Back to form in Mexico

by Alina l'Ami
9/30/2016 – Chess globetrotter Alina l'Ami had a problem: she was continually losing rating points but had no idea why. As she loves chess and travelling she felt that the best cure to fight her Elo-disease would be a tournament in an inspiring country and gladly accepted the invitation to the Copa Independencia 2016. Mexico indeed inspired her and the result of the tough tournament once again showed that it is good to trust your feelings.

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Alina l'Ami in Mexico

I knew it would be good.

For quite some time, perhaps a year or more, my chess career felt like a blouse buttoned wrong. Something was not right but how to fix it was a mystery to me. Since changing the garment was no option, I simply did what I had to do: continue until these Chinese water drops that were driving me insane - that is the steady loss of rating - would eventually cease to fall.

In the meantime, enjoying other aspects of a chess life cannot hurt

To speed up the recovery process, playing a closed IM event with double rounds each day and tough opponents, topped with a marvelous jet-lag, may sound foolish or impractical, to say the least. But I knew it was the right decision, I knew it was going to be good.

Beautiful from many points of view

Back to Mexico

My suddenly rising hopes had nothing to do with wishful thinking or premonition. Maybe intuition is a more proper word for trusting the vibes I got from the very beginning.

The Mexican energy doesn't lie!

It was my third visit to this country, so I will not reiterate the topics I wrote about in my previous articles, such as safety, history or the rich cultural aspects that influence the chess game at unseen and deeper levels, too. For now allow me to just say one thing: happy mind = happy life. I believe Mexico has this magical power on its visitors.

This country is a galvanic blend of:

...staggering cultures...

… architecture...

...psychedelic nature and...

...radioactive people. Calling them “warmhearted” would be an understatement.

Spice up your life! The Mexicans are not shy with their chilies.

Choosing between all these colorful, new and daring flavors
was like counting to ten on one hand – a challenging task.

For a black and white game like chess, Mexico jazzes up the picture, offering an out-and-out experience, which I knew cannot be wrong. Therefore, playing in the Independence Cup was an offer I could not refuse.

Nor did the other, approx. 600(!), participants divided into:

Two closed groups in which you could make GM and IM norms.

Advanced, amateurs...

...ladies or children' s sections.

Solving the problems arising on the board requires a...

Ready for an workout?! Pay close attention to the first & last ones of the set, as they present higher degrees of difficulty.

 

…a focused mind.

The question remains how to do that playing double rounds for five days in a row?
Mistakes are bound to happen.

 

We've all been there, from error to error

Sometimes you need to take some distance to see things clearer...

Too much sitting at the chess board? How about changing it with literally sitting on a... pyramid?!

With a width of 450 and a height of 66 meters, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (good luck pronouncing that!), is the wolrd's largest pyramid. This Mexican temple dwarfs the Great Pyramid at Giza yet it went unnoticed by the Spanish invaders because from a distance the pyramid looks like a natural hill topped by a church. A perfect disguise which saved the day back then but now the pyramid has to face another (perhaps more dangerous) invasion: tourists.

The locals are ready for high demand: “pulque”, a traditional alcoholic beverage
which didn't get my vote... they do say it is the “nectar of the gods”, so maybe it is worth another try next time.

What inspires me most everywhere I go are the people.
And the happy, energetic ones I certainly cannot miss!

Mexican humour, in translation: “We have fries as crazy as Donald Trump”. Had he visited
the chess tournament, he would had probably changed his views on Mexico and its inhabitants.

Tough and fashionable characters

David Armando

With an army of hundreds of players spread over several tournaments, opens and round-robins, facing financial challenges along the way and with no more than three hours of sleep per night (for weeks already), the tournament organizer left no stone unturned to reach his goal: to please every single player and parent.

The winners are happy

In moments when I would have surely raised my voice, tired of repeating over and over again the same thing, Armando never lost his temper. And still made himself available to do something that probably no organizer would be willing to do easily: bring us everywhere we wanted and even join us to the cinema. I actually doubt he succeeded seeing something, as both his phone and eyes were set on fire, but the 'danger' of upsetting his guests was stronger than his needs. Such a combination of kamikaze, Superman and Alice in Wonderland is something I witnessed only in Mexico.

Got you Armando! Just for the record, the organizer is too modest and it is difficult to trick him into posing

Starting off on the wrong foot

Arriving at 7 am, beginning the first round at 12, continuing with another one at 18, all that after having traveled for more than 40 hours, with no luggage in sight and coming straight from Baku, with little sleep, if any, and a jet-leg of 9 hours, sounds like chess suicide. Not for a professional player though, and Ahmed Adly rapidly adapted, helped by the whole Mexican organization that he “enjoyed a lot”.

Group A: Final standings after nine rounds

Rk.     Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4 
1
 
GM Adly Ahmed 2603 EGY * ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 0 1 7,0 0,0 6 30,00 4,0
2
 
GM Hernandez Guerrero Gilberto 2506 MEX ½ * 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 6,0 0,0 3 26,00 3,5
3
 
GM Sriram Jha 2418 IND 0 0 * 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5,5 1,0 4 21,00 2,5
4
 
GM Gonzalez Zamora Juan Carlos 2502 MEX 0 ½ 0 * 1 0 1 1 1 1 5,5 0,0 5 19,00 1,5
5
 
IM Della Morte Pablo 2337 ARG 0 ½ 0 0 * ½ 1 1 1 1 5,0 0,5 4 16,50 1,0
6
 
IM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman 2384 IND ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ * ½ 1 1 0 5,0 0,5 3 21,00 2,5
7
 
FM Tapie Amione Pablo Adib 2301 MEX 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ * ½ 1 ½ 3,5 0,0 1 13,25 1,5
8
 
FM Diaz Hernandez Heriberto 2367 CUB 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ * ½ 1 2,5 1,5 1 8,25 0,5
9
 
IM Martin Del Campo C. Roberto 2374 MEX 1 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 ½ * ½ 2,5 1,0 1 12,50 1,5
10
 
FM Rojas Alarcon Julian Antonio 2360 MEX 0 ½ 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ * 2,5 0,5 1 11,00 1,5

The top seed didn't disappoint

 

For your reporter also, the first step on the chess journey was far from convincing. Losing like a patzer in the first round was not part of the plan and it certainly puzzled me a bit as I felt I was in good shape. However, the brain is an interesting organ, it works immediately after getting up and doesn't stop until you sit at the chess board... But starting badly doesn't mean the tournament had to end badly, especially since the gut feeling of “it will be good” never left me. And I was right.

Group B: Final standings after nine rounds

Rk.     Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts.  TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4 
1
 
IM L'ami Alina 2322 ROU * 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 6,5 0,0 5 27,00 3,0
2
 
FM Morales Garcia Sergio Joshafa 2259 MEX 1 * ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 5,5 0,5 3 24,50 3,0
3
 
IM Sanchez Enriquez Oscar Gerard 2350 MEX 0 ½ * ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 5,5 0,5 3 21,75 2,0
4
 
IM Dominguez Aguilar Guillermo 2288 MEX ½ 0 ½ * 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 4,5 1,5 2 19,50 2,5
5
 
FM Benitez Lozano Javier 2284 MEX 0 ½ ½ 0 * 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 4,5 1,0 2 18,75 2,0
6
 
IM Perez Garcia Rodney Oscar 2315 CUB ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 * ½ ½ ½ ½ 4,5 0,5 1 20,75 2,5
7
 
CM Carreto Nieto Geovanni 2222 MEX 0 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ * 1 0 ½ 4,0 0,0 2 16,75 2,5
8
 
IM Kaufman Raymond 2308 USA 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 * 1 ½ 3,5 1,0 1 15,00 2,0
9
 
WIM Corrales Jimenez Zenia 2216 CUB 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1 0 * 1 3,5 0,0 2 14,25 1,5
10
 
FM Rodriguez Rivera Pedro 2296 CUB ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 * 3,0 0,0 0 13,75 2,0

Mutual supporters!

(Small warning for vegetarians: when going to Mexico, have a back up plan as they are big meat fans).

 

Luckily, I didn't have to play my spouse like Vijay and Sriram had to.
The secret of their happy marriage? We can only speculate but a peaceful result certainly helps!

A feast for a tired mind: a smile

Passion and concentration at any level and...

...age.

Hummm, seems that Mexico and its bright, bold colors are contagious.
This is the only black and white post-process I made.

When I was a kid I used to love all these colors...

Oh wait, I still do that!


Impossible not to in Mexico

Curiosity: there are as many churches as days in a year in Cholula, Puebla!?
Life is not perfect though, the Popocatepetl volcano should have been visible in the
background.

For me, this is Mexico in a nutshell: a colorful mystery,
almost ready to open its doors (or windows)

Still... how did I know everything will be all right with this new chess adventure? I just knew.

Official website



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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neilparker62 neilparker62 10/26/2016 07:08
Never mind the chess board - apply for a job with Mexico's tourism board! Loved reading your article.
mchriso mchriso 9/30/2016 11:18
Nice photos! Even better than winning your section, you are really maturing as a photographer.
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