My friend Juan Carlos is a chess grandmaster and I had the pleasure of being invited by him to attend a local chess tournament in the nearby village of Torredelcampo/Spain
It was a nice Sunday morning when we arrived around ten o'clock. We entered a cultural centre which used to be called "Casino", it still holds a nostalgic classical air. The event took place on the first floor, it was a large room beautifully lit with daylight from both ends. Lots of conversations were already going on when we arrived upstairs. Within ten minutes some fifty or sixty players took their seats and the tournament started. They played a version of quick-chess, a round of games that lasted no longer than 30 minutes.
I found the event highly interesting. The air was full of concentration, a mixture of friendship, cameraderie and rivalry. Once a round of games started everybody was fully immersed. It was amazing to observe how their faces expressed all kind of sentiments and thoughts: evaluating the opponent, agressivity, full attack, strategy, doubt, defence, defeat and victory. The players were always provided with small bottles of water which helped cool down the pressure. It was comforting to see that every single game ended with a friendly and respectful handshake.
Between rounds a ranking list was conveniently made public. Out of all participants there was only one woman as well as some children and young players. Overall it was definitely a man's thing
My friend Juan Carlos ended up fourth and got a small prize, a result most of the participants would have been crazily happy with whereas for him it was not very satisfying. Some bad luck must have crossed his path as he said.
The tournament ended around half past two. From there we headed to Jaen. He invited me for lunch and coffee meanwhile sharing a funny conversation. It was a great Sunday.