Drew was in chess heaven tonight. A few hours after his victory against the reigning European Union Champion, Andrei Bulgariu from Romania, he returned to the playing hall to participate in a blitz tournament. The difference between blitz and regular chess is vast: 3 minute time control vs. more than 120 minutes. The organizers once again had some technical challenges, so the pairings between rounds were not produced quickly. Drew and his newfound chess compatriots dealt with the delay by playing 3 vs. 3 bughouse. I cannot quite picture how that would work, but apparently, they have it all figured out. The main beauty of the arrangement was that the organizers kicked all the parents out of the playing hall prior to play. Therefore, we were not there to keep things calm. I’m sure there were some raucous games of bughouse going down.
Drew managed to win three out of five rounds of blitz. The final two rounds were postponed due to the delays in pairings.
As for the round 8 game, Drew entered the round with preparation from his onsite coach, GM Magesh Panchanathan, his coach back home, IM Carlos Perdomo (via a very shaky Skype connection at just after midnight Atlanta time), and his dad via FaceTime. I attempted not to mess him up by inserting any of my thoughts! Although I was nervous about this round, Drew was as cool as a cucumber. Drew had the white pieces, and his opening progressed well, turning into an advantage for white after black castled long on move 11:
Drew was unable to hold onto this advantage however as he made a mistake on move 16 with Qe2. After 16. … b4 17. Bxa6 bxc3, white is down a knight for a pawn and is now at a disadvantage:
I was very surprised when Drew came out with a victory because team mate Kevin Chor, the top ranked US player in the section, told me that Drew was playing down a piece (Kevin got a relatively quick win in the round and checked the boards of his team mates before coming out of the hall). Analyzing the game afterwards, Magesh noted that Drew did get down a piece, but then proceeded to crush his opponent. He appears to be working on evening up his score with “the rest of the world.”
Link to round 8 game:
In the meantime, while Drew has been playing chess and bonding with the other U8 American boys, Zoe and Ganmama have been seeing the sights. They visited the palace of the former Sheik Zayed as well as the Al-Ain museum today. Zoe said that she saw pottery from “way back in BC.” She has always been fascinated with the “olden days” which she thinks of as Little House on the Prairie. She was quite impressed with just how old these artifacts were!
Unfortunately, I have encountered technical problems of my own, and cannot seem to access the pictures on my camera! I promise that I will update the last few posts with enhanced media as soon as I am able to!
So, as I am writing here, the time has ticked away and moved past the stroke of 12, from Christmas eve onto Christmas day. It is indeed a very different holiday this year. But I am reminded that the Lord lives in the hearts of those who love Him and have surrendered their lives to His grace. Though our traditions may point us to the living, incarnate One, it is not in the traditions themselves that we find meaning, but in the peace and presence of Jesus.
May your heart be thankful today, in whatever circumstances you find yourself, and may His countenance shine on you not only today, but in each and every moment as you seek His face.