Gallipolli – Let the Guns Boom!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and now for the first time in the last two weeks I’ve got some time to share my experiences. I have playing in a tournament (Salento Chess 2012) close to the beautiful city of Gallipolli, located on the southern tip of Italy.  You may know the region for a ferocious sea and land battle during World War I known as the Battle of Gallipoli.  For me it was a long journey.  Since I was flying from India this time, I spent a lot of time in the air – I first traveled to Munich (8 hours), and then Munich to Milan (~1 1/2 hours), and then Milan to Brindisi (1 1/2 hours).  But I wasn’t done yet.  Finally, a van ride from Brindisi to Gallipoli (1 1/4 hours).  We reached the hotel at 11 pm, capping about 18 hours of a long and tiring journey from the time I left home.

Waiting in Munich
More waiting …in Milan

The tournament had a small and strong group of players.  My starting rank was 14/24. There were quite a few titled players like IM’s and GM’s.  The wooden DGT boards were fantastic as usual, and there was live telecast for all games.  It gave me a sense that I was a top level player 🙂
For the first round that I played with Duilio Collutiis, a 2513 IM but with GM strength rating, I didn’t have much prep time.  But as it turned out I didn’t need to prep anything. He usually plays irregular openings against lower rated, and so it is hard to predict any opening preference.  Sure enough he played an irregular set up.  I felt like I had good chances since he was playing slowly and not really doing anything.  I managed to lock the queenside which was good since that was where his play was.  I prepared my pieces for a kingside attack and my prospects were looking good until I blundered with Qc7.  After blunders from both sides he then won in a few moves. It was sad but I knew that I hadn’t been outplayed. 

Opening Round – Small Group of Strong Players

The next game I was playing a WFM who was lower rated at 2027.  It was a sharp position out of the opening and I sacrificed a pawn to open files and castle Queen side.  I managed to land a knight on c6 but I couldn’t make anything out of it.  Suddenly I blundered and realized she had a win.  I looked away from the board hoping she wouldn’t see it. Fortunately, she didn’t!  I corrected my mistake the next move and kept the pressure on till she finally blundered.  Phew!  

Playing with WFM Arnetta Maria Teresa
Playing with IM Mario Lanzani
Playing with IM Bellia Fabrizio
Final Round with GM Igor Naumkin

After muddling through a few more games, I finally played a GM in the final round.  I was playing Black, and I defended tenaciously.  There was a moment when the GM had a win.  But he missed it – I learnt about it afterwards.  Phew!  The game lasted nearly 4 1/2 hours.  The last game of the tournament.  I got to a point where there was a possibility for me to win.  But I needed more time, otherwise I felt it was too risky to play in time pressure.  We agreed to a Draw.  A smart finish to the tournament I thought.  Next time I hope I can prevail over a GM.  
The winner of the tournament was German Super-GM Igor Khenkin, with a FIDE rating of 2670 points.

With Super GM Igor Khenkin – winner of the tourney


Coming from the sea – Poseidion, Guardian of the high seas 🙂

The tournament was at a resort outside Gallipoli.  The weather was warm during the day and cool in the darker hours.  The beach and sea were very inviting, though the water was a bit cool.  That didn’t stop me from wading in it.  I enjoyed every chance I could to jump in the water.  

Perhaps the best part of the tourney was the moments I spent with other players, and the friends I made.  Great memories to cherish for a long, long time!

My little friend, Andrei – a soon-to-be Chess Star 🙂
Analysis with with good friends Jergen from Denmark & Maik from Germany
Friends, Football and the MVP Black Shoe 🙂

Playing with Maik under the watchful eye of Wanda

Playing a friendly blitz with super-fast IM Bjorn Thorfinnsson from Iceland
With Iceland friends Hilmir and Vignir;
as you can make out, they’re Hungry for Sun 🙂
With Midonet Matthieu from Martinique (his first FIDE tournament was the great one in Gibraltor- Wow, what a tiger!)  btw, if you don’t know where Martinique is click here.  You’ll not be the first one 🙂
With charming organizer Matteo Zoldan for Best U16 medal

The lead organizer Matteo Zoldan was great.  He was very helpful and cheerful, and during free time kept everyone busy with something or the other – be it excursion trips, chess sessions, soccer or tennis.  He has a Chess Projects company that is working to spread Chess in schools in Italy.  Noble objective.  Thanks and great job, Matteo!    

Finally, would like to thank IM Pierluigi Piscopo for taking many hours of teaching sessions with some players after the tournament and showing us some really neat stuff.

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