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Unusual Tournament Sites
What were the most unusual sites for a chess tournament?
One candidate would be a secret location in Chechnya's mountains, reportedly
the site for a recent 'national championship of liberated Chechnya'.
'There was one nation which would not give in, would not acquire the mental
habits of submission--and not just individual rebels among them, but the whole
nation to a man. These were the Chechens.'
--Alexander Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago)
A few years ago, as an act of defiance toward the Russian military occupation,
the nationalist Chechen resistance movement (who have been fighting for their
homeland's ultimate independence from Russia) organised an abridged 'Olympics'.
According to a Chechen website, at least hundreds of Chechens assembled at a
secret location on the single day of competition, which included athletic
events and a chess tournament. Understandably, the website did not reveal
the chess-players' names or many details about the tournament. Presumably,
the tournament director had to prepare for the contingency that a surprise
Russian air raid could interrupt the games or even terminate the players.
(As far as I know, however, no one complained about the external distractions.)
I don't know whether the Sicilian Defence's Kalashnikov Variation was popular
during the tournament; on the other hand, as I recall, the winner was awarded
the prize of a new Kalashnikov assault rifle.
'Rather than archaic Greek heroes, the Chechens are classical Greek hoplites,
held in the line of battle not just by loyalty to the polis, but by ties of
family and neighbourhood to the next man in the line--and held there very
--Anatol Lieven (Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power, p. 330)
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