Forni Di Sopra…Scenic Chess

Next stop after Ortisei … Forni Di Sopra!  Forni Di Sopra is a small, lush village, located in the Dolomite region.  It’s very scenic with open views, and a beautiful place for a Chess tournament.  The ride to Forni Di Sopra from Ortisei itself was quite scenic and I must say long – we changed 4 trains in different cities.  

Took 4 trains to get to Forni from Ortisei
Captivating scenery during the train rides

Once we settled into our wonderful hotel, my Dad and I would bike up into the hills and soak in the serenity.  I’d collect my thoughts and try to visualize my chess game.  It was very peaceful, and gave me a unique sense of power.  The best part of the biking trip was coming downhill (guess, the worst part :-) ) on the curvy road.  Although, I did have a scary moment when at a blind curve a deer jumped from thick tree cover right in-front of my bike.  I don’t know who was more alarmed – the deer or me.  But I bet we were both glad we could go our own ways without getting hurt.  And I didn’t fall off my bike, although I did go zig-zaggy for a few yards.  Phew!  

Enjoying the beautiful surroundings
Coming Uphill.  During downhill I had the Deer encounter

Well, after this wild & exciting encounter, things got even more exciting as the Chess tournament got underway.  For me the first game was the only one of real significance in this chess tournament.  The round was to begin at 4pm, and the first round pairings were posted at the venue about 3:45pm, 15 minutes before.  I was to play Black against GM Korneev Oleg (2585).  I took a quick look at his chess games and went over in my head on what I will like to do.  I entered the hall at 4pm, and quickly stole a look again at the Chess pairing list to confirm my table number.  What!  The pairing had been changed and now I was playing as White against GM Pavel Tregubov (2595) from Russia.  My first thought was Wow – I got an almost 2600 rated GM.  The highest rated player I’ve played so far.  Then I realized that I had the wrong game plan in mind for the pairing and color had been changed at the very last minute.  Kind of shocking.  Well, there was no time to look over any chess games or develop a new plan, and so I tried to keep a cool mind as I walked to table #2.  GM Pavel Tregubov was the second seed in the tournament.  As I sat down, I found myself in good company.  Next to me was the top seed on Table #1, GM Ivan Salgado Lopez from Spain.  So I was in great company with the top seed next to me and the second seed infront of me :-) 

Just learnt my new pairing with GM Pavel
Here we go!  It’s a 4pm start for the first round of Chess.
You can see my now famous seat cushions :-)
The Opening Chess Move – Akshat Vs GM Pavel Tregubov

I remembered what my coach and friend had said in the past.  ”Try and attack higher rated Chess players; they usually don’t feel good when lower rated show they are not scared.”  That’s good advise for those who find themselves in my kind of pairing situation.  Well, that’s exactly what I did!  I was fairly confident after the opening and from the 12th move itself I declared my intentions that I was going all the way, and not trying to hide under the table or build a fortress.  Also I knew the pressure was on him, since I had nothing to lose.  GM Pavel appeared to crack under the pressure and made an inaccurate exchange sacrifice, typical for the Sicilian (not the inaccurate part!) but not really working on the board at that time.  

A lot of chess thinking.  You can see the bearded GM Ivan Lopez,
top seed and eventual winner
I’m not teasing chess GM Pavel :-)  just thinking hard
As the game progressed, we were the only ones left
(Akshat Chandra Vs GM Pavel Tregubov)

Through the entire game, I’d GM Pavel rooted to his chair.  I managed to exchange queens and  trade down further to a winning endgame where I had Rook+Rook Vs Rook+Bishop and few pawns.  I was now so excited that I could not think straight – and I wasn’t able to find the elusive win.  We spent 3 hours in that endgame, with me trying to find the Win.  I must say that after earlier slip-ups, GM Pavel did a good job of defending accurately and making it difficult for me.  After we reached 40 moves and gained additional time, I was now replenished with energy.  I was sure I could finish this chess game favorably.  But unfortunately, no matter how hard I calculated, I couldn’t find a Win.  After 6 hours I came up short with a Draw.  

At about 10pm, Akshat and GM Pavel were
still going at our chess match

When we signed the notation sheets at the end, I was experiencing mixed feelings.  On one side, I was feeling disappointed for not winning.  It was the biggest chess game of my life so far, and I had a 2600 Russian GM on the ropes with everything in my control.  But it didn’t end the way I visualized.  On the other side, I was feeling relieved and happy that I managed to outplay him even though the result was a Draw.  This proved to me that I could take on anyone in Chess, no matter how good s/he was ;-)  

The rest of the chess tournament had its typical ups-and-downs.  Overall, good experience.  The organizers were nice, particularly IM Martha Fierro and Nadia.  In one of the tournament publications I was referred to as the Tournament Tiger.  Grrrr!  :-)

The official picture from the tournament publication of ‘Akshat the Tiger’ :-)

At the end of the tournament we were talking to GM Ivan Lopez who saw my first game as he was sitting next to me.  He congratulated me on the game and told me next time I need to Win.  He mentioned that he just loves the game and doesn’t like to prepare too much before the game.  The best thing is to think at the board, and not clutter your head before the game with different analysis and opening reviews.  Now here is some good advise from an experienced top-class Chess player.  Just go and play Chess.  That’s GM Ivan Lopez’s style and it works well for him.  Thanks Ivan!

Akshat with the winner of Chess tournament in Forni, GM Ivan Lopez

This tournament concluded my Italian leg of Chess tournaments, and I went on to other countries to play Chess.  I love Italia and I hope I’ll be back soon to play Chess.
________________________________
In the pictures, I write my name along with the name of fellow players.  So instead of saying “GM Lopez and me,” I say “GM Lopez and Akshat,” etc.  Can you guess why?  Well, I do that because search engines will simply pick up the image with the tag “GM Lopez and me.”  That “me” is Akshat, which is never mentioned.  Now we know names of all characters in the pictures.  Problem solved!  :-)

Akshat Chandra and Axel Rombaldoni, a brilliant young Italian player.
I remember Axel was 6/6 at the World Junior 2011.  Wow!
Akshat Chandra, with the smart and helpful IM Martha Fierro
- doesn’t Martha have the glimpse of The Great One in Chess ‘Susan Polgar’
My Quest is a long road…but I’m ready to RUN to the end!
Akshat at the award ceremony with the special guests from Italy
Winter’s must be beautiful, with snow-capped peaks
A light moment at the restaurant – what was that, a Rabbit for Lunch!
No Kiddin’!

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