Sunday, 27 July 2014

End of Leiden and the journey home.

I must work on my planning. Immediately after the last round I drove 900km to Vendenesse sur Arroux, then the next day, my 51st birthday (21/7) I continued on to Munich, another 700km, and the next day I boarded a flight for Brisbane, a mere 30 hours. Am too old for this ****.

Only now did I look at the final results from Leiden and noticed that IM Das, Arghyadip had won with 7/9! A great result especially considering the strength of the field.

As for my last round game, it was pretty boring. I decided not to be a wimp (offer an early draw) but then played without any real conviction or interest. Going through the motions. 13...Ne4 was too impatient (...e6 is better) and after some more badly thought out winning attempts I was a bit lucky to draw.

Now I am back in Australia. At the moment I am still wondering why. Travelling around Europe with the family playing in chess tournaments was a lot more fun. Instead I was met by a whole pile of letters from government departments which is never good. I'll spare you the details, at least in this post.

Anyway in a few hours my lessons start up again and teaching my students always (almost) cheers me up.

See you soon :-)

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Leiden Open round 8

Todays game started at the unusually early time of 1pm. Not much time for tourism so the ladies spent the day at Katwijk beach while I played quite an interesting game. I missed a chance to take a serious advantage with 17.Nbd6 according to stockfish. Then everything was balanced until I played the "winning" 39.Qd5??

What I had missed was that I can't answer 42....Rb6 with Nc3 because black just takes the knight and queens. Oh well, last round tomorrow, 11.00am :-) That's another thing I like about the Dutch. They aren't really morning people either.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Leiden Open round 7

After yesterdays somewhat lame expedition to Corpus we decided to just go for a walk in town today. As we were walking past the Windmill museum " De Falk " curiosity finally got the better of us so we decided to have a look. Good move! 

There is a video explaining the history and the importance of Windmills in Holland on the first floor in many languages including French and English. 

Here we have some millstones.

The Millar and his family lived in the mill. Like the living room?

Old equipment is everywhere. No indication of what it is though.

The view from the top is quite spectacular.

Now we are in the guts of the mill.

Bench full of gears, weights etc...

Guts again.

And a little window half way down.

The Molenmuseum De Falk gets my seal of approval. The stairs are a bit scary and there are lots of them but the view is worth the effort if nothing else.

Ok, on to my game. We returned home around 6pm so I had about an hour to come up with something. I noticed very quickly that my opponent doesn't play open Sicilians. In my long career I have tried all kinds of ways to avoid playing 3.d4 but have come to the sad conclusion that they all suck. Therefore whenever I see someone not playing the open, I play 1.c5 :-)

My opponent was well prepared and had played the variation in the game many times. Still, he got nothing from the opening and his position imperceptibly went from equal to slightly worse then clearly worse, then hopeless. I have played the same game from the other side. Trust me youngsters, the anti-sicilians all suck.

As my reward I am back on board 3, white against GM Predrag Nikolic 2605! Scary :-)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Leiden round 6

Our sightseeing today had a curious start. A group of us put on headphones in the desired language and took an escalator into the human digestive tract...through the most convenient orifice.

We were visiting Corpus, an educational attraction that takes you on a journey through the human body. I must admit that it was not the highlight of our holiday. Strangely enough there were lots of senior citizens taking the tour which seems mainly suited to 8-12 year olds. They all queued at some "well being" machine in the interactive section.

Meanwhile Nina burned off 70 calories on the exercise bike provided.

At the reception they keep an eye on you :-)

Comprehensive anatomical posters can be found on the walls throughout the complex.

Well today was one for the spectators. I thought it was a good day to go all out for a win and I got close but when it was time to play 25.c5 I changed my mind and played the philosophical 25.0-0. Not fatal but I followed up with the horrible 26.Qa7. I had a feeling it was a bit decentralising but played it anyway, against my better judgement.
Annoying actually but tomorrow is another round. 

I am still clinging onto the live boards actually, board 8, so if you are really bored......:-)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Leiden Open round 5

Todays game was a bit more exciting than yesterdays so I'll start with chess. I'm quite happy with todays game although I'll have to take a closer look before repeating the experiment. Instead of 10.Qb3, just Bb2 might be good getting ready to play d5. If black plays 10.....d5 11.b5 looks fast.

Finally 18.Nc4 allowing f4! makes whites position untenable.

Anyway, we have a day off and then back to the liv boards with white against GM Ikonnikov.

Leiden round 4 + Hortus Botanicus

One of the outstanding attractions in Leiden is the Hortus Botanicus. It is Hollands oldest, founded in 1590 so it has one of my favourite things, old trees.
They also have different exhibits and this summer it is ancient plants. 

The gardens are not huge but well thought out with a map at the entrance so you don't get lost but since you can see the border from nearly everywhere.....

Nina posing with the founder, Clusius I think, or something similar.

The greenhouses have a great collection of carnivorous plants. These are in the rafters three storeys up. 

I tried to dissuade Nina from touching them by telling her that they will snap her fingers off but she needed to verify.

Next floor down is a cactus collection. This was a particularly weird looking one. 

Lots of info about fossilised ferns with the actual fossils, some hundreds of millions of years old.

Flowers everywhere. 

Not sure what this is. An artwork or fossils?

These water plants were huge! They were in the prehistoric section.

My new favourite tree in Leiden.

More flowers. No explanatory signs so they must be purely decorative.

And another amazing tree. It's branches formed a natural tipi.
You may notice that I uploaded more pictures than usual. This is to compensate for the lack of chess content :-)

We did play 13 interesting moves but when my 200 point higher rated grandmaster opponent offered me a draw in a more or less equal position I whimped out. I blame our horticultural excursion.
 ( excuse number 345 ) 

So now I have black against a lower rated opponent. If I win then the draw was a brilliant stratagem, if not it was a severe error in judgement. Stay tuned :D

Monday, 14 July 2014

Leiden round 3

The weather has been lousy for a few days now so we have done only a limited amount of sightseeing.

Our first excursion to the north sea was uninspiring. We drove to Katwijk in the morning but somehow the grey bleak landscape did not inspire picture taking, not to mention the drizzle that made me worry about my camera.

We did not stay too long as I had a game to play at 1pm. 7...d5 needs to be answered by 8.cd5 I think. Don't take my word for it as I haven't checked it with my database yet. Too busy watching the world cup final :-)

We took a walk after the game and I blundered immediately by taking us to an empty take-away for Shoarma. Never eat somewhere if nobody else is. A few pics?

This is the windmill museum near central station. I have been meaning to visit it for years. Maybe this time?

Water views everywhere.

And bridges. When we got back some games were still going so Nina and I went to check them out.

The first eight boards can be viewed from the bar or if you can't make it to Holland on time you can view them online

I have finally made it to the live boards and am playing GM Csaba Horvath. Time to bring my a game :-)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Leiden round 2

We had a quiet day today. The game was at 1pm and we needed to recover from the drive and yesterdays sightseeing.. We did go for a walk to the Park Kweeklust. 

On the way we met locals who unlike the tourists know to stay off the bikepath.


The park features some domesticated animals. There are signs not to feed the animals but the locals obviously haven't noticed them yet.

We had to walk past this area twice.

Now to the game. Not much excitement actually. I dont like my opponents plan of swapping light squared bishops. Instead he should focus on playing f5 instead. The game continuation felt smooth enough.

Tomorrow we play at 1pm and in th evening there is the world cup final! It could be a thriller!

Leiden 2014

I have been to Leiden many times now but never knew that the symbol for the city was two keys. And on top of that they are the keys to heaven. This is one of the discoveries you can make if you follow the Leidse Loper, which is a loop around town going past many attractions including Pieterskerk

It is rather austere inside and out especially compared to the ornate churches in Bavaria. 

Canals are one of the may modes of transport and on a sunny day a great way to see the city. Bikes are another and there is also plenty of public transport. Leave the car at home if you can. Its not much fun driving in Dutch cities. You need to be able to navigate narrow one way roads with lots of bike riders and pedestrians. Then there is the parking. Not fast or fun.

So after many hours of exploring the city we walked back to the playing hall, only 2km by foot, had Linner ( a meal I invented between lunch and dinner ) and went back to the flat.

Somehow after sightseeing all day with the family I was not able to settle into my game (excuse number 465) and just played moves for a while and then lashed out against a well protected position. Talk about playing the rating. On move 25 my opponent played the crushing Bc4 and...offered a draw. Half a point more than I deserved.

On the weekends the games start at 1pm, rather than 7pm on weekdays.
 Time to settle into the tournament and start thinking :-)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

48 Bottles of Fine Medoc

Technique is important, be it for winning a pawn up rook ending or securing  
one extra bottle of wine at the weigh-in. I did manage to equal the weight of 96!! bottles but as I was only second on tiebreak (three of us tied on 7/9) I only got half that amount.

IM Merijn Van Delft won the buchholz shootout which was fair enough as he had the lead going into the last round. 

But for a while it looked as if Martin Van Dommelen would overtake me too as my early opponents had a bad day, several losing to lower rated opposition. Luckily I was not there as I preferred to increase my weight by eating and drinking at the Camping La Rochade. People were dropping by occasionally to report on results. 

Finally a group photo of all the prizewinners. 

Another "Open de Vins de Medoc" is over click for final standings.
Will the tradition continue? everybody seems confident. The Major has been reported to say that Chess and Naujac are inseparable, the Club has just been promoted to the 1st National league and the new owners of Camping la Rochade seemed to enjoy the presence of many chess players.

I'll keep you informed :-)  

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Open de Vins, Naujac sur Mer, the final stretch.

It has been a busy few days. With the football, social engagements and internet unreliability I have not been able to update you on a regular basis.

Face painting is all the rage amongst our local rat-pack of 7 year olds

A tent has been set up next to the lakeside pizzeria so entertain the crowd. This was the France -Germany match which ended sadly for the locals here but half the tent was German or German sympathisers so the yelling was about even.

Of course we had the traditional barbeque on friday night. We are seated with the Bollengier family who contribute three players to the tournament. Roman, the youngest, seated next to Nina will probably make it four soon.

And here we have the Spanish table.

Half the Jackson family who contribute nearly 10% of the total players. 

Then it was our turn to host the rat - pack sleepover.

Saturday Morning I realised that the tournament is nearly over and we had still not been to the Montelivet market which is a "mauvais coup" because one would miss out on..

Arcachon oysters  :D
Francoise found a  novel way to avoid being photographed.

Next we grabbed some local sausages and had to rush back as the round was about to start. The oysters did their job and I won an important game in round 8.

First my round seven game against the number two seed Sjef Rijnaarts. I had the impression that I was a bit better early in the ending but overpressed, waffled about and lost a pawn. Sjef should have taken my rook when it got to c2 on move 44, then play one rook to c1 and the other to c3 and all I can do is wait for him to push his kingside pawns. I haven't checked it yet so am blissfully unaware of the other wins he must have missed. In the end I sleezed a much needed draw.

This set up a must win game against the leader who was half a point ahead of the field. I played the opening a bit too creatively and Manuel exploited my artificial play with the very clever 7....Nb4 which leaves my queenside pieces hanging around stupidly in mid air. I had to play very accurately just to avoid disaster. One example, 13 c3 gets hit by Bc3!!  followed by Qh4+ and takes bishop on g4.
I would still prefer black until he undertook a kingside adventure that led nowhere. After he missed 21Qb5 it was one way traffic. So with this win I set up a last round pairing with Merijn Van Delft, both of us half a point in front.

What can I say in my defense? 10am round, guaranteed equal first with a draw and black against a higher rated opponent. Yes, still wimpy, but at least now I have time to update my blog :-)

So now we wait to see if others can join us on 7 points. With buchholz you never know who is going to take the honours until the lower boards have finished. Very much a lottery. Pics from the weighing coming later.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Round 6 and the Maison des Gourmands

Yesterday was busy but a great day. In the morning we went to the beach which is always a good way to lift the mood. Our game started at 2pm so there was no hurry but since we had a one round change of venue some complications needed to be overcome, like where is it and how do we get there. The Chateau itself was a great place to play chess.

Telling your kids not to climb things is a waste of time

Merijn Van Delft missed the wine tasting as his opponent forced him to prove his endgame technique with a massive material advantage.

Wine is a religion in Medoc.

Rike and Jules enjoying the wine. 

We were given a tour of the winery. I was especially taken with the ancient exhibits.

Now to my game. I was playing an old friend, Manuel Larand. He has quite a provocative style and I am easily provoked so a wild game was almost guaranteed and so it came to pass. I thought the game was in the bag when Manuel came up with the great plan Nc8,a7,b5,c3 when all of a sudden I couldn't protect my e pawn. Time to burn the bridges :-)

Instead of Qc7, giving me the e pawn with check, he should have just played Qe8. Am not sure how to assess that position.

Now the day got really good. I picked up the family and we went to the wine tasting. After we gave Manuel a lift home as his ride had left and when we dropped him off his host, Jean-Renauld Lagunes, invited us in for an aperitif :-)

Warning, accepting an invitation for a simple "apero" could lead to an offer you can't refuse, like a 5 star gourmet dinner :-)

JR lives in the middle of the best wine area near a village called Cissac. The houses are ancient with huge wooden beams and high ceiling and very thick walls. 

Our evening started in the garden with wine and charcuterie.

Then for the Main course JR, who is by the way the president of the Bordeaux chess society, threw some entrecote on some burning sticks for a few minutes. The gentleman standing, whose name I unfortunately don't remember, is a fine judge of wine. It was he who recommended an unbelievable gewuertztraminer for the apero. I will drink his recommendations anytime. 

I hope today will be half as good. In about 30 minutes I have to play the second seed with black so this game could have a big influence on my haul of wine this year :-)