This past weekend, at the age of nineteen, I participated in my first Quebec Youth Chess Championship. Of course, not as a player, but as a volunteer on thedirector side. As a chess-player myself, I do have lingering regrets of not playing in this major tournament but what’s done is done, and at my age it’s not a bad idea to get involved in the community.
Personally, it was quite exciting to see the extent of the talent of the Quebec players in this CYCC qualifier. Each section starting from U12 featured a 2000+ player and 4 out of the 6 sections featured a FIDE titled player. Pretty impressive on paper.
The tournament was remarkable for its upsets. In U10, Edouard Fernandez-Busto (1081) edged top seed WCM Julia Kuleshova (1593) in an 18 move miniature in the opening round. This paved the way for second seed Prince Eric Guipi Bopala and third seed Richard Zheng to blow through the field, only drawing against each other. In the ensuing rapid tiebreak, Richard would get the better of Prince in a tightly contested affair.
In U12, second seed Wenxuan Zhong (1906) had to work hard to hold a draw after a missed win vs 7th seed Xi Ming Yu (1376) in R2. In R3, top seed FM Shawn Rodrigue-Lemiuex (2092) contented for a draw vs 5th seed Tyler Tanaka after the latter missed a killer sacrifice in a sharp opposite-side castling game. The top seed recovered on Day 3, taking out both the second and third seeds to claim outright first.
U14 was a round-robin tournament, and everyone was waiting for the final round showdown between WCM Maili-Jade Ouellet (2039) and Francis Durette (1926). However, this contest became even more important when the top seed was upset by some fantastic play by third seed Gabriel Tinica (1578). In a must-win situation, Maili not only beat Francis in classical play, but also beat him again in the tiebreak to claim the title. Not a bad day at the office for last year’s CYCC U14 Girls champ. Also of note is that Gabriel missed out on this tiebreak when he conceded a draw to Muyuan Yang (1323) in R4.
In U16, a Cinderella story almost happened for third seed Ananda Saha (1920). After scraping a win vs 7th seed Evan Zhang (1584) after the latter had a mate in four in R1, he won the next three rounds, including defeats of both Yi Lin Li (Seed 2; 1969) and Run Kun Fan (Seed 1; 2070). But the clock struck midnight in R5, as 5th seed Mathieu Johnson-Constantin (1712) beat him with a ruthless Sicilian Grand Prix Attack as white when a draw was sufficient for outright first. If beating the first seed was hard, beating the first seed in the same tournaments with different time controls is superhuman, and Run Kun avenged his loss to claim the title.
In U18, second seed NM Zong Yang Yu (2395) was all business in the round robin, only conceding a draw vs the top seed FM Olivier-Kenta Chiku-Ratte. But the big story was second to last seed Yu Qing Liu (1795). After having a positionally won position vs Kenta but faltering epically, he got his well-deserved upset by beating 3rd seed NM Hong Rui Zhu.
In brief. Here are the winners of each section. The player in bold won through a tiebreak. Parentheses indicate seeding.
U8: Zhong, Kevin (1)
U10: Zheng, Richard (3); Guipi Bopala, Prince Eric Jr. (2)
U12: FM Rodrigue-Lemieux, Shawn (1)
U14: WCM Ouellet, Maili-Jade (1); Durette, Francis (2)
U16: Fan, Run Kun (1); Saha, Ananda (3)
U18: NM Yu, Zong Yang (2)
The prizes were modest compared to previous years, but they are more concentrated towards the player’s development. For example, Zong Yang is invited to play in a tournament in France, while other champions are signed up for Equipe Quebec, a program that develops chess youth of the Province.
The tournament director was FM Lefong Hua. Chief Arbiter Alexandre Ber. Behind the scenes were various members of the FQE. Volunteers included myself and Nick Johnson.
Best of luck to all qualifiers to the CYCC. The event is in Windsor this year.
Link: You can navigate the entire tournament through here. PGNs that we uploaded should be made available there too.
Summary of Quebec Youth Chess Championships
Source: Canadian Chess