World Junior concludes
The World Júnior came to an end yesterday with the Chinese star gm Yu Yangyi (born 1994) winning , edging last year’s champion gm Alexander Ipatov by half a point. Congrats to both gentlemen! Canadian representative, Richard Wang (IM, elo-2430) was way off form and finished in 88th place. (More of this later)
Yu– the pre-tournament favourite–scored an amazing 11 points out of 13 games. Previous winners can be found HERE. Yu becomes the first ever chinese player to win the World Junior. Infact, of the top-10 finishers, not less than three (3) are from China, no doubt an indication of changing trends in the demographics of chess. Two indian players finished in the top-5, while not a single Russian finished in the top-15 (!), nor even an American. Europe, traditionally a powerhouse, saw only 2 players finish in the top-10 (from Poland and Serbia)Former world champ Kasparov showed up and here he can be seen awarding Ipatov his second-place trophy.
TO BE FAIR, while this year’s World Junior was very strong, a number of the best junior players did NOT participate and this might help explain things and give additional insight. Holland’s Giri did not play, nor did Hungary’s Rapport, Ukraine’s Nyzhnyk, Russia’s Dubov nor the US’s Robson. The top 25 juniors in the world list is given in the table below. While China and India have a presence in this list, the list is still dominated by the traditional demographics of the past 30 to 40 years.
Note that only two chinese players (Ding Liren and Wang Hao) and one Indian player (Anand–the current world champion) are on this list! I suspect, however, that the next decade will show a BIG change with respect to this! There is a big boom in chess in Asia while in Europe and North America the game’s popularity has been overtaken by poker and bingo!
If I am not mistaken, this is the first time that Alberta’s 15-year old Richard Wang (he celebrated his birthday during the event) has participated in the World Junior. Previously, Richard played in the sub-world championships (last year the sub-14, where he did quite well). The World Júnior, however, is a completely different animal and a much, much stronger event with some of the very strongest players in the world participating.
The tournament was held in the spacious Ness hotel in Kocalei
For Richard, the event was something of a cold shower, which no doubt will serve as a learning experience for the youngster. Starting poorly, he never really recovered. I think that part of the problem is that Richard was in less than optimal form, and since the event is so long–13 rounds–he was punished and lost a total of 58 elo rating points. Making things worse, I think many of the lower rated players he had to face were under-rated.
As a coach myself, I took a look earlier today at Wang’s FIDE record , trying to get a better picture of his progress in chess in recent times. Coming from Canada, I am only too aware of the limitations and obstacles that a promising player must encounter as he climbs the ladder. Getting the IM title in 2012 in the same controvertial manner as is done in many African countries has not done Richard’s reputation any good. (Fide rules today prohibit the awarding of such un-earned titles in zonals) My understanding is that Richard is well respected in Alberta, and probably receives some financial assistance from the local chess community.
As one can see from Richard’s record, he has won 100 elo rating points in the past year. While this implies that he has been making progress, his tournament file also shows that he almost exclusively plays in Alberta. This is NOT very good for a promising junior and can actually be harmful. With the obvious exceptions of Eric Hansen and Ed Porper, almost all of Alberta’s top players are medíocre players who do not even work on improving their game: there is nothing to learn from them. Fortunately, several strong international events are regularly held in Alberta, and this does provide useful competition for Richard, and he has acquitted himself honorably in these competitions.
HOWEVER, it is quite possible that Richard’s elo is inflated because he just beats up on the same local Alberta competition time and again. I think it will be necessary for Richard to start playing elsewhere. There are surely many strong tournaments south of the border where a talented youngster could learn and make progress.