Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Day 339: Genius died. Genius was born.

Goedenavond, dames en heren,

During the past two weeks my attention was attracted by the super super super tournament of Corus. It was held in the town of Wijk aan Zee, a small village located in the north-west part of Holland. It's amazing how this, in the middle of nowhere place, can be the venue of one of the biggest chess tournaments in the World. The strongest chess minds challenged each other in Wijk besides being subject of the unceasing wind, non-stop "stop and go" rain, and of course "without a glimpse of sun" days.

The tournament was bombastic in many ways - it was won by the youngest participant Magnus Carlsen, ahead of two ex World Champions and the current World Champion; the handshake scandal; the fantastic novelty played by Topalov and kept in secret by his second - Cheparinov - for 3 years "until the appropriate occasion has arrived" ... and for a chess fan like me, being part of all this, was an unforgettable experience. The thing I really like in chess is that it is accessible to anyone and you can even sometimes sit behind the board playing against your idols.

Unfortunately, another thing that this tournament has to be remembered for is the announcement of the sudden death of Robert Fischer or as chess lovers know him Bobby Fischer. Bobby died at the chess age of 64 - the number of squares on the chess board. He is a Legend and whatever we say won't be enough, he is the one who made people, who even didn't know how to move the pieces, attracted by this game and follow his match in Reykjavik in 1972 against Boris Spassky, the match during the Cold War that was filled with so much tension.

The genius died but a new star appeared on the horizon - the Norwegian boy wonder Magnus Carlsen. What impressed me most was the way Magnus outplayed his opponents. I could understand over calculating them in complex positions or beating them by preparing a stunning opening variation, but his style is so logical and patient as if he is a grandmaster with 20 years of experience behind him, something totally untypical for a 17-year old "kid".

I'm a bit disappointed I couldn't get an autograph from Magnus but I'm sure we'll see and hear from him more and more in the future.

Well done, Magnus!
Rest in peace, Bobby.