youth Chess Championship
The 2014 World Youth Chess Championship got under way at the magnificent International Convention Centre, Durban, Kwa-Zulu, South Africa on the 20th and will run until the 29th, with teams expected to leave on the 30th September. Kenya is represented in all the age categories for both boys and girls, that is, the under 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18.
The games will be played over 11 rounds, with each player having 90 minutes to make the first 40 moves, thereafter an additional 30 minutes to finish the game, with an increment of 30 seconds for every move made. A total of 955 players are taking part in this biennial showpiece on the FIDE (World Chess Federation) calendar.
Today, I shall focus on the statistics, just to give you a glimpse of how tough this event is, as I also expose Kenya’s dearth of strong players on the world arena. In chess, the more FIDE-rated tournaments one participates in and wins or draws a number of games against stronger opponents, so does your rating go higher, referred to as Elo points. The 23 year old world champion from Norway, Magnus Carlsen has a rating of 2870 (the highest ever in chess history) as at 1st September, and the highest rated Kenyan is veteran Clement Miheso at 2207.
Now to put this in perspective, the highest rated players in the under 18 boys’ category are GM Vaibhav Suri from India and German IM Matthias Bluebaum both rated at 2521, with the top 35 players eclipsing Kenya’s highest-rated Miheso, in a field of 74 players playing at an average rating of 2003! WGM Dinara Kassova at 2409 leads other 15 players out of 65 in the girls under 18 category rated above 2207, with an average field of 1761 Elos.
Others are: Under 16; Boys– Indian IM C. Aravindh 2496 with 31 out of 93 players above 2207 with a playing field of average 1870 Elos; Girls – Russian Irina Drogovoz 2313 with 4 out of 83 players rated above 2208, with an avera of 1671 Elos. Under 14; Boys–German Roven Vogel 2434 with 18 out of 100 rated above 2207, with an average of 1754 Elos; Girls–WFM Polina Shuvalova 2256 is the only one above our highest rated player but in a field with an average of 1578 Elos.
The boys under 12 category also boasts of American FM Awonder Liang rated 2323 with 6 of the 105 players rated above 2207 in a playing field with an average of 1617 Elos. The highest rated girl here is Olga Badelka from Belarus at 2091 with 79 participants and an average Elo of 1439 with the top 4 rated above 2000.
By no means the least, the under 10 boys has 6 players rated above 2000 in a field of 100 players with average Elo of 1389 whereas the girls is 1240 with the highest being 1927 in a field of 68 players. The highest rated in the boys under 8 is 1908 out of 64 players with an average rating of 1156 and the girls highest being 1630 out of 51 players with an average rating of 1054.
This is a clear pointer that we need to invest in the junior scene if we are to post good results. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, our boys and girls are in a very competitive tournament, since most of their top opponents could easily make it to our senior men’s and women’s national teams! We have to get more games being played at classical time controls and participate in FIDE-rated events, or even host at least 4 in a year. Yours Truly is expected to join the team today in Durban, as the head coach.
It is therefore crucial that the national federation Chess Kenya (CK) gets corporate sponsors interested in supporting its initiatives, like the Chess in Schools program. Individuals too have to come out and give back to the game they love by nurturing young players and supporting CK in establishing the game from the grassroots level.
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– GM Susan Polgar