by IM Carlos Perdomo
If names like Anand and Nakamura sound familiar to you, you have some knowledge about the Chess World. But did you know that the current Georgia State Champion GM Alonso Zapata has the record of beating former world champion GM Viswanathan Anand in only SIX moves? Or did you know that Zapata also beat current US Number 1 player GM Hikaru Nakamura in 2006? The former game against Anand demonstrates the difficulty of the game, for even top players can make big mistakes when they rush and play fast in the opening. Those games, along with another victory in 1984 against GM Ljubojevic Ljubomir, are provided at the end of this article.
GM Zapata has dedicated his life to chess with great success and many accomplishments. He was a six-time Colombian Champion spanning from 1980 to 2002. He finished second in the 16th World Junior Chess Championship at Innsbruck in 1977, tied for 2nd-3rd at Havana in 1980, and twice shared 1st at Cienfuegos 1980 and Matanzas 1994 (Capablanca Memorial). He has also participated 11 times in the Chess Olympiads and has even played in the Candidates Tournaments, just to name a few. At his peak, GM Zapata was one of the Top 50 players in the world! Alonso is a great example that hard work, dedication and love for the things you do give you great results and success. So how did he end up living in Atlanta?
I’ve known Alonso for many years as we are both from the same country (Colombia in South America) and we participated in many tournaments together before I moved to the United States in 2001. So it was a great surprise when he told me that his wife got an offer to work at the CDC and they were considering a move to Atlanta. I encouraged him by sharing my experience of how welcoming and supportive the chess community has been to me. I’m glad that he is living in Atlanta now, sharing his vast knowledge of chess with his students and competing in many local tournaments. Both he and his wife express love for Atlanta and the many things the city offers.
Zapata works not only in our local chess community playing simul, for example, for the 1st annual Woodruff Park Rapid Open, and volunteering his time to play simul for the 1000+ players in the Georgia scholastic tournament, The Team Qualifier, held this past February at the Galleria, but he has and does continue to work throughout the world chess community. He also has written a book (Ajedrez para la vida—translated in English as “Chess Life”), which, if you are fluent in Spanish you may find helpful, but it has (yet!?) to be translated to English.
Since his arrival in Georgia just over one year ago, Zapata has won the Southeast Open Tournament (in April) with 4.5/5.0 and the GA State Championship (in May) with 4.0/5.0, tying for first place with GM Mark Paragua. Interesting fun fact: not only did GM Zapata win the championship section in the GA State Championship, but his students all placed first in each of the other sections!
Scholastic Chess in Atlanta is growing a lot and many players represent Georgia with great results in National tournaments and we have even had a few representing the US in world championships, but we are still far behind compared to some other states, especially for Adult Open Tournaments. Perhaps with a friendly and generous GM in town, Georgia can make great improvements in this area.
Zapata, Alonso (2480) – Anand, Viswanathan (2555)
Nakamura, Hikaru – Zapata, Alonso
Zapata, Alonso – Ljubojevic, Ljubomir