26th Carlos Torre Repetto in Memoriam

by Alejandro Ramirez
12/25/2014 – Latin America has but a few strong tournaments that are held every year. One of the more important ones is the Carlos Torre in Memoriam, hosted every year in the city of Merida, Mexico. This year's edition was won by GM Lazaro Bruzon from Cuba with a fabulous performance. GM Alejandro Ramirez brings us his impressions of the tournament and the city of Merida.

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My trip to Merida City was rather pleasant. The organizer picked me and the whole Cuban delegation up from the Cancun Airport. Despite the long trip and getting lost a little (the bus driver dropped some of us off at the Holiday Inn hotel, instead of the Holiday Inn Express...) I was happy to be able to get a full night's sleep before the first round.

The 26th edition of the Carlos Torre Repetto in Memoriam was hosted at the Grand Museo del Mundo Maya (Great Museum of the Mayan World). The museum is very new, being inaugurated at the end of 2012 and it was a perfect location to host the event.

El Grand Museo del Mundo Maya, or "the playing hall"

The first round under way! The tournament was divided in many sections. The "Magistral" also known as "first strength", or simply the open section, had over 100 participants and 16 grandmasters. We played nine rounds, whereas most of the sections played only seven, which meant that we started a day early. The organizers have been doing this for many editions to ease the chaos of organizing an open event with 400+ players.

The playing site was also conveniently close to a mall with plenty of food choices, and of the two hotels where most of the players were staying. Between rounds players could choose to eat, rest... or visit the museum!

Merida is the capital of the state of Yucatan, one of the strongholds of the Mayan civilization. The influence of the Mayans can still be felt in the culture of Merida outside the museum. Food, arts and crafts, even architecture still retain that influence from the great Mesoamerican culture. It is even possible to find people that speak the Mayan language.

The museum of course has plenty of Mayan-related exhibits

They contain from arts, crafts, statues...

to all sorts of Mayan weaponry.

There is also a dinosaur exhibit! You might be wondering what Velociraptors are doing in a Mayan museum... until you realize where the Chicxulub crater is! An asteroid impacted in the modern day town of Chicxulub (30 minutes away from Merida) and was responsible for the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.

An exhibit called "Mi Querido Mexico" or "My Dear Mexico" had a lot of dolls dressed up in different traditional Mexican garments, based on their region.

The details of the dresses were quite nice, and everything was hand made

A lot of dolls....

Back to the tournament. The first few rounds went roughly as expected with only a couple of surprises here and there. The top 15 boards were playing in the auditorium while the rest of the tournament was distributed in other rooms. It was clear from the get-go that most of the grandmasters would stay in the auditorium.

Personally I started the tournament very well, with a solid 4.0/4 after facing a 2100, a 2300 and two 2400s. I faced GM Isan Ortiz Suarez, one of Cuba's top players and a bastion for their Olympic team this year, in round five. After missing a very pretty winning combination the game ended in a draw. I subsequently kept drawing, as I tend to do in my tournaments, this time against Bruzon from Cuba and Cordova from Peru. An important penultimate round win against IM Hevia from Cuba put me in a good position for a prize, but not for first place. Lazaro Bruzon Batista was annihilating the tournament with a 7.0/8!

GM Yuri Gonzalez Vidal finished was tied 5-12, but due to
Bucholz he was sent to the 11th place (the prizes were not evenly split)

Luis Alberto Raygoza playing in the top boards

Ana Flavia Roca Rojas is one of Cuba's young talents,
and she won a massive 88 rating points...

Which somehow pales in comparison to Lilia Ivonne Fuentes Godoy's performance...
the sixteen year old Mexican won 128.4 rating points and will be one of the top five Mexican female players.

Players from all over latinamerica flock to this event. This is
Cristhian Barros Rivadeneira, a junior IM from Ecuador and my third round victim.

GM Emilio Cordova from Peru likes Merida so much that he recently moved to the city!

Carmen Melissa Rosas Rodriguez tied for second in the second category (u1900)

Diana Carime Real Pereyra is currently Mexico's number one female player

Top female of the tournament went to Zenia Corrales from Cuba

Chess player and philosopher Arturo Fuentes Godoy

Mexican Olympic team-member Gisela Roque Sola

A crucial round was the duel between Emilio Cordova and Lazaro Bruzon. The Cuban had the black pieces and led the tournament by half a point going into this important eighth round. He outplayed the Peruvian and basically clinched the event with the result.

My own important round: a black victory against IM Carlos Antonio Hevia.
Sweet revenge for me as Hevia had crushed me in 21 moves that last time we played!

Bruzon forced a draw against IM Juan Carlos Obregon, also from Cuba, in the last round and comfortably won the event with 7.5/9 and a 2757 performance. I was not unhappy with my 2693 performance at 7.0/9, but it proved to be insufficient this time around!

The closing ceremony was not too long, but it had so many prizes to give out that it felt that way.

Erick Eduardo Frias Mendez miraculously survived
his last round to claim fourth in his category

Jose Alayola Montanez has played every single Carlos Torre in Memoriam!
He also won best senior this time around.

After the tournament was over I had the chance to relax a little and explore Merida. All I have to say is that it is a beautiful place. The mix of Mayan culture, Spanish colonialism and a certain Latin flare gives Merida a unique charm that has to be experienced.

Many of my friends were a little concerned that I was going to Mexico, as the on-going protests against the government and the general instability of the country have been making the news headlines around the world; however I felt that Merida was completely detached from this reality. Mexico has attracted more than a few grandmasters and International Masters, many of whom have taken up residency in the country... and most of them recently moved to Merida. When I asked them why, they always answered the same way: "Merida es muy tranquilo" which translates literally to "Merida is very quiet" but it means something along the lines of "Merida has no problems and it is very safe".

Indeed, I always felt very safe during my stay in the city.

Casa de los Montejo, a building that dates back to the mid-1500s and was built by
the conquerors of the Yucatan Peninsula: the Montejo family.

Some good old colonialist opulence

Merida at night is brightly lit and beautiful to walk around

Even the transportation is old school!

After eating my fix of Cochinita Pibil, habaneros and having a wonderful time in Merida, it was time for me to take the long trip back to Dallas (four hour bus ride to Cancun and a three hour flight). Being back in the cold of USA definitely makes me miss the warm climate, the spicy food and the delightful and very warm hospitality of the Mexican organizers, players and people overall. I can't wait to be back in Merida!

Final Standings

Rk.   Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB2 
1 GM Bruzon Batista Lazaro CUB 2668 7.5 53.5
2 GM Ortiz Suarez Isan Reynaldo CUB 2623 7.0 56.0
3 GM Ramirez Alejandro USA 2579 7.0 54.5
4 IM Garcia Pantoja Roberto CUB 2461 7.0 51.0
5 GM Cordova Emilio PER 2616 6.5 52.5
6 GM Gonzalez Zamora Juan Carlos MEX 2523 6.5 51.5
7 GM Gonzalez Garcia Jose MEX 2496 6.5 50.5
8 IM Obregon Rivero Juan Carlos CUB 2548 6.5 50.0
9 IM Hevia Alejano Carlos Antonio CUB 2511 6.5 48.0
10 FM Miranda Mesa Elier CUB 2416 6.5 47.0
11 GM Gonzalez Vidal Yuri CUB 2560 6.5 47.0
12 GM Nogueiras Santiago Jesus CUB 2502 6.5 47.0
13 GM Vera Gonzalez-Quevedo Reynald CUB 2445 6.0 48.0
14 FM Lopez Gonzalez Abel Fabian CUB 2256 6.0 47.5
15 GM Gonzalez Renier USA 2483 6.0 47.5
16 IM Jimenez Fraga Pedro Alejandro CUB 2470 6.0 45.5
17 IM Oliva Castaneda Kevel CUB 2509 6.0 43.5
18 WIM Corrales Jimenez Zenia CUB 2165 6.0 38.0
19 IM Ibarra Chami Luis Fernando MEX 2462 5.5 50.5
20 GM Martinez Duany Lelys Stanley CUB 2484 5.5 49.0

Photos from the official website


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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