It has been the longest day of my life, but I would not have had it any other way - I had a blast.
My day started at 11:15 a.m. when Anna Jin and I had a meeting with Mr. Raul Hernandez, President of the Mexican Chess Federation in order to workout the last details of a situation that was causing concerns to both of us. Yet, through dialogue and goodwill, we were able to arrive at a solution, which cleared the way for both Team USA and Team Canada to be ready for the event.
At 11:50 a.m., my wife and I drove to the airport followed by a courtesy van of the Mexican Chess Federation to pickup both Americans and Canadians participants as well as their parents. We have assisted Team Canada in every endeavor of this trip after a request from Michael Barron through the USCF requesting logistical assistance.
We have gladly obliged under the guidance of Beatriz Marinello.
However, returning to our account, we were able to bring the entire team except Stuart Finney and his father, who arrived later that night, free of charge from the airport.
I believe this to be the first time this was achieved in a U.S. delegation.
After registering the parents at the hotel, we proceeded to register each participant for the tournament, both my daughter Claudia and wife Claudia assisted the team with translation of the registration card.
We then drove about half the team to a store to buy bottled water and fruit for their children. At 7:00 p.m. we had supper together as a team and afterwards we were allowed access to the tournament hall. We then proceeded to have a team meeting where I answered several questions and mapped out certain team guidelines in order to deal with situations as they present themselves.
We had an active team participation from Winston Zeng and Rayan Taghizadeh from the under 8 boys, every parent was amazed as these two children contributed to the team meeting with extroardinary questions.
After the meeting, our last American arrived, Stuart Finney and his father. After spending some time with them in order to catch them up, the hotel desk called to let him know they accidentally charged him $24 dollars for the entire four night stay - food included.
There was only one sad note for this team today, it was the absence of Andrew Istafanous and his mother Miriam, who realized before boarding the airplane that Andrew's passport had expired. We deeply regretted that the Istafanous family could not be with us, yet at the team meeting, Mrs. Troff our team uniform manager, kept his jacket in order to mail it to him.
Andrew, if you are reading this, I want you to know that this situation must have saddened you, keep your head up - your name will remain on our team roster for the duration of the event, you are a part of our delegation.
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