The tournament, originally intended for sixty players, saw an exponential spike in interest in the hours preceding the tournament, leading to nearly one hundred and forty players turning up on the day, forcing the Tournament Director to switch from Swiss pairings to Olympic or ‘knock-out’ format, where the winner of the match proceeds to the following round.
Although it is unfortunate that Swiss pairings were not possible under the circumstances, the overwhelming numbers illustrated the potential for even larger tournaments in future. The donations from the floods of new players also meant that BST was able to give twice as much to the Ezgu Amal Foundation, we raised 3,630,000 UZS!
The flow and energy of the tournament also improved radically once the format changed, and play got underway in earnest. Half the players were knocked out after the second round, and by the third knock-out round, players had been sufficiently separated to make play exciting and entertaining for all involved. By the fifth round, arbiters and student volunteers were finally able take a break long enough to eat lunch. Well done to our student council, who worked tirelessly from 7am to 5pm, and without them, the event would not have been possible.
The tie breaks between the final nine players after round five, were the truly edge-of-your seat phase of the event. To get to that point, the remaining players had to win all of their previous games, and the competition was tight. Tension ran high, players surged up, around and onto the stage to watch the games, and the tears flowed freely after losses.
In one memorable game, a young player got into a time scramble at the end and ran out of time in a perfect position with mate in four on the board. His game was drawn by insufficient material. As soon as his flag fell, he sprang into the air and screamed, bursting into distraught tears. He was so close to a beautiful win against a much older, more experienced opponent. I sympathised with him completely.
As Bobby Fischer said, “Chess is war over the board”.
Bravo to all participants, schools and our final winners for a memorable day:
- First Place Gold Winner - Azizov Sa’dullo – School 190
- Silver Winner – Makarkin Artemy – School 307
- Bronze Winner – Niyazov Muhammadsaid – School 50
- Most Encouraging School - Ecole Française de Tachkent