SAO PAULO – A chess prodigy who ran away with an exotic dancer almost twice his age has returned home to a hero’s welcome after an amazing teenage adventure that took him to the hotspots of Brazil.
It all began when Emílio Córdova, a 15-year-old international master from Peru, was crowned South American chess champion in January after winning a tournament in the Argentine city of Córdoba.
Instead of returning to Lima he told relatives that he was heading to Brazil to compete in tournaments there in order to reach the rank of international grandmaster.
But, far from focusing on his grand master dreams, Emílio quickly became caught up in São Paulo’s pulsating but frequently sleazy nightlife.
He soon formed a relationship with a 29-year-old Brazilian single mother, Adriane Oliveira, dubbed the “bella brasileira” by the Peruvian media, with whom he reportedly fell in love.
Oliveira works in Love Story, a club where young Emílio took to spending nights dancing.
To fund his Brazilian sojourn he told his family that he had fallen ill and needed them to wire out money to pay for medical expenses. He even sold his laptop computer which contained all his chess notes and training programs.
As weeks turned into months EmÍlio’s family became worried about his absence, and the Peruvian media set out to Brazil to find out what had happened to their promising young chess genius.
Once they located him, Emílio insisted that he had not abandoned chess altogether but was just enjoying some much deserved fun.
“I play chess, study chess but this doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy myself,” he said. “I’m young and I want to do this. I have to live. To be locked up in my room all the time depresses me.”
After tracing his son his father set out to bring him back home. At first Emílio was adamant that he would not leave Brazil and the Peruvian Foreign Ministry had to ask the São Paulo police to prevent the boy leaving the city before his father arrived. Emílio now says that Oliveira was just one of several girlfriends he had in São Paulo and that far from being a sex worker as portrayed in the Peruvian media she actually works for an NGO “dedicated to putting on shows and charity events like telethons."
He blames his father for the media storm saying: “Private is private and personal life is personal life. But if my father decides to air it, what can I do?”
Now he says that he is prepared to stay by his mother’s side. “I went a bit nuts, but it all came out fine,” he told reporters. But one sensation over, he caused another when he appeared in Lima’s arrivals hall sporting new blond highlights and blue contact lenses.