Rest Day to Stress Day
Sunday the 24th was the perfectly chosen rest day for the Biel International Chess Festival. I had one of the most lovely and low-key days of my life, most everything went right, and I recharged my batteries for the second half of the tournament.
I'll upload a whole photo album later, but I'll just include one or two photos from my day in this blog. First I explored the old town of Biel, which was really pretty, with beautiful homes, beautiful gardens, awesome towers, a couple nice narrow passageways, an empty bit of moat and fortification, etc. Then after stopping by home (my hotel room) for a little chat and some water, I headed back out in the other direction to cross the train tracks and canal to Nidau, with this as one of my destinations:
I poked my nose in, and found a couple statues and a gigantic movie screen with bleachers: they show outdoor movies at night during the summer. Which seems really lovely, except that with the unbroken inclimate weather I'm not sure who would want to be outdoors at 10 pm. I also met a nice man who was working there: he turned out to be a Senagalese hip hop artist!
Grimace, Bear Soldiers!
I found the one open restaurant down by the lake, and they accepted two of our food vouchers in exchange for a very nice snack. Yum! Then a stroll through a little park and greenery, then along a canal... all very nice. Then back to the site, where I was guessing I might catch the Elite Section playing. However, they had another rest day, and instead I walked in on the following madness:
Round 9 of the Blitz Tournament Gets Underway
Let me tell you, there was nothing restful about this event. I stayed for one game on board 1, which left me breathless and nerve-wracked. Here it is:
You may notice that many of the best players from the Main Tournament took part. That game you just saw was played by:
GM Bu Xiangzhi, 2675 fide, and Former Child GM
(By the way, I think at the first table, Indonesian GM Megaranto is in black, Russian GM Grachev is in green, and Bulgarian GM Cheparinov is in pink.)
GM Tigran Gharamian, 2670, and a Very Nice Guy!
And in addition to them, I noticed Grachev, Ni Hua, and Cheparinov all playing, which means at least the top 5 seeds were all choosing to play a grueling blitz tournament on their rest day! It was round 9 when I was there, and the event stretched on beyond. Well, not for me! In the lobby I ran into Macauley (Macauley Peterson, an excellent chess journalist) and he informed me that they also were going to play a football game at night! The next day he told me that both Magnus and Maxime had shown up, as well as many of the top players from the Master tournament. I found that very surprising.
So back to the hotel I went, where I cooked dinner (rice and red curry) for all the Americans playing in the tournament. The food was good. And then we turned our attention towards the next day, back towards the chess tournament. I was to play black against a pretty decent young Israeli GM. It took me a while to figure out his opening repertoire, but it was all for naught, because at the board some evil spirit possessed me and I improvised in an utterly stupid, stupid way. By the time he played the surprising (for me) 12.b3! I realized I was going to be the first person to lose that day, and that my woes with black continued.
Obviously, I desperately need to improve my play with black. But that is a problem for tonight and tomorrow. For now, I'm getting ready to play white against young Ukrainian GM Ilya Nyzhnyk.