During the summer, Alice, Gr. 11, competed in the Canadian Youth Chess Championship (along with Junior Yorkies Annika and Pepi), finishing 2nd in the U16 Girls Section, and qualifying to represent Team Canada at the World Youth Chess Championship in Slovenia this November. The WYCC is the biggest tournament for junior players (under 18) in the world. Alice tells us about her experience:
From November 7th to November 19th, I participated in the World Youth Chess Championship in Maribor, Slovenia, for the first time.
There were 1584 players and over 3500 people including coaches, arbiters and parents from a total of 91 countries. Slovenia, as the host nation, had a record high of 150 participants whereas Russia, the renown ‘chess country’, had 106 players. Team Canada did not assemble as big of a team this year as they did last year in Brazil, but there were still 28 players from all over the country participating in this tournament.
The World Youth Chess Championship is one of the highest competing platforms for chess players under 18. There are a total of eleven rounds and each round starts at 3 in the afternoon except on the fifth day when we play two rounds (one at 10am and the other at 5pm). Then on the sixth day, we have a rest day to travel, or simply relax.
After arriving in Graz, Austria, we were soon taken to our hotel which was, to our surprise, on a mountain. That particular mountain is called Mount Pohorje and the hotel we were staying at was around 1000m above sea level.
Despite of its isolated position of our hotel (Hotel Tisa), we found everything else beyond satisfactory; the hotel staffs were extraordinarily nice and the organizers tried very hard to schedule our commute around the mountain.
On the second day, we decided to travel around the city, Maribor, as the first round of the tournament did not start until the third day.
The city is the second largest city in Slovenia, but only with a population of around 90,000 people. It is divided into two parts, the old town and the new town. The old town has very traditional European-style architecture, with venders roaming in the streets, while the new town has a very distinct modern-style architecture with many office buildings and a giant shopping center.
Having completely no clue as to where the venue is and where the Team Canada meeting was to take place, my mom and I followed the crowd – other Canadians staying at Hotel Tisa. They told us that we need to take a bus first to a gondola station and then take the cable car, or the gondola, down the mountain.
As to my own results in this tournament, I did very well in the first four rounds with three points out of four, only losing to a Women Fide Master who is around 400 rating points higher than me in round one. In round 2, 3 and 4, I was lucky and managed to get 2 upset wins (meaning I beat people who were supposed to beat me according to their rating). However, my winning streak ended on the double round day and I lost both games. Then my results went downhill further more and though I could not get back on the winning track again, I played quality games (at least I thought) and I was quite satisfied with my results though mathematically it is awful. Apart from the chess-playing experience, I met many people from Team Canada and some other teams, made many friends and enjoyed travelling in Slovenia, so overall it was a very rewarding experience!