Did well at chess tournament

My son did a great job at a chess tournament this week that ended tonight. There were 5 rounds. His opponent did not show up for the first round. So he won a point. He was a little bummed that “it was not a real point” since he did not actually play. But, when you consider he outsmarted his opponent just by showing up, I would say he was the better player. [1 point]

Second round ended oddly. The round started 25 minutes late. How strange! Because he knew when the third round was supposed to start, he did not feel they had enough time to play out the whole game. When it got close to time that the third round would be underway, he offered a draw and his opponent accepted. My son did not realize that because round 2 started late that round 3 would start late as well. That is just the way a 9 year old mind works. I have beat into him that when someone says they will be there or start at a certain time and then don’t, that is being disrespectful and lying to the other person. So he expects others to start when they say they will. [1/2 point]

Round 3 he won. Not handily. It took some work, but he did it. [1 point]

Round 4 was a handy win. Quick and to the point. [1 point]

Round 5 did not go so well. He got off to a poor start and had trouble recovering. [0 point]

Total of 3 1/2 points out of a possible 5. I think he ended up in the top 5 players. There were 50 something contestants in his category. He played against kids in 4th through 6th grades. He is in 4th. We should get the final standings tomorrow.

Inside a chess clock

A few months ago my son volunteered me to fix the broken chess clocks from his chess class. They are all analog and of different makes. I knew nothing about chess clocks nor how to fix them, but my son knows I like taking things apart. Sometimes I can even put them back together.

Amazingly I fixed 6 clocks. Or, approximately 6. I don’t really remember now. They were mostly simple solutions and none of them needed any parts. I don’t think any 2 had the same problem.

Inside analog chess clockThis last week the teacher sent home one more clock to be repaired. When I saw what the clock was doing, I knew exactly what was wrong because I hade experienced that problem with one of the previous clocks. I pulled it apart and was able to fix it in just a few minutes. I am starting to feel like an expert.

What makes a chess clock so special? Really they are just 2 (somewhat) normal clocks that have a system for starting one clock while stopping the other. The only thing that makes them different from a normal clock is they have a flag that drops when the time runs out. But, since they are analog, they continue to run.

One of the interesting rules of chess is that if you run out of time, you do not automatically lose. Your opponent has to claim the win because your time ran out. So if you arInside analog chess clock with clocks in placee able to put him in checkmate before he calls the win on time, you win.

In the first picture you can see the black bar is just a teeter-totter. When you push one button down, it stops that clock and starts the opponent’s clock. And vice versa.

In the second picture you can see where one arm is pushing down on the thingy in the clock that rotates back and forth. I am not a clock person, so I don’t know the technical name for the thingy, but it is probably something like “doo-ma-flatchet”.

Click the pictures for bigger versions.

Ivanchuk defeats Bruzón

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.Ivanchuk

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.Jaan Ehlvest

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.

Next Chess Tournament

This is the big tournament of the year for us. It is the Carlos Torre Repetto Memorial Tournament. Grand Master Carlos Torre is considered to have been, and still is (after 80 years), the greatest chess player México has produced. His crowning year was 1925 when he was 21 years old. The next year he stopped playing chess competitively.Carlos Torre Repetto Memorial Tournament

We went to register for the tournament today and met with some typical frustration. Registration is to be Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm of this week. Today is Tuesday. We were there at a little after 11:00. They could not take our registration information because the computer was not on site yet. This is the computer that holds all the rating information to verify which group each participant will play in. We were told to come back in an hour and the computer should be there and be set up.

I was a bit frustrated with this. That meant that anyone who showed up previous to that time (at least 2 hours worth of people this morning) were turned away and told to come back to register. This is an International event. We have several Grand Masters from around the world who will be participating with us. Vassily Ivanchuk, the Ukrainian Grand Master and number 1 ranked player in his country will be here as well as Sergey Tiviakov the number one ranked Grand Master in Holland. The current champion of Cuba will be with us…and the list goes on. But yet, we can’t register because the computer has not arrived.

I later asked about what they did for registration yesterday when they said they did not have $7 change for my $20. “Registration yesterday?” Yes, you guessed it. They did not even have anyone there the whole registration time yesterday even though it is on the first page of the registration guidelines that were given out to all hopeful participants.

So, anyway, we left and came back about 30 minutes later. This was only because there was also a book fair going on near there that we had planned to attend. When we returned there was a computer on the table with a mouse and keyboard, but no monitor. We were assured that the monitor would be right there and they would be able to start registration very soon.

Twenty minutes later when the monitor arrived, I knew registration would not start in any reasonable time. The monitor was brand new. I looked at the computer, it too had evidence of having been freshly unpacked. Keyboard and mouse were pristine. I suspect that there was not a bit of software on that computer except the operating system. We would have had to wait through the whole setting up a new computer mess before we could register.

About that time my son’s chess teacher arrived. He greeted us and I begged to be allowed to register and they could look up the info later. The teacher talked them into it.

In the process the teacher pointed me to a rule in the guidelines that I was hoping did not apply to me. It says “All international players who do not have FIDE rating and are over the age of 16 must register in the [I don’t know the translation into proper English chess terminology] first force [primera fuerza].” This basically means that I would be playing in the same category with the Grand Masters and International Masters as well as all those with a rating over 1900. My rating (sub-1100) would normally put me in the fourth force. But my rating is with the Mexican Chess Federation and not with FIDE, the World Chess Federation.

If I got paired with Vassily Ivanchuk (currently ranked #7 in the world), that would have been an honor to play with him. But, that would not have been a fair game for him.

But the real problem for me is that to play in the fourth grouping would cost $35. Which is a lot of money for me to go in and play knowing that I have little to no chance of making any of it back by winning. Especially since I have only been playing a little over a year and not seriously at that. But, registration for the first grouping is $90. That is out of the question. So, I am not playing. Just my son.

The tournament starts on Thursday of this week, but my son’s rounds won’t start till Tuesday of next. He is in a sub-10 year old category which only plays 6 rounds instead of the 9 rounds the big boys will play.