This year’s edition of Uppsala Young Champions is the tenth in order, and we hope that the anniversary tournament will be something truly special. The tournament was first held in 2014, with ten participants at Uppsala City Library. Since then, it has grown to become one of the strongest junior tournaments in the world today.
The playing venue this year will be the beautiful Uppsala Social Club at 12 Vaksalagatan, the same location that hosted the Uppsala Chess Festival in August.
Best: For the first time in Uppsala Young Champions’ nine-year history, we got a Swedish winner – Kaan Küçüksarı from Lund’s ASK. As an added bonus, during the tournament he also found out from FIDE that he had received the title of International Master. Big congratulations!
It was better before: Siem van Dael from Holland won Uppsala Young Champions two years ago. Then his strange opening choices worked very well, this time they didn’t go all the way to prize place.
Small: Victor Lilliehöök from Wasa was the youngest at ten years old. He used a special chair because he needs to sit on his knees when playing to reach the whole board.
Most starts: Ludvig Carlsson and Hampus Sörensen made their sixth(!) starts in Uppsala Young Champions. Of the foreign guests, Vignir Vatnar Stefansson has now played here a total of four times. And if they want, they can all join next year too.
Welcome back to the jubilee tournament – 10th Uppsala Young Champions 27/10-1/11 2023!
After a real thriller, Kaan Küçüksarı managed to win the last game against Platon Galperin and thus finish with 8 points out of a possible nine. The game was the very last one left, when everyone else had finished playing, and for a long time it looked as if Galperin would manage to hold off Kaan’s attack. But after almost 100 moves, he made a small mistake, but big enough for Kaan to break through Galperin’s defense and thus win the entire tournament.
So for the first time we have a Swedish winner in the Uppsala Young Champions – big congratulations to Kaan! In second place came grandmaster Francesco Sonis from Italy and third was Platon Galperin from Ukraine.
Today, Uppsala Young Champions has a collaboration with the company Noctie, which works with artificial intelligence and chess. If you go to Noctie’s website, you can take part in guessing the moves in today’s games and compete against Noctie himself but also against Stockfish.
As usual during the Uppsala Young Champions, a blitz tournament was played on Sunday evening. Jón Úlfur and Lisa took care of the event and 42 participants played 11 exciting rounds. Most of the players are also participants in the “big” tournament, but several local players took the chance to measure their strength with the young stars.
Vignir Vatnar Stefansson turned out to have the best day and put the opposition a bit behind him. The rest of the field came a full point behind. Rating prizes were won by Axel Falkevall, Stephan Briem and Ludvig Morell.
Jakob Leon Pajeken from Germany has had a tournament with ups and downs so far, but in the fourth round he managed to play a fantastic game finished off by a move that might be the most beautiful one in the chess world during 2022.
Jakob Leon Pajeken – Arthur Kruckenhauser
White is about to make his 20th move in a sharp Sicilian. In the Sicilian you can not hesitate as white. Pajeken knows that. 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Bxh5+ Kd7 If 21…Rxh5 22.Qf8+ Kd7 23.Rf7+ Kc6 24.Nb4 mate. 22.Rf7+ Kc6 22…Kc8 23.Rxc7+ Bxc7 24.Qe7 is also hopeless. Of course, now white can take the queen on c7, but instead Pajeken delivers the most beautiful move I have seen this year.
The sixth round offered several exciting top games.
At the first table, the leader Italian Sonis and Ukrainian Galperin met. It was a game where Sonis got the upper hand early on and looked to be heading for a victory, but Galperin sacrificed pawns for counterplay in the right position. Sonis was forced to liquidate to a rook endgame, where the extra pawn became a double pawn, which is why the draw was close at hand. But just as Galperin was about to secure his half point, he tripped and Sonis won an instructive rook endgame.
Kücüksari made an early mistake in his game as white against the field’s other grandmaster, the Austrian Blohberger, and was about to be blown off the court. But in a critical phase, Blohberger chose the wrong path for his attack and a balanced endgame emerged where Kücüksari had a rook and a pawn against two pieces, and also some activity.
However, the draw was close at hand, but in the last shaky minutes of the game, the Austrian went wrong and went into a pawn ending that was ultimately unsustainable.
Norwegian Abdrlauf got better out of the opening aginst the Icelander Stefansson early on in a Scandinavian game. Gradually, the white grip strengthened and with each move it felt as if a new small weakness was revealed. Abdrlauf won for sure.
In addition to these top meetings, it was noted that Falkevall won the Swedish encounter with Carlsson and that Hagevi took a meritorious victory against Mai.
The biggest shock in the third round was undoubtedly Emil Reimegård’s victory against Edvin Trost. Edvin is one of Sweden’s top chess talents and has more than 800(!) rating points more than Emil. And to top it all off, Emil hasn’t played more than a few games a year in recent years, instead he is one of Uppsala SSS’s most important youth leaders.
In any case, Emil got the chance at the last second to be part of this year’s Uppsala Young Champions and he really has taken advantage of that chance! In round two he won against Oliver Nilsson and in the following round it was time to face Edvin Trost.
In round four, Emil Reimegård now has to take on last year’s winner Vignir Vatnar Stefansson. Actually, they have met once before, when they were 8-9 years old, they were both in the Nordic school championships and then Vignir won. Will there be revenge today?
During round 3, Jesper Hall will be joined by Norway’s superstar grandmaster Simen Agdestein during the live broadcast. Simen was Norway’s top player until Magnus Carlsen broke through, and has also coached Magnus for several years. He is now the principal of Norway’s chess gymnasium NTG, where many Norwegian and also Swedish talents have attended.