Round 7 – of GM norms, curses and Thai chess 

Some are in it for the holidays, others for the money and to boost their rating.  And then a few leave the Bangkok Chess Club Open tournament with a much-coveted IM or GM norm.  The latter must be on the mind of Chinese junior Cao Qingfeng.  With a score of 5.5/6 and a performance towering above 2700, solid play is all he needs over the remaining three games in order to cap his first participation in the BCC Open with a spectacular first grandmaster norm.  Not too shabby for a 16 year old who entered the tournament seeded 96th with a rating just over 2000.  

Facing Australian GM Zhao with the black pieces is not likely to be a mere formality, though.  The other two co-leaders met on the adjoining table, with the game between IM Karazayev from Kazakhstan and top seed Ukrainian GM Bernadskiy petering out into one of the quickest draws of the round (

Meanwhile, battle rages in the Challenger section of the tournament, where we are being told that the top board is afflicted with a strange kind of curse.  Indeed, it would appear that no one manages to stay there longer than a day before diving back into the depths of the pairings.  Good thing chess players aren’t superstitious.  

And then all lights went out in both playing halls for a good ten minutes, following some unexplained power cut.  Last time we mess around with the spirits in Hua Hin, promise.  You don’t want that again in the middle of time pressure now, do you? 

Earlier today, the indefatigable instructors of the Makruk Association organised a Thai chess tournament in which 11 players took part, including BCC Open chief arbiter Maung Maung Lwin as well as several titled players.  Jan Emmanuel Garcia emerged first, ahead of his fellow IM and compatriot Paulo Bersamina.  A similar event is scheduled this Saturday morning so there is still an opportunity to ‘go native’, should you so wish.

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