Yan Nepomniashiy isn’t nervous about defending his title at the European Youth Chess championship next month; the Russian 12-year-old is more anxious about studying for his Bar Mitzva. “After all, I’ve been playing chess competitively since I was four years old,” he notes, “but I’ve only been studying Hebrew and Torah since I turned ten!”

Yan a three-time European champion in the under-12 category, and played to a draw with former adult world chess champion Anatoly Karpov. He attends the 8th grade at the Ohr Avner day school in Bryansk.

The Federation of Jewish Communities is sponsoring his trip to the Montenegro tournament next month as well as his continuing chess training. Yan is studying for his Bar Mitzva with Rabbi Yizchack Roytman of Bryansk. He will be called to the Torah at the Marina Rodcha Synagogue and JCC of Moscow in June.

By then he may be a four-time European youth chess champion.