Morelia/Linares: the players at play

3/6/2007 – Monday was a rest day in Linares. On such days some Super-GMs simply relax with a good book or a good snooze. Other need to expend surplus energy that has accumulated over the rounds with vigorous sporting activity. So for instance during the first leg of the tournament in Morelia. Pictorial report.

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Players at play

Pictorial report by Frederic Friedel

One of the delights of the Super GM tournament in Morelia was the superb treatment of all the players and visitors, who found their every wish promptly fulfilled, usually beyond expectation. On a free day a number of participants wanted to expend surplus physical energy in some sporting activities, and so a one-hour trip to the best sporting facilities in the region was arranged.


Approaching the idyllic Golf and Sports club on the outskirts of Morelia


The sports facilities bathed in the hot Mexican noon-day sun


Like brothers: Levon Aronian and his second Vladimir Potkin

Levon is a super-cool Armenian with an extraordinary command of English and a great taste in books, movies and trends. And in food. He is not an athletic person and feels the best position for a human being is lying prostrate on a sofa. "I used to go jogging in the morning," he told me, "because my father convinced me to do so. But I recently read that it was an unhealthy practice, and so I stopped. That was the happiest day of my life."


Norwegians in blue: Henrik and Magnus Carlsen

These two are fun to be with, especially if you are a puzzle fan. Henrik flummoxed us with the following: name the northernmost, southernmost, easternmost and westernmost states of the United States of America. You will probably get at least three of the answers wrong...


Peter Svidler exercising – well, the brain is part of your body, isn't it?

I have been trying for a while to get Peter to read Dawkins and Harris, or listen to the Beyond Belief lectures, but he accuses me of reverse proselytising and refused to do so. In Morelia he discovered he had forgotten to bring any books and asked me for anything I had. I gave him Mark Twain's "Letters from the Earth", which he devoured with obvious fascination and pleasure. Pretty sneaky, you must admit...


Anand and wife Aruna going for the Mexican gaspacho

After a previous report we received a number of letters telling us that gazpacho is always a vegetable (mainly tomato) soup. We assure you it isn't, not in Morelia and the surrounding state of Michoacán. Ask Vishy. It is a fruit cocktail spiced with salt, pepper, cheese, preserved jalapeños and chili sauce. Ask Aronian or Peter Svidler about the chili sauce.


Showing off my camera: Sophie Leko's eye, shot from a distance of three metres


Later we discovered an interesting reflection in a detail of Sofie's iris

The camera actually captured an image of the surrounding room and the hillside scenery outside the sports club. Aruna Anand identified the people in the reflection: on the left Pilar Molina, our press officer and in the middle me, the photographer. Modern digital photography is really going places.


First item on the agenda: tennis. Levon Aronian and Peter Leko form a double


Facing the famous Russian GM duo of Potkin and Svidler


Peter Leko in action. For him any sport is a serious, competitive activity


The same applies to this kid, who is not just great at chess


A change of venue – and we can watch Magnus perform soccer tricks


Here he approaches the goal, kept by Peter Svidler, with scoring intentions...


... and lifts the ball over the keeper's head to score in ice-cold professional style

We were quite baffled by the ability of the 16-year-old on the soccer field, thinking that if the chess thing didn't work out Magnus definitely has a backup career. But how did he become so good? Then we remembered: Magnus' teacher and trainer, GM Simen Agdestein, was a former Norwegian national soccer player. Figures.


One more shot of the kid in action. In the picture: Peter Svidler, Vladimir Potkin,
Alexander Motylev and Magnus the wonderboy Carlsen.


Vishy Anand ruining a perfectly good picture on the drive back from the sports facilities

Believe it or not, the answer to Henrik's puzzle is Alaska, Hawaii, Alaska and Alaska. We have to take into consideration that the International Date Line is generally considered the defining limit for what is most eastern or western. In the case of the USA the easternmost point is Attu Island, which is part of the state of Alaska. You can check the details in this Wikipedia article.

Addendum: Royce Campbell of Tulsa, OK, USA asked us which country you would hit if you travelled due south from Detroit, Michigan. The surprise answer: Canada! Look it up on a map.

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