In our big chess tournament this week we had a very exciting final set of games. Jaan Ehlvest (ranked 138 in the world) was unable to defeat Lázaro Bruzón (ranked 58th) in the semi-finals. Interestingly, Bruzón is 20 years younger than Ehlvest, I was pulling for Mr. Ehlvest for a couple of reasons. He plays as an American, though he is from Estonia originally. And, I bought his book from him this week. So he instantly became my favorite player.
It was pretty obvious though, that even if Jaan Ehlvest had arrived at the final games that Ivanchuk (ranked 7th) would likely have won. Ivanchuk seems to be on top of his game. He arrived here fresh off of a win at the Cuban Capablanca tournament. I don’t know how big of a deal that tournament is in the rest of the world, but here in Yucatán it seems to be well respected.
I won’t go into all the gory details as to how the games went down. You can go to the official website for that and watch the games played on the site. What I would like to share is the atmosphere.
My son played in this tournament last year, but it was our first big tournament. We still were unsure how accessible these players are and what happens in the final moments. We chose not to stick around for the next to the last round early this afternoon. Hunger got the best of us and we returned home for food. The final round was to start at 5:00. I expected it to take several hours, so did not arrive until a bit after 7:00 to see the match. It ended up that the first round today was a draw and the afternoon round drew as well, but before I arrived.
When I got to the auditorium, there were people hanging around and there was a buzz. I knew that they ended up going into playoff games. The first would start at 8:00. They each get 15 minutes on the clock. Ivanchuk played Black in the first round of the playoff. When they each had just a few seconds left on the clock they agreed upon a draw.
The second playoff game had Ivanchuk in command of the position and the clock, but Bruzón had definitive control of the material (value of pieces left on the board). I saw a line of play that would have evened up the game material wise, but Ivanchuk took a different route. He had several minutes left and Bruzón had just a couple. The ending was so dramatic and quick, I really don’t know how much final time was left.
Ivanchuk made a move with his Queen that caused Bruzón to think long and hard. Finally Bruzón extended his hand and surrendered to Ivanchuk. Ivanchuk shook hands and jumped up and pumped his fists in the air. It was the first time I saw him smile all week. The auditorium of about 250 people gave a standing ovation.
Ivanchuk ran out the door of the auditorium and I figured that would be the last we would see of him until the awards ceremony tomorrow. Instead he was running out to see his wife. I did not know she was here and never saw her. I just saw a press release that said she was there with us tonight and that she was waiting outside the auditorium.
He stuck around for a long time and signed books, posters, hats and just about anything else that people put in front of him. He seemed pretty personable, though I would have never guessed that from the rest of the week.
I also got Jaan Ehlvest to sign the book I bought from him yesterday. Guil Russek, a Mexican Grand Master signed a book that I have from him as well.