Remembering Torre... and visiting Cancun!

by Alejandro Ramirez
12/18/2014 – The infamous Torre Attack is named after Mexico's best chess player ever: Carlos Torre. A talent that was unable to fulfill his potential, Torre remains a cherished memory in Mexico and especially in Yucatan. The Carlos Torre Memorial will begin tomorrow, as a warm-up we bring you a short bio by Zenon Franco and photographic impressions of the beaches in the Yucatan peninsula.

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The Chess Life of Carlos Torre Repetto

by Zenon Franco, from the official website

The chess life of the best Mexican player of all times is similar to that of other ephemeral stars that chess history is familiar with, such as Paul Morphy and Rudolph Charousek, who only left but a speck (bright as it was) of their enormous potential.

Mexican grandmaster Carlos Torre Repetto (1904-1978) was born in Merida, in the province of Yucatan, Mexico, and had a reasonably long life, but for chess he was only alive for a few years.

What was his strength? Now with the updated rating systems we have rough idea of his strenght. Calculations put him at 2560 back in 1926, without inflation; similar to Spielmann and Tartakower, slightly superior to Reti and Grunfeld, though still well below the three World Champions of his time: Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine. His score against this three greats was of +1 =2 (beating Emmanuel Lasker, a short draw against Alekhine and a tough draw against Capablanca in a worse endgame). His score against similar strength players was around 63%, which shows us that he was better against stronger opponents but not as good against weaker ones.

If we take into consideration that he left chess at the young age of 21 years, it is impossible to know where he could have gotten under "normal" circumstances, and it is not ridiculous to think he might even have been a challenger for the World Championship. However his health issues took this possibility away from him. On his style, Torre was known to be very positional, but with a keen eye for tactics.

His opinions on different subjects are quite interesting, and they were collected in a book titled "The life and games of Carlos Torre" by Gabriel Velasco, from 1977, when he was able to interview a lucid and full of energy Carlos Torre.

He pointed out that the player that "without a doubt" had the most influence in his chess development was Lasker, but he also had great memories of his first chess book, by James Mason. Speaking of Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine, Torre showed great respect for all of them, but definitely a sense of admiration for Lasker. Of Alekhine he thought he was "better at calculating variations, no other Champion could equal him in depth, he had a great work capacity and a prodigious memory". Of Capablanca he said "I have the impression that he played with sights towards the endgame. He saw, or felt, what was needed to be done in any position. Of Lasker he said: "he was a practical player, and also very rational. His style was more like Capablanca's than Alekhine's. Practical, and very intuitive, which allowed him to save time and energy, play fast and that is how he kept his strength and an advanced age."

Carlos Torre vs. Geza Maroczy. Chicago 1926.

The following are Carlos Torre Repetto's two most famous games:

[Event "Marienbad"] [Site "Marienbad"] [Date "1925.??.??"] [Round "7"] [White "Torre Repetto, Carlos"] [Black "Yates, Frederick"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B08"] [PlyCount "55"] [EventDate "1925.??.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "15"] [EventCountry "CSR"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.07.01"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Bc4 O-O 6. O-O Nc6 7. Be3 Nxe4 8. Nxe4 d5 9. Bd3 dxe4 10. Bxe4 Qd6 11. c3 f5 12. Bxc6 bxc6 13. Re1 f4 14. Qb3+ Kh8 15. Bd2 Rf5 16. Re4 g5 17. Rae1 Bf6 18. c4 a5 19. Bc3 Bd7 20. Ne5 Be8 21. Ng4 Bg6 22. Re6 Qd8 23. Rxc6 Rb8 24. Qa3 Bxd4 25. Rxe7 Rb4 26. Rcxc7 Kg8 27. Bxd4 Qxd4 28. Rc8+ 1-0

[Event "Moscow"] [Site "Moscow"] [Date "1925.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Torre Repetto, Carlos"] [Black "Lasker, Emanuel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A46"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "1925.11.10"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "21"] [EventCountry "URS"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.07.01"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bg5 c5 4. e3 cxd4 5. exd4 Be7 6. Nbd2 d6 7. c3 Nbd7 8. Bd3 b6 9. Nc4 Bb7 10. Qe2 Qc7 11. O-O O-O 12. Rfe1 Rfe8 13. Rad1 Nf8 14. Bc1 Nd5 15. Ng5 b5 16. Na3 b4 17. cxb4 Nxb4 18. Qh5 Bxg5 19. Bxg5 Nxd3 20. Rxd3 Qa5 21. b4 Qf5 22. Rg3 h6 23. Nc4 Qd5 24. Ne3 Qb5 25. Bf6 Qxh5 26. Rxg7+ Kh8 27. Rxf7+ Kg8 28. Rg7+ Kh8 29. Rxb7+ Kg8 30. Rg7+ Kh8 31. Rg5+ Kh7 32. Rxh5 Kg6 33. Rh3 Kxf6 34. Rxh6+ Kg5 35. Rh3 Reb8 36. Rg3+ Kf6 37. Rf3+ Kg6 38. a3 a5 39. bxa5 Rxa5 40. Nc4 Rd5 41. Rf4 Nd7 42. Rxe6+ Kg5 43. g3 1-0

The Torre Memorial

by Alejandro Ramirez

Every year, in Merida, Mexico, the annual Carlos Torre Repetto in Memoriam is held. For me, this is a tournament that holds very nice memories. I played in the 2002 and 2003 editions, before my GM title was even confirmed. Outside of the Capablanca Memorial, it was, and still is, one of the few tournaments in Latin America that consistently attracts top grandmasters from around the world. Players such as Dominguez, Ivanchuk, Christiansen, Miles, Onischuk, Filippov are some of the previous winners of the tournament.

Mexico is sometimes overlooked when one thinks of chess history, but, as Zenon Franco showed in his portrait above, Carlos Torre certainly put Mexico on the in the international chess map.

I have been unable to attend this memorial for many years, primarily because it is always organized around Christmas time - a difficult time to travel due to family commitments. While I was in school it also conflicted with a mandatory university tournament in America (the Pan-American Collegiate). This year, I was finally able to accept the invitation to come to Merida after an absence of more than ten years.

Torre was from Merida, and that is where the tournament is held, but Merida is not a very convenient location to fly into. Most flights from America land in a rather famous city that is close by... Cancun! As I had no choice but to fly to Cancun, I decided to spend some hours touristing around before being picked up by the organizers and driven on a bus for a few hours until we reached our destination in Merida. Here are some of my impressions of Cancun:

Cancun city center is actually rather rural. It has tiny shops everywhere that sell all kinds of stuff.

Mexican food is known for its burritos, tacos and all this tex-mex nonsense, but people at the coast known how to prepare unbelievable seafood dishes such as Paella, shrimp cocktails and ceviches!

The city center's fountain is a bunch of seashells and
starfish, in case you forgot why Cancun is famous

Finally, arriving at the beach! The Island of Cancun is where most of the tourist hotels are, and where the nice beaches can be found as well. The beach walk is very pleasant, and there is always a place to sit down to enjoy some seafood or have a Mexican "Michelada": a cocktail that involves beer, lime juice, some kind of hot sauce and different spices.

The weather is nice, and it is very refreshing compared to the hot and sticky city center. Most tourists were definitely American, but there are also many Mexicans and Europeans. Most people speak English rather well, and you can find a trading house for your dollar (into Mexican Pesos, which are quickly losing their value) on virtually every street corner.

Coco Bongo claims to have a "better nightlife than Las Vegas"

Giant and fancy resorts can be found on every beach in Cancun

Cancun's water is known for its turquoise color. You can see how the
deep sea water has a distinctly different, darker shade of blue.

After visiting Hawaii, I guess I couldn't stay away from the beach for too long

Water sports everywhere!

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to Cancun quickly and embark on my bus ride to Merida. The first round will begin tomorrow at 10:00 a.m, rather early. The top seed is defending champion Cuban Lazaro Bruzon, and with many other grandmasters going for the top prize, it will not be an easy event. We will bring you reports from Merida and, time permitting, a view at the Mayan side of the Yucatan Peninsula.


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server 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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