Young & old in Argentina

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
World Youth 09Sergei Zhigalko is leading the World Youth Championship in Argentina after 7 of 13 rounds. The Belarus grandmaster scored 6 points so far and is half a point ahead of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Eduardo Iturrizaga and Falko Bindrich. And, also in Argentina, last week 100-year-old Aaron Schwartzman and 99-year-old Francisco Benkö met behind the chess board.

The World Youth Championship 2009 takes place October 21 - November 4 in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. Originally it was supposed to be held in Mar del Plata but just a few weeks ago FIDE communicated the switch to Puerto Madryn, a city in the province of Chubut in the Argentine Patagonia. It is the head town of the Viedma Department, and has about 58,000 inhabitants.

According to FIDE regulations, only those born on or after 1st January 1989 are eligible to participate in the Championships. In this category we find players such as Magnus Carlsen, Sergei Karjakin, Wang Hao and Fabiano Caruana, who are not present, but still this year's World Youth is extremely strong. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2718) is the top seed; apparently the winner of Biel this year preferred a trip to Argentina over Novi Sad. Rating wise Dmitry Andreikin (Russia), Sergei Zhigalko (Belarus), David Howell (England) and Maxim Rodshtein (Israel) are his biggest competitors.

The tournament is a big Swiss open of 13 rounds and 84 participants in the boys section (45 in the girls). The rate of play is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

Wednesday is the only rest day and at the moment Sergei Zhigalko is leading the standings with 6/7. In round 6 he drew with Vachier-Lagrave and yesterday he beat Rodshtein with Black. In the next round Zhigalko will face Iturrizaga, whom we know from this year's Corus Chess Tournament.

The official website encounters problems, especially in Firefox which reports it as an attacking site. But you're not missing much; trying it in Opera I found it ugly and incomplete, the PGN files are behind two rounds and the photos are horrible too. It's unbelievable that we still regularly see such amateurism in web coverage in the world of chess, even at a World Championship...

World Youth Championship 2009 | Round 7 Standings
World Youth 2009

Selection of games rounds 1-5

Game viewer by ChessTempo


So much for the youngsters. A bit over a week ago (October 20th), also in Argentina, two grand maîtres of Argentine Chess met at the famous Club Argentino de Ajedrez in Buenos Aires: 100-year-old Aaron Schwartzman and 99-year-old Francisco Benkö.

Schwartzman, a physician and surgeon, was club champion between 1931 and 1948. Benkö (not to be confused with the American grandmaster Pal Benkö) played in the Argentine Championship between 1943 and 2004. As a German citizen he fled to Argentina to escape from Nazism. The first game Benkö played at the Club Argentino, in 1936, was against... Schwartzman.


Francisco Benkö (l.) and Aaron Schwartzman, 73 years after their first game | Photo courtesy of the Club Argentino de Ajedrez

The exhibition match, which celebrated the bicentennial of Argentina's first national government in May next year, consisted of one game. The two played without a clock (having their own ideas about time anyway) and quickly agreed to a draw, but of course nobody cared about that.
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