Our very own magician, Suleman Kharwa, and myself played in the World Amateur Chess Championship, held
in the beautiful Italian city of Spoleto. This 9 round swiss tournament ran from 1 April to 8 April,
and was hosted inside the over 600 year old monumental fortress Rocca Albornoziana.
Solly and myself were the only two South African players in the entire event. We both played in the
Under 1700 section,
which was for players with a published FIDE rating less than 1700. Now there
were players in this section that had a zero FIDE rating. Hope Mkhumba, who was
clear first in the section, has an ECF grading of 191, which is about 2130 FIDE.
There were 69 players in our section, and I played against players
from Mexico, Columbia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, Spain, Singapore, and of course I even
had one Italian opponent. The games were played at a rate of 90 minutes for 40 moves,
plus 30 minutes added when you reach move 40 and a 30 second increment from move 1.
The trip to Italy to play in the FIDE World Amateur Chess Championship was Solly's birthday present from his family. A very impressive jump for someone who only started playing tournament chess 3 years ago. While Solly is rated a very modest +/-1100 he has taken the scalps of a couple of former Durban CC champions - namely Joseph Mwale (in a 4 board simultaneous), and Cyril Danisa in a classical 90/90 game - as well as a few South African junior players that reside in Durban, also in classical rated games. Whilst Solly has almost zero knowledge of opening theory, he does frequently play through master games published by Mark Rubery in his newspaper columns. Solly scored 3/9 in Spoleto, which could have been 4/9 had he not been a little impulsive during his wild attacks. Generally players at his rating level have little understanding of the relationship between the initiative and relative material value, Solly on the other hand has a natural grasp of this relationship, to the extent that he is all too happy to give up material to keep his attack rolling. Unfortunately in about half his games he sacrificed too much material for the attack, allowing his opponent to sacrifice back to defend and come out material up. However this didn't stop Solly from yet another kitchen sink attack in the next game. And for those who have played him, myself included, we know that one has to always be careful against this magician.
On the last day, after the last round(!) Solly showed me this travelator, which he could access easily
from the accommodation he stayed at - which took him from the street level to the top of the fortress.
While in Italy, I recorded roughly 83 kilometres of walking. This is not including the walk up to and
down from the fortress, as I didn't have my phone with me. This 83 km was spread over Spoleto, Rome and Naples:
Thanks to a little adventure in chess, I got to stand inside the Colosseum.
Italy was a fantastic and memorable experience.