Anatoly Karpov in Syria
Report by GM Robert Fontaine
Twelfth World Champion Anatoly Karpov was invited by the Syrian authorities
to make the first move of the Arabic Chess Championships Under 14.
Karpov also played two rapid chess games against Afamia Almeer, the (unrated)
Syrian Women's Champion. The first was a draw, the second won by Karpov.
The autor of this report, GM Robert Fontaine, in front of the mountain-side
city of Ma'loula
Ma'loula, which is located 56 km to the northeast of Damascus, is the only
region where the Western branch of the Aramaic languages is still spoken (you
can hear it in the video below). The town is built into the rugged mountainside,
at an altitude of more than 1500 meters. The distance and geological features
only aided the longevity of this linguistic oasis for over one and half thousand
years. The population consists of both Christians (Melkite) and Muslims.
Saint Takla (or Taqla) was a pupil of St. Paul. According to legend, in the
1st century A.D. she was being pursued by soldiers of her father to capture
her because of her Christian faith. She came upon a mountain, and after praying,
the mountain split open and let her escape. In the video below you can see Anatoly
Karpov retrace the escape route of St. Takla.
The Mar Takla monastery holds the remains of St. Takla
The city of Saydnaya, a center of Christian pilgrimage
Saidnaya is located in the mountains, 1500 metres above sea level, 27 kilometres
north of Damascus. It is second only to Jerusalem as a center of Christian pilgrimage
and associated with many Biblical and religious events – local tradition
holds it as the site where Cain slew his brother Abel. Saidnaya enjoyed religious
peace throughout its history, even during times of war, such as during the Crusades.
Another Syrian mountain-side city
Karpov with the Russian ambassador in Syria Sergey Kirpichenko
The opening ceremony of the "Arab Youth Championship under 14 –
Chess & Tennis",
with the obligatory portrait of the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad
From the opening ceremony
These vertigo-free dancers twirled around non stop for at least five minutes
Anatoly Karpov with Syrian chess-enthusiastic children
Video report by Europe Echecs
Presented and edited by GM Robert Fontaine, filmed by Gérard Demuydt
– copyright Europe Echecs