SURREY, BC -The annual Canadian Youth Chess Championships (CYCC) typically moves around and, for 2012, the excellent choice of location was Surrey, British Columbia.
Smyth wins twice at national chess championship.
Held from July 3 through July 6, the prime objective of this event was to determine the Canadian team members for the World Youth Chess Championships (WYCC) forth coming from November 7th through November 19 in Maribor, Slovenia. As usual, this CYCC was sanctioned by the Chess Federation of Canada (CFC) and also as usual, there were twelve separate age/gender categories to accommodate any Canadian youth under 18 years old who had demonstrated the skill levels deemed appropriate for a participant in this prestigious national championships.
The actual venue for the competition was the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Vancouver Guilford Hotel, a four star establishment which seemed to be strategically located for the primary purpose of optimizing a view of some legendary British Columbia scenery although this was, of course, secondary to the true purpose for this occasion.
More significant was the reality that important aspects like regulation quality sets, boards, clocks, tables, chairs, lighting, sound control, climate control etc. had all been carefully pre-considered to leave little opportunity for criticism.
Monroi move recorders
A bonus of this extra care allowed many competitors to use the ingenious Monroi move recorders, electronic devices which record a games moves, provide an end-result hard-copy and even transmit live move-by-move coverage of games in progress to the Monrio.com website for anxious parents and trainers to monitor. Fabulous!
Rich in chess talent
Despite the small population base, our Parry Sound region has been surprisingly rich in youth chess talent for many decades, thanks largely to the sustained extra-curricular chess program available in our school system.
However, despite this favorable recourses, our region had been without a representative at the CYCC since 2009, when Sydney Hemmings journeyed to Victoria, British Columbia, to compete as an under 14 girl, and 2012 had the potential to again quietly slip away without any successor to her valiant quest. Complicating matters further was the reality that, two years ago, the CFC had imposed some seemingly harsh restrictions on the CYCC qualifying procedure.
Never-the-less this area’s CYCC candidate continued progressing onward with various degrees of effort and success and in the end, one was able to exceed the new standards with his three win performance at the 2012 Ontario Youth Chess Championships and make his first ever CYCC attempt. Ryan Smyth.
Stepping into the Grand Ballroom before round one commenced, it would have been easily possible to think that it was actually the beginnings of the WYCC by surprise.
Canadian immigration policy encourages the complete spectrum of ethnic diversity and therefore many of our newer Canadians still have their roots planted in other countries where chess rivals soccer as a national obsession. Cultures from Russia and Eastern Europe, the Indian sub-continent and most notably China/South East Asia were not only all present in Surrey, but even appeared to be potentially dominant. If healthy competition was the desired objective, then these organizers had succeeded marvelously.
40 U10 boy entrants
Of the 153 boys and 40 girls competing, Ryan’s under 10-boy section of 40 entrants was the second largest, with a nearly equal entry from both British Columbia and Ontario, plus a lone entry from Alberta. Being ranked thirteenth by his CFC rating before round one, it appeared that Ryan should be fully competitive, although he had already been cautioned not the be over-optimistic.
Portents of things to come accompanied his first round result, a victory but also a two-hour long struggle against an adversary who eventually finished near the bottom of the section.
Now among the leaders, his second round encounter was a decisive loss to a veteran of the 2011 WYCC.
There were two more losses in rounds three and four, a struggle for a win in round five and another two losses in rounds sex and seven, as the final opportunity for an improved placement evaporated.
Officially Final CFC results showed Ryan to be 33 out of 40, and his CFC rating to have dropped to 1004. It certainly seemed like it should have been a brutally disappointing experience.
But was it really? Actually according to computer analysis, Ryan’s move selections were right up to his usual high standards, but the computer was astonished by the expertise of his opponents.
Adults tend to think of little fellows this age as just beginning to ascend the learning curve to wisdom and knowledge, so to visualize a few of then wielding tactics and strategies typical of Chess veterans with decades of experience can potentially be just a bit un-nerving.
In this country of over 33, 000,000 citizens, it must be accepted that there is some slight possibility of this rare combination of youth and intellect occurring in isolated instances, but when and if it does, the true meaning of the terminology “prodigy’ becomes obvious.
As a special guest of honour, the CYCC organizers had invited just such a prodigy to attend this tournament, not as a participant but even better, as an inspirational personage. American Super Grand master Hikaru Nakamura, still a very young man yet, is currently ranked number seven in the World and his Chess expertise and creativity are fully respected by everyone from the World Champion and down.
Although his ranking pertains to classical chess (not fast, like watching grass grow) his is also legendary in both Blitz (incredibly quick with both his hand and mind) and Blindfold (his photographic memory really helps here).
Part of his agenda for this occasion included a simultaneous chess exhibition against 32 entrants of the tournament and, although it was completely optional, Ryan didn’t hesitate to seize this opportunity. The final result of this encounter was logically a forgone conclusion, but Ryan battled valiantly right up the inevitable checkmate on move 30.
As he looked around himself after his demise, he noticed that very few others were still left yet, each awaiting their own fates.
If it is wondered what will become of Ryan Smyth’s future chess career, he is already very seriously in training for 2012 and, if it is not revenge he seeks, then at the minimum he intends to return home the next time after an even more remarkable experience.
(Robert Hiuser is Ryan’s coach and also the director of the Central Georgian Bay Chess Association, an organization intended to assist Chess enthusiasts to reach their maximum potential.)