5 August 2016

Any Smokers Here?

Opening of the Russian Junior Team Championship in Suzdal in the review of Dmitry Kryakvin.

One of the most pivotal tournaments of the 2016 Russian junior chess calendar, underway currently, is hosted by the ancient town of Suzdal. The participants' accommodation and the tournament venue location is at the eponymously-named hotel complex, situated in the Kamenka river valley. Hotel residents are able to enjoy picturesque scenery, the cleanest of air, as well as free use of a swimming pool and gym. Besides, the environment is breathing of XII-th century. When walking around the town the feeling is such that a bunch of Tartars is in ambush around the corner ready to jump at you at the opportune moment. However, I must add that the descendants of Genghis Khan are rather active in moving around Suzdal for sightseeing purposes only! This said, they are as many nowadays as they used to be back in the Golden Horde era.

Hotel and tourist complex "Suzdal" is sort of a "supine skyscraper" because the town forbids building structures over two floors high. Its construction cost 77 million Soviet rubles back in 1977, and it was a good investment as an architectural masterpiece received a number of domestic and foreign awards. Nevertheless, we will speak about the town and the hotel complex a little while later. Now let us go back to the tournament itself.

The team championship runs parallel to the "Vladimir Open 2016" festival, which includes a rating tournament, various competitions in bughouse, the Fisher's chess, rapid handicap, sega, the Russian chess, guo, etc. "We can do better than Pardubice, can't we?" exclaims the indefatigable organizer Sergey Solonets. His efforts translate into many new programs finding their way into the festival. I promise to have a look at these exotic competitions to share my impressions with the reading audience.

The only downside is the anti-record in attendance, which is fewer than twenty teams. However, this is not the golden age that we are up to nowadays... even at the expensive tournaments in Kaliningrad (2013) and Peterhof (2015) there used to be at least thirty teams. Regional representatives just throw up their hands - we are in a crisis, there is no money! In addition to a dozen teams from Moscow (who need to cover only 250 km to get to the Vladimir region), St.Petersburg and local teams, the championship has also been honored by Kaliningrad, Tyumen, Kurgan, Astrakhan, Pskov, Kazan, Samara, Fryazino and ... that's it! Dear Children and Youth Committee of RCF, it is necessary to take care of the tournament with such long-standing traditions!

While the young players, whose rating list is topped by this summer's crusher of each and every Maxim Vavulin (2560), were in train to prepare for round one, Alexander Tkachev started a referee's seminar. While Alexander Vasilevich gave a detailed account of the Ministry of Sports tightening rules for arbiters and about the top Ministry's luminaries no longer acknowledging the republican referee category, he also specified what measures should be undertaken to qualify for the national category. Besides, Deputy Executive Director of the Russian Chess Federation gave a detailed description of amendments introduced into the National Unified Sports Classification to make chess players and referees' life easier. However, the rest of his report was to be unavailable for everyone willing upon payment of the seminar registration fee.

The opening ceremony took place in an easy and relaxed atmosphere. Sergey Solonets welcomed everyone present, Alexander Tkachev read out a greeting from President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov, while the vast majority of those present were enchanted with the speech of the chief arbiter and youngest Russian International Arbiter Artur Vashurin, Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Arthur Sergeevich, who apparently made up his mind to win the sympathy of absolutely every participant of the competition, set the stage for round one by asking, "Any smokers here?" The hall went into silence, during which young athletes, beginning with Ilya Makoveev, were studying each feature of the chief arbiter's figure with unfeigned interest. "I can allocate a special area for smoking!" was further compassionately added by Vashurin, who has been given severe screen tests at Ivanovo school tournaments together with chief tournament secretary Yuri Grachev. At this moment assistant chief arbiter Alexander Ivanov hurried out of the adjacent hall. Alexander Alexandrovich's face radiated horror, as though he was apprehensive of the question that might follow next, "Any drinkers here?"

"What smoking are you talking about, this is a children's tournament, for God's sake!" uttered Ivanov almost in a whisper at first, but then his voice would become louder with each new word. "What about if you have turned 18 already?" replied Vashurin, standing his ground. "Smoking is out of the question for children's tournaments!" lashed out Alexander Alexandrovich, fully prepared for the brewing verbal duel. Fortunately, there was no real subject for dispute as Suzdal gathered athletes, who prefer spending their spare time playing football, doing pull-ups or, in the worst-case scenario, communicating with their electronic devices.

"Not even Alexander Igorevich is a prophet in his homeland," whistling behind me with an ironic smile on his face was one of the coaches, but other representatives paid him no heed being busy digesting the recent dialogue while spicing it up with jokes and catch phrases.