Friday, June 21, 2024

Champion chess player sells popsicles to fund trip to international tournament

A two time state champion chess player in Querétaro city is selling popsicles to cover his expenses for an international chess tournament.

Julio Adrián Ramírez, 28, is trying to make money to reach the capital of El Salvador for the Continental Absolute Chess Championship of the Americas from May 1-11.

Ramírez believes that with a minimum of 20,000 pesos (US $970) he can cover transport, accommodation and food costs. As street popsicles generally go for about 10 pesos each (US $0.48), he will have to sell 2,000 to pay the entire travel bill.

The 15-year chess player stands on a street corner in the city center each day from 1-7:30 p.m. with lemon, cookie, mango and other flavors of popsicle. He also invites customers to play a game of chess and offers private classes to earn extra cash.

If he achieves his goal of attending the contest, he has the chance to be one of four players to qualify for the world championships, but Ramírez said his first aim is to be recognized as an international master by the International Chess Federation (FIDE).

A medal winner at the National Olympiad, Ramírez explained what made him so passionate about the game. “Chess is a beautiful contest. It makes you go up against yourself, because it’s about doing the best you can. Then you have an opponent who is giving everything in the world. It’s a battle of minds. There is a lot of stress. In the games you feel a lot of adrenaline, you enjoy it and you suffer at the same time,” he said.

However, the game didn’t initially excite Ramírez, and it was only by doing a friend a favor that he fell in love with it. “My brother taught me how to use the pieces when I was a kid. The truth is that I didn’t like chess very much. Once I entered high school I started to be more interested. They opened a chess workshop … I was in the guitar workshop, but I asked to change because a friend wanted to be in the guitar workshop. We switched and from there I started playing chess.”

With reports from El Universal

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