News / Monaco

No rest for the wicked

Today, 27th of October, was the first rest day at the Women’s Candidates Pool A tournament. The real question is : what should you do as a professional chess player during a rest day ?

There is probably no good or bad answer to this question – some players would completely cut it off while others would take advantage of the rest day to prepare even more. What I did today however was a visit of the local chess club (easy choice since I am not playing). I discovered a lot of treasures for a chess fan and I’m taking you with me!

My private guide, Jean-Michel Rapaire, who also happens to be the president of the Monaco chess club, explained to me that they had been renting their current place since 2008 and that it is a multipurpose space (chess classes are given during the week and on some weekends Monaco is welcoming French league games).

Once we entered the club, I was amazed to see all these relics that consisted of framed pictures, letters from the Monaco Prince himself, magazines, as well as objects of every kind related to a chess tournament. The masterpiece of the collection certainly was Fidel Castro’s chessboard (!!) from when he was still a player in the 1966 Olympiads in La Havana.

Then Jean-Michel obviously talked about the long-lasting tradition of Monaco chess club to be involved in the highest competitive team level. As a fun fact, Jean-Michel told me after the Monaco team won the French top league in 2001, he promised the team to double the volume of the champagne bottle… Which seemed to have worked wonders as a motivation since they won again in 2002.

Monaco has always been extremely supportive of women chess as they for instance organized various female Grand-Prix stages (2015 and 2019), which seems to have paid off : Monaco team won 8 times the European Club Cup and the French female league recently, in 2019. Players as Pia Cramling, Koneru Humpy (does that remind you about some tournament ?), Almira Skripchenko are true cornerstones of the club.

All we can wish for the players is to give their best in such a place full of history. The 3rd game of the quarterfinals will be tomorrow at 15:00 CET so stay tuned.

Text: WGM Andreea Navrotescu

Photo: Michał Walusza