Desi Eurotrip 2009!
After months of planning and endless conference calls we (2 Grand Masters and 2 International Masters) decided to make this Eurotrip happen. For those who have an American passport or a European union passport, it will be hard to understand why so much energy was required for a simple Eurotrip since you guys are not required to hear the magical word “Visa”. Trust me guys, this one word has been constantly spinning around my head for the last 6 months so much so that I feel beauty pageant participants should no longer want for “World Peace” but for a “World Passport” that no longer requires visa for any country!
Anyways, the point is we had to get several invitations from organizers all over Europe. With a few exceptions, most of them do not understand the language and the rest are not really what you call prompt in replying your emails. The Embassy on the other hand with increasing security concerns wants us to account for every single day for our whole trip in Europe, which is quite impossible.
Finally with a huge sigh of relief, we managed to get through all this paper work and start our trip with a tournament in Maastricht, Nederlands. So here I bring a few pictures and our experience at Limburg open.
Me, Arun and Kidambi reached Maastricht a couple of days before the tournament. Maastricht, I should say is a very pleasant place to stay. We were given accommodation in the city center for the first two days after which the organizers shifted us to our respective accommodation for the tournament. The weather was extremely pleasant, having come out of the Indian summer it felt like heaven. After the relaxing first two days me and Arun moved to the Van Der Walk hotel while Kidambi was shifted to a local family house.
Having turned into a vegetarian in the last one year things have not been that easy for me abroad. Kidambi has been a vegetarian all his life and though Arun ate meat, he had restrictions with pork and beef leaving him in the same boat as us. At least in India we did not have any real problem, but it is a well known fact that it is not easy to survive without eating meat in Europe. So, the one thing I was really looking forward to everyday was the sweet sound of the word “Continental Breakfast Buffet”. I had to pretty much eat a whole days meal in one go since all I could get later to eat was bun and cheese!
Though I knew exactly the schedule of play and other details of the tournament a long time back I felt rather surprised to see chess being so fast paced in Europe. It felt that it was more like in the US in this tournament with the hectic schedule and the organizer explaining to us the reason why the tournament had only 7 rounds, since people were very busy and did not take time off from work from weekdays to play in tournaments.
With two rounds a day it was just enough time for us to eat and play chess. The tournament had accelerated pairings (The total list of players are separated into two pools and each play amongst themselves until a particular round). Apart from the other weirdness in pairings for all the seven rounds (For the first round all seeded players had white! And for the rest of the games we could not reason out with any of the pairings...apparently they had their own system :P) the tournament as a whole was conducted reasonably well without much of a problem.
I personally had a bad outing in this tournament. I won my first game and drew a lucky game against a young kid from Netherlands, Ducarmon, Quinten from a completely lost position. It later turned out that he was having a very good tournament, he drew against Arun from a seemingly winning position also and defeated another IM. I managed to win my third game and drew a tough game fourth game against a young IM Swinkels, Robin from Netherlands. I just decided to be nice to my opponent Ernst, Sipke on the fifth round and gifted him a point. A rather tame game, where I did not manage to give him any trouble. I consumed way too much time and payed a heavy price for that. The penultimate round was a complete swindle. I managed to trick my opponent in time scramble. He left aside the million moves that he could have played to win the game and found the one move that cost him the game. The 7th and the final game was a sine curve which in the end I managed to salvage a draw from a very interesting endgame.
Kidambi had a very solid tournament until he missed a strong move after a piece sacrifice against GM Solodvnichenko in the 4th round and lost. In the end he managed the same 4.5/7 as me. Arun started off bad, losing to an IM in the third round. He finished on a high note with a thumping win against IM Swinkels, Robin in the last round to finish in the prize list.
Overall, not a very good tournament from result perspective, we all lost a few rating points. But who cares, this is chess! and it has been like this for me for the past seventeen years. I love playing chess and look forward to an exciting summer filled with tournaments in Europe. Will write more about the other tournaments as things progress.