Super-GM in Mexico – impressions of Morelia

by ChessBase
2/19/2008 – For the third time we are spending a fortnight at this category 21 tournament – mainly in front of a computer. Which is fine, once communication problems are solved and you have been given a superior suite. We celebrated by taking a stroll though the beautiful Mexican town, where we witness a Quince Años ceremony and got to see a pink stretch Porsche. Big illustrated report.

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Morelia-Linares 2008

The Morelia-Linares tournament is taking place from February 15th to 23rd February in Morelia, Mexico, and from 28th February to 7th March in Linares, Spain.

Picture report from Morelia

By Frederic Friedel

Our stay in Morelia began, as already narrated, with severe Internet problems – a hotel that frowned on the upload of pictures, and did not allow communication with the secure server that hosts the ChessBase news. In the previous tournament it actually jumped to a Vatican web page if it thought you were surfing towards something naughty, which we are told included At least that has been changed this year – but the FTP problem remained.

Francisco Albalate, representative of the Linares organisers

We were promised a switch to a less restrictive hotel, one in which we had tested communications and found them to be perfectly satisfactory. But each day we were told that the move could only be initiated on the following day. The hero of the endeavor was Paco Albalate, the representative from Linares, who is in charge of all travel and accomodation arrangements. He found a brilliant counter to the Mañana Defence that was being played, and was able to initiate the switch on day three.

Moving: from the Alameda (right) to a hotel with unrestricted Internet connection

In the above picture I (blue jacket) am being assisted in the transfer by Mexican friends: IM Guil Russek, left, who does occasional round wrap-ups for us, and Dr Jaime Estrada (dragging my suitcase), a pediatric oncologist who works in San Antonio, Texas, but returns to his home town of Morelia occasionally, especially when there is a chess-related excuse to do so. More from and about Jaime in a later report.

Pure commercialism: Guil uses the opportunity to quickly plug his book

This is the place you want to be – with unrestricted albeit spotty Internet service

A charming front desk assistant, Lupita, is expecting my arrival and give me a spectacular suite

That's the entrance to the suite – Jaime and his two nephews come visit

It's a duplex, with a reception area, a lounge and a bedroom

All the players – except Veselin Topalov – are staying in the Los Juaninos, so you get to meet them at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are all quite relaxed and we have shared tables with most. Almost all have come over to examine my quarters, with opinions varying from "you deserve it" (because of the ignominy suffered during the first three days) to "you definitely don't". After settling in we go on a quick tour of the town.

An indoor market, one of many that sell souvenirs and artefacts of all kinds

An artisan painting on enamel – these trinkets cost just 50 pesos (three Euro)

His work is meticulously done, with a very fine brush and gold paint

The local Gaspachos joint, where people stop off for a quick bite

Mexican gaspachos is chopped fruit with salt, lemon and hot chilli sauce

A pastery store, with a decliciously aromatic collection that is hard to resist

We are not the only ones who find the pastries irresistible

The flowers and greenery along the main street are a feast for the eye, and quite a shock
for northern Europeans who, just a few days earlier, were scraping ice off their windshields

We encounter another, less dangerous denizen in one of these gardens

We quickly make friends and
marvel at the beauty of our new friend

When we set it free the butterfly thought for a while before flying away, calmly to the
next blossom, as if nothing had happened. Cool Mexican swallow-tail.

The park is also a meeting point of artists offering their paintings for sale

These real oil paintings on canvas cost around 1000 pesos (about 65 Euros or $95) apiece

The Mercado de Dulces, just a hop, skip and jump from the playing venue

There are a hundred fruit candies and sweets for the kids to try (guava is the best)

Toys and artifacts – here a dozen different chess games – all costing next to nothing

That's 980 pesos = 62 Euros or $90 for an exquisite hand-carved set.

Quince Años

On our little excursion we were treated to a very special event taking place in front of the Catedral de Morelia.

A group of young people are driven to the cathedral in a strech limo...

It is quite an unusual vehicle, with molded seats and a refeshment bar

Our friends, FM Manuel Michelone and IM Guil Russek admire the stretch limo...

Did we say stetch limo? No, this was a strech Porsche!

The young lady enters the church and is received by the Catholic priest

Then a mass is celebrated for her...

It is a coming out ceremony for the young lady, who has just turned fifteen

After the mass the young lady climbed back into the stetch Porsch and cheerfully explained to us what this was all about. The coming out ceremony is called "la fiesta de Quince Años" and is celebrated for girls who turn 15.
She is accompanied by young lads called "chambelanes", friends and relatives, with whom she will dance in the evening.

All pictures by Frederic Friedel in Morelia


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