The youngest participant at the Groningen Chess Festival is eleven-year-old Yohan Ghosh
from New Jersey, USA. He is in Groningen with his parents and his younger sister Leora, and
they enjoy their chess holiday very much: ‘I’d like to play more international tournaments.’
The Groningen Chess Festival is a tournament of youth. Many young players make their first
steps in the international arena here. This has been so since the 1960s and in 2023 there are
more, sometimes extremely young players than ever participating in both the A-, B-, C- and
the Compact groups.
For Yohan Ghosh from New Jersey, USA, who has just turned eleven, this is his first
international chess event. His parents came to the Netherlands to spend their holiday in
Amsterdam (his mother Laika knew the country from when she worked in Eindhoven several
years ago), but when Yohan saw there was a chess open in Groningen, he begged Laika and
his father Auleen to travel to the city in the north of the country instead.
Yohan is a big fan of the game. He learned the rules from his parents when he was only
three, and started playing online when he was five. But chess is mainly fun for him as he also
likes to play other sports like squash. He is not a fanatical worker on the game like some
other talented kids in the USA. Still, at six years old, he started playing in USCF tournaments
and when he reached an 1800 rating he really started working on the game and making
progress. Now he has an 1893 USCF rating and recently reached the top-5 in the National
Blitz Championship for his age category in Las Vegas. He also helps out in chess summer
camps in the USA, of course learning a lot about the game along the way. Bobby Fischer is
his favourite player: ‘I often look at his games.’
The Groningen Chess Festival is Yohan Ghosh’s first international chess tournament and he
is very impressed, though his score so far in the B-group (3½ out of 7) is a bit disappointing
for him. His best game was in round 5 when he converted an equal ending by pushing
through a passed pawn.
His sister Leora, who is still only five, wanted to follow in her big brother’s footsteps and
played in a special one-day youth event on December 28. She even won two games there!
These two kids certainly have caught the chess fever and their parents are thoroughly
enjoying that. ‘Maybe next we will go to tournaments in Reykjavik or Paris; it’s a great way to
see the world,’ says Laika Ghosh. And the family is keen to come back to Groningen as well.