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The Welsh delegation in Mureck, Austria, for the EU Youth Championships features five juniors: Anna Boyle and Ethan Chung, who are both playing in the under 10s; Susanna Fraser, playing in the under 12s; Hugo Fowler, in the under 14s; and his younger brother Caspian, playing in an under 16 open. The team are grateful for the support of GM Marian Petrov and GM Matthew Turner.
Round 9 report
Round 9 was a successful one for the girls. Both Susanna and Anna gained the initiative and converted it into wins. The boys could not emulate their success. Caspian had been joint leader of the U14 Open overnight, but a difficult match, against the U16 4th seed, put paid to his chances of the title as all 3 Welsh boys lost.
The prize giving, however, brought Welsh success:-
Anna Boyle was awarded a certificate for 6th placed girl in the EU U10s (13th overall);
Ethan Chung was awarded a certificate for 6th placed boy in the EU U10s ( 9th overall);
Susanna Fraser was awarded a certificate for 5th placed girl in the EU U12s (17th overall);
Caspian Fowler won the runner's up trophy in the U14 International Styrian Youth Open.
The players are grateful for the help provided by GM Marian Petrov and GM Matthew Turner who have supported and encouraged them throughout the tournament.
Caspian Fowler, runner up in the U14 International Styrian Youth Open.
Coach GM Marian Petrov with Ethan Chung, Susana Fraser and Anna Boyle
Round 8 report
Game of the day today was Hugo in the U14s. Having had a difficult few rounds in this strong section, he faced a higher graded Bulgarian who had already beaten a WFM in an earlier round. Hugo obtained an advantageous position early on, but his opponent put up tenacious resistance, only finally succumbing after over 4 hours, in a complex endgame which saw a queen and 4 pawns against 2 rooks and a knight.
Ethan, on top board in the U10s, missed an opening trap set by the tournament leader, which cost him a pawn and left his king exposed. His in form opponent was then able to push forward with the advantage. Caspian, facing the Irish 2nd seed in the U16 Open, complicated the position and unbalanced his highly rated opponent. As they entered the 4th hour of play, Caspian missed an opportunity to force a draw and shortly thereafter lost a piece and with it the game.
Susanna in the U12s, met well prepared opposition, slipped into time trouble and fell to defeat. Anna in the U10s gained a 1 point bye, but the inclement weather meant the usual swimming was not an option.
Round 7 report
The Welsh continued with their 50% success rate in round 7.
Leading the way were again Ethan and Caspian. In the U10s Ethan faced the 2nd seed from Austria graded 1495. He sacrificed a bishop, causing his opponent's king to be caught in the centre and she had no option but to surrender her queen to prevent checkmate. Ethan smoothly converted his material advantage to reach a very impressive score of 5/7 and currently lie 4th in the table. His reward will be a match on board 1 against the Slovenian tournament leader in round 8.
Caspian, in the U16 Open, secured a nice position emerging from the opening and was able to convert the advantage against his higher rated opponent. He will now face the Irish 2nd seed Alice O'Gorman ( FIDE 1780, over 600 points higher than him) in the next round. Like Ethan, he has 5/7 points and is lying 4th in the U16 Open and leading the U14 Open. The next 2 rounds, however, will be a very severe test.
The other 3 Welsh players battled hard. Susanna in the U12s, faced a very slow playing Slovenian opponent. Consequently, the game only reached 14 moves within 2 1/2 hours. In the end, with the position level and both players short of time, they agreed a sensible draw.
Anna (U10s) and Hugo (U14s) were both overcome by their opponents. Anna will now have a bye in the next round.
Round 6 report
Today the team maintained a 50% record. The current two leading performances come from Ethan in the U10s and Caspian in the U16 Open. Ethan again played a considered game, significantly longer than the last couple of rounds. A level cagey game changed when Ethan lined his queen and bishop up for a kingside onslaught and his opponent was unable to deal with the ensuing threats. The victory followed shortly thereafter. Caspian facing an opponent over 200 FIDE rating points above him, was well prepared by GM Matthew Turner and played a very careful tactical game, holding off playing e5 to develop further and put pressure on his opponent. Caspian finally accepted a draw offer whilst in a slightly advantageous position, but with a tricky endgame ahead. Both Ethan and Caspian on 4/6 now face very strong opponents on some of the top boards in the next round.
Anna bouncing back from her disappointment yesterday, played well and mercilessly executed the victory over her Austrian opponent in the U10s within the hour.
Susanna and Hugo found the going tough in the strong U12 and U14 sections. They both encountered opponents who had been very well prepared against them and despite battling hard were eventually overcome.
Round 5 report
The team are enjoying meeting their international counterparts and have established a rapport with the Croatian delegation who share the same dining room. This has led to much mutual entertainment with table football, swimming and attempts to traverse the language barrier!
On the chess front, the midway point of the tournament saw some mixed results.
First out again was Ethan, within the hour, with another clinical victory which takes his score to an excellent 3/5 in the U10s. Anna had a seesawing tussle with her Croatian opponent, which swung one way then the other, before Anna finally succumbed.
Hugo in the U14s emerged from the opening with a slight advantage, but then fell for his Swiss opponent's clever tactic to ultimately lose. Susanna's Polish opponent played a clever tactic to gain a pawn and then maintained the advantage throughout the game to ensure he secured the win.
Caspian was able to establish a kingside attack against his highly rated opponent and a clever knight sacrifice delivered the fatal blow in the U16 Open.
Scores at the half way stage are:-
U10 Ethan 3/5; Anna 1.5 /5
U12 Susanna 2.5/5
U14 Hugo 1.5/5
U16 Open Caspian 3.5/5
Round 4 report
Round 4 was a good round for the Welsh contingent; bouncing back from some disappointments the day before, everyone raised their game.
Signs were encouraging from early on when in the U10s, Ethan emerged with a victory within 25 minutes, followed by Anna before an hour of play. Hugo then agreed a sensible draw in the U14s, when, although possessing the advantage, he was uneasy about the positioning of his queen.
Susanna, facing the Hungarian 3rd seed, had a tough afternoon. She battled on with great tenacity, but ultimately lost following a very impressive display from her opponent.
The longest game of the day was Caspian. Facing an Austrian opponent who was playing well above his published grade, Caspian had a titanic struggle. Eventually, after nearly 4 hours he emerged with the victory, long after his team mates had retreated to the swimming pool.
A good day with a 70% success rate which, more importantly, brings the team back to 50% overall. Spirits are high for some very tough draws in round 5.
Round 3 report
Storm clouds gathered over Mureck yesterday, with thunder whilst the players were in the hall. The atmosphere outside was reflected inside as the Welsh players faced strong opposition.
In the U14s Hugo was clinically despatched by a very talented Croatian, currently performing (according to his coach) at 2000 level. In the U10s Ethan was a pawn up going in to a rook and pawn endgame, but eventually succumbed to his German opponent's tactical play after a 3 1/2 hour gruelling encounter.
The final 3 games all lasted the course. Caspian finally emerged from a game with so many twists and turns that GM Matthew Turner gave up trying to predict the result! In the end a draw with the Austrian opponent was probably a fair result.
The girls were the last of the party to finish. Susanna maintained her unbeaten record in the U12s with a hard fought draw against her impressive Slovenian opponent. She will now face the 3rd seed in the 4th round. Anna's game, in the U10s, was again a rollercoaster. Significantly behind and fighting for survival for most of the game, she managed to capture a piece and gain a winning advantage. Then cruelly at the end, a clever move by her Bulgarian opponent forced the loss of her queen which resulted in a loss shortly thereafter.
A sobering day with only 2 draws. Hopes, however, remain high for the 4th round.
Anna and Hugo take in some sun while practising at the hotel before round 3
Day 2 saw the temperature rising both inside and outside the playing hall. The glorious Austrian weather meant players and parents headed for the swimming pool and explored the local countryside, whereas inside the venue the players faced some serious opposition.
First to finish, and maintaining her impressive winning record was Susanna Fraser in the U12 section with a composed victory over her Austrian opponent graded 160 rating points above her. Her performances mean that she enters day 3 as one of the leaders of the competition. She was followed out by Hugo Fowler recording his first victory in the very competitive U14 section. He coolly executed the win over his experienced Austrian opponent.
The other 3 games lasted the course. Caspian Fowler, facing the German top seed rated 1999 in the U16 Open, battled hard but eventually succumbed. The 2 games in the U 10 section were rollercoaster rides. Ethan Chung, facing the Bulgarian 4th seed, played a careful tactical game. At times going down a pawn, he repeatedly recovered to regain equality and was rewarded with a draw after 3 1/2 hours. Anna Boyle showed huge composure and tenacity. After losing 2 pawns early in the opening, it would have been easy to capitulate quickly. Instead she battled hard, finding the best moves until she won a piece, only losing after a hard fought endgame.
All the team are now off the mark and today saw a 50% success rate after the 60% of day 1. Team morale is high and the camp harmonious.
The round 1 pairings threw up an unfortunate match-up for the Welsh as Anna Boyle and Ethan Chung were drawn to face each other in the opening game. After a few brief skirmishes there was a fairly quick end to hostilities as a draw was agreed.
Caspian Fowler got off to a nice win in the Styrian Championships, but his older brother, Hugo was unable to match the feat against a higher rated Slovenian opponent. The star performer in round 1 was Susanna Fraser. It looked like her opponent got off to a good start, taking control of the centre, but seemingly without White doing too much wrong the game took a decisive turn and Susanna mercilessly executed the victory.
From left to right, Caspian Fowler, Anna Boyle, Hugo Fowler, Ethan Chung and Susanna Fraser.