Kostya's Going to Europe and He's Really Excited About It
Those that have been closest to me personally know that one of my lifelong goals is to be able to travel and play in strong chess tournaments simultaneously. It is mainly for this reason that I semi-committed to becoming a chess professional in my late-teens. Well now it's happening. Good ol' Kostya is headed to Europe to play in a series of strong open tournaments, and I can't wait for the experience.
My itinerary - Los Angeles-Malaga-Gibraltar-Paris-Cappelle-la-Grande-Cannes-Brussels-Reykjavik-Los Angeles!
I'm starting off with the Gibraltar Chess Festival, January 26 - February 4, one of the premier and biggest open tournaments all year, featuring such giants as Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier Lagrave, and Vishy Anand. Ooh am I chomping (champing!?) at the bit to play one of those guys...
After Gibraltar I'll be staying a week in Paris, studying, being a tourist, and then meeting up with my current roommate, NM Thomas Henry Riccardi, who'll be joining me for the rest of the trip. First we're headed up north to the Cappelle-la-Grande Open, February 13 - 20, a historical and very strong event, held in the small French village of Cappelle-la-Grande.
Then, immediately after the tournament we'll be travelling south through all of France to Cannes (!), to play in the Cannes Chess Festival, February 22 - 28. Not to be confused with the Cannes Film Festival, which is a different thing altogether I think. I mean it's not even a chess tournament, so...I don't know why someone would be interested in that at all.
Anyways, after Cannes we'll have a bit of a break before our final tournament, so we'll fly back up north to Brussels, to visit a dear friend of mine from my grad school days at Lindenwood University. We'll spend a week recharging in Belgium, mixing studies and opening preparation with being silly American tourists in Europe. I'll be sure to update you guys on how many waffles we can stuff into our big fat faces
Lastly, we'll fly across the Atlantic to the Reykjavik Open, March 8 - March 16, where the likes of Richard Rapport, Gabriel Sargissian, and Ivan Cheparinov are already registered. In fact, check out Chess.com's preview of the event! Iceland is famously gorgeous, and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the scenery, the hot springs, the northern lights, etcetera etcetera.
All four tournaments of mine will have at least 9 rounds, some 10, which means it will be a perfect opportunity for me to earn my third and final IM norm, and perhaps cross the 2400 FIDE rating threshold in the process. Maybe I'll even contend for a GM norm?!
In short, my goal is to crush it, and I hope I don't come back an embarrassing failure, but even if I do the experience of getting to travel and play chess throughout Europe will be incredibly awesome.
Wish me luck!
All the best,