By Kevin O’Flynn / The Moscow Times
A small crowd gathered as the sound of a clock being slapped repeatedly rang out in the middle of Chistoprudny Bulvar. Olga Lelikova, 21, was the one doing the slapping as her hand flew back and forth to stop time and move her chess piece at such speed that it gave little time for the audience to see her moves, let alone her opponent.
“I had five seconds to get checkmate,” she said.
The moment she won, she stood up and was soon ready to play the next game.
Not all the games were as dramatic Sunday during “Chess Boulevard,” a chess tournament that takes place every weekend this summer.
Two dozen or so players, children and adults, were hunched in plastic seats in five-minute bursts of concentration. Similar scenes could be seen at Gogolevsky Bulvar and at Patriarch’s Ponds.
The tournament usually consists of seven rounds of five-minute blitz games, with the top ranking players going toward a final on Sept. 6.
The games are not just for the serious chess players, said organizer Alexander Ivanov — you can just join in for a game or two if you want.
The areas also see occasional visits from chess professionals, and a grandmaster took on dozens of opponents simultaneously at Patriarch’s Ponds on Sunday afternoon.
It is not unusual to see chess boards on Moscow’s boulevards, but these are normally commanded by veteran players who are betting for money on a bench — complete with a crowd of hecklers and admirers around them.
Their standard is pretty high, and it was one of these boulevard players who won the tournament last year.
No betting is allowed at “Chess Boulevard,” said Yevgeny Mozolevsky, another organizer of the city-funded event. Somebody did try to bet on a game, he said, but the offending player was told to leave.
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