Mecking and other kings play in Romania

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage
In Bazna, Romania this month many stars from the 70s and 80s have joined to play the "King's Tournament", among them Henrique Mecking, Lajos Portisch and Jan Timman.

The King's Tournament is held May 24-June 4 in Bazna, Romania. It's an 11-player round-robin with a time control some of these players probably will never get used to: 40 moves in 90 minutes with an additional 30 seconds per move followed by another 30 minutes with an additional 30 seconds per move to finish the game.

Many former international top stars play: Nigel Short (2660), Alexander Beliavsky (2641), last year's winner Alexander Khalifman (2628), Rafael Vaganian (2617), Andrei Sokolov (2596), Henrique Mecking (2565), Jan Timman (2565), Ulf Andersson (2537), Lajos Portisch (2523), Andrei Murariu (2483), who qualified by winning the RomGaz Open 2007, and Mihai Suba (2487).

These famous names are fighting for three prizes: 7,000 Euro (1st), 6,000 Euro (2nd) and 5,000 Euro (3rd). Well, fighting... Thus far, out of twenty games, sixteen have ended in a draw. On the right you'll find the four decisive games.

After four rounds, three players are leading. (Because of the odd number of players, not everybody has played three games yet.)
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One very special player in Bazna is Henrique Mecking. The Brazilian was one of the strongest chess players in the seventies, winning two interzonal tournaments in 1973 and 1976, ahead of players such as Bronstein, Keres, Spassky, Geller, Portisch, Smyslov and Polugaevsky. He had become famous in 1965, when just thirteen years old, he won his country's championship.

In 1977 he was no. third in the world, behind Karpov and Korchnoi, but because of an almost-fatal disease believed to be myasthenia gravis, he disappeared from the chess scene after the tournament in Wijk aan Zee in 1978. (He did play two games at the 1979 Interzonal in Rio de Janeiro, but couldn't continue the tournament.) Despite doctors had given him just a few months to live, he survived, and later attributed God to his recovery. He started studying theology and became a Catholic.

Mecking didn't play for about twelve years, but returned to the chess scene in the early nineties, playing matches against Predrag Nikolic and Yasser Seirawan (small losses). The 1994 Tilburg tournament was a knockout event in which he was eliminated in the first round by Alexei Dreev. Since then, Mecking has mainly played on his own continent and at the Bled (2002) and Calvia (2004) Olympiads. He didn't play at the Turin OL in 2006 but in June of that year he did play an open tournament in Lodi, Italy, which he won.

Mecking has also been very succesful on the internet; at ICC he was the no. 1 blitz player ten times. People still wonder how he has managed to get his blitz rating as high as 3434 - as always, Mecking himself thanked "Jesus Christ, Our Lady and San Lorenzo." His finger notes are still available.

Here are some quotes from an interview at the Romanian Chess Federation's website, conducted by Dinu-John Nicula on May 20, 2008.

Jesus gives me all the more power this year I feel more powerful than last year so it is natural to expect a better result. My current rating is 2565, but I've had 2635 and then I was ranked third in the world! I want to return to that rating and even surpass it.

(...)

A former vice world champion said to me that he doesn't want to play against me anymore, because I would be receiving external aid. I think that refers to a computer, but I replied that it comes from Jesus. Then I said, "Why not go to church to pray and to receive such external aid too?"


Ulf Andersson - Mihai Suba

Alexander Khalifman - Andrei Sokolov

Lajos Portisch - Andrei Murariu

Jan Timman - Nigel Short (with Alexander Beliavsky as a spectator)

Rafael Vaganian - Alexander Beliavsky

Henrique Mecking - Jan Timman


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