Sergey Nikolaevich Kurakulov has run the “Oktyabrsky” chess club for almost 28 years. Before every tournament he enters the basement and walks through the small halls, turning on the lights. The club organizes rapid and blitz chess tournaments. Sergey Nikolaevich sets the clocks to control the length of the games. The first players begin to arrive an hour before the beginning of the tournament. Some look through chess books and magazines, preparing for the upcoming duels, others arrive earlier to engage in practice games. There are also those who prefer to play the piano standing at the club's entrance.
Usually a tournament hosts about 30 players of different skill levels. It gets crowded at the start of the games, and the players squeeze through the narrow corridor that leads to the game halls. They take their places, shake hands and turn on the clocks. Silence falls over the club if it's a rapid game and the players have time to think. No one wants to lose in the debut. But when time is scarce, the hall fills with sounds of chess figures hitting the desks and hands striking the clocks. The time handicap forces many players to make mistakes and lose the game.