Young Stars train during Holidays

This year has certainly been full of challenges, but that is exactly what chess players are prepared to face. The Young Stars programs continued through the year, but the sessions were held over zoom instead of in-person. After a successful initial virtual session over the Summer, the talented students returned during the holiday season for their training with former World Champion Garry Kasparov.

The Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) and Saint Louis Chess Club have been running the very successful Young Stars – Team USA program since 2011. Team USA’s program has helped develop several American chess prodigies from across the country, including the likes of GM Jeffery Xiong and GM Sam Sevian. Team USA has been capped off with individualized training sessions with Kasparov’s coaching staff and special training sessions with Garry Kasparov himself. With the success of the Young Stars – Team USA program, a new opportunity for young talents was started in 2018 with the Young Stars Global team. This holiday season saw the Global Stars continue the tradition started in 2020 of offering training sessions in different languages: English and Russian.

Both sessions were conducted by Garry Kasparov with the assistance of FIDE Senior Trainer Michael Khodarkovsky. GM Dmitry Gurevich was present as a guest in the English language session. The students were:

  • WCM Alice Lee, Gold Medal at the 2020 U12 World Online Girls Championships
  • IM Carissa Yip, Gold Medal at the 2020 U18 World Online Girls Championships
  • IM Abhimanyu (Abhi) Mishra, youngest IM in the World’s chess history
  • GM Jonas Bjerre, youngest Dane to achieve the GM title
  • GM Brandon Jacobson, Young Star’s newest minted GM
  • IM Christopher Yoo, Gold Medal at the 2020 U16 World Online Championships

The Russian language session students were:

  • CM Ihor Samunenkov, Ukraine , Silver Medal at the 2020 U12 World Online Championship
  • IM Volodar Murzin, Russia, Silver Medal at the 2020 U18 World Online Championships
  • Teimur Toktomushev, Ukraine
  • Alua Nurmanova, Kazakhstan

Each student was requested to annotate six of their games and present them to Kasparov. By presenting their games, the students had the opportunity to analyze various positions with Garry Kasparov and take in his comments and recommendations. GM Mikhail Kobalia, the newly appointed Chair of FIDE’s Trainer’s Commission, was present as a guest. Despite the pandemic, some of the players have had the opportunity to keep active in both over the board and online competitions.

Christopher Yoo has proven to be dangerous to GMs, even very strong ones!

GM Gadir Guseinov vs. IM Christopher Yoo, Online

Expecting a simple recapture with 19… bxc6, Guseinov surely planned 20. Nc5! with some compensation for the pawn. It was actually the continuation 19… Qxc6! 20. Qxe7 d4! that gave black an unsurmountable advantage.

WCM Alice Lee learning about modern treatments of the Grunfeld

IM Volodar Murzin is trying to use that strong e5 square in the Benoni structure

The beautiful winning idea (as explained in the variations in the picture) was discovered by Emanuel Lasker in a famous study 130 years ago!

Garry Kasparov enjoying a cup of coffee and sharing great insights during the online training sessions

Danish GM Jonas Bjerre joined the sessions with a slight time difference! The other students joined from the USA.

IM Carissa Yip was generous enough to give us some of her impressions from the sessions:

“I’m happy that we could still continue our sessions over Zoom in the middle of this pandemic. I really do love working on chess with talented juniors, and working with Garry especially has been and will continue to be such an amazing experience. Being able to discuss variations and access the mind of one of the greatest chess players of all time has been invaluable for my chess progress.”

Garry Kasparov wished the students to stay positive and continue studying. He is looking forward to seeing them in-person during the Summer sessions.

Young Stars has open admission for talented kids from all over the World to apply to this elite program. Candidates may apply by submitting the application found here: KCF YoungStars Application. The program is open for talented players that are nine (9) years of age on January 1, 2020, and not older than thirteen (13) years of age on January 1, 2020.

Send the full applications to:






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