Monday, 28 February 2011

Children's Island Hourtin

 France looks after it's children well. Nina started to go to pre-school at the age of two. They have proper classes learning reading writing and arithmetic, art and music, and maybe most importantly, social skills. Despite many years of "reform" (cutbacks) the dedicated teachers at Nina's school in Vendenesse sur Arroux do a great job. Another feature of the child-friendly climate is many children's playgrounds. We visited one today, the so-called Ille Des Enfants. During the summer months this park is full of people and attractions.
 The castle is a favourite.

 Here the kids can run up and down stairs to the sound of their parents protests and parents can take photo's of the magnificent view.

There are slides for all ages, things to climb on

 and things to bounce on.

The climbing Pyramids or whatever one wishes to call them made me a bit nervous especially because Nina seems to be a little hard of hearing....sometimes.

There was a problem though, Nina suddenly started jumping up and down saying she needed to do Kaka. So we went to the public toilet and it was locked!

                                                                    A mini rant.

A children's park on a sunny Sunday afternoon and the Toilets are locked? Compared to Australia the rest of the World sucks in this regard. On every beach and in every park there are public facilities in OZ unlike most of Europe and even when they do exist sometimes they are appalling. One example is Marienplatz Munich. The large public toilets in the center of one of Germany's most beautiful City's is a disgrace. The only positive thing to say is that blind people can find the toilets due to the overpowering stink from quite a distance.
Public services have been getting cut around the world for decades now. Transport, health ,education and everything else that a civilized society is measured by is receiving less funding or being privatized despite greater productivity and higher tax revenue. But locked public toilets is just going too far!

Now on a completely unrelated topic, if you walk around this shed in the near future

                                                               Watch your step :D

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Statue of Liberty and other sights.

Ha! Tricked you, am not in New York.

One sunny day in a row! Well partly sunny. Our first stop was Soulac sur Mer which also has a statue of liberty. While most of the Medoc region used to be swamp until the 1600's Soulac has some Roman ruins. The Church has an interesting past as well.
The original town was covered by sand-dunes, then dug up and rebuilt. How easy it would be for me to google, copy and paste some info about it but the German Defense Minister did this recently with his Doctorate so I'll let you do it yourself. Don't wanna be caught plagiarizing.  
There is also apparently a great Archeological Museum in Soulac but I wonder how long a 4 year old would remain entertained there. Instead we went to the Municipal Markets. Most of the towns in the Medoc are quite sleepy or completely dead this time of year but Soulac is an exception. And Nina is a French girl and loves her food.
Beaches are always popular with her and my challenge was keeping her out of the water. She made friends with a dog and that helped.

After a very long time (for me) on the beach I managed to lure her back to the Car with the promise of Pizza.
When I first came to Naujac there was a lady making Pizza's from the back of a Van. The Pizza's still exist but are now being made by her daughter. Ellianne now has a Pizzaria in Le Verdon. It is called "le magician d'oc" address: 22 Rue Francois Le Breton. It has our seal of approval. 
After lunch we of course had to go to another beach. On the way we saw a house transformed for a WW2 bunker. There are many that dot the coastline here. 
After spending several days mainly indoors Nina couldn't get enough of sand.
So after a whole afternoon running around you may imagine Nina was quite tired. Not so.
Anyway, I get up before 8am every morning now because this little alarm clock has no batteries and is too big to throw out of the window :)  I am learning more tricks, how to get her to go to bed voluntarily(checking her room for monsters), how to get her to eat her greens (her mum didn't eat her greens and is therefore short while I did) but if any parents out there can tell me any other ways of tricking a smart 4 year old I am all ears. I'm serious. Please. Pretty please? 

Thursday, 24 February 2011

New infrequent Doubleroo segment. Who's mentioning me now.

Colbert report fans will instantly notice the similarity between his "who is honoring me now" and my poor imitation. A few days ago I was sent this article by a friend from America, Dr Alexey Root. , who has worked tirelessly to promote chess at both community and scholastic level. I visited Dallas Texas at the turn of the millennium and was impressed by how organised and dedicated the people at University of Texas Dallas were regarding their Chess programm. I am also amazed that Keith Hayward would remember me after all these years. It is people like Alexey and Keith who make competitive chess possible because their efforts increase the number of people who play and are interested in chess. This is a thank you to all the people who work to increase the base, getting as many people as possible to play chess.

It is winter here in Naujac sur Mer .
and the town is deserted. Not for long.

 In a few months the traditional summer chess activities will start at the Camping La Rochade (where Nina and I are now Holidaying) including the famous Wine tournament. Rike and Jules have helped put this tiny village on the chess map not only by their summer program but through both the second division open team and more sensationally their second place in the top division Womens teams competition. Rike and her two daughters, Lara and Lena, need only one more to make the team! At the moment they have
 Dutch GM Zhaoqin Peng but just in case I am working on providing the team with another player in future.
Since I met Nina's mother here she is a spiritual child of Naujac so if she does one day play for a chess team here it would not be out of place.
There is chess being played right now in many homes, coffee shops, libraries, community centers, beaches and anywhere else people can take a board and pieces. That needs to be highlighted and encouraged.
Toodles :) 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

From Woerthsee to Naujac via Freiburg.

I have done a lot of km's in the last few days with my trusty Passat.I left Bavaria friday morning and drove to Freiburg to meet a new friend, 11 month old Simon here with German WGM Bettina Trabert. Dad (aka GM Spiridon Skembris) was playing Chess in Greece I believe but will be back soon.

Freiburg is a lovely,vibrant University town that has kept it's historic charm while accommodating the 21 century as well. It is one of Germany's most bike-friendly cities and has a comprehensive public transport net. Unfortunately I am always there with a car which is a pain. This photo was taken in a park. There were some interesting artworks there as well. Famous painting you can see anywhere so Doubleroo brings you street-art.
And Bart 
After only a few hours catching up wit a friend I hadn't seen for more than two years and meeting a brand new one :),  I headed off to France where a little 4 year old was waiting for Daddy to take her to the Sea.
And so after a days rest in Vendenesse sur Arroux we headed off. You may see an earring in Nina's ear. She asked for it a few weeks ago so we took her on Saturday. Despite warnings that it could hurt she insisted and didn't complain. Barely an ouch!
She has been an easy child to take on trips since she was a baby. She did miss a lot of French countryside sleeping.
And then she wakes to ask
"are we there yet"
No and we a lot more of these little towns, where the road is right next to the footpath, to go.
The next morning we went to the beach, our destination but it was closed :(
The weather will hopefully improve so that I can show you the sites of the Medoc region. 
Now a lot of the tourist attractions are closed and even an open "Depot de Pain" is hard to find.
Good night everyone.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Rant featuring Celebrity Guest Ranter Arianne Caoili


It is even worse than I thought. I just went to the ACF website to collect some information on previous Australian title events and noticed that it has not been updated for years! Under the "Records" tab the last Australian Champion is given as Steven Solomon, 2007-2008, the last Open Champion as Zong-Yuan Zhao 2007, the last Junior Champion as Junta Ikeda 2008 and ,get this, the last Womens Champ Slavica Sarai 2003! For laughs one can then click on the “Titles” tab and see that our two leading players Zong and Smerdon are still listed as IM's.
We are now in the information age and the first port of call for people wanting to find out about Chess in Australia would undoubtedly be the official website of our national federation. Well, they will at least get an accurate impression of Chess in our Country.

But who needs accurate information to rant? I have spent the last decade travelling the World playing in different events and otherwise participating in Chess events and get homesick often especially during the winter in the northern hemisphere. Last year was no exception. I was planning to come back home about November and wanted to spend a few weeks preparing for the Australian Open on the beach in Byron Bay, and then fly to New Zealand to play in the Oceanic Zonal and explore our beautiful neighbour by Bicycle.
I then noticed how incredibly weak the Australian Open was once again. I lay high personal value on defending titles but not at any price. The prize-fund was frozen in time. If I won the event I might have just about covered my living expenses in Sydney. The Zonal in Rotorua was not much better. A very weak field comprised mainly of Australians with double rounds and morning rounds. Also the accommodation costs were high compared to the prizes.
We tried to follow the results from Gibraltar but could not even find a link on the official website. We (Australasians+ Gawain Jones) had to go via Graeme Gardiners excellent website to find them.

Finally I decided to stay in Europe and instead played the London Classic, Hastings and Gibraltar. I remember well the days when not only most of Australia's titled players competed in our national title events but also many players from overseas participated. We now have more talented young players than ever before. This may be because of the efforts of the many Chess coaching companies in Melbourne, Sydney, Gold coast and perhaps other places I am not aware of. But how do these talented youngsters progress to the next level?

I do not want to be too harsh on the NZ federation because they do organise some events, and despite having far less resources and far fewer players put us to shame. To mention a few, the Wanganui tournaments and the Occasional George Trundle IM tournaments, the Smerdon- Puchen match and lots of week-enders. Most notable is Australasia's only decent proper tournament, the Queenstown Classic which will be held again in 2012 and I intend to participate for the third time.
They also have a reasonable web presence. It could be more user-friendly but at least one can see that some effort was made. Just the Zonals were not up to their (NZ) usual standard.

The ACF on it's website (sic) claims that it's aim is to promote Chess Down Under. From the state of the website and National title events they are not excelling in that regard. Our ratings system is worthy of a whole rant all in itself but since I couldn't care less what my Australian rating is I will leave it to someone else. Now neglect and inaction to the point of embarrassment are bad enough but occasionally the ACF does do something and most often it is obstructionist to put it politely. With that I pass you over to my Celebrity Guest ranter, former student and friend. 

 Arianne Caoili.

First of all I’d like to thank Alex, one of my longest-standing friends, for inviting me to guest rant. The subject of my rant is women’s chess in the Oceania zone, and how the media and other individuals acting as groups support, sustain and cement the already disadvantaged situation of women’s chess in Oceania. If we can consider tournaments available to women in Oceania as a market then it might be helpful to express my sentiment in terms of the inefficiencies created and supported by the ACF and other stakeholders. Please note that this is a RANT. If you’re offended, too bad. And a rant is in and of itself audience-independent, so this also means that I don’t in general care if you are interested in my topic or agree with me, or whether you think my argument is coherent or not. At least Alex does – and it’s his blog.

I started playing chess when I was 6 and loved the game with all my heart from the very beginning. Since chess is inherently competitive, I always chose the strongest possible opponent to increase the rush. Being a ‘cute’ little girl and then a photogenic teenager was of superficial benefit but a less obvious curse. It helped with so-called attention but the interest was never in my chess so-much as it was in my publicity value. Photo ops were more important than my preparation and pressure was put on me to win girls events ‘looking pretty’ rather than garnering real chess achievements. Although women’s chess in general (especially if you’re under 2400) has been relegated as boring, shallow and ‘inferior’ (who indeed would be interested in that?), subjective enjoyment of the game cannot be questioned – so when I sit there at the start of my game, however inferior and unimportant it may be, I do not appreciate a photographer coyly hiding behind my opponent, gesturing to his camera and mouthing the command ‘smile’ while refusing to get out of my frame of reference until I do so. [This is just to state a recurring example which I experience in nearly every game, an experience that I’m sure many women in chess have frustratingly had to endure – actually, maybe some chicks like it – but I can tell you it’s thoroughly annoying]. Looking back on it now, the obsession with my so-called ‘looks’ bordered on public pedophilia, and fused with certain publicly-constructed scandals culminated into a pathetic orgasm between certain attention-starved (bored?) chess media outlets and individuals with nothing better to talk about. So back to the subject: the dilemma posed above is not new, many girls experience it. This dilemma is a premise to argue for the reasons why the women’s chess tournament market, so to speak, is like it is and why it keeps on being so. It should also be noted that this dilemma is sustained by the chess media (Chessbase gets 5 stars for this and kudos to Chess Vibes for so far, from my observations, refraining to do so).

If the media and chess sponsors focus on these trivial physical things rather than their chess, it is logical to assume that this is the case because there is nothing more interesting in women’s chess to focus on. Fair enough. But I argue that this is because the women’s tournament market conditions, so to speak, are found wanting and so the product (women’s chess itself) is inferior, and therefore lacking in appeal. For example: if we get rid of women’s prizes and having separate women’s events alongside men’s events, then we remove inefficiencies altogether! It will force the women to compete, and if they can’t, then over time, the weak get eliminated. This will produce, OVER TIME, a superior women’s chess-playing populace.  The weak-minded chess players will lose interest, but I would argue that they never really were interested in chess if they can’t stand the competition or at least try to overcome the competition (isn’t this what chess is about?). I agree that we should have ‘beginner’s protection’, since chess is not elitist but for everyone. That is fine: just don’t divide the beginners section by gender. Simple high school economics, no?

The elimination of gender ‘barriers’ altogether, by simply ignoring the distinction and eliminating tournament rules and conditions that support these barriers, will over time create stronger women chess players – and thus obliterate the very notion of women’s chess, because they will be just as interesting and maybe even just as strong as men (their attraction will no longer be based on physical looks but their actual chess). I think that Judit Polgar is an excellent champion of this theory. For a more recent, less legendary example, look at the performances of the ladies in the last Wijk aan Zee section C. Tania and Katherina faced the competition and put in formidable performances (to say the least).

So back to me again (it’s my rant, remember). Since you never forget your first love, after many years of absence I started playing chess again sporadically and am enjoying the challenge as much as ever. However people still try to spoil my fun. Just a few months ago I wanted to play in the Oceanic Zonal. After easily winning the last Women’s Zonal I did not feel like playing against the same opponents that one might possibly, without much exaggeration, get a high plus score against in a simul. What’s the point of playing in an event that offers little competition, negligible rating points and 9 games in openings such as 1.e4 c6 2. d4 g6 or some other off beat line? – although I think one must play all chess positions (a natural right and enjoyment of chess players in general) it’s also nice to encounter a main line in the Gruenfeld or Slav (it has been to my experience that most women chess players in Australia and New Zealand simply don’t know or haven’t had to know main lines, or they deviate via some devilishly annoying gambit, so the result is some off-beat position). [Just a note on that point – Levon has always told me that we, players like our dear Alex (!) and myself, on ‘our’ level, shouldn’t obsess about the openings, but I think that even on ‘our’ level with all of our miscalculations and Rybka-ignorant ideas, that main lines can be fun too].

Anyway, I asked the organizers if I could play in the open (men’s section). Although the New Zealanders had no objections the ACF were downright hostile to my request. Not only would I lose my accommodation spot but would have to pay a $250 entry fee. I wrote an email addressed to both the organizers and the ACF to try to discuss my concerns but got not even so much as an acknowledgement of receipt. Given, my accommodation spot was for a woman’s slot in the women’s open – but firstly, do you know how many of these ‘spots’ in both the men’s and women’s were forgone (many of them didn’t show up or chose alternative accommodation); and secondly, if they can’t give accommodation, why charge $250 for Australia’s number 1 female to play in the men’s section? This zonal open represented a rare opportunity for women players like me to actually engage in competitive battles and garner experience – but yet again, there is evidence of barriers to entry into ‘the men's market’. In the end, I decided to play in a Wijk aan Zee open section round robin and got a bit of an a$$-kicking. So it gave me some experience and (I hope) I am better off for it.

Let me sum up my argument by giving an example of a piece of oration Levon once gave me over some gambas a la plancha: ‘Arianne, you’re playing men here. You can’t rely on tricks, yoyo emotions and crappy openings. These guys know their theory, and they fight. You can’t possibly compare a 2400 female and a 2400 guy – just have a look at the source of their rating points’.

If we get rid of gender related divisions/prizes/conditions altogether, then the ‘market’ for women to garner their rating points and experience will be larger and more competitive, and thus over time Oceania women chess players in general will not only be stronger but also more interesting to talk about in chess terms.

Chess isn’t for wannabe beauty queens or weak minded people. The whole fun and allure of chess lies in competition, and it is this that has been systematically eliminated from women’s chess. It is women’s physical qualities, not mental faculties, which are being appreciated (or abused) due to the lack of their ability, in purely chess terms, to offer a critical mass of interesting games. This dilemma of ill-ability is caused by the fact that women’s chess tournaments, as a market, is inferior, in terms of competitive value and playing quality (because the market is protected). By virtue of this inferiority, the sad conditions of the market are sustained by the stakeholders (the chess media, organizers etc). Therefore, if women’s chess is ever to be competitive and women chess players are to be respected for their chess, then it is time to remove the protective barriers. I think it’s time that women manned up or at least be given the chance to man up – because if women want profits from their tits they can call Hugh Hefner (if they’re hot enough).

Arianne Caoili

Thank you Arianne. For the sake of completeness I will add Arianne's letter to the organisers.

Dear Kevin and Paul,

I regret to inform you that I am playing in Wijk Aan Zee and thus will forgo my participation in the womens Zonals.

Just a note of observation, take it or leave it: It is very disappointing to me, that such an important event could not grant me a place vacated by slotted players who either chose other accommodation/will not play, in addition to charging Australia's highest rated female player (who is titled, okay no big deal for the world - but we are in Oceania) $250 to enter the Open. No wonder womens chess is so weak here, when there is an insistence to make it difficult for women players in this region to face any real competition. So I am flying to play in a closed tournament half way around the world to play 2200-2400 players - when this very well could have been done in New Zealand more conveniently; not saying you should pay anything like European organisers can do (we can't do that, there's no budget for chess), but I'm quite sure that with the amount of players forgoing their accommodation slots, you could of given me one to play the open since I would give up my women's slot. it's just about providing an environment for people with little time, who love chess, to be able to enjoy some nice games. so it's a matter of principle that i am not playing in the women's or the open - and it's disappointing; our region is already very weak in terms of women players - it would be nice for players like me, Irina and Emma to man up and play some people who will crush us, so that eventually, the womens section may be interesting enough to play in. given, this tournament is about being a zonal and a qualifier, but I think that this shouldn't mean that there should be significant barriers against women who wish to play in the Open.

Kind regards

And finally a game by a "chick" against one of the best players in the World. I can think of no better recent example of what Arianne said. This is just a pure pleasure to watch.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Weilheim Chess Club and Old Town

My Club in Germany, Weilheim in Oberbayern has a Junior training night every friday with an advanced class and a beginners class. Last night I gave a lecture to the Kids on the Cozio variation. I have no games played by Cozio in my database so I wonder why it carries his name. Adolf Andersson played it regularly so I renamed it the Adolf defence which the Kids found really funny for some reason. He lost most of the games he played with it though. In his match against Gustav Neumann he won one and lost four. Gustav himself adopted it later with considerably more success as did Steinitz and then Blackburn.

I spent the night in Weilheim and then was taken for a guided tour by my Host and Weilheim Chess Clubs glorious leader Franz Gessl who you met two posts ago. Here he is in Weilheim's Marienplatz. Last year the city celebrated its 1000 year Jubilee and the local Brewery brought out a special beer for this occasion. For historical research reasons I was obliged to sample a few.
Weilheim is the sister city of Narbonne and every year in summer they have a French week with lot's of stalls and performances right where Franz is standing. There is a bit of a competition as to who's house is th most beautiful. Since this one has Jesus above the entrance we will call this Gods house

and this one the Devil's abode. Please vote for your favourite.

Many house also have paintings on the walls.
Now for the Chess fanatics I will include a game from the last Queenstown tournament which featured Adolf's defense. If I had managed to win this game I would have won $3000 NZ more. Oh well, fun game anyway. 

Thursday, 10 February 2011

German fast food and new Doubleroo segment.

My mission statement promised Chess, Travel , Food and Wine. I have brought you a fair amount of the first two but have neglected the latter two a bit so today I will attempt to remedy that. I had to go to Perlach today to visit my Bank and order a new Card. Regular readers will remember that I had some problems in Morocco in that regard. I used to live in Perlach so after finishing with necessary bureaucratic chores I took a nostalgic walk through my former local shopping centre in Neuperlach. After travelling around a few months I noticed many things that I took for granted. Everything is so orderly, clean and well presented. First the Organic Juice Bar
  After a purple "Fruits of the forest" juice I went down to Vinzenzmurr. This is a chain in Germany where one
can get good food, fast and fresh. There is the takeaway counter,
inside, the butcher where as you can see everything is neaty laid out and and spotlessly clean
and then you have a mouthwatering salad-bar.
Now that I had satisfied my immediate hunger I went to do some shopping for later. 
Germany has the best Bread anywhere. Not just the quality but also unsurpassed variety. Whereas in most Countries you will find mostly white bread with a lonely wholemeal loaf if you are lucky, here in Germany bread is made from lots of different grains and comes in a multitude of shapes and sizes.
This is a relatively small Bakery with only a modest selection but they did have my personal favourite in stock, Dinkel Pur. This is whole-grain Spelt bread. Other options are Pumpkin seed, Rye, Armanath, Bulghur, and so on. Also each bakery has special recipes and "Bread of the month", "Fitness Bread" etc ad infinitum. They will also slice the bread for you if you wish to the thickness you desire. 
A popular meal here is "Brotzeit" (breadtime). Basically it is bread with cheese cold-cuts and salad. It is very a popular way of eating in summer and you can take your picnic basket to many Beer-gardens or parks. Although the bread is delicious enough to eat on its own you may wish to put something on it like cheese
or cold-cuts
all very well presented and hygienic. You may be wondering why I am placing so much emphasis on cleanliness, hygiene, presentation and freshness. This leads me to the new Doubleroo segment.
My Occasional Rant
A few months ago I watched a movie called Food Inc. This movie seems to be a bit more difficult to view online now but you can see segments on Youtube. Anyway, one part deals with minced beef for hamburger production. They mention that a certain tonnage of mince had to be recalled because it exceeded the "acceptable level of Fecal matter" Excuse me?
There is an acceptable level of SHIT???
I don't know about you but the only acceptable level for me is zero. This film only talked about the US and I would hope that standards in Europe are higher but until I know for certain I am not risking it. In fact every time I walk past a MacDonalds, Burger King or any industrial fast -food outlet I have to fight the urge to gag. I hope my rant hasn't ruined your appetite.  
Bon appetite :-) 

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Long and whining road

Finally I am back in Germany on the beautiful Worthsee and there is no noise! Since my last post life has been a bit hectic. After little sleep I woke to the noise of construction on friday morning and had to pack and clean up the Flat. Also no Coffee. I then went to the Caletta to meet up with Stuart Conquest who was kindly giving me a lift to Malaga. Also Vaness Reid and the winner of the Gib Open Vassily Ivanchuk. We saw Stu off and then went looking for a Hotel as all three of us were flying out the next day. I hadn't booked a hotel figuring we could just go to the tourist office and book one. Great plan but 5.30 pm is too late for the Malaga international airport tourist office. Great! And no board or other info. Now it was Vassily's turn to come up with a plan so he suggested we just ask a cabdriver. Another good plan in theory. He took us to a hotel in Torremolinos.....that was shut. We then trudged off in search of an open one, poor Vassily dragging his extremely heavy suitcase with a broken wheel behind him. Eventually we found a "package holiday hellhole" hotel, checked in and went to a nearby fish restaurant for a pleasant meal. The company and the food was good and we soon forgot our ordeal.
Next morning after a very noisy breakfast it was back to the Airport for my Lufthansa flight to Munich. The other two had already left well before I woke up.
It was good to be back in Munich. It feels like home these days. Only snag was having to get up at 7.30 am Sunday morning for a long drive to Ingolstadt. Five hours sleep  and we were off. The game looks like a morning round as well (groan) but I did manage to somehow eventually win.

The team won the match as well and now we are nearly safe from relegation. I play for Weilheim and this is our team
I also cant resist showing you s photo of our glorious leader, Franz Gessl, simply because he just looks so happy after our important win.
But there is no rest for the wicked and as soon as we got back home I started work on an article for a magazine with a monday-morning deadline. Being tired and word-processor illiterate didn't help but by 4am it was finished. Finally a good nights sleep lies before me.
Anyway folks, I'm sure you've heard enough of my whining for one day so I wish you all a good night.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Ivanchuck says tournament too weak!

Perhaps you might interpret the following comments differently but that was my understanding of it. Well as promised I have had too much Red Wine, it is now way past 6am  and I thought I had better post this report before I thought better of it. The success of this tournament can be attributed to two factors in my opinion and they are the high prizemoney and the amount of Beautiful Women who are invite to play. You can find all the Prizewinners on the official site but here at Doubleroo we want to bring you the Politically Incorrect view and my winner for 2011 for the most Beautiful competitor is Lateefah
Unfortunately my own Phone- Camera was not up to the task so I had to "borrow this one from the site.
Next Year the Organizers promised to bring Judit Polgar and possibly the Queen as it is her Jubilee or something. Victor the terrible won the Senior prize which I am partly to blame for. He received the loudest Ovation of the evening and a standing one at that. 
I unfortunately will probably not be able to play next year because of the Queenstown tournament but maybe 2013 if my Liver doesn't Rebel against all the Wine. 
Hasta Manjana Amigo's, better get some Sleep, Malaga tomorrow. Well today, Actually in a few hours. 

Gibraltar Chess Congress 2011 Round 10

I woke up in a foul mood this Morning. I had imbibed copious quantities of Red Wine last night while chatting and watching Simon Williams and Gawain Jones play 3 minute Contra.Joe Gallagher also joined us and we swapped many stories, none of which i can repeat on this "Family Channel".
After only a few hours sleep the construction outside woke me well before the alarm. The backwards warning sound of the Caterpillars and the Jackhammers was bad enough but the Building also shook sickeningly.
Next I noticed that we only had De-caff left. If I had some non-fat milk and artificial sweetener I could have made the Worlds most disgusting Beverage. I was saved by my Flatmate Ali who had some packets of Instant. I hate Morning Rounds.
I got to the Board to find out I was playing an Opponent who needed to beat me with Black for an IM norm. "This Game is really important to me" he said. "If I win I get an IM norm". Bit of Advice. NEVER give your opponent Information that might be useful to him. Did he think I was Santa? Anyway now that I knew that he was obliged to go Nuts I knew that I did not need to. His attempt was quite sad.

After this I felt better :-) Nothing cheers a Sadist(all Chessplayers) up more than inflicting suffering on others. I then had some Breakfast (3pm) and watched the battle for the top prizes unfold. Ivanchuk had a nice technical win against Friedman but the Game which really Impressed me was Short's win against Bologan. With Black he played an opening that I simply don't understand why anybody would voluntarily play and seemed to win quite smoothly. Worth a look. So tonight is the prize-giving followed by a Reception and hopefully too much Red Wine. Seeya :-)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Gibraltar Chess Congress 2011 Round 9

Korchnoi is a Nasty old Man :-)  After winning he said in German " Gegen manche Leute  kann man nicht Koenigs Indisch spielen". So I thanked him for the Game and went outside. He then cornered me and first said in English "I thought you spoke German" I do I said. He then in English repeated what he had said in German. "Against some people you should not play the Kings Indian" I said "Yes thank you, I understood you in German. Korchnoi " I just wanted to make SURE you understood me". He then left feeling very pleased with himself. I wll now be a lot more motivated if I am lucky enough to ever play him again.

I did try to avoid playing the last round by taking a Bye but my message didn't get through. Since I am no longer in the running for a prize or a good opponent and it is the only morning round I would have preferred to climb the Rock and bring you some pictures but I have been paired and will have to waste my last day playing someone several hundred points lower rated. Oh well, **** happens.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Gibraltar Chess Congress 2011 Round 8

I woke up relatively early today and found out why the Apartment block is named "Sunrise View". It was impossible to sleep because the very bright Sunshine could not be blocked by the rather flimsy Curtains. So I went for a walk in the Town center which is very Nice. Once upon a time it was only possible to enter this fortress through one single gate. Unlikely? Here is written proof!
This leads to Casemates  square which has some nice Pubs, Restaurants, a Tourist Office and Shops.
I strolled around the British looking Streets for about an Hour or so. Bemusing is the fact that almost every second Shop is a Tobacconist and/or Liquor store. This is because Gibraltar is a Tax free Zone. aka Tax Shelter. Funny was this Guy guarding the Convent. He stood like a Statue for a while and then marched across the Entrance like a wind-up Toy a few times and then went back to his Statue impersonation. 
Then I caught the Bus (free for Chessplayers) to the Caletta
which must have one of the most Beautiful views from the playing Hall anywhere! My Opponent was Cuban-Spanish GM Alexis Cabrera. We had a very exciting game. I spent oodles of time on move 17 looking for a forced win, did win the exchange ( Rook for Minor Piece for non Chessplayers) but he had enough activity to draw. I suspect an Engine will tell me where I could have gotten a large advantage but if it takes an Engine it doesn't really count does it. Still haven't checked.

After the Game we were treated to Nigel Short in the Commentary Room. He was in a good mood as you can see in this short Video.

Tomorrow Korchnoi!