The Bashkansky family Chess Travel blog

The Bashkansky family Chess Travel blog: parents Guy and Ludmila with children NM Ethan and WIM Naomi

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pan-American Youth Chess Championship, Brazil again!

Naomi becomes Pan-American Co-Champion!

At the 2013 Pan-American Youth Chess Championship in Brazil, in the Girls Under 10 category, Naomi tied for first place with a Bolivian girl, 8 points out of 9, and got second place by the first tie-break, while all 3 other tie-breaks were in Naomi’s favor.

Thus, Naomi becomes Pan-American Youth Co-Champion!  And gets FIDE title of Woman Candidate Master (WCM)!

And Ethan plays great, beating players with FIDE ratings ~2000.

We Saw It Coming

Here are Naomi's other amazing achievements in 2013, just this year:

- US National Girls Champion at the All Girls Nationals in the Under 10 category.

Great job, Naomi!

2013 Pan-American Youth Chess Championship

US Head of Delegation FM Aviv Friedman wrote this great article on the chess tournament:

And my article here focuses on our family chess travel experience in Brazil -- where the sun moves right-to-left in the northern sky and where there are many wild monkeys in the forests.

Getting to Poços de Caldas, Brazil

2 adults with 2 kids:

  1. Drive 3 hours from Seattle to Vancouver, passing the Canadian border, wait 3 hours
  2. Fly 4 hours from Vancouver to Dallas, passing back the US border, wait 2 hours
  3. Fly 10 hours from Dallas to Rio de Janeiro, passing the Brazilian border, wait 5 hours
  4. Fly 1 hour from Rio de Janeiro to Viracopos airport (Campinas, north of São Paulo)
  5. Ride a van 2 hours from Viracopos to Poços de Caldas, Hotel Golden Park, wait 1 hour
  6. Get money transfer receipt from organizers for 2 double rooms, get the keys, crash!

Daily Chess and Photo Albums

Pan-American Round 1

Naomi wins against a girl from Paraguay.
Ethan loses against a player from Argentina with FIDE rating 1951.

Pan-American Round 2 and 3

Naomi wins against players from Mexico and Brazil.  
Ethan wins against 2 players from Brazil (FIDE ratings 1828 and 1889).

We get some local TV reporting -- look for the blue visor hat in the background ;-)

Pan-American Round 4

Naomi loses to Ana Paula Condori from Bolivia (and eventually ties with her for first place).
Ethan wins against another Brazilian; his next opponent has FIDE rating 2097.

US chess team at Pan-American Youth in Brazil

Photo session of the US team, which achieved great results at the championship.

Naomi and Ethan's coach Michael Khodarkovsky is leftmost in the second row, and rightmost in the coaches-only photo inside the album.

Pan-American Round 5, US team

Ethan loses to a Brazilian player, FIDE rated 2097. Naomi defeats an Argentine girl.

Pan-American Round 6, Pocos de Caldas

Ethan draws with a 2078-rated Peruvian. Now he has 3.5 points of 6.  It’s a tough fight.

Naomi plays a long and dramatic game with a fellow US player.  Both get into time trouble, and Naomi wins on time.  Now she has 5 points of 6.

We used the long game to escape from the chess tournament pressure cooker into the city by bus.  Poços de Caldas is a typical lively Brazilian town, with a lot of small shops, many young people and statue-decorated squares full of playing children. The picturesque highlight is the ruins of a 60s-era monorail overgrown by trees and lianas.

Pocos de Caldas Rounds 7 and 8

USA beats Cuba ;-)  Both Naomi and Ethan defeat Cuban players in the morning Round 7.

In the evening Round 8, Naomi defeats another fellow USA player in a long and difficult game, while Ethan loses to a Mexican.  Luda and I ride a bus to the city again, to escape the pressure.

Pan-American Final Round 9

Naomi defeats WCM Carolina Vargas from Bolivia.
Ethan loses to Daniel Arias (2163) from El Salvador.

Pan-American Youth Chess Championship award ceremony

Naomi tied for first place in the Girls Under 10 category with Ana Paula Condori from Bolivia.  Both girls got 8 points out of 9, and Ana Paula got first place by the first tie-break (personal match result) - while all 3 other tie-breaks types were in Naomi’s favor.

Ethan got half of all points, 4.5 of 9, which is a very good result given he’s only 15 in the Open 16 category at such high level Pan-American Championship.

Pocos de Caldas city tour

The kids worked hard for the whole week, and the parents jittered.  Now we all got to decompress at the Poços de Caldas city tour.  The tour van took us to the Japanese Gardens, volcanic caldera view, Cristo Redentor monument, Fonte dos Amores, waterfalls and glass workshops.

Pocos de Caldas center and flight to Rio

We used the last few hours to tour Poços de Caldas city center, then rode a van to Viracopos and flew to Rio de Janeiro.  

We first appreciated the enormous size of Rio when an Aerotaxi cab took us from the airport to Hotel Rio Colinas, midway between Copacabana and Ipanema.

Rio de Janeiro

Where everybody wears white pants... (which is related to the subtitle of this blog).

Rio - Copacabana walk, Ipanema swim

This goes with a music theme: Aquarela do Brasil - open in a new tab, to listen in background while browsing the photos.  

Our Hotel Rio Colinas was located in Arpoador, right between the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.  Each morning, our main dilemma has been: should we walk 8 minutes to Copacabana, or same 8 minutes to Ipanema?  Both beaches have endless stretches of fine sand, filled with even finer Brazilian bodies.  They differ in wavy boardwalk pavement patterns, as distinctive Copacabana and Ipanema brand trademarks.

Imaginary Crime

In the evening Ethan and I went out to eat and get $350 in cash for tomorrow’s city tour.  Surely enough, having read wikitravel advice to expect getting robbed in Rio (and regard it as an authentic touristic experience), I’ve noticed a shoeshine boy “marking” us with a sideway thumb gesture to somebody behind us.  Our imagination ran wild and we employed an array of crime evasion techniques: reversing direction, crossing streets, “shaking off” the tail of “suspicious youths” (i.e. everybody).  We saw drug dealers making secret gestures everywhere.  Ethan took it to the heart and calmed down only when we reached the two policemen permanently stationed near our hotel.  Which was on the gentrifying edge of a favela.  At night we heard quite a few firecrackers.  At least this is what we think they were.  We survived our imagination.

Rio - City Tour

Rio is by far the most photographed city in the world.  And still, it’s hard to capture its actual natural beauty in pictures.  The frustrated photographers try again and again, easily producing half a thousand of photos in a day.  They can get no satisfaction.

Corcovado, Maracanã, Sambadrome, Catedral Metropolitana, Escadaria Selarón, Morro da Urca, Sugarloaf Mountain -- just the sound of these toponyms makes a tourist’s heart bleed.

And there are many wild monkeys in the forests.

Rio - Ipanema beach

In the morning we headed straight to Ipanema beach and spent most of the day there jumping the waves in the Atlantic Ocean, digging in the sand and dragging our beach chairs away from the tide.  As always in Brazil - it is every bit of relaxation stereotype you thought about, and then some more!

We were all very impressed witnessing a lifeguard helicopter actually rescue a drowning swimmer from the ocean.  The helicopter downed into water a sort of fishing net - in which 2 came down and 3 came up, then swung the net to the shore, unloaded it, and flew away.

Rio - Night walk Ipanema and Lagoa

The highlight of that evening was witnessing a demonstration on Ipanema.  We think it was for marijuana legalization, but we can’t be sure - Brazil speaks Portuguese, no English at all.  However, at the demonstration they did speak in the international language of music.  And that music was so familiar ;-)  Just take a listen.

Rio - Downtown walking tour

On this day we decided to enrich ourselves in the local history and culture.  Luda found a walking tour of Rio downtown and we rode a bus to the Carioca Square Clock where it started.  Carioca is the nickname of Rio natives, it means “the white people houses” - which is how the local Indians called the early Portuguese settlers village.

Our charming guide Luana took us through old narrow town streets to feel the city’s colonial history and architecture.  She made us understand Brazil’s transition from a large farm to an empire after John VI of Portugal fled Napoleon in 1807 to establish his imperial palace in Rio.

The tour highlights were Paço Imperial, Theatro Municipal, Arcos da Lapa, Escadaria Selarón.

After the tour we ate at a Brazilian street food joint, among other things, the tastiest frango (chicken) with maracuja (passion fruit juice) and got entertained when a junkie tried to steal Ethan’s glasses he left on the table.  I snatched them back from her, still got my good reflexes ;-)  Two police officers came, but there was no way for us to communicate what happened.  We nonchalantly finished our most delicious and inexpensive meal, a trademark of Brazil.

Flight Rio - Miami - Dallas - Vancouver

2 adults with 2 kids:

  1. Ride 1/2 hour by Aerotaxi cab from Ipanema to Rio International Airport, wait 3 hours
  2. Fly 9 hours from Rio de Janeiro to Miami, passing the US border, wait 3 hours
  3. Fly 3 hours from Miami to Dallas, run quickly to make the connection
  4. Fly 4 hours from Dallas to Vancouver, passing the Canadian border
  5. Drive 5 hours from Vancouver to Seattle, with the US border traffic jam + peak hour

Nothing can beat the good memories, though!


On August 22, information about Naomi’s success at the Pan-American Youth Chess Championship appeared at the popular Northwest Chess website in the “Completed Tournament / Match News” section:

Naomi (left) receives trophy as Pan-American Youth Co-Champion.
Scholastics (June-July):

  • Pan-American Youth Festival (Chess Championship) (Jul 25-Aug 1) in Brazil - blog post by the Bashkansky family. In the Girls Under 10 category, Naomi Bashkansky of Bellevue, WA tied for first place with a Bolivian girl with 8 points out of 9, and got second place by the first tie-break, thus becoming Pan-American Youth Co-Champion, and earning the Women Candidate Master FIDE title. See the U.S. Head of Delegation article. Thanks to the Bashkansky family for making this report and supplying the photo at left.

And this information was printed on page 25 of the September issue of the Northwest Chess magazine:

On September 18, 2013, we received this email from US Chess Federation:

Congratulations, Naomi!
You have been awarded the FIDE Woman Candidate Master Title.  [...]

Naomi’s WCM title is the direct result of becoming the Pan-American Girls U10 Co-Champion.


  1. Amazing Job, Naomi!!!! Keep it up!!! Ethan is also doing great!!

  2. Wonderful. Awesome achievements from Naomi and Ethan and a proud moment for parents and us.

  3. Click on the photo album links, they're worth a glance!

  4. Great results for the kids. Great city to visit...such fond memories! U managed to get a lot squeezed in the few days you spent there. I too remember the sensation of being a walking target, on the first day I ventured on a bus ride, the camera in a dirt bag and all - u know, like the travel guide suggested - and then I saw nice Brazilian ladies riding the bus with half a ton of gold hanging down their necks. That's when I rechecked assumptions and started enjoying the city for the remaining 3 weeks :)

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