The School World Chess Championship 2013 in Halkidiki, Greece, has come to an end. Hong Kong’s official delegates to that championship, our Caissa players Miguel Angel Garceran Wang (U9 category) and his sister Mei Jing Garceran Wang (U7 girls category) had a great learning experience on and off the board spread out over 10 days and 9 rounds of tough chess.
The venue, Porto Carras is, at a distance of 1.5 hours drive away from the airport of Thessaloniki deep into a “tentacle” of one of the many peninsulas, a very remote place. With just one small tourist-less village nearby and with less than a handful of even smaller lifeless hamlets scattered around elsewhere, participants had little choice but to stay in the self-contained resort set-up. The weather partly rainy, and when the sun shone, too cold to swim, was good for indoor and some outdoor preparation for the chess event.
The so-called 5-stars hotels at Porto Carras, impressive from the outside, reflected a troublesome state of maintenance with leaking roofs, elevators clearly in need of a touch-up, unstable wifi, malfunctioning aircons and various other small issues challenging the 5-star status. However, the 3 meals a day were well organized with a diverse choice of food and, in general, the service from and the attitude of the Greek were very pleasant and easy-going.
The tournament itself was, somewhat unfortunately for a world championship, completely unceremonious, but well organized and without incident.
Miguel Angel started off round 1 with a strong (rated 1616) player from England, Aditya Verma. Playing the Veresov-Richter attack, Miguel Angel came well out of the opening but made a positional mistake by going for a king side attack after black’s weak move 5. … Qa5: the center breakthrough was necessary to avoid havoc from the black knight eyeing a route via b6 to c4.
In game 3, against (1707 rated) Roumanian Stefan Taga similarly, Miguel having maneuvered his Philidor defense well through known waters, gave away both his win and draw chances by not trading pieces off towards an opposite colored bishop ending. Such is the level at a world championship like this in this age group that positional misjudgments become fatal.
In the forthcoming rounds Miguel Angel would play strongly and whereas his wins were convincing, his losses were at times avoidable like the ones in round 1 and 3. It must also be said that lack of proper night rest could have affected the concentration. Both his father/coach, sick and bedridden for several days, and his sister, sick with an ongoing cough, kept the whole company in a light sleep for a whole week.
With 4 points Miguel Angel ended 45th of the world U9, but the learning from playing and analyzing the games was in any case invaluable and worth the efforts of getting to Porto Carras. Not bad Miguel Angel, as 8 years old in this age group!
Mei Jing started off with a solid 1.5 out of 3. The second game’s loss, in a winning position against Azarbaidzan Bailarova Jala, heralded a coming cough-flue though, that caught Mei Jing off balance, losing in round 4 against Mongolian Enkhasaran Batsaikhan with a queen up and in round 5 against United Arab Emirates Almaamari Zainab Darwish with a piece and pawn up.
Mei Jing’s recovery, despite midnight coughs of several hours, after round 5 was very strong. With 4 wins in a row in rounds 6 through 9 Mei Jing became 5th in the world for girls U7 and bring her medal home to Hong Kong. Well done Mei Jing!