Playing against Top List Juniors

May 1, 2016, 4:10 PM |

In the Northeast, New York/New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, chess tournaments are loaded with Top List juniors competing to raise their ratings and their positions on those lists.

Very recently, I played in a quad event where I got to play the #2 player in the Age 7 and Under list, and the #4 player in the Age 8 list.  Sometimes these kids are masters with Class A or B ratings, and sometimes they aren't.  What is certain is that one or more parents is hovering close by, sometimes giving the kids things to eat or drink.  What is also certain is that the kids do what kids do.  They fidget, fuss, and fiddle.  Sometimes they can't sit still for even 5 minutes.   I will say that these two were pretty well behaved, though.


In the first game, my opponent was #2 on the top 100 list for Age 7 and Under.  If you want to see more about this list, go here:,com_top_players/Itemid,371?op=list&month=1604&f=usa&l=R:Top%20Age%207%20and%20Under.&h=Top%20Age%207%20and%20Under


I already played him 2 months ago, and fortunately I had reviewed that game, since this one was the same opening for about the first 15 moves.  In this game I got the initiative on the queenside, and soon got a pair of Bishops.  On move 31, I cashed in the Bishops for a better pawn structure and headed for an opposite colored Bishop ending.  My opponent was sure it was a draw and kept offering draws move after move until he was clearly lost. 


What he didn't know was that even an opposite colored Bishop ending isn't necessarily a draw if the defending side has two or more weaknesses.  Maybe his coach will cover that topic in an upcoming lesson.



My opponent in the next round was #4 on the top 100 list for Age 8.

About 10 minutes and one peanut butter sandwich after the previous round's  grindout, the mother of my next opponent begged me to start the next round "so they can get home".  On that subject, I feel for her, but I can't quite reach.   If the kid is going to play in this rating class in these events, games are going to get into the third hour and beyond.   That said, I had hopes of making it home by 9 PM so I could see this week's episode of Star Trek.


Anyway, I opted for a Saemisch King's Indian which can sometimes result in a quick knockout.  Unfortunately, he had resources to defend all immediate threats, so I transitioned to a longer squeeze up the middle.  Like my previous opponent, he dutifully played it all the way out to mate. 


I do play a lot of Top List juniors, but I don't think I've ever gotten to beat two Top 10 players back to back.