Earth-shattering chess in Chile by IM David Martínez

Jan 12, 2017, 8:19 PM |

From 10-15 January 2017 the coastal city of Antofagasta in northern Chile is the venue for the third edition of the Zicosur Open, a chess tournament that has attracted the cream of Latin-American chess, including Peru's Julio Granda, Paraguay's Neuris Delgado and Argentinians Federico Pérez Ponsa and Alan Pichot. Pepe Cuenca and myself have also travelled from Spain to enjoy this event and the fabulous Chilean hospitality.



Julio Granda on the way to beating Nicolás Abarca in Round 4 | photo: Damaris Abarca


The tournament is being held in the Autoclub of Antofagasta, a social club that offers a multitude of activities. It's enough to note that you only have to exit the playing hall to come across a golf course on your left, the Pacific Ocean in front of you and a terraced restaurant and various sports fields on the right... It's not an excuse, but so much sun and fine views don't encourage lengthy reflection!

Moreover, our tourist trip wouldn't have been complete if in the middle of the round there hadn't been what Europeans would call a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, while the locals, amid some laughter, talked of a tremor... Suffice it to say my opponent calmly asked me if he could stop the clock when the earth started to move, while I was already three meters away from the table by the time he'd finished the sentence.



This was what Google gave if you searched for "Chile earthquake"... just another day for the locals


Curiously the tremor occurred only seconds after I'd made the dubious move h4 and given up all my advantage... Was the earth reacting to my weak play?



The round stopped for a few minutes on account of the earthquake... A novel experience for the foreign players! | photo: Damaris Abarca


After that introduction, let's talk about what's been going on at the boards. The surprises of the first round were the draw conceded by Italian GM Vocaturo and the non-show of Peruvian GM Cruz, who was unable to make the round due to illness but has already bounced back with three consecutive wins!

In the third round there were already tough battles on the top boards, with Granda and Pérez Ponsa both conceding half points to Valenzuela and Valdés respectively.



Federico Pérez Ponsa couldn't beat Álvaro Valdés | photo: Damaris Abarca


However, due to draws among the leaders the fourth round left a queue of players, with the majority of favourites on 3.5/4. Round 5 should be exciting!