Hello all – Mr. Burke here.
The train keeps rolling – John Michael scored a big victory today in Round 6 of the World Youth Chess Championship. His opponent was Viktor Gazik from Slovakia. Viktor and John Michael had a fairly equal position out of the opening, and it looked like this one was going to be a JM 4 hour special, given the caliber of his opponent and the position on the board. Unfortunately for Viktor, he blundered a piece in a fairly innocent position, and you simply don’t blunder a piece to John Michael and live to tell about it. John Michael pounced on the gift, and swiftly put Viktor away in 25 moves/2.5 hours. Great technique by John Michael to put the game away.
Currently John Michael has 4.5 points out of 6, and is officially tied for 16th. In John Michael’s section, there is one player alone at the top with 6 points out of 6, seven players with 5 points, and eight other players tied at 4.5 points with John Michael. There will definitely be shifts in the standings among the leaders over the next 3 rounds as they all face off against each other. Too early to try to project how things will turn out – we are going with the Al Davis motto of “Just Win, Baby” and simply taking one game at a time and focusing only on the next opponent. Tomorrow’s opponent is Mercado Carlos Sandoval from Mexico. Mercado played in the same Pan American Championship in July as John Michael’s 3rd, 4th and 5th round opponents. For some reason the luck of the draw has paired John Michael with four players from that tournament.
There is a good article about the tournament on the USCF website written by Andi Rosen (we traveled from Atlanta with Andi, her husband Brad, and their son Eric – great people). John Michael and I are even quoted in the article – you can check it out here: http://main.uschess.org/content/view/11494/645.
A couple of funny stories from today. When John Michael got to his board for his game, his opponent (Viktor Gazik) had already arrived. Viktor was not seated at the time John Michael got to the board, but a lot of his stuff was there. In particular, he had 2 mice (not real mice, stuffed animal mice) with their jaws perched on his rooks. He also had some sort of Slovakian-looking high powered energy drink and a candy bar. I had a feeling that Viktor was going to be a character, and we were not disappointed. When Viktor sat down, he immediately started chatting nonstop in Slovakian. At least I presume it was Slovakian (is that actually a language?) because we couldn’t understand a thing he was saying. That didn’t stop ol’ Viktor – he talked with passion and vigor and didn’t seem to mind or care that he wasn’t getting much of a response. Sitting at the next board across from John Michael, directly next to Viktor, was Albert Lu (John Michael’s opponent from Round 2 – “The Thrilla in Brazilla”). Albert is a really cool kid. On the encouragement of his dad, Albert started talking to Viktor in Chinese. John Michael chimed in with English, and the three of them had a heck of a conversation in three different languages for a few minutes before the round. John Michael and Albert had a good time with it, and it was good to see them laugh and relieve some of the tension before the round began.
The second funny story occurred when we got back to our room. One thing we haven’t mentioned so far is the amount of bugs there are in Brazil. Lots and lots of bugs. All kinds of ugly bugs, flying things, creeping things – you name the bug, it is here, sometimes in your room. The Burkes don’t like bugs, so this is not good. Tonight when we got back to our hotel room, there was what looked like a little baby lizard on the wall directly above one of the beds. Needless to say, quite a spectacle was caused by the Burkes: “Get it Daddy!”, “Don’t kill it!”, followed by me banging the wall wth my shoe (for what reason I am not sure) and watching the lizard scurry across the wall and disappear behind the hanging clothes in the corner of the room. I am typing with one eye on the computer and the other scanning the room for this foul creature. I have no idea how I am going to sleep tonight knowing that thing is in the room. I am shocked that Mrs. Burke and John Michael are actually sleeping as I type this. Maybe I can sleep in the waiting area while John Michael plays tomorrow………
Round 7 is tomorrow at 3:00 PM Caldas Novas time (12:00 EST). I’ll be back with a recap of the game tomorrow night.