Tuesday, 6 September 2011

BDO Tournament in Haarlem 2011 - Part 1

"The business is above thy strength, thou alone canst not bear it."
Exodus 18:18

"Losing hurts more than winning is nice."
Nigel Short
By Andrew

After Sunningdale I came back to Amsterdam for a few days to relax before the BDO Tournament in Haarlem. Once the capital of Holland, Haarlem is only 15 minutes from Amsterdam by train, and is one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands. Many old buildings there have been preserved very well, with some dating back to the 13th century. These include the Teyler's Museum, which is apparently the oldest museum in Europe; the Grote Kerk (Great Church), which is a truly gigantic monument in the city centre built over a 150 year period starting in the 1300s; and the town hall, which was where the opening ceremony for the BDO Chess Tournament was to be held.

A small portion of the Great Church in Haarlem's town centre.

The opening ceremony was quite nice, with free food and drinks, and after a rather unusual presentation about the significance of the number 7 (this being the 7th edition of the BDO), the players in the GM and IM tournaments were called up to pick their numbers to sort out the pairings for each round. After the presentation I listened to a couple of performances from the Haarlem Jazz Festival which happened to be taking place on that weekend in the town centre.

In Round 1 I was white against the Bulgarian IM Petar Arnaudov (2439). The opening was a Blumenfeld Gambit, which I had just encountered in my last tournament (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nc6). At the start of the middle game, instead of playing it simple and enjoying my slight positional advnantage, I decided to go berserk and I ended up with a rook and two pawns for his bishop and knight. Eventually I managed to swap off queens, and the resulting endgame was fairly decent for me, but in time pressure I played some inaccurate moves and ended up with a very exposed king. Consequently he quickly found a way to force me to give up a rook to prevent mate, and so I resigned soon after.

Haarlem Jazz Festival

In my second round game I was black against the very appropriately-named Dutch stand-up comedian Tex de Wit. We got into a (double) King's Indian which soon lead to an interesting sort of position that neither of us had really come across before.  Eventually we swapped off rooks and the position was looking quite drawish until Tex sacrificed his a-pawn for play on the kingside. I took the sacrifice and defended fairly easily, until we reached the following position:
Position after 35.Bg2

Here, after the obvious 35...Bd7 Black has no problems. However, I made the mistake of playing 35...Bf7? after which he continued 36.Nh6+ Kg7 37.Nxf7 Kxf7. And here I thought his best move was 38.hxg6+, completely missing the obvious 38.Qh6. After this I'm not lost; in fact my knight can fend off any mate threats exceptionally well here, but I proceded to make blunder after blunder and ended up two pawns down in a lost bishop vs. knight ending. After two rounds I was on 0/2... not a great start, but I expected that things would start to pick up in the next round. It was not to be.

My worst game came in Round 3 against FM David Klein (2366). Shortly after the opening I decided against a good opportunity to get a double-edged, but probably advantageous position for me, to play a move that looked more 'normal', and soon after I was paying the price. After a few more moves I was under quite a bit of pressure, and probably had to sacrifice a pawn to stay in the the game.

Position after 26...Qd2

Instead I blundered a piece - 27.h4?? Qxe2 - and resigned immediately afterwards.

I continued in similar fashion in Round 4, losing to English FM Peter Poobalasingam (2299) in 29 moves. After he played a dubious pawn sacrifice in the opening, I took it, then played several unnecessary 'safety' moves and gave him more than enough compensation for the pawn. Then after he played a couple of neat (and sound) sacrifices I was lost.

Of course, I was getting used to losing by then. I'd lost my last 5 tournament games, and out of my last 12 games I had scored just 2 points. When I got back to my apartment I decided something had to change. Whether it was my lack of exercise, my poor sleep pattern, my diet or something else, I wasn't sure. However, I had a feeling that since my last four nights' dinners had consisted primarily of two microwaveable meals, some chocolate biscuits and some grapes, diet probably wasn't a bad place to start.

Panoramic view of my apartment - Part 1

Part 2 - the alcohol is not mine... unfortunately.

I went to the shop and bought a range of ingredients that I could cook with for the next few nights, including some good sources of protein (brain food), such as chicken and what I thought was beef (which turned out to be pork). There I had my most embarrassing experience at a Dutch supermarket checkout thus far, (well in front of not weighing a bunch of bananas before attempting to purchase them) when after holding up the rest of the line for several minutes trying to get either of my cards to register, I had to put the majority of my items back so as to be able to pay for them with the few coins I had left in my wallet. Since the shop was meant to shut at 8:00pm, and it was already 8:05, I knew I was in with a chance, so I rushed out and managed to find an ATM that worked, got 50 euros and headed back in. The shop doors had just started coming down and I thought it would be another evening of sad malnourishment, but when I got there the manager reluctantly let me take back the rest of my items and pay for them. Tonight I would be having a proper dinner!

'A proper dinner'
Part 2 will be up within the next couple of days.

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