King's Tournament in Bazna
The King's Tournament is taking place in Bazna, Romania, from May 24th to June 4th 2008. The participants are (in alphabetical order) Ulf Andersson, Alexander Beliavsky, Alexander Khalifman, Henrique Mecking, Andrei Murariu, Lajos Portisch, Zoltan Ribli, Andrei Sokolov, Mihai Suba, Nigel Short and Rafael Vaganian.
The rate of play is 40 moves in 90 minutes, with 30 seconds' increment per move, followed by 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move for the rest of the game. The first prize is 7,000 Euro.
After Maia Tschiburdanidze dropped out of the event there were eleven players left, so that one player is always rested during any particular round. After seven days some players have six and some seven rounds on the cross table. Nigel Short is leading by a full point, with a 2735 performance so far. He is followed by the enigmatic Henrique Mecking, who is a point behind but has played one game fewer.
While it is nice to see Nigel Short, former challenger for the World Championship, back in form, we will be especially watching Henrique Mecking, 56, who was a leading Brazilian player in the 1970s. Mecking started off as a child prodigy and became a grandmaster at the age of 19. In January 1978, at the age of 25, his FIDE rating was 2635 and he was ranked third in the world, behind Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi (Karpov 2725, Korchnoi 2665, Mecking 2630, Portisch 2630, Spassky 2630).
Henrique ("Mequinho") Mecking at 12...
... and at 56, playing against Nigel Short (left) in Brazna
In 1979 Mecking was struck by a serious illness, probably myasthenia gravis, which severely hampered his chess career throughout the 80s. But he recovered, assisted he believes by divine intervention, and was able to resume his chess career in 1991. In an interview, published in Romanian language, he attributes his current progress to external assistance he receives from Jesus Christ, something a former world championship finalist (you guess who) has suggested may be against FIDE rules.
Recovered: Henrique Mecking today