Sunday, 15 May 2011

Cuba v USA match and round 5 game.

Cuba v USA

The Cosmos Club has an exclusive membership of 90 living Nobel prize winners, authors, scientists and lawyers. Since intellectual pursuits are their “raison d’etre” it is not surprising that they have a chess club. Unlike most chess clubs they like to travel the world and play against other amateur clubs for example the Royal Automobile Club in London and the Cercle Interalee de Paris in Paris.

From left to right Silvino Garcia President Cuban Chess Federation, Carlos Riviero, Commissioner of Chess, Roy Berg, yours truly, Professor Robert Bennett Lubic and Arnold Leibowitz.

Author Sophy Burnham (The art of intuition, A book of Angels, The treasure of Mountseque and For writers only amongst others) with her young opponent and her mother.

Their trip to Cuba was more of a challenge according to Professor Robert Bennett Lubic or Bob as he likes to be called. Bob and his wife organise tours since he retired so they know the difficulties associated with travelling to Cuba for Americans. The US has had an almost unilateral embargo against Cuba for roughly half a century now and discourages it's citizens from travelling to this Island in various ways. Cultural exchanges are permitted in some circumstances but not others and spouses are not permitted to come along just for a holiday. In the case of the New York Philharmonic some members of the delegation were denied permission in one instance because they were administrators and not musicians.

First the Cosmos Club approached the office of Cuban interests in the US who were very friendly but took their time processing their request. Cuban bureaucracy moves slowly and chaotically as in most Latin American countries. Next our intrepid adventurers had to get permission from OFAC. They would not give permission for non-playing spouses to come along. This makes me suspect that maybe some of the spouses who did make the trip may not play regularly or could even have learned the game for the purposes of the trip but this is pure silly speculation on my part so please take it with a grain of salt and even if it is the case, good for them. Anyway, after six more months of paper shuffling they finally got permission from all sides. Then three weeks before the planned trip Bob inquired if everything was alright on the Cuban side but unsurprisingly nobody knew anything about it. Finally he got the President of the Cuban Chess Federation on the phone and he made things happen immediately and since then everything has been great.

The top boards.

The wives. Did they learn to play chess just to qualify as competitors?

Only Roy Berg managed a draw despite being out-rated by several hundreds of points but all had a great time and could not praise Cuban hospitality enough. Finally a few of them expressed interest in playing a friendly match in Australia against a Social Club. Or any other interesting Country. Hamilton Chess Club?

As for my fourth round game, it was quite good by my current standards but since it was a long endgame I cannot remember all the nothing moves, in fact I cannot vouch with 100% certainty that I got the move order right in my first 3 games. The score-sheets do not have carbon copies and the arbiters insist on collecting them all after the game. That's a shame because I would have liked to show you my first win. Maybe they will give them back after the tournament.
I do however have my fifth round game for you. I got the better of the opening, turnrd down a repetition and then got outplayed but held. 

 Here's wishing you all a great day. Hasta manjana.  


  1. I'm really enjoying your blog, Alex. Thanks. I just looked up Sophy's work ... had you heard of her before?

  2. Thanks Ruth,

    As you know it is feedback like yours that keep us Bloggers motivated :-). I had never heard of Sophy before but will order some of her books as soon as I get back. A very nice Lady.

  3. I will be curious to hear what you think of her books. I'm not sure if I can believe in angels. If there's one among us (oh, you know, no one in particular), he'll have to whip out an arrow or something to prove me wrong. But I digress....

  4. You have already felt one of his arrows Ruth, proving that Angels do exist :-)

  5. Hear hear!
    What a lovely thing to say. :) Thank you.

  6. Hey Alex,
    Ruth got in touch with me and sent me your blog address and here are all these pix of our Cuban chess debacle! I love it. How are you? I have just come back from France, visiting my sister, where we played a couple games and for the first time I dared to try the computer. I signed up for "medium" level (not being at the IM grade of he to whom I speak) and lo! I beat the computer. It took many moves, and I was triumphant! So much so that I kept the game to show my decisive checkmate the next morning to my brother and my sister (my bro hates chess but knows how to play). My sister looked at the board and said, "what a stupid move on the part of the computer. I would have moved here." And she checkmated me in 3 moves, instead of my ckm in 3. I think the computer threw the game!Thanks for all your kind words. I like your blog. I like the informality. I'm going to give the address of it to all the chess guys.
    love, Sophy
    love, Sophy

  7. Dear Sophy,

    I'm glad you like my blog despite its amateurish nature. I'm sure it will improve once I've read "for writers only". We just got back to Havana after a road trip to the far east of the country. Tomorrow we fly back to Germany and then I will write a series about our tour. computers don't throw games , you won fair and square :-)


  8. hOw nice to see a game again ! Yippeee !! Lovely of a chess playing author to join us ! I"ll look forward to hearing about her books !
    lov e,

  9. nice blog
    quickly reserve online tour for me....
    Holidays to Cuba