Rapid fire

GM smurfo

I've had the opportunity to play a couple of rapid tournaments recently, in a weak attempt to shake off the rust before the European league season starts. There was a nice 'holiday' rapid in Luxembourg, whose chess community is super fun and social, as well as the eighth edition of the Amstelveen Brainwave Rapid. Both tournaments were run by really friendly and genial people and it was nice to push a bit of wood around for a change.

Unfortunately, like the Tin Man before me, I could have done with some oiling; no placings in either event. There were only really two chess highlights from my perspective. The first was winning the bughouse tournament in Luxembourg with Vlad Hamitevici under the moniker of our mutual friend "Casper". And in Amstelveen, I managed to beat Dutch GM Dennis De Vreugt with black in 14 moves using my Scandinavian. I confess that I only just managed to hide a smug smile when some kibitzers came up to my opponent after the game and said in Dutch, "Haven't you read his book?!"


(And of course, now I have to add: my book on this opening is available at my website.)

A couple of snapshots from the trip, including a small vid of the bughouse. Luxembourg rules are a bit weird: there's no dropping for mate, and you can only promote to pieces in your current 'stock' of spares. But you quickly get used to it!




Bughouse in Luxembourg. Team Casper for the win!

The Amstelveen rapid tournament is always held in conjunction with the Dutch Rubik's Cube championships. I was almost tempted to buy one of their clothing accessories, but I couldn't quite think of an occasion where I'd wear it...
Eventual tournament winner (and Luxembourg chess legend) Alberto David in a crucial round against recently redeemed French GM Sebastien Feller
Those chess playing Luxembourgers really were a social lot...as was demonstrated in the post-tournament celebrations, which went on long after the prize giving. Bottles of home-made honey liqueur were produced, containing anything from between one and a dozen hot red chills. Want to see how that tastes?



The new Luxembourg university opened while we were in town. It has been built literally around an old, derelict steel refinery, which makes for an amazing architectural contrast.
Old stuff can be beautiful, too. Get it?