I had some good news today.  One of my students, Atlas Ballieu, has been selected as Australia’s primary representative in the Under 8 Division of the World Youth and Cadet Championships to be held in Greece from 24 October to 6 November.

Atlas Ballieu

Atlas Ballieu

Atlas is the Australian U/8 Chess Champion and the funny thing is that he will be following in my footsteps as 44 years ago I was Australia’s representative at the World Junior Championships in Greece.  This means that I shall be able to pass on a few useful tips to Atlas such as how to say “please”, “thank you” and “strawberry ice-cream” in Greek!  Australia will be sending a large team to the event with players selected for each of the various age-groups and there will be coaching from such players as GM Ian Rogers and GM Ftacnik from the Czech Republic.  It should be a great experience!

It was a little different in my time as rather than hundreds of players in various age-groups we only had one age-group (under 21) and from memory there were only about 41 players.  I came 17th, which was the best result by Australia at that time, and got to play a number of strong players.  My first round was actually very scary as I found myself on board one against the top seed, Russian grandmaster Rafael Vaganian.  I put up a reasonable fight until he did a sneaky knight sacrifice (Nd5) which broke down my defence.

You would imagine that Greece would be a very nice venue for a chess tournament with opportunities to see all the sights and ancient relics.  Unfortunately I missed out on the tour to the Acropolis as on that day I was finishing a very long adjourned rook endgame against the British player, Robert Bellin.  Fortunately I managed to outplay him from an inferior position – he took too many risks in trying to win as, no doubt, the thought of drawing with a mere Australian was not a pleasant prospect for him.

These days Australia is not quite such a chess backwater and we have even had some success in these Would Youth Championships.   Back in 2012 Bobby Cheng played a great tournament to snatch the 12U title and become our first cross-board World title holder.  He had a few hic-cups along the way and he needs your help in the position below which looks bad for White.  What should Bobby play?

[iframe width=”500″ height=”685″ src=”http://chessmicrobase.com/microbases/258/games/8791?token=pfrlga1s&embedded=1#hcp-” frameborder=”0″>]

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