The Winner of Wijk

by ChessBase
3/8/2003 – Before the super-tournament in Wijk aan Zee we asked you to predict who would win and how certain players would fare. We got hundreds of answers, many veritable essays on the strengths and weaknesses of the individual participants. We asked the wife of the Wijk aan Zee winner to select a recipient, and her husband dutifully commemorated the prize with his signature. Check quickly if you were the lucky winner.

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We met up with Aruna Anand during the tournament in Linares, where her husband, Indian superstar Vishy Anand was doing well (and then not-so-well, and then well again).

We put Aruna in front of our notebook and asked her to read the many submissions to the Wijk aan Zee quiz. She did so with patience and interest and finally picked a winner.

Aruna Anand in the Linares press center, reading the letters you sent us

The winner Aruna picked was Saif Murad of Durham, North Carolina, USA. Saif had written us a long message characterising the different participants and correctly predicting Anand's overall victory. For that he gets a copy of Fritz 8, signed by Vishy Anand.

After picking the winner and getting the program signed we contacted Saif to tell him to expect something nice. Turns out this is 15-year-old lad who loves to play chess online and compete in tournaments. "I also like to analyze the games of Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand, Tal and Fischer, as they are my favorite chess grandmasters," he wrote. "I am the proud son of Saood and Hafsa Murad. My family is orginally from Aligarh, India, but I was born in the US. I attend Jordan high school, and hope to become a grandmaster soon :o). Besides chess I like to play basketball and watch college/NBA hoops."

We must admit we were a bit skeptical whether the very profound original submission could have been written by a 15-year-old. So we asked him about this. His answer: "To tell you the truth, I did write my submission all by myself. I put a lot of effort into it and just to let you know, neither of my parents play chess! I taught myself from purchasing chess books and playing readily on the internet. I know so much about chess grandmasters thanks to your site :o). I go to your site every day and update myself on the current chess happenings, and I love to read the grandmaster interviews."

Wow, what a great kid! We congratulate you Saif, and hope to see you on the Fritz 8 server soon.

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