Sunday, 24 July 2011

Nina Wohl's first Art exhibition

Since the tournament in Condom I have had the pleasure of entertaining my daughter Nina. She is now on holidays and enjoying Germany. I am learning how to keep a four and a half year old occupied because if you don't they get bored and turn into little monsters.

The first days were quite easy because the weather was reasonable. Rowing on the Woerthsee is one fun activity. "Look a Pirate Ship"

The "Captain Bluebear"

Yelling "don't run through the puddle" didn't help much. Another lesson learnt. Always have a dry change of clothes in the car. The next lesson was to have paper and colours at home for rainy days, like the rest of the week. Here is some of her work.



"Train avec une Coffret"

"Jardin avec les Chevre et des Oiseau"


"Truc pour les animaux"



And lastly the Artist with her new friend and adviser Mimi. Any suggestions on other ways to entertain Nina are very welcome :-)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Condom full of Belgians

And in fact two Belgians, Tom Piceu and Thibault Maenhout were leading with 6.5/8 (with Vincent David) and faced off on board one, but not for very long. As soon as board 2 was drawn, meaning at least a tie for 1st, they drew as well. I cannot give you a complete list of results because they are still not on the official website a day later. Although I have experienced similar things in Latin countries before this time I will give the organizers the benefit of the doubt. the Internet was not working anywhere in Condom the last three days, therefore no post.

I spent the morning prior to the 7th round and the Gascony feast walking around taking in the sights. I spent a while talking to this Goose which goes to show how wonderfully my mind was working.

Magical no? Well I was in that kind of mood. Talking to Geese, finding beauty in everything and walking lightly along the ancient streets of this picturesque town.

And then there was the impressive Church to visit.

Now serious chess players (if any are reading this) will be asking themselves why I was spending the day walking around soaking in the atmosphere and taking pictures instead of preparing for an important game with black against a strong opponent? Well because during the tournament I had been reading a great book about Angels and signs. That morning on my way to the shower I found a scoresheet between two players unknown to me featuring the Alekhine's defense, my first opening "love". Black won. I took this as a sign that instead of preparing for my opponent I should enjoy the beautiful morning and just play the Alekhine! Look what happened.

Now I understand the sign! I am a goose!! And a ****ing Idiot.

Anyway, not being one to dwell I soon saw the humour of the entire brainfart I had experienced all day. It was time to get ready for the feast. Francoise and Nina arrived shortly after my game had finished and the game was forgotten. The Band, Los Valencianos arrived and the Music started Here is Nina's first Dance Video.

After the Music we were served the first course, local Melon, followed by a assortment of cold Duck cuts.

Between every course the band played, there was singing , dancing, drinking, standing on tables, more drinking, running around the tables and much more drinking. 

Nina was only too happy to participate in the games.
Then came the birthday cake. This year was the 10th edition of the Condom open and the 30th anniversary of the Chess Club.

Next day I had white again and made it 4/4 but it must be said that I got all my +2200 opponents with black.

Now the infamous last round. I have had many unfortunate last rounds in the last few years and one reason, I'm sure is that I don't like to play in the morning. Added to that the need to check out of the boarding school at 9am and the noise the night before, as was habit every night, from the huge crowd of younger players who partied with regularity until 4am, this was not ideal preparation. I was paired against my friend from Munich Ludwig Deglmann. My worst game since...... the last round in Condom a few years ago where I lost in the last round in only 15 moves! Perhaps I should avoid this tournament.

So what do I learn from this disastrous tournament? A few things maybe. Work on my black openings? Don't play tournaments with morning and or double rounds? Don't mix family holiday with Chess? Less sightseeing?
All of the above. It would be nice to be able to draw definite conclusions but I can think of examples in my career where I did some or all of the above and it worked out well. So I am left as clueless as usual :-)

The only thing I can tell you with certainty is that if you spend your time at the board and focus on the game while you are playing it , it helps...usually.

ps: The final results have gone up on the official website

pps: Concurrently there was a GM closed tournament happening. Info here

Have a nice day.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Rounds 5+6

Yesterday was a bit of a disaster but as always a chess player needs to find fault with him/her self. I played superficially, passively and just expected to win by divine right or something. Already my 8th move ....g6 is wishy-washy. Why play g6 when I can play g5? On move 11 I play the whimpy ...b6 instead of ...c5 The next major error is not taking on b6 with the rook. Anyway, one has days like these.

Much better! After yesterdays performance I was determined to at least play sharply. Notice how my opponent panicked after 6 g4. That is why I should have played g5 yesterday. Not because of any objective merit but it forces the opponent to react and hopefully panic :-)

Since I finished very early today, am in a good mood and the Internet is working fine at the local sports bar/pizzaria, I will show you a few pictures of Condom. Also they have not started to make the pizza's yet so I have to wait a while :-)

I thought there were 3 musketeers?

We are lodged at a boarding school about 5 minutes walk from the playing hall. The website of the Condom open is here should you wish more information. This is the little alley from the exit to the park

which has some very nice old trees. I like trees. The answer to your question is Yes!

I did take a picture of my favourite tree.

Then it's up the garden path

and out onto the street where the playing hall is. Condom  is a lovely, typically French town with long traditions especially in the areas of food and drink. More....much more about that soon. Have a nice day all and remember to smile :-)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

CONDOM rounds 1-4

Well folks, as advertised I am now in Condom and have finally found Internet but only one power-point (dead battery) so I will have to leave photo's for next time. Here are my first four games.

This game was easier than my first round. Mr Schurmans ran into a special variation which I first came up with against Hermann Van Riemsdijk in Queenstown, then improved upon against Eddi Levi and this is the latest interpretation. Not wasting time on Bg2 but playing c3+b4 immediately.

A good opening spoiled by atrocious technique and lack of concentration.

This is my second game in a short time against Thibault and this one went better than the 8th round in Naujac. He ran into the "Chapman" variation.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Pauillac and Vertheuil

Thursday morning was a bit overcast and windy so we thought we would give the beach a miss for one day and go explore the River and maybe a Chateau or two instead. Our first stop was Pauillac.

Pauillac is a tourist town without a doubt. There are a lot of hotels and restaurants, wine stores and a great tourist centre.

Across from the harbour is where most of the action is.

The Harbour.

Pullacher make Germans feel at home? This park is across the road from the tourist office.

Eva busily shopping.

Any one will do :-)

Nina getting into the spirit.
Pauillac is a nice little town surrounded by a lot of famous wineries but not very impressive historically or architecturally. On our way back to Naujac we stopped in at on of the most famous Chateau's, Mouton- Rothchild. I really expected some grandeur there but....

That's it I'm afraid. Big grounds with a lake and lots of storage space. Just goes to show, money can't buy class. After this mild disappointment Francoise noticed a sign on the side of the road advertising an 11th century church. The town is called Vertheuil and is not as well known as St Estephe, Paulliac Margaux etc but deserves your attention if you should be in the area. The church is magnificent. 

The Gregorian chants in the background added considerably to the atmosphere.

A nice place for a peaceful stroll. Now something for Space Cadets.

So I'll end with my little joke of the day. Tomorrow I am going to play in another tournament in Condom. If you don't believe me click here. Should I find wi-fi I'll report. A+

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Lazy days in Naujac

So how do we spend our days here in the Medoc when we are not playing Chess. The first order of the day is of course to go to the bakery just down the road and get some pan-chocolate or croissants and a baguette. One of my preferred options for lunch is to go to Montelivet for some local Oysters

which are opened in front of you

by experts who make it look so easy. If you have ever attempted to open them yourself you know that it is not! Conveniently located right next door is the wine stand.

Good fresh oysters must be accompanied by a dry white wine of course. Nina had four to the amazement of some other patrons. The market in Montelivet is on every day in summer and apart form local food and wine you can buy pottery, clothes, candles and many other things. Perhaps we'll have time to take you for a tour but the best is if you come to check it out yourself. "Marketing" can make you tired and then you need a refreshing swim. Just at the other end of town there is the beach!

It being a weekday the beach was quite empty despite the perfect weather. On the weekends it seems like all of Bordeaux empties and heads here. Montelivet beach is easier to get to than the others in the area as the parking is less than 100 metres from the water. It is also a kid-friendly beach.

And here is something we did not expect to see! There was a circus in town. Not much else, as I said, lazy days :-)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Ilja Zaragatski wins 14th Wine Open

Ilja played a solid tournament. Today he just needed a draw to finish alone on 7 points and his opponent Merijn Van Delft, last years winner was guaranteed a lot of bottles of Wine for the same result. I meanwhile had no such luxury because of my many previous draws and had to win to join the group on 6.5 so what else to do? The Hippo had to be let out again, this time with white (?!).Well it worked like a charm.

So I got to 6.5 points tied with my Naujac club-mates Dorian Rogozenko and Merijn Van Delft. I lost the buchholz lottery but won the weigh-in with a spectacular 90 bottles! As fourth I get a quarter of that. I managed to take some pictures from the stage-perspective.

Recognize anyone?

The winner Ilja trying to compensate for his stature with technique.

The Major having a go with some help from some friends.

But this all happened after the beach.  Beach Volleyball? I'll leave you with a picture of a spectator.

Keep tuned for more of the Medoc.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Rounds 7+8

Yesterday I played quite a good game up to a certain point only to lose all my pawns after which I was lost but int the end.....another draw :-(

And so we come to today where I let the Hippo out again. Please use parental controls as your children should not play this opening. I would stop if only I didn't keep winning with it, usually from very suspect positions.

One more game and then a week's holidays here in the beautiful Medoc. Then all you travel voyeurs can see some nice pictures again :-)