Al Ain: A record field of 1,850 young chess players from across the world begin their quest for top honours on Wednesday at the 13th Fide World Youth Chess Championship (WYCC), which is being organised under the patronage of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, at the UAE University in Al Ain.
The competitions for under-8s, 10s, 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s for boys and girls have attracted the highest number of participants in the history of the World Junior Championship. The event, being hosted in the Middle East for the first time, is one of the biggest sports competitions ever held in the UAE.
As the matches get under way at the indoor hall of UAE University, Armenian Grand Master Hovhannes Gabuzyan has a good chance of winning the gold medal in the under-18s category after he finished second at last year’s WYCC in Maribor, Slovenia. The winner on that occasion, GM Dariusz Swiercz of Poland, is not taking part this year. The 2012 bronze medallist Jorge Cori is likely to present a tough challenge for the Armenian here.
Women’s GM Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia will defend her girls’ under-18 title, while her compatriot Maria Severina, last year’s bronze medallist, will be looking to challenge for the title.
International Master Yury Eliseev, the Russian who won the gold medal in the under-16s boys category, and his counterpart Anna Styazhkina, a Woman Fide Master (WFM), are both in the UAE to defend their titles.
India’s Mugunda Kumar Mahalakshmi, the winner of the girls’ under-14s gold medal in Slovenia, and her compatriots Ramesh Vaishali, winner of the girls’ under-12s, and under-10s girls’ champion Priyanka Kalidhass have all arrived to defend their respective titles.
With the number of guests expected to total more than 4,000, the Local Organising Committee headed by Shaikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Shakhboot Al Nahyan, President of the Asian Chess Confederation and Chairman of the Al Ain Chess and Culture Club, has been working hard to complete the necessary preparations for hosting such a big event.
“We are happy and proud to be able to organise such a big event in the UAE,” Tournament Director Dr. Nasir Salem Al Ameri told Gulf News on Tuesday. “Chess is a unique sport that builds brain rather than brawn and depends upon strategy, calculation and prediction, with the players planning more than a move in advance and expecting their opponents’ moves.
“It is a pleasure to host the world’s best young brains and we do hope that the UAE youngsters will repeat the feat of our former champion Saeed Ahmad Saeed.” Saeed won the under-14s title twice, in 1979 and 1981.
Al Ameri added: “All the preparations to host a successful championship have finished and we are looking forward to achieving another organisational success for our country.”
The tournament gets under way at 3pm on Wednesday and concludes on December 28.