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Ukrainian boy defeats Russian chess star to win World Championship

by Abbey Fenbert May 1, 2024 2:51 AM 2 min read
Oleksii Nakonechnyi stands on the first-place podium after winning the FIDE U10 World Cadet Rapid Chess Championship in Durres, Albania, held April 25-29, 2024. (International Chess Federation)
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Oleksii Nakonechnyi, a 10-year-old chess player from Truskavets, won the U10 World Cadet Rapid Chess Championship in Albania, defeating Russian champion Roman Shogdzhiev, who participated in the tournament as a neutral player.

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) hosted the competition in cooperation with the Albanian Chess Federation, bringing together over 300 participants from 43 countries. The tournament took place from April 25-29.

Oleksii Nakonechnyi played against 11 opponents, winning seven games and drawing four.

Oleksii's father, Ihor Nakonechnyi, told Ukrainska Pravda that he and his son were discouraged from participating in the championships due to the presence of Russians.

"Many people said: 'Don't go, because the Russians will be there,' " Nakonechnyi said in an interview published April 30.

"I told them that we had already given them too much, and we had to go and take it back from them. If it wasn't for Oleksii, the guy from Russia would have been first, and now he's second."

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Following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, FIDE banned Russian and Belarusian flags from its events but allowed players from Russia and Belarus to participate under the neutral FIDE flag.

According to Ihor Nakonechnyi, the Russian chess star Roman Shogdzhiev, who played under the FIDE flag, was favored to win the tournament.

"I knew that sooner or later we would meet him," Nakonechnyi said.

"We had been preparing for this meeting for a long time, both psychologically and technically. I believed to the end that we would win."

Oleksii has been playing chess professionally since 2021. He trains with a coach online two to three times per week. His father, a former ballet dancer and employee of the Lviv Opera, plays with his son every day.

"If someone thinks that kids play weakly, believe me, they often play stronger than adults. Children have fresh knowledge and nothing else in their minds but the game itself. They have a very high level," Ihor Nakonechnyi said.

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