Thursday 18 March 2010

Challenge at the Top

My birthday is over and now it's only a nice but distant memory! I wouldn't mind a birthday once a month :) However, there is still something to look forward to - my present from relatives in the U.S.A. is still on its way. I hope it didn't get lost as it's been travelling for a long time now! I'm pretty sensible these days when I go out, but this time I must have had one too many cocktails and lost my camera. But before I even realised what I'd done, I had a call from the restaurant to tell me I left my camera - that's amazing customer service I think! Photos were worth retrieving as now I can prove that I wasn't the only one drinking cocktails :) Here I am with my good friend WFM Meri Grigoryan.

Meri told me that she recently met GM Karpov and had a picture taken with him. Apparently he's a nice and friendly man. Unfortunately, I've never met him. Why am I saying all this? Well, you must have heard by now that Karpov is running for the FIDE President. It would certainly be interesting if FIDE had a change at the top. When Karpov played his World Championship match against Kasparov back in the 80-s, lots of  people in Chelyabinsk supported Karpov because he grew up very near Chelyabinsk and was considered the local talent. I was still in Russia when the match was played and I was also supporting Karpov. Although I really admire his chess I have no idea what he would be like in the management position of FIDE President, but I do like change and I'm looking forward to the FIDE President elections!

Not much is happening in my chess world. I played a London League game for the second Hackney team on Monday and had a straightforward win in the Closed Sicilian with black. Quite amazingly for me I also finished with half an hour to spare compared to my opponent. Perhaps I should continue this trend as it's great to have lots of time in the middlegame! My team also won. I've also been following some of the Amber and European Championship games on the internet. And I have been playing quite a bit of blitz and getting a bit better at it, but perhaps I should concentrate on more useful chess learning activities!

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Reykjavik Tournament

I'm finally back in England and glad to be back! I enjoyed Iceland - it's definitely worth seeing, though it might be a bit more enjoyable in the summer as it wouldn't be so cold. After the tournament finished Simon and I hired a car for a couple of days and saw some amazing scenery, hot geysers and the Blue Lagoon. Just look at this waterfall called Skogafoss!

The Blue Lagoon is an open-air swimming pool with unnaturally light blue water because of all the minerals. While your head is in the open air of about 0 degrees Celsius with nasty wind blowing from every direction, the water is a very pleasant 38 degrees Celsius. We spent about 2 hours in there and it was very relaxing. Here is another waterfall called Gullfoss - do you think I look a bit cold?? Not only it was cold, there were a lot of cold water droplets blowing from the waterfall.

So how about chess? I didn't do very well again. I got my usual 3.5 out of 9 and lost lots of rating again - about 13 points. Here is the official tournament site if you'd like to have a look: Reykjavik Open. I found this tournament pretty hard going maybe because I've overdone on chess a bit lately. Since I played at Uxbridge and at the 4NCL it means I had almost no breaks from playing chess since 13th February. I don't know how professionals do it, perhaps I need to get fitter physically! It's very hard mentally as well if you don't get the results you think you should. Bearing all that in mind, I've decided to have a break from tournaments for a month and train instead. My next tournament will be in Thailand in April and until then I'd just be playing occasional league games. I didn't even have any interesting games worth showing, so instead I'll dig into my games archive from the past few months and show you something interesting from there in the coming posts. I was also a bit disappointed that no one played the King's Indian or Nimzo-Indian against me! I really need to practice those openings. Anyway, here I am at the Reykjavik tournament.

The tournament itself was very well organised and the venue was very pleasant. We even went to the chess quiz and blitz in the evenings. Our team of four English players did pretty well at the quiz despite being half an hour late! And the blitz - well, don't mention the blitz! I'm terrible at it so I'll see you on the ICC and Playchess trying to improve!

This week should be pretty good as it will be my birthday and I have a couple of celebrations planned with my friends. I also have a sweet tooth so very looking forward to yummy desserts and cakes!