2016 European Youth Chess Championship in Prague

The 2016 European Youth Chess Championship took place in beautiful Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, about eight kilometers outside the city at the historic Top Hotel. Lance and Andrea participated as part of the 30+ kids playing for the Spanish national team.

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We’ve now had the opportunity to participate in two world championships and three european championships, and found the Top Hotel location to be among our favorites. It was close enough to the city that access via metro was a short 10-minute trip, but far enough away to feel secure in having the kids running around.

The hotel, whose interior was far more classic and majestic than its nondescript exterior, accommodated the 1500 or so participants surprisingly well. For example, the dining rooms at these events usually feel like chaotic stampedes, but that wasn’t the case at all in Prague.

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Each day’s round of chess play began at 3:00 pm. The time control was 90 minutes, plus an additional 30 minutes after move 40, resulting in games lasting up to four or five hours. Here Lance is playing at table 1 against top seed, Andrey Esipenko from Russia (the game ended in a draw).

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Trying to get in some exercise, my daily routine included, just after the round started, walking the 7.5 kilometers from the hotel to the Prague city center. The walk—which I could have never discovered without the help of Apple Maps—took about an hour and fifteen minutes, given that I’d stop every 15 minutes or so to check the games at the Chess24 retransmission site.

(As a side note, I took great advantage of the new laws requiring free data roaming throughout Europe. Combining that with Vodafone’s summer double-data promotion, I had nearly 20 GB of 4G data available for the trip. No more worries about crappy hotel wifi!)

Upon arriving to the outskirts of the city, I’d usually stop at La Bohème Café for a delicious iced raspberry tea or cappuccino, and catch my breath before heading further on into the city center.

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Prague turned out to be one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities I’ve visited. Apparently, it was saved from the bombings of world war II, preserving its centuries-old architecture. The streets were lively, and bustling with summer visitors from around the world.

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After nine rounds of play, Lance finished the tournament 13th overall in the U14 boys category, tied in points (6.5) with the 6th place player Shant Sargsyan, but ending up in a lower position due to the tie-break calculations. He was happy with his play, although admitted to feeling a little tried after having played five tournaments and more than 50 rated games during the months of July and August!

The winner of U14 boys category, with 7.5 points, was Salvador Guerra, who, as it happens, is a friend of Lance’s from the same chess club here in Marbella! Just a few weeks earlier, after Lance won the U14 Spanish National Championship, Salvador won the U16 championship! It’s amazing that two kids playing at this level happen to come not only from the same region of the country, but also from the very same town!

Andrea finished her tournament with five points out of nine, finishing in 40th place overall.

Our flight back to Spain left a bit later than most everyone else, and it was a bit sad to experience the empty hotel on the morning following the awards ceremony and saying goodbye to chess-friends we see only once a year. We had a great time at this event, and the location couldn’t have been better. Lance returned home with a burning desire to start his next phase of chess study, while Andrea plans to dial back on her chess activities as she starts the strenuous two-year International Baccalaureate program at school.

Finally, here are some additional photos from the trip:

Agree? Disagree? What do you think?