The highest level chess tournament in history?

1/25/2010 – This could be an all-time world record: eight chess players from Brunei are planning to scale Mount Everest, as part of a project to help poor families in the Southeast Asian country. At the South Base Camp, 5,360 metres above sea level, the team will play a chess tournament. It is the highest in the federation's history – could it be the highest level ever in the world? Brunei FM report.

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Brunei chess players to scale Everest

Eight Bruneian men are set to scale Mt Everest in the Himalayas in April as part of a charity project to help poor families in Brunei. The group of high-climbing achievers, who are members of the Brunei Chess Federation (BCF), will be setting off for the highest mountain in the world from the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. Led by Hj Zainal Hj Mohd Ali, president of BCF, the expedition is the team’s support to His Majesty’s Government’s commitment to improving the welfare and quality of citizens under the national strategic plan Vision 2035.

“Aside from … (becoming) the first team from Brunei to set foot on the peak of Everest, our primary mission of this expedition is to raise funds for those in need and to improve their lives,” said Hj Zainal Abidin, adding that 100 per cent of the funds collected will go to the National Welfare Fund.


Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres or 29,029 feet the highest peak on earth [Photo by Pavel Novak]

The group has undergone training for over a year, both locally and abroad, with each member funding their training and the upcoming expedition themselves. Beginning their expedition on April 23, the group will begin their Everest trek from Lukla, a town popularly known as the starting point for climbers before beginning their ascent to what has been called the “Roof of the World”. The expedition is expected to take 16 days before they reach the South Base Camp of Everest, some 60 kilometres away and 5,360 metres above sea level. During their stay at the camp, the team will play a chess tournament to signify their most highest point of playing a game of chess in the federation’s history.

Addendum: Michael Schimmer of Frankfurt, Germany, tells us that he was in the Everest area in 2007 and reached an altitude of 5,400 metres. On that trip Michael, who has a 1900 rating, played two or three games of chess with the main tour guide, just for fun. That was not too difficult, he says. If the Brunei chess team reaching the base camp at 5,300 metres, he says, it is not a tremendous effort – literally thousands of people make it every year to the South Camp or another spot at this level. "But if they try to reach the summit, which is 'only' 3,500 metres higher," says Michael, "that would be really awesome."

Climbing Everest

This is no picnic enterprise – in fact it can often be deadly dangerous. Dr. Ken Kamler, a microsurgeon and mountain climber, has served as chief high altitude physician for the NASA-sponsored research in human physiological responses to extreme altitude. In May 1996 Kamler was at Camp III on Mount Everest preparing for a summit attempt when a ferocious storm engulfed three teams of climbers returning from the peak. He treated the survivors of this famous Everest Disaster and narrates his experience in this chilling lecture.


The State of Brunei Darussalam


View Larger Map – click on the "–" sign to zoom out and see where it is located

The State of Brunei Darussalam is located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia, embedded in the state of Malaysia. The country gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1984 and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Economic growth has transformed Brunei Darussalam into a newly industrialised country. Brunei has one of the world's fastest growing gross domestic product at purchasing power parity. Crude oil and natural gas production account for nearly half of its GDP, which at $50,117 per capita is the fifth highest in the world.

The ruler of the country is Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the 29th Sultan of Brunei (photo left by www.kremlin.ru), who before Bill Gates used to be the wealthiest man in the world. Falling oil prices and the Asian currency crisis have demoted him, but he is still in the top 15. The Sultan is a collector of automobiles, reputedly owning 3000-6000 high-performance cars (including 500 Rolls-Royces) worth US $4 billion.

For personal use he has a Boeing 747-400 with an estimated value of $233 million, including $3 million in gold-plated furniture, plus six smaller planes and two helicopters. His official residence has 1,788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, and a floor area of 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 m²). It is the world's second largest palace, conceding only to the former Beijing Imperial Palace (720,000 m²).

In February 2006 a legal feud with his brother, Prince Jefri Bolkiah (the "Playboy Prince"), was settled in London's High Court, when the Sultan agreed to drop all charges against Jefri, whom he had sued for embezzling US $15.4 billion from the Brunei Investment Authority.

Despite the personal extravagance the Sultan of Brunei has attempted to share the country's oil wealth. Bruneians enjoy free education and medical services. There are neither personal nor corporate taxes in the country.

Information: Wikipedia


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