Carlos Torre Open: Excess in moderation

by Alina l'Ami
12/22/2015 – After a hectic stint in the San Salvador Open, taking a luxury bus to Guatemala, and braving its dangers with no jewelry, armed only with her camera, Alina L'Ami finds her way to Merida, Mexico where the Carlos Torre International Open was taking place. Once again showing that winter chess options in the sun need not take place in the desert.

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It is no secret I love traveling and sharing with you all the stories hidden between the pages of my passport. True, I haven't been everywhere, but it is on my list. And recently I made new stamps, El Salvador and Guatemala, while now I am back where I feel I belong: Mexico! To say the truth, it is quite funny when people ask me when I'm on the road: “Are you all right? Aren't you tired, don't you want to go back home?” and if I am at home: “what's wrong with you, where are you going to kick off next?” The purpose of all my travels is actually such a basic one – I don't travel to escape my day to day life or routine, but simply to prevent life escaping me!

Dehydrated in winter time?! Well yes, if you are not in Europe...

I am so happy, so blessed and lucky and grateful for everything I have, although, we all know it: a bill will be there in the end, to be paid... For a travelholic like me, the price these days was manageable: some sleepless nights, a bit of jet lag, some hair raising moments, a bit more of rating loss but all interesting experiences, except the rating part, obviously. I would have never thought I would experience crossing customs in a...wheelchair (literally) or that I would see my hotel drawer slide open due to … an earthquake! Everything is possible in the life of a chess nomad, which can hardly get spicier than here, in Merida, Mexico!

GM level: trying the habanero salsa instead of the jalapeno one, plus a lot of other mind blowing
Mexican dishes. Thanks Javier and Gerard for the great times!

Allow me first to elaborate on the wheelchair part: when flying from Guatemala to my final destination, Mérida, via Mexico City, I went through a rather bewildering episode... One and a half hours should normally be more than enough to catch your connection, especially if your first flight is on time. Well, not necessarily so! I had to get my luggage in Mexico City, pass through customs, place it back in and move on to the next flight... But my suitcase arrived after more than one hour of waiting! With 25 minutes to go, what were my chances to catch my connection?!

Luckily, a Mexican life saver appeared out of nowhere, tapped my arm in encouragement and promised to help. Which he did by giving me a “gentle” push into a wheelchair and running while also carrying my suitcase, all at the same time! With lighting speed we passed all the controls, customs, people, bags, security check points, while I was simply astonished by the entire thing. Since I was quite stressed, tired and in a half zombie state, I barely realized what was happening, until I actually woke up in front of the gate. I did catch my flight, my suitcase arrived too, but I hope it won't happen again as the general feeling, including the embarrassment for abusively (even though involuntarily) having used a wheelchair was unique yet dispensable.

Reaching your destination on time has quite some advantages – visiting Izamal, known
as the yellow city (for obvious reasons)

However, the adventure chapter was not over yet: once in my great 7th floor hotel room in Mérida, I started feeling dizzy. I told myself what a wonderful world this was, but that I was really tired! After all if the room is spinning it must be your head that needs replacement. And then I saw it: the drawer coming forward while my rolling chair was rolling with me! Was this some kind of hallucination?! Nope, it was a 6.5 earthquake in Chiapas, Mexico, which was visibly felt by yours truly in Mérida. When I asked the others, they seemed to be quite perplexed by my story, which I know is true. But I also know that, indeed, my hop-on-hop-off schedule can be excessive at times and a break wouldn't hurt.

Sometimes the best way to recover is through active relaxation. Next time I will probably skip
this, although it is so difficult as Yucatán abounds in Mayan vestiges.

And once again, I am one lucky woman to be surrounded by incredible people, like my lifetime Mexican friends, who kindly offered me to rest, report and support my husband, who was playing in the tournament. When I left a piece of me here, in Mexico, in September, I knew I would return to...leave another one!

With our great host: the tournament director – Javier Herrera Aussin

The Convento De San Antonio De Padua at Izamal

I haven't had the time or energy to explore everything but it will come. For now I can say that the 27th edition of the traditional and well-known Carlos Torre International Open has been superb, with a huge list of strong titled players and more than 400 chess enthusiasts spread over several groups.

Professional chess players – professional tournament hall. The room for the top eight boards.

The players arriving at their working place

In good spirits! Emilio Cordova was the winner of another prestigious Mexican event, Copa
Independencia, and we'll see if Mexico will smile to him again

I must say that the tournament director, Javier Herrera Aussin, is doing his utmost to please all of us. From my perspective and judging by how things are going, Javier, who is also running for the Mexican Chess Federation's presidency, is already holding an impressive CV. It is the eighth time he is involved in the tournament organization and no efforts are spared to make everyone's experience a pleasant one. Besides, I don't remember the last time a tournament hall was settled in a prestigious museum, such as is the case here, in the striking Gran Museo del Mundo Maya.

Ready for the launch - The GRAND Gran Museo del Mundo Maya! The futuristic architecture
was inspired by the Ceiba tree, which is sacred in the Mayan cosmology

Keeping up to date: if we cannot go to watch the new Star Wars, the movie comes to us

Jorge Cori - Diego Cuellar

[Event "XXVII Torre Memorial 2015"] [Site "Merida"] [Date "2015.12.17"] [Round "2"] [White "Cori, Jorge"] [Black "Cuellar, Diego"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D48"] [WhiteElo "2596"] [BlackElo "2374"] [Annotator "Alina l'Ami"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rqb3k1/2nn1rpp/p4p2/1p1QpN2/2p1P3/P1P1B3/2B2PPP/R2R2K1 w - - 0 23"] [PlyCount "28"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "MEX"] {The super talented Peruvian GM has my full respect, despite losing a rather painful point in round two.} 23. Qd6 Ne8 24. Qe6 Nc7 25. Qd6 Ne8 {With just one minute on the clock, instead of simply repeating moves, Jorge decided to play for more and went} 26. Qc6 $2 {probably counting that after} Qb7 {he could play Qe6 instead of} 27. Qxb7 ({Unfortunately} 27. Qe6 {is met by} Nf8 { where I can imagine that under time pressure and when quickly scanning the moves, one drops the whole idea in view of} 28. Qxe8 Bxf5 {and the queen is trapped.}) 27... Bxb7 28. a4 Bc6 29. axb5 axb5 30. Rxa8 Bxa8 31. Bc1 Nf8 32. Ba3 Rd7 33. Rb1 g6 34. Nh6+ Kg7 35. Rxb5 Bxe4 36. Ba4 Bc6 {A draw is always a step forward; however, I admire Jorge's stamina, a player of no compromises!} 0-1

Of course...there is the issue of the double rounds. Frankly speaking, no professional chess player is in love with them but if you think about all the delicacies that the Mexican cuisine has to offer...there must be a way to get rid of all these calories and thinking over the board is usually an efficient way to proceed. A condensed schedule, indeed, but isn't life beginning at the end of your comfort zone?! As long as one doesn't push the boundaries too far that is.

First round on the first board: Lazaro Bruzon Batista vs Irina Andrenko

The Ukrainian WIM Irina Andrenko

Lazaro Bruzon Batista - Maikel Gongora Reyes

[Event "XXVII Torre Memorial 2015"] [Site "Merida"] [Date "2015.12.18"] [Round "3"] [White "Bruzon Batista, Lazaro"] [Black "Gongora Reyes, Maikel Liber"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A04"] [WhiteElo "2666"] [BlackElo "2427"] [Annotator "Alina l'Ami"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r3r1k1/1q3pb1/4p1p1/1pn1PnBp/p1pN1P1P/P1P5/1PB1Q1PK/3RR3 w - - 0 26"] [PlyCount "17"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "MEX"] {Dynamic play from by the top seed in the tournament, which culminated with a nice cherry on the cake - precise calculation rewarded with a point a few moves later.} 26. g4 $1 hxg4 27. Qxg4 Kh7 28. Nxf5 exf5 29. Bxf5 $1 gxf5 30. Qh5+ Kg8 31. Bf6 Ne6 32. Rg1 Qe4 33. Rd4 Qe3 34. Rg2 {And there is nothing Black can do to still protect the blown up king.} 1-0

Second seed – Aleksey Dreev

Aleksey Dreev - Jorge Leon Oquendo

[Event "XXVII Torre Memorial 2015"] [Site "Merida"] [Date "2015.12.17"] [Round "2"] [White "Dreev, Aleksey"] [Black "Leon Oquendo, Jorge"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E33"] [WhiteElo "2644"] [BlackElo "2398"] [Annotator "Alina l'Ami"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rn3rk1/1ppbqppp/3p1n2/3Pp3/p1P5/P1B1P3/1PQNBPPP/R4RK1 w - - 0 14"] [PlyCount "30"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "MEX"] {The class of top players is visible when they powerfully punish the slightest mistake or chance that they are given. Here Aleksey played the beautiful} 14. f4 $1 exf4 15. Rae1 $1 Qxe3+ {sacrificing two pawns for a massive attack, which brought him in the end, the point.} 16. Kh1 Re8 17. Nf3 h6 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Bd3 Qb6 20. Rxe8+ Bxe8 21. Qd2 Nd7 22. Qxf4 Qxb2 23. Qxh6 Nf8 24. Nh4 Bd7 25. h3 Re8 26. Bf5 Re5 27. Qxf6 Rxf5 28. Rxf5 Bc8 1-0

Back to the disco era

WIM from Argentina, Ayelen Martinez

The Peruvian GM Emilio Cordova didn't have an easy first round against...

...WFM Yaniela Moreno Forgas from Cuba

Emilio Cordova - Yaniela Forgas Moreno

[Event "XXVII Torre Memorial 2015"] [Site "Merida"] [Date "2015.12.17"] [Round "1"] [White "Cordova, Emilio"] [Black "Forgas Moreno, Yaniela"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A45"] [WhiteElo "2611"] [BlackElo "2208"] [Annotator "Alina l'Ami"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5N2/1P6/5k2/3B1p2/2P1p1p1/6K1/1r6/8 b - - 0 61"] [PlyCount "4"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] [EventCountry "MEX"] {A heroic defense up to this point by the Cuban WFM, which was surely received in not such cordial terms by the Peruvian player. After a tough and long game, Yaniela missed a beautiful drawing mechanism and landed instead in an immediate lost position.} 61... e3 $2 {was played thinking that} (61... Rb3+ { shouldn't work due to} 62. Kf2 Rb2+ 63. Ke3 Rb3+ 64. Kd2 Rb2+ {and} 65. Kc3 { but here Black has} Rxb7 $1 66. Bxb7 g3 $19 {Oups! Therefore, White has to accept the inevitable - a draw by perpetual.}) 62. Nd7+ Ke7 63. b8=Q 1-0

The Cuban GM Reynaldo Isan Ortiz Suarez is warmed up for the double rounds,
as he came more or less straight from San Salvador, where he took 3rd place.

Family reunited – Dzibilchaltún, an impressive Maya archaeological site

The Temple of the Seven Dolls, named after the seven small effigies found at the site when it was discovered

Escaping the sun this time by swimming in a truly special place: Cenote Xlakah! A cenote is
a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes
groundwater underneath, especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.



Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.
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