This phrase players hear before the first out of five games they play in their chess round. Everyone is serious and focused. It’s so quiet here that one can hear chess pieces moved on the board and clock buttons pressed. There are no fans around – neither the parents, nor volunteers are allowed here so nobody is tempted to give hints.
It is amazing to find an oasis of silence with all the noise and excitement around. Even clowns are somber here; one of them managed to sneak in and tried to make the audience laugh, but he was asked to leave right away. This is not a place for jokes.
Yesterday our young chess masters had a four-hour practice. Apart from that, as a warm up, the grandmaster Ernesto Inarkiev played simultaneous games with everybody who accepted the challenge. Today only serious contestants are playing, those who know they have a chance to win. According to rules, anybody can compete in chess, but those who are not sure of their skills prefer to sit this one out to spare themselves disappointment. Players are paired up minding only two criteria: they should be of same gender and age. Each of the 5 games lasts 10 minutes; the player whose time runs out first loses. Naturally, if someone manages to checkmate the opponent, that’s a clear win too. The final score comprises the total number of wins for each player.
After the first round, the 17-year-old Vitya Korolev from Tomsk shares his thoughts, “I’ve never played chess seriously, just with friends, so I don’t consider myself an experienced player. But I think there are mostly players of my level here, not that many professional chess masters. Yesterday we had a chance to play with a real chess player, a grandmaster. He was playing across 44 boards and he checkmated most of his opponents in three moves, it was a child’s play. But now I can boast that I’ve played with a real grandmaster and even have a picture with him to prove it! I wasn’t able to win in other sports; I finished my lap third, but in the entire age group only placed 27th. I did better in shooting – 7th place. I realized that those who won here have been training seriously, so I decided to pick a sport for myself too. I chose swimming; my doctors said I could. It will help me fix my posture – it’s ‘gone sideways’ while I was battling leukemia. It was find at first, but chemotherapy affected me a lot. Do I feel myself a winner? I guess so… Why am I saying it so calmly? How should I?”
Breaking stereotypes, a considerable number of young ladies entered the chess competition. The 14-year-old Liza Klochko from Tyumen was heard to point out to her opponent that the latter had mate a wrong move. The game was nearing the end and it was clear that Liza was winning. The young lady is excited; she has been taking chess classes for two years. “At school, I prefer Literature and English, not Math. And I love chess, I don’t know why. Although I’m partial to all kinds of puzzles”. It is quite possible that Liza will go on to win school and University academic bowls and we wish her all the luck, as well as all the other participants of this battle of intellects at the Winners Games.