Largest World Youth Championship Ever Comes to an End in Al-Ain

Largest World Youth Championship Ever Comes to an End in Al-Ain

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

The 2013 World Youth Championship was held in Al Ain, UAE from December 18-28, 2013. There were sections for players Under 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, and 8. There were also these sections for girls in those age categories. This World Youth was the largest in history, with about 1900 participants.

The host city for the World Youth was “Garden City” Al Ain, the second largest city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates. Wikipedia tells us that with a population of 568,221 (2010), it is located approximately 160 km east of the capital Abu Dhabi and about 120 km south of Dubai.

The tournament ran from 17 to 28 December with about 1900 participants from more than a 100 different chess federations. It was organized under FIDE aegis by the Al Ain Chess Club. The venue was UAE University's Central Educational Institution.

Photo courtesy of the official website

At the start it became clear that the organizers might have underestimated the ramifications of holding the largest World Youth in history — see GM Ben Finegold's report below. Another remarkable development concerned the Israeli participants: the official site did not use the Israeli flag or the abbreviation ISR but mentioned all players as “FIDE”.

The same website does have a nice way of showing the top six finishers in each section, with photographs hyperlinked to small biographies and all individual results. More chess websites should have such functionality! We've taken screen shots so that you can see the top players in all age categories:

Girls U8 Girls U10
Girls U12 Girls U14
Girls U16 Girls U18
Open U8 Open U10
Open U12 Open U14
Open U16 Open U18

The rest of this article is an eye-witness report by GM Ben Finegold, one of the coaches of the USA.

The USA sent its largest delegation ever, with 94 kids and over 230 overall (parents, coaches, siblings, etc.). There were 15 coaches for the US Team, and since I had such an enjoyable time last year in Maribor, Slovenia, I decided to join the team for a 2nd time.

Unfortunately, the organization was not great, and there were a host of issues which made the experience a bit less enjoyable than expected. The first few days, food lines were massive. People waited 40-60 minutes in line, and sometimes there was little food at the end of the wait! Also, the food was NOT worth waiting for.


The first round started hours late. Live game transmission was non-existent the first few rounds, then very shabby later. There were lots of errors in the pairings and arbiters didn't seem to know the rules! In one instance, a US player was deducted 10 minutes because she did not ask to go to the bathroom, and had the *nerve* to go on her own. This was NOT a tournament rule, but the arbiter thought it was, since it had been in other tournaments she directed!

I could go on and on about the bad organization of the tournament, but let's talk about the good stuff instead! The US Team won two medals, one gold and one silver, both in the U10 section. Awonder Liang was the highest rated, and scored 10-1 to win easily. David Peng scored 9-2 and won silver. Both players had no draws!

I coached six kids (each coach had 6-7 kids) and my best placing participant was Ed Song, who scored 8-3 in the U14 section.

The following position looks trivially drawn, but Song made the win look routine!

Junior games are often brutal. In the top section, U18, one of the highest rated participants gives a dizzying tactical display!

The closing ceremony was very odd as well. The winners in each section were announced, but it was impossible to hear. Then, at the end, scores of balloons were dropped from up above to finish the ceremony. It was pandemonium at its finest!

I would like to personally thank all the coaches, Aviv Friedman, head of delegation (and coach!), and Jerry Nash, who provided these nice pictures in my article! Next years event will take place in late September in South Africa. I hope I will be asked to be a coach for my third consecutive year, and I have no doubt it will be better organized and more fun than ever. Now begins the long trek home, via London, Newark, Albuquerque, and then a 1000+ mile drive to Saint Louis! I expect to be home by 4AM, January 2. Wish me luck!

Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu of India scored 11.0/11 in the U8! | Photo courtesy of the official website

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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