Sunday, 2 December 2012

The inaugural Doubleroo "First Sunday" chess tournament.

Opening Ceremony
With a difference! We had the honour of having our local member of parliament, Saxon Rice open the event. Our novel idea was to have our special guest play a few ceremonial moves against a cute harmless looking girl, eight year old Rachel Watkins, and then agree a draw. A great photo op. What is said about the best laid plans? Cute Rachel may be but she is anything but harmless. She had no intention of letting our dignitary off with a draw. Saxon was not phased at all and seemed visibly delighted as she made off with Rachels Queen. 

Finally, deep into an unclear ending, under mounting pressure from the organisers, the two combatants acquiesced to a draw and the tournament could start.   

The Venue
La Dolce Vita restaurant and cafe was universally praised as an excellent venue for a chess competition. The games were played in the passage between the restaurant and the cafe and the Giant Chess Set was placed under the Eiffel Tower.

Abbey Anstey-Walsh  v Joshua Grice
While the children were battling it out for the excellent prizes donated by the local business community,

their parents were enjoying the excellent food, drinks and ambience of the cafe. La Dolce Vita indeed.

The tournament.
We decided on a 5 round, 15 minute a side rapid event with four categories. Open, Girls, Unrated and Girls Unrated. Joshua Grice won with a picket fence 5/5, only challenged by Abbey Anstey-Walsh, the winner of the Girls prize, who was two clear pawns up and with seven minutes against one. If she had not tried to "blitz" her opponent....
First place in the Unrated section went to Lachlan Congreve  and first unrated girl went to Charlotte Sleight. Charlotte's performance was even more impressive considering she had been unwell the last few days and insisted on playing despite her mothers reservations. All the standings and results have been uploaded here.

Charlotte Sleight v Harry Anstey-Walsh
Katie MacDonald v Brigitte Watkins
Winners are grinners

To our sponsors for donating terrific prizes.
Donated two dinners for two
A variety of great gifts to train young minds
All kinds of fun trinkets that the kids just loved
Ice cream vouchers for everyone!

To the team for doing everything while I "supervised" from the cafe.
Chief Arbiter IM Peter Froehlich
Assistant Arbiter Gaurav Chhabra
Special international consultant IA Peter Long

I must make special mention of Peter Long, organiser of countless International events, and senior FIDE trainer amongst countless other achievements. I invited Peter to Australia to help me put the Doubleroo Chess Academy on a more professional footing and he has been very generous with his advice and help . Here he is taking on a dangerous local, Justin Adams in Brunswick heads.

And last but not least a special thanks must go to Lynne Brown from the Brisbane Inner West Chamber of Commerce . It was Lynne's idea to have a tournament at La Dolce Vita, and Lynne who approached all the sponsors who are members of the Chamber. Lynne also stayed until the end and helped hand out the prizes.

Inspired by the success of our inaugural tournament we are now working on our second "First Sunday" event but the details are top secret. Watch this space for the announcement.

Have a nice day :-)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

My Girls and Atanu's Brilliancy

Queensland Girls Interschool Final

Friday I had the pleasure of watching "my girls" compete. They stormed ahead early scoring 12/12 in the first three rounds and looked set to take the title but a loss in the second last round allowed the Somerset team to take a narrow lead. Of course the last game to finish decided the event. Stephanie Kay of Somerset College won solidly and took the gold with an individual performance of 7/7.

Anastasia, Jane, Penny and Abbey (silver with 6/7) were a bit disappointed to finish second but soon recovered enough to pose for a photo with their medals.

Meanwhile the Somerville senior team won by a margin of 6 (!!) points with the top two boards making 7/7. Somerset were second.

And here, the victorious Somerset junior team. Detailed results can be found here.

Lahiri Brilliancy

Atanu Lahiri is an Indian IM, chess administrator, coach and organiser. This game that he played below is sensational. I was not able to upload the Video in Nepal but have now ironed out the kinks ( I hope) and would like to share it with you. Enjoy.

Did Atanu get his inspiration here on Mt Kalinchowk? Probably.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Hetauda to Kathmandu


If you look at the map of Nepal you can see what a good idea it was to get off the bus. It has to go via Bharatpur because the mountain road is closed to buses. A 3-4 hour journey is tripled. We did not however just change modes of transport. This is the home of Krishna Thapa, a chessplayer known to many Sydney-siders and treasurer of the Hetauda chess club. Krishna's mother was kind enough to make us a cup of tea before we retired to comfortable beds. The horror bus rumbled on without us :)

GM Alexandr Fominyh is ready for the next leg.

We slept in to about 9am, my first pleasant sleep in ages. A nice shower was followed by tea and breakfast. We did contemplate going to town at some stage for some shopping but noon arrived before we knew it. The president of the Hetauda chess club wanted to meet us and had said he would pick us up at noon. That's exactly when he arrived!

Martyrs Memorial Park

First on our programme was the Martyrs Memorial Park. While we were on our way to the park Krishna got a call informing him that the bus had just arrived in Kathmandu after several delays. Many strikes blocked the road, protesting loadsharing. All over the country the electricity would go off  for a few hours to reduce the burden on the grid.

The fountain...water loadsharing?

Martyrs rock, sculpted out of a single stone.

Our group 

A famous leader. 

So that's what happened to Superman! 

Pharping Road ?

That's what the map says. There are two ways over the mountains. The other is the Tribhuvan highway and is a bit longer but worth seeing apparently. Next time.

The road up the mountain.

This is apparently the former Kings Monastery. We got this information from two ladies outside. They also casually mentioned that they (women) are not allowed to enter. Provokes a thought. Should one respect "traditions" or religious rules that are clearly discriminatory

The hills are all terraced. Everywhere you can see people ploughing the fields with either Yaks or by pulling ploughs themselves.

The summit at 2400 metres according to locals, the highest point of the ranges between Hetauda and Kathmandu. This is the town of  Kulekhani I think.

Organic vegetables being sold by the roadside. I saw some wild oyster mushrooms and had to have them. The cafe agreed to cook them.

Krishna and the local women offered to clean them first.

While waiting I saw this plantation next to the road. Perhaps a special highland tea?

Alexandr, Krishna and our driver enjoying the mushrooms.

Fried in garlic, onion, chilly and a dash of curry.

By the time we had finished it was late afternoon so we headed straight down the mountain to Kathmandu. We passed the Kulekhani Dam but were not allowed to take pictures in this zone.  The light was not good enough for pictures anymore anyway. 

I was a bit unfair to Kathmandu last time I wrote about it. I take nothing back of my impressions of the bus station area but there are other places. I spent the night in Thamel,  the tourist district, which is a happening place. Accomodation was a bit tricky. The famous Kathmandu Guest House was ridiculously expensive at $US 160 a night and even the special offer was $80. I was so desperate for comfort I nearly took it but reception did not accept my final offer luckily so I walked out, went 50 metres to the left and found the Hotel Northfield which had en-suite, wi-fi and was $13 a night. Much better :) An added bonus was that the attached "4ever Cafe" is run by a chessplayer. Thamel is a happening place with lots of music, bars, restaurants and shopping. Prices vary widely so give yourself plenty of time and ask around before you buy.

All in all Nepal is a very interesting country that is worth seeing despite the annoyances. Chess is becoming more popular and there are many tournaments planned. If/when I receive some information I will let you know. Have a nice day all :) 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Horror Trip 2, the return journey.

a Doubleroo travel documentary
In association with Rajesh Har Joshi travel corp

The best way to avoid repeating a bad experience is to analyse what part was your doing. This time it is obvious. I did not take matters into my own hands but rather gave someone, who had previously told me a load of codswallop, the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, instead of the nice airconditioned private car which was going to take me and GM Fominyh to Kathmandu via the Chitwan national nature preserve  etc etc. It sounded like a dream.

Now reality. The evening after the tournament I asked MR R.H.J for deatils, like when our car would be leaving. Answer. "Speak to Bidur". Well I heard no more until the next morning. There I was presented with a ticket for the "Horror Bus" It left at 2pm. We carried our luggage to the bus station and then proceeded to our Hotel where all the local players got on :) Was someone deliberately taking the mickey? Oh well I thought, can't be worse than the last time. 

Famous last thoughts. This time it was raining heavily and the deluxe luxury bus was leaking like a sieve.

Now the driver armed with an umbrella and torch was wiping or cleaning the windscreen by hand. The luxury deluxe bus did not have windscreen wipers :) So in the pouring rain on a winding mountain road we descended into the valley without wipers or very good lights. I guess the driver knew the road. AT this point I had to carry my laptop bag on my lap because the floor was full of water...of course. 

Finally, the plain. The rain stopped and we pulled into a bus stop. We had some snacks, a cup of tea and continued. 13 hours later we got to the town of Hetauda. Here GM Alex got off the bus together with my last round opponent Krishna Thapa. They were planning to rest a few hours and then take the short-cut to Kathmandu by Jeep and invited me to join them. I jumped at the chance, literally. The bus was scheduled to arrive at 9am (now 2am) so staying on board would have meant another 7 hours of torture. The bus finally got in at noon so it would have been 10.

We spent the night at Krishna's place and were warmly received by his wonderful parents. Then we took a Jeep to Kathmandu the next morning. A great, picturesque journey. Report to follow when I get back. Now I am off to the Airport. :-) :-) :-)

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Equal first. 30.000!

Morning Round 7.30 am

Again rupees, so about $AUS350. My morning round was against the formidable Russian GM, Aleksandr Fominyh who I have already had the pleasure of playing about 10 years ago in Spain, twice. We won one game each and our score is still level. I had an advantage for most of the game but 34 Rd7 was a blunder leading to a draw. Rh7 immediately would have retained an edge and since he was very short of time, my chances would have been good as the position is hard to defend. Anyway, an exciting fighting game.

Afternoon round 10

This was a must-win situation so I played a risky line gambling that my opponent would not be familiar with it. The risk paid off and I won quite easily. The round started rather late as the electricity in Ilam was not working again so a generator had to be used. Nice sound for the final round.  

Closing Ceremony

The reason we had to start so early was so the prize-giving could start on time. Well, technical difficulties delayed it by about two hours anyway. What a surprise! :-)

Five players tied for first with 8/10 points. GM Alexandr Fominyh won the tiebreak. I came in fourth which suited me fine as the money was shared equally and only the first three got a huge trophy.

A more comprehensive report is planned when I get to a better internet connection. Thanks for following and stay tuned for a few days of tourism in Nepal.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Round 8 Chess Basketball and Bricks.


Conditions after being acceptable for one day, deteriorated again today. Several times during the games tracktors arrived to deliver trailers of bricks and then proceeded to unload them by throwing them on top of each other on the ground outside the playing area. But one instrument does a symphony not make so a basketball game was brought in for rhythm. The spectators, on the other hand were quiet by local standards although it is hard sometimes to get past them. Luckily they are all quite a bit smaller than me so I have taken to just barging through them. 

Back at the hotel things work differently than anywhere else as well. Every day at about lunchtime they run out of milk, amongst other things. Language is also a problem. Take a look at this sign as an indication.

A football game was in progress on my way back after the round. Far enough away not to be heard over the bricks and basketball

In the evening a Cultural program was organised for us visitors. I will show you some videos when I get back to an Internet connection that allows for large uploads. For now some pictures. The hall was packed out and we got the best seats. 

See the background? All for us :)

The game
I did not manage to create sufficient complications today and my opponent was just trying to draw. Noise and tiredness took their toll not to mention the noise.

As a coup de grace the organisers have put forward the morning round tomorrow to 7.30am they wanted to make it 7 but compromised. In a strange way they are doing me a favour, by reinforcing my resolution to never again in my life play in tournaments with double rounds or morning rounds let alone both. it is just torture. Why did I do it? Because I really wanted to see Nepal. Well, I haven't seen much after all due to the mind-numbing schedule. A reminder. If I ever contemplate putting myself through something like this again SHOOT ME!

Round 7 + food


I have neglected the topic of food a little, one reason being that the variety is not so great. The national dish is rice with some vegetables and daal. Many people eat this for lunch and dinner. Nepal is a bit like Cuba in this respect. The ingredients are all here but the food culture seems to be absent. Here is today's lunch.

This is called "Green salad :D

Since I discovered the vegetable patties with chilly, I have ordered them nearly every meal.

Unless you have razor sharp teeth don't order the Mutton skewer.

I overdid the aggro a bit today and if my opponent had played 19...Bb4 check 20 Kf1 Nc3 my...ahem compensation is not immediately spotable. After that everything went smoothly.

Three games to go.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Round 6 and markets

Walk continues

I wanted to leave some pictures for the evening post so here is part two. The tea gardens adjoin the bus station, where we arrived in town from Kathmandu. While taking pictures the manager of the Pokhareli guest house invited me in to show me his new project. I took this shot of the bus statin from his roof. The view is great.

The top floor apartment has a kitchen, two bathrooms and two bedrooms that can comfortably sleep five and the decor is classy. This apartment is available for only 5000 rupees a night, about AUS$ 55.
Your buck has a lot of bang in Nepal.

From the rooftop one can see the New Pokhareli hotel, owned by his brother, where I am staying. I was offered a few nights at the new one but I'll leave that until next time.

I was told it was market day and since I had finished my first round so quickly I decided to take a gander. My ankle had not started hurting yet so this way I could make sure it would later.

Must be chilly season.

The veggies are all organic I was assured.

Lots of local bananas were on sale.

What I really wanted was some traditional clothing but was unable to find any. The manager of my hotel has offered to help me tomorrow.

And right next to the market is the safari and local transport terminal. 

The Game

After my Alekhine's  defense debacle I decided not only to play sharp but also complex chess. The modern defense is one opening where white can not easily reach a simple position and play for a draw. And one is always ready to play a Hippo :)  I am quite proud of the fact that I managed to convert an ending only two pawns up.

Just before the game I noticed that I had in fact twisted my ankle and the walk to the playing hall just exacerbated it. I could hardly walk and was in pain throughout the entire game. Noticing my dilemma the organisers provided transport back to the hotel for me on the back of a motorbike and then suggested some "medicine" in the form of a local alchohol brewed from Millet called something like Kodokoroxi. After a couple of Panadeine  forte and three drinks I was feeling a whole lot better :D

Our hosts took us for a good night out.
Hast manjana amigo's

Round 5 and near-death experience

Strange day
I was woken at 5.30am by the incessant beeping of some bus this morning. Just one but it would not stop for what seemed like 10 minutes. Then something very weird happened. The noise stopped! I had pulled the cover over my ear to minimize it but suddenly there was none. Strange I thought. Was it a public holiday?

So I had a shower and the water was warm! Was I still dreaming? Ok, so down to breakfast I went, had some very hard "soft boiled eggs", instant coffee and roti and went back to my room to visit the gents and possibly enjoy another warm shower.  Then it happened. I slipped on the wet tiles and fell like a stone. My arm which is now bruised and badly scraped hit the edge you see below and broke my fall enough so that when my head hit the raised part I neither cracked my skull nor broke my neck.

I was now dizzy and completely disorientated and could only lie on the floor for about 15 minutes until I somewhat regained my senses. My jaw and the left side of my head still hurts a little but it could have been so much worse. Must pay attention!

The sound of silence
Now came the truly stunning thing. The tournament hall was absolutely silent! What had happened? The town was quiet, the tournament hall was so quiet one could hear the birds chirping outside. Some policemen arrived with shotguns. Were they there to watch the games? I had jokingly suggested to the organiser that some soldiers should be stationed outside the rooms to shoot to kill anybody who was talking. I was not serious! Legshot should do :)

As you can see the playing conditions, now that the noise problem has been fixed, are excellent. There is plenty of room, tea is brought to the table, water bottles are available and the view...what superlatives can I use?

The organiser, Mr Bidur Pd Gautam looking serious. Usually he is smiling.

The newly opened lavatory. It should be nice when finished.

I had a relatively easy game and then headed to the tea-gardens since it is such a nice sunny day today. I was unable to get a snap of one of the many bright coloured butterflies. They just teased me several times and then flew away

At the top of the hill is something that looks like a prayer area.

Paths criss-cross the huge gardens  

The game

Ok, not much to brag about, my opponent gave me the centre for free didn't castle or place his pieces usefully. I did stick to my resolution of playing as agro as possible. Only one point of interest, you may ask why 25...Nc8 instead of the more natural 25...Re8? Well, then 26, Re6 Be6 and the intermezzo 
27. Qh7

Getting back to the eerie silence for a minute, I did ask whether it was a public holiday or something. The exact opposite in fact. Thursday is market day. It should be noisier than usual. The manager of my Hotel told me yesterday that Ilam was going to introduce a ban on horns next year as they had already introduced a ban on plastic bags  and smoking in the town.

Could it be that they have brought it forward due to my constant complaints? Megalomania I hear you say. Well you don't know to what lengths  the Nepalese  will go to to make you feel welcome. There are no people anywhere more hospitable. Still Megalomania? Yeah, you're probably right...probably            :D