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The Tortured Faces of International Tournament Chess Players

In 1987, Russian grandmasters Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov faced off in Seville, Spain for the World Chess Championship. David Lloda, then a nine-year-old boy growing up the smaller northern town of Asturias, recollects being captivated by a newspaper photograph of the two chess geniuses. “Two grown-up humankinds, playing a mysterious game, with those little figures carved in lumber? ” he recollects reckoning. “That seemed interesting.”

A few weeks later, a educator at Lloda’s school taught him the basic chess moves, triggering a lifelong ardour for the game that has persisted throughout stints as a correspondent, author, entrepreneur, and money manager–and, most recently, photographer. About five years ago, Lloda began traveling the world to kill chess tournaments, where it was hired him to help them get publicity.

Since then, he has photographed tournaments in London, Moscow, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City, and Shanghai, capturing intimate portraits of chess musicians of every age and nationality. At first, he was only allowed to take photos for the first 5 or ten minutes of a match, but he’s been able to convince most organizers to let him shoot for the full duration. After all, he says, “if Federer can be photographed when serving for a match point in Wimbledon, why can’t chess players players? Chess is not the only sport that demands concentration.”

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