Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 Gibraltar Masters - Game 1

The first game in the Masters was at 3 p.m. the same day as Round 2 of the Challengers A.
While all the Challengers and Amateur games were played upstairs in the room you saw in the Challengers Round 2 post; the Master's boards were spread over two floors.  Boards 1 - 75 were played in the well-lit upstairs room, whereas  boards 76 to the end (approx 130)  were played a couple of floors below street level in an area that is normally a restaurant (from what I gathered). The lighting here was objectively hit or miss, but it did not affect me. Fellow Canadian, FM Michael Dougherty who had played in Gibraltar at least once before, dubbed this floor, "the Dungeon", and the objective was to escape and play upstairs

My opponent for round 1 was Spanish IM David Martinez (2407)

A nice touch by the organizers was the name card pre-placed at your board for every game, including the Challengers and Amateur. 

About the game.  I played a dubious positional idea in the opening. David spent a lot of time deciding how to exploit my weaknesses, and with surgical position executed. I resigned on move 21.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

2016 Albert Boxer Memorial (March TNT) starts Tuesday, March 1, 2016

2016 Albert Boxer Memorial (March TNT) –
CFC (Chess Federation of Canada)  rated. FIDE rated. CFC Membership required (see below)

$ 20 entry fee  –   Prizes will be based on entries.

Location: University of Winnipeg – Rm 4CM42

5 rounds – March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29,   – (This is not a knockout tournament, players will play all 5 rounds)   (Players may take up to 1  half-point and any number of zero-point byes.  Half-point byes for round  5 must be requested before Round 2.

Please note that we intend to start the first round at 7:00 p.m. sharp. There is one game per week.
Contact for byes, etc.  TD:  Tony Boron  204-798-nine-four-six-four

All of the TNTs are Swiss (pairing) style tournaments with a time control of G /110 minutes [Each player has 1 hour 50 minutes  to complete their moves, the game will be be approx. 3 hours and 40 minutes maximum]. We will also be using FIDE Rule Appendix G.4 for situations with players having under 2 minutes remaining.

$ 20 entry fee and CFC membership required.

All players must be CFC members (can be obtained during registration on-site)

[$ 20 for a one-tournament adult membership or $ 49 for 12 months- new adult members pay only $ 36 for a twelve-month CFC membership, or $ 16 for a one-tournament membership]

Junior (under 20)  members pay $ 10 for a one-tournament membership, $ 34 for a twelve-month CFC membership, new junior members pay only  $ 24 for a twelve month CFC membership, or $ 8 for a one-tournament membership]

Registration for tournament -Tuesday, March 1  – approximately 6:35 pm to 6:50 pm

Registration will be cut off at 6:50 pm. (If you think you may be late, please send an email to chessmanitoba ‘at’ before 5 pm (you can try later, but the wireless access at the U may be problematic) . Players can join in Round 2, they will receive a half-point bye for Round 1.  Additional bye information will be added.

Location: University of Winnipeg – Rm 4CM42

Easiest way to get there is to take the elevator at the north end (Ellice) to the 5th Floor(if that Elevator is operating) Otherwise, there is an elevator just to the west of the old Bookstore location.  Our goal is to start the first round at 7:00 p.m. sharp.

Cell phone rules:
In all FIDE-rated events all players shall be asked to turn off their phones and place them on the table in advance of the game and throughout play. Any use of cell phone during a game without TD permission will result in forfeiture of the game. Players needing special consideration shall consult with TD.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

2016 Gibraltar Challengers A - Game 2

On the day of Round 1 (Monday, January 25), I had met an older gentleman (born 1940), Sead Kozarcanin of Croatia.  He asked me if I could message his daughter to indicate that he had arrived safely for the tournament, and of course I did.  He was one of the folks staying in La Linea.

As fate would have it, we met in Round 2.  Still sporting a credible rating of 2073 at 75 years of age, he had been 2243 as recently as ten years ago.

A view of the main tournament hall. The view is from the section of the room with boards from approx 40 to 75.
I (only my nose and hair are visible) am by the window, just to the right (in the picture) of the player in the blue shirt.

2016 February TNT has been rated by the CFC

 Please see the crosstable  here.

Congratulations to the following who achieved new peak established ratings:

Will Bonness 1728

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Gibraltar - Chess Free Evening - continued

After returning from the monkey visit, I decided to take a short trip to the frontier (that's what they call the area near the border with Spain to do some grocery shopping at Eroski.  This was a simple trip; go to Casemates to catch the # 5 bus, 5 minutes later, you are at the store.

The flat had a fully functioning kitchen with stove, microwave, fridge, toaster, kettle, etc., so all I need was some more food.  Below are some items that may look familiar, but if you see these variations in Winnipeg, please let me know,

Prosciutto !

\Salami Mozzarella Pesto !

Cecil's Saturday Puzzle - February 20, 2016

from the Winnipeg Free Press
White to mate in 2 (Wurzburg)
1. Nd4

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Monkey business on a half-free day.

As I mentioned, Monday was the only day that had a Challengers Day, and no Masters round, I decided to see the famous Gibraltar 'apes' in the afternoon.  From the flat it was about a 15 minute walk to Cable car that takes visitors to the top of the Rock where the apes hang out. Technically, they are Barbary Macaques. According to Wikipedia, "The Barbary macaque population of Gibraltar is the only such population outside of Northern Africa and the only population of wild monkeys in Europe. The Rock of Gibraltar is populated by approximately 230 macaques."

A few steps from the cable stop at the top, I came across the first

Friday, February 19, 2016

2016 Gibraltar - Challengers A - Round 1

Ok. Time to play some chess.  I had entered the Challengers A (for U2250), the Challengers B, and the Masters (Open). Each of the Challengers was a 5 round Swiss; the Masters, 10 rounds,  The Challengers start at 9:45 a.m., the Masters at 3 p.m. The Masters started one day after Challengers A started and ended the day after Challengers B concluded. I was ranked near the bottom of each section with all-time low ELO of 1915.(My high was ~1960).

I took a taxi (~ 5 pounds)from Casemates to the Caleta Hotel, as I wasn't quite sure yet, about the bus schedule or the route.  And although all participants enjoyed free bus travel around Gibraltar, I hadn't been to the hotel to pick up my credentials.

My first round opponent was 'Osi' Omoifi of Nigeria.  He has spent some time in the USA as a student and had a USCF rating of 2350-ish at one point.  I noticed soon after the game that one of local players had posted that the game appeared on chessbomb, so you can play through it there.

I was feeling pretty good around moves 27-30, as I thought I could work on the backward pawns. But I underestimated his queenside pawn advances as does the chessbomb engine. It indicate .21 before 32...a4, but  .0 after that move.  (not that is a big difference) I had a tough decision on move 33; play Nxc4 with the mess that ensues, or cxb4. I decided that I would live dangerously with the former, as I still had 19 games to play! The complications turned out well for opponent, and he conducted the rest of the game quite precisely. In the post mortem, we had a long look at 48. Qd8 which Osi suggested and feared; it took us a long time to find the lines that won for Black, so that would have been a good practical try.

Photo by Sophie Triay

2016 January TNT rated by the CFC

We interrupt my Gibraltar trip report to catch up on news of the 2016 January TNT, which concluded while I was in Gibraltar.

Please the crosstable here.

Congratulations to Isaac Wiebe (2220) who is now a National Master !  Congratulations !  Very few achieve this.

On to Gibraltar

I had arranged bus travel with the organizers, £30 return (approx. $ 60 CDN), for travel between Malaga and Gibraltar.  Pickup was at Malaga airport, so I just had to reverse my travel from a couple days past.

At the airport, I met others gathering for the bus, including GM Gata Kamsky and his fiance WGM Vera Nebolsina.  I also became acquainted with Peter Korning and his wife Pella, from Stockholm. Peter had recently retired and has been playing in some of the better known tournaments in Europe .
In recent months, he had played in the London Classic Open, World Senior Championship, Ville de Menton, and the World Open in Washington.  I think he was also going to play the Reykjavik Open in March.

The Rock in the distance
Bus travel took about 2 hours to the border and then we had a half-hour delay as the  few of the passports received extra scrutiny.   I got off at the frontier (just over the border) as I was heading to old town Gibraltar, a few others got off as they were staying in La Linea, while the rest were going to the host hotel, the Caleta.  I jumped on the # 5 Gibraltar bus which took me to the Casemates bus stop (about 5 minutes),  From there it was about a 5 minute walk to the 'flat', where I met my AirBnB host.

After unpacking, I decided that I should take advantage of the kitchen and get some groceries. I found Ransom's nearby.  After some more wandering I decided to relax and get ready for the tournament which would start the next morning,

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day 2 in Malaga

Day 2 in Malaga. Forecast was a high of 20 C. A perfect day to climb the hill to see the castle
Inspired by Seth Kugel's article on Malaga, I decided to buy a few items at the Mercado Central de Atarazanas for a picnic later.  My purchases were modest; some Jamón ibérico, some buns, and a banana.

From youtube - here is an overview of the market:

Then on to the Alcazaba, and the Gibrafalo.

 On the opposite side is a beautiful botanical garden /walkway and beyond that, a marina, beach and a row of restaurants just off the water.

Later in the afternoon, I visited the Picasso Museum (Picasso was born in Malaga).
My opinion was that the exhibit that passed through Winnipeg last was more enjoyable, but it was worth the few Euro to see this collection also.

 The fact that the Museum is above an archeological site was quite interesting.

After some more wandering in early evening in the old town and a day of sunshine and miles and miles of walking, I turned in relatively early.
Next day, Sunday, I would travel to Gibraltar. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Day 1 - The Flights and Arrival in Malaga

The flights to Malaga were uneventful, but I recall two interesting moments.  One, as we settled in our seats, I noticed that my twenty-something seatmate had a copy of Schachnovelle in the original German by Stefan Zweig.  Before we could chat he found a more comfortable seat on the unfilled Air France plane, and I didn't see him in Gibraltar, so it was just one of those coincidences.
By the way, the service on the flight was great.  And, I normally don't watch movies on planes, but I did watch 'Antman' on this flight.

The next leg was Paris - Malaga on Air Europa.  I thought I had missed a boarding call or two, when I realized that long queue beside me was for my flight. Apparently they don't board by row (same scenario on the return flight), and with virtually everybody toting carry-on luggage, boarding is inefficient to say the least.

I had checked my baggage from Winnipeg to Malaga.  When the carousel stopped running in Malaga, a few of us were sans bags, We inquired at the baggage claim where we were informed that if our baggage originated outside the EU, it would arrive at a different carousel (out of sight, behind a set of doors).

Retrieving the bags, the next step was to find the A line Airport Express bus that would take to my stop on Alemeda Principal for 3 Euros, quite near Hotel Trebol which I had booked for the two nights.

I found the hotel, but not before inadvertently exploring many of the streets near my destination, It seems that I had overestimated the distance to the hotel, and my cell phone had run out of juice,

I selected the Hotel Trebol largely based on the reviews on Tripadvisor, and price (less than $ 60 CDN). The room was suitable for me (it have may have a bit tight for two), and I found the location to be excellent for exploring the old town attractions.

It was after 3 already, so I decided the rest of the day (Friday) would be devoted to exploring some museums close by and turning in early.

I  viewed the artists' posters exhibit at the Carmen Thyssen Museum.

And just a few steps from the Hotel, I had a half chicken from Pollos St. Juan.

The skin was the crispiest, tastiest I can recall having, Served with papitas fritas and grilled peppers.
 The special includes a canned drink for .7 Euro extra. Canned drinks include beer!

After wandering the streets, I bought some provisions and prepared for Saturday.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Gibraltar - the planning

I recently attended the 2016 Gibraltar Chess Congress, and will write about my experience there in future posts. But I thought I would start with discussing my interest in Gibraltar and the planning involved in getting there.

I started following the Congress online starting sometime around 2012 or 2013. The tournament, side events, and locale all made it look like an attractive option for a chess vacation,.

So time to rough-cost the adventure,  My first stab at it for the 2014 Congress indicated that I could fly to London and then to Gibraltar for a total of around $ 1,200.  Accommodation at the host hotel, the Caleta, would run about  825 Pounds (or about $1,500 Canadian at the time), if I shared it with someone.  Well, that seemed a bit expensive for a chess vacation, and for various other reasons, I didn't get too serious about any further planning,

Come summer of 2015, I started thinking about it again, Checking the website, I noted that the organizers offered a charter bus from Malaga, Spain to Gibraltar. I don't think I had ever heard of Malaga before. A quick search of flight options indicated that the flights to Malaga were less expensive than going through London.

I also started looking for less expensive accommodation. I noted from one timely article that some players stayed in La Linea, Spain, near the Gibraltar border.  I almost booked something there for around $ 50 CDN per night, but decided my schedule would make staying in Spain a bit impractical.
I thought I would try taking a look at  AirBNB options. I was successful in booking a room off Main St. in Gibraltar for about $ 75 CDN per night,

I watched the flight costs for a couple of months, until I noticed  a significant price drop and booked a return flight Winnipeg-Montreal-Paris-Malaga for less than $ 900 CDN. The itinerary I prepared for myself included 2 nights in Malaga, followed by 12 nights in Gibraltar, and then one night back in Malaga.

A day or two before departure, I bought some Euros and British pounds.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cecil's Saturday Puzzle - February 6, 2016

from the Winnipeg Free Press
White to mate in 2 (Howard)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cecil's Saturday Puzzle - January 23, 2016

from the Winnipeg Free Press
White to mate in 2 (Shinkman)
1. Qh1