Young Stars USA Session (1/2)


The tension could be cut with a knife; the focus and intensity of every member of the room was apparent. A trio of tables had been arranged in a U shape, and everyone was ignoring the laptops in front of them, focusing instead on the position on the projector. Suddenly, one of them spoke up. In a voice that was still crackling from the changes brought on by puberty, he rattled of a variation several moves deep. The room fell silent for a few seconds, before another player gave a refutation. “Aha!” was the only thing Sam Sevian could say to the rebuttal from Jeffery Xiong, and the analysis continued. Meanwhile the greatest chess player in history sat quietly, looking at the position and judging the variations given by his students.


Kayden Troff working with Garry Kasparov at the Saint Louis Chess Club

The Young Stars – Team USA program has been sponsored by the Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) and the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis (CCSCSL) since 2012. A group of young and promising chess players are assessed and evaluated by Garry Kasparov himself, along with KCF President and FIDE Senior Trainer Michael Khodarkovsky. These players are also individually trained by prominent grandmasters and famous coaches, including Alexander Chernin.

Jumping off the plane from his visit at the Norway 2015 Super Tournament, Kasparov sat down from Thursday, June 18th – Saturday, June 20th in the Temple of Chess, the Saint Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center, with some of the most talented kids in the Young Stars program. This time around the field was unbelievably strong:

  • GM Samuel Sevian
  • GM Kayden Troff
  • GM-elect Jeffery Xiong
  • IM Akshat Chandra
  • FM Awonder Liang

The youngest participant is only twelve years old, the oldest a mere seventeen. The table boasts of having won many medals at World Youths, but they know that their path to success is only starting. Hard work is still required for these talented youngsters to rise to the very top of the elite in the chess world: their competition in a few years will be the players that are currently playing in the Grand Chess Tour, which is currently happening in Norway.


GM Samuel Sevian has under his belt a World Championship title (u-12, 2012) and he qualified to the World Cup with an excellent performance at the U.S. Championship

The players were asked to bring their games for review by their peers and by Kasparov himself, assessing the progress that these players have made in the past six months, and advising on what weaknesses need to be focused on, which strengths can be improved, and what errors need to be eliminated.


Kasparov and Jeffery Xiong in Washington D.C.

This invaluable experience is sure to help these talents tremendously, as these five players represent the best hopes for the future in American chess. Their successes are already known around the World, and they hope to establish themselves in the extremely strong American Olympic team soon – that is the goal of each and every one of them.


An evaluation session finished off the meeting early Saturday morning. Below we are posting the easiest three puzzles in the series, and we will be providing the solutions in a couple of days here in the website. Do you think you are up to the challenge? The players had 70 minutes to solve a ten-puzzle series. Here are the first three:




As with any good puzzle, all you know is that you are playing as the White pieces and you must find the best moves. We will be bringing you a video of this year’s training session as well as the solution to the puzzles very soon!


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