Grandmaster keeps opponents in check
ANDREW BROPHY

FAIRFIELD — For chess players, it was the basketball equivalent of playing one-on-one against Michael Jordan.

Grandmaster Sergey Kudrin, one of the 16 best chess players in the country, stopped by Roger Ludlowe Middle School on Sunday to play chess games against all challengers.

It didn’t matter that Kudrin was taller and stronger than most of the 41 Fairfield students and adults who accepted his offer. On the 64-square chessboard, it was only Kudrin’s mind against theirs.

Michael Finneran, a Tomlinson Middle School eighth-grader who plays in chess tournaments and at chess tables in New York’s Washington Square Park, hoped to do well against Kudrin.

Finneran, 14, scored a draw against a grandmaster several months ago and did well in the Greater New Haven Winter Open last week. “I have a chance and a draw would be nice,” Finneran said.

Jack Finneran, Michael’s father, said, “A draw would be a win. Surviving would be a win.”

But Kudrin, who won the New Haven tournament that Michael entered, was up to the challenge, moving his chess pieces quickly as he walked from board to board.

It took Kudrin about four minutes to make a move on all 41 boards, and he scored his first checkmate against an adult in six moves.

Several people offered advice to the chess players, but Kudrin was on a roll. In the end, the grandmaster won all 41 games, the longest of which was about 50 moves.

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