Anna Underwater in Curacao
By Jennifer Shahade   
August 8, 2008
Photo Barry Brown

In the 2008 Curacao Chess Festival (July 26-August 4) , American GMs Joel Benjamin and Larry Christiansen and Spanish IM Luis Javier Bernal Moro tied for first. Meanwhile, U.S. Women's Champion Anna Zatonskih drew against IM Robin Swinkels (Netherlands) in the first  known underwater match, held in the Curacao Aquarium. International Arbiter Alex Roose devised the event, which was organized by Lions Dive& Beach Resort.

Anna fell in love with scuba-diving several years ago, on her first trip to Curacao. On that first trip, she scuba-dived every day at Breezes Hotel and Resort,  which hosted the chess international. Anna called the quality of this game high and said, "I wish the whole event were held underwater," musing that in this case, she probably would have won because "Joel and Daniel (Anna's GM husband) don't know how to scuba-dive." Here is the game and more photos from Barry Brown.


Not your typical chess preparation

Do the fish distract or help the players?

That is a shark, but don't worry- what you can't see in the photo
 is a glass barrier between Anna and Jaws' little brother.

Anna was not the only one to find a good photo-op in Curacao: On his way to first place, GM Larry Christiansen looks like he had the time of his life with dolphins.

Larry and Natasha Christiansen in Curacao

For more details on Americans in the Dutch Carribean, look for an upcoming CLO blog by Joel Benjamin on the Curacao Chess Festival. To find out how you can get in on the fun at the next major chess event in Curacao, contact organizer Fabio Mensing.