Friday, 10 February 2012

Gibraltar Tournament

Unless you've been living on the Moon for the past couple of weeks, you know that GM Hou Yifan had a fantastic tournament in Gibraltar, gaining shared 1st place with the British GM Nigel Short and beating several GMs over 2700! This was one of the best ever women's performances even compared to the legendary GM Judit Polgar. Yifan is still only 17 years old and I will continue to follow her chess career with great interest. This is what I call girl power!

The tournament turned out quite disappointing for me with 4 out of 10 as I lost a lot of rating. For some reason my brain deserted me in the first three rounds as I was struggling to achieve my usual level of concentration. I knew I wasn't playing well without even looking at the results. There were a lot of blunders and I kept thinking for even longer than I normally do during the games. I just didn't know how to get myself into the necessary chess mood. I think this happens to a lot of chess players - you know something is not quite right with you but you're not quite sure what's causing it so as to address it quickly. I did better after round 3 and performed at around my rating but still was far from happy about the quality of my games. I guess the only happy moment happened when I managed to save a long and lost endgame against 2300-level player. My games continued to be quite long, averaging at about 57 moves - probably not good for my energy levels! Simon suggested that I change my openings so I win quicker! I actually don't mind playing endgames, I even enjoy them. But what's become very clear now is that to improve there are two key areas I need to address as a priority. I need to learn to play endgames much better (even though for my rating level I'm quite good at it) and I must improve my calculation skills. It was especially interesting to hear from GM Judit Polgar in her recent interview that she spent a lot of time on endgames and tactics in her early years while she didn't think that studying openings was that important for players up to 2500. And look at GM Magnus Carlsen - he's probably the best endgame player in the world. So I think endgames are really "in" at the moment. Anyhow, here is a nice photo of me from the now famous chess photographer Ray Morris-Hill.

On a positive note, ECF has released half-year ratings for the first time and I have the highest ever rating of 189. At least something is moving in the right direction! Also, I must mention that I found Gibraltar Masters tournament and Gibraltar itself very interesting. The tournament was great for me as a spectator since there were many famous chess players, even though I had very little time to spectate due to my own long games. The hotel was great - everything a chessplayer may need, even free Wi-Fi. My room had a view straight into the sea - it was amazing! And I did have a chance to explore Gibraltar a bit. I visited the caves, the war tunnels and, of course, the famous monkeys. I took so many photos as I was enjoying my new camera while trying to learn the settings a bit better. Here is my favourite monkey photo - isn't he just such a cool dude?

There's not much to show from my games in Gibraltar. I do have one interesting/sharp endgame in mind but I'll leave it till next week. This weekend I'm off to the 4NCL, so I hope I'll have something interesting to show from it. There are no more tournaments planned for me for the time being, but I do fancy going somewhere nice towards the summer.

A couple of people contacted me with interesting chess material. If you're interested in chess representation in paintings, I recommend this interesting YouTube link, created by Miroslav in Paris:
If I understood it correctly, the art seems to progress from very old to modern day, so if you have an interest in a particular art period then I suggest scrolling the video to that point.

I was also contacted by Pablo - developer of the free "Social Chess Clock" application for Android phones. This gives you an ability to use your phone as a chess clock, even with increment. This could be handy on long and boring train journeys if you want to entertain yourself and a friend with some blitz! Unfortunately, I have an iPhone so I can't test this application. But please do let me know your feedback if you decide to use it.

With my Russian language skills I find that a lot of interesting interviews with top chess players never get translated from Russian into English. So I decided to do something about it! Look out for some interesting interviews and other chess news items translated from Russian on my website in the near future. And I leave you with the photo of GM Nigel Short - the winner of Gibraltar Masters on play-off with GM Hou Yifan. This was a great result for Nigel even though he always seems to do very well in Gibraltar.


jello said...

Good definition of Girl power :) Whoa. What a truly inspiring performance by Hou Yifan! I would very much like to see a match between her and Judit - soon, before either of them gets too much older and it doesn't make sense any more. Shoot, if I was one of those eccentric millionaires with money coming out of my **** I'd be trying to set it up right now! Of course, even if Hou won she would still have a good deal of work to do before replacing Polgar as the strongest woman to ever play the game.

I predict we will see Hou Yifan playing in more men's events in the near future.

Sorry to hear about the tough tournament you had. Sounds like you were just off form. Even so, here's hoping you'll be able to gain something valuable from the experience and come out stronger on the other side (my hope for all of us ;)

Never been, but from what I've seen and read about Gibraltar it seems like a very interesting place and special tournament indeed. Perhaps living up to its name with people playing at a few hundred points above their ratings not so uncommon. Noticed that you ran into one such player somewhere in the early rounds :( Its nice to see you finding the positive side once again, as you so often seem to do within your writings and reflections here. Maybe some of that will rub off on me XD

Speaking of which (positives) great photograph of you. RMH strikes again! A couple of his black and whites are some of my favorite chess photographs ever (think there are somewhere around 2000 on my laptop alone) and I'm picky :P Thanks for the youtube link, chess as a subject for art and literature is something I enjoy very much when done well (at over thirty minutes I'll have to save it for later but am looking forward to it).

On the subject of your doing translations of interviews. I think its a wonderful idea and hope it turns out to be a practical one. I can't count the number of times I longed for such things after reading yet another english interviewer asking the same old boring questions. Of course, even if the questions are thoughtful and useful ones it doesn't guarantee against insipid responses. The quality is largely to do with the one being interviewed, as has been demonstrated by players who have turned a brain dead interviewers questions into something interesting, and good questions into something that leaves you mildly concerned and wanting to check the player in question for a pulse XD But good questions help a lot! and I have often wondered about the grass being greener - particularly in places where chess and its heroes are measurably more revered. This video may be a good case in point:
and is one I found myself wondering about very recently. The second interviewer's first question (or lead in at least)seems to go on for a minute give or take. Also he has Kosintseva smiling, laughing and very much at ease. Good conditions for interesting responses if you ask me.

In any case, its a very nice thing to offer to do for the chess community. I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor and very much look forward to your first efforts.

Lastly, I have to respectfully disagree on the monkey. Don't know why, but I have always been a bit creeped out by monkeys of all kinds (all except certain varieties of lemures but I'm not sure they are monkeys) and this one looks especially creepy/scary. But in fairness, if I ran into him in a dark alley - okay even a sunny one - he wouldn't have to have that pissed expression on his face for me to hightail it in the opposite direction :)

Maria Yurenok said...

Hi jello,
You made me laugh about the monkey. I guess everyone sees pictures differently! And thanks for your support.