Alexandra Kosteniuk takes Frascati

6/7/2005 – Remember when simultaneous masters were portly, balding and heavily bespectacled? That has changed. The grandmaster taking on twenty correspondence chess players in Frascati, Italy, arrived in a purple blouse and stylishly patched jeans. And she beat them 17.5 to 2.5. Illustrated report.

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Alexandra Kosteniuk in Frascati

Illustrated report by Roberto Balzan

Frascati is an attractive historic hilltowns to the southeast of Rome. There a "Chess Week" was held, from May 20 to 29. For the inauguration former world champion Boris Spassky was present, then came a GM tournament, which was sensationally won by a rejuvenated FM. Links to the reports on these events are given at the bottom of the page.

On the second Sunday in Frascati there was a simultaneous exhibition in the beautiful Frascati St. Peter's Square, in the morning of a bright hot sunny day.


The St. Peter's Square Cathedral


... with the beautiful "fontana" on the square in front of it


The main 'promenade' street in Frascati


Correspondence chess masters ready to play against the Russian champion


Waiting for the simultaneous master to arrive


At last the grandmaster has arrived to play us all


And there he is, a portly, balding gentleman in a worn-down suit, with thick horn-rimmed glasses – yes, that's the way it used to be. This is what we get today!


Grandmaster and Russian Women's Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk is introduced by Frascati's Vice Major, Mr. Marcotulli


And the battles can begin...


Twenty strong opponents, all masters of the ASIGC (Italian Correspondence Chess Association)

And guess how the lady in the stylishly patched jeans fared against the correspondence chess professionals. "The result was as bright and marvellous as the weather," writes our correspondent. "Beautiful Alexandra easily won 15 games and drew five, all in just two hours time. She's really beautiful not only from the outside!"


Signing books and memorabilia after the simul


A group picture of the simultaneous master and the twenty pupils on the Cathedral stairs


The master with her pupils


And one more, in front of the fontana


And now the photographed becomes the photographer


Alexandra with her digital camera, on the prowl in Frascati


A break for lunch in a Frascati 'trattorie' with good food and wine!


Refreshed and changed for the afternoon festivities


Here's the bad news: Alexandra is hitched. That's her husband, Diego Garces.


Alexandra and Diego with the Italian Montecatini's Tournament organizer, Rodolfo Bigagli and his wife


Meeting the chess children of Frascati



... and posing with their delighted mothers


With Playchess SysOp Andrea Natoli, a.k.a. 'Torero Ole Ole', and girlfriend Rosaura from Venezuela


With the GM Tournament winner Fabio Bruno and Province of Rome President Vincenzo Vita

"It was an incredible week and an incredible day," writes our correspondent Roberto Balzan, "with only good news for Italian chess, for players and fans, in a beautiful little city of the 'Castelli Romani'. Thanks very much Alexandra for coming, hope to see you soon again, very soon!"

All pictures by Roberto Balzan

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