Around 20 local chess players took on the challenge to test their skills against international grandmaster Oleiny Linares on Saturday, November 18.
The brilliant Cuban chess whiz was the star at a special event organized by lakeside’s Huarachess Club de Ajedrezç Within two hours of rotating in simultaneous matches, she defeated all contenders.
Linares made continuous rounds among the tables set up on the grounds of the Lake Chapala Society (LCS), briefly contemplating her next play as each contestant moved a piece on his or her chessboard. Her field of opponents ranged from school kids to seniors, who marveled at her swift thinking capacity and talent for the game.
Watching from the sidelines, U.S. chess master and coach Seth Koenig recalled his own experience taking on Linares head to head on previous occasions “She plays like a boa constrictor, gradually strangling you,” he remarked in defining her unique and lethal technique. “She has chess in her bones.”
Indeed, Linares started playing chess in 1994 at age 10. She has been winning tournaments and rising in national and international ranks ever since. By 2000 she was named a National Master in Cuba and Woman Master by the International Chess Federation (FIDE). She earned second place in the 2008 World Chess Olympics. In 2010 she achieved FIDE status as International Woman Grand Master.
Linares qualifies chess as a healthy intellectual sport. Parents of several of the youngsters entered in Saturday’s face-off with her concur, commenting that chess is a fun activity that teaches them about logistics, strategies, mathematics and focus on the future.
The Linares challenge was the prelude to the Huarachess Club’s fifth Maestros del Lago chess tournament held at LCS the following day that brought together 152 contestants playing in four different categories.