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July 30th - August 8th
The European Union Youth Chess Championships and Styrian Youth was held in Mureck.
Report from Lawrence Cooper, Welsh Coach
The 11th European Union (EU) Youth Championship took place from 31st July - 8th August 2013 in Mureck, Austria. Technically the event is no longer the official FIDE EU Championship as this was awarded to Prague and that version takes place later this year but I'll avoid the politics of that decision within this report.
Wales had five players in the event: Nicholas Evans in the Under 15s, James Evans & Nyasha Katsande in the Under 13s, Hugo Fowler in the Under 11s and Caspian Fowler in the Youth Open for players aged 8-12. They were accompanied by parents Claire & Ian Evans, Abigail Katsande (and daughter) and Delyth Fowler as well as myself as coach.
Before mentioning the chess itself I should mention that the temperature was over forty degrees on most days, there was no air conditioning in the tournament halls and mosquito bites were a serious problem. Otherwise playing conditions were good, the U15, U13, U11, U9 were in separate rows with adequate space. The Youth Open was held in an adjoining room with plenty of extra space.
I have to admit some regret that I hadn't met up with the players prior to the event so I was meeting them for the first time on the morning of the event. In theory, I would have met them the night before but Lufthansa had other ideas and I missed my connecting flight from Frankfurt due to their late departure from Birmingham and ended up travelling via Vienna and having to wait for three hours for transport from Graz to Mureck, the alternative was a taxi costing €120!
Nicholas showed real character to recover from a 0/3 start and actually made it to top board in the last round, drawing a hard fought game that went down to a rook ending to finish on 5/9. He showed great fighting spirit throughout and was adamant before the game that he wouldn't take a draw if the leader (who was a point clear) offered it!
Nyasha had a very impressive tournament, playing virtually all the top seeds. In fact, had he taken all of the chances he had his score could easily have been up with the leaders. I was very impressed with his round 2 game, especially as he hadn't played the opening before and after a well played game had a chance right at the end to turn a draw into a win. He also had chances against Diana Mirza and in his round eight game but these shouldn't in any way detract from a very impressive display. He finished in fourth place and gained ninety-three rating points.
James had an impressive start, holding a difficult round one game and then winning two entertaining games in rounds 2 and 4. Sadly he wasn't able to keep the momentum going but he showed a lot of promise and is a dangerous attacking player when he gets positions that suit him. He finished on four points and gained thirty-nine rating points.
Hugo had a tough time but showed fantastic fighting spirit and actually turned down three draws in round five before overpressing in an ending and then had a perpetual the round after but chose a tempting alternative instead. Once he gains more experience playing against less familiar openings I'm sure he will be able to hold his own at this level.
Caspian had a very encouraging debut and as well as winning the games he was expected to win was also impressive in his games against stronger players. He is a quick learner and was able to play a new opening and seemingly grasp all the ideas without any problem. He finished in fifth place on 5.5/9 but third placed under 10 which is a very encouraging start to his international career.
In closing, I would like to thank the juniors and parents for being a pleasure to work with, it was one of, if not the most, enjoyable trips I've been on and although coaching five players was hard work it felt very rewarding albeit I was still annoyed with myself when opening preparation didn't go according to plan.