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3 June 2018

Black Sea, White Rook

Eteri Kublashvili reports from Dagomys about the final school tournament opening

This day Dagomys has given start to the fourth international final of Belaya Ladya: As many as 79 national and 21 foreign teams will spend a whole week fighting for prizes, socializing, attending master classes and simuls with famous grandmasters, as well as participating in various quizzes and contests and simply enjoying great time at the Black Sea. 

For the past several years Belaya Ladya has been gaining in scale and lineup of teams. I still remember playing at the Russian championships in this very Dagomys some 12-15 years ago, at which time it was difficult to visualize chess near any such level, let alone the scholastic chess. Nowadays they have started investing into children's competitions, and the programs Chess in Schools and Universal Chess Education in Russia have added much in the way of active promotion by covering ever new regions, whereas back then there used to be virtually nothing worth mentioning apart from the tournament existence. A multitude of boards and clocks, printout of games, cups, medals and photos, which could be printed from a local photographer for an extra charge, comes to you as a flashback of those times. The school chess promised absolutely nothing in terms of mass involvement. To see so many children at the chessboards, often wearing their school’s apparel, only adds to the overall pleasure. 

With all youngsters so active and agile, Mark Glukhovsky and Alexander Tkachev needed to discontinue their speeches to call for quiet on more than one occasion. With chess clocks poised to set off for round one, all accompanying persons were asked to leave the hall, and turmoil gave way to quietude, intermittent only by the clicks of clock buttons. All in all, the arrival of young chess players gives Dagomys a feeling of an anthill, which is beautiful in itself! 

In a room adjacent to the playhall Mark Glukhovsky was discussing the pressing issues of chess development in various parts of the country with representatives of regional federations and all interested individuals in general. A tournament from the "Chess in Schools" project was underway nearby, while parents and teachers were busy buying chess literature, inventory and souvenirs in the hall.  

The evening program had master classes with Evgeny Najer and Alexander Morozevich in store for the children. There gathered quite a crowd, everyone listening very carefully and not hesitating to ask questions. Running in parallel was the trivia program "What, Where, When?” It gathered a full house of know-it-all youngsters.  

Chess life is in full swing in Dagomys, as you can see, and we will try to catch you up with as much of it as possible.

Pictures by Eteri Kublashvili and Vladimir Barsky

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