Monday, 17 October 2011

Hungary - Part 1

"You'd better make a GM norm. Just pretend you're in NZ."
Correspondence from Fedja before the tournament.

A wise man once said, 'Hungarians are strange creatures'.
by Andrew

I arrived in Budapest on the afternoon of the 16th of September, and stayed at the Medosz Hotel on the street Jokai Ter in the centre of the city. I woke up quite late the next morning - getting to breakfast just before they were about to close the restaurant - and then headed out to Oktogon Square. While my brain pondered the validity of the concept of a square being octagonal, I walked around there and found an ATM and the Ferenc Liszt (Franz Liszt) music store to browse through some very cheap selections of sheet music.

Opposite Jokai Ter in Budapest

After checking out at 11am with my 21kg suitcase and 10kg backpack, I asked the lady at reception for directions to the nearest train station. She told me that if I walk to the end of this street, turn left, and continue walking for 5-10 mins, the Nyugati Train Station (which would take me directly to Kecskemet) will be on my right. Easy enough, I thought and said, 'I'll be okay', when she offered me a map. So, naturally, I arrived at Nyugati Station two and a half hours later, after taking a route that looked something like this:

Blue = Walking
Red = Train
Green = Correct Route
Yellow Highlight = Origin (Jokai Ter - with the red balloon) and Destination (Nyugati Station)

Distance Covered: 13.3km - 6.2km by foot, 7.1km by train
Necessary Distance to Cover: 750m (5 - 10 minute walk or 2 minute bus ride from Oktogon Square)

Okay, maybe next time I'll take the map. Although I was quite sure I followed the lady's directions ... strange ... I wonder if your thoughts turn now as mine did to the quote from the wise man at the beginning of this post. I reflected on this observation many times over the course of my Hungarian journey.

One of the many train stations I went to

Anyway, I arrived at the Nyugati Station at around 1:30pm and after struggling for a little while to find where to buy tickets, finally made it onto the train to Kecskemet.


Aside from my week in England for the Sunningdale tournament, I had spent all my time in Europe in the Netherlands, where although English isn't the native language, just about everyone speaks it quite well and most of the signs are in English too. It was only after I got to Hungary that I realised I really should have looked up some common Hungarian words and phrases before I got there.

But I did manage to make it to the tournament venue/hotel - Caissa Panzio, near the centre of the city - by taxi (not taking any chances this time), and was greeted by the tournament organiser Tamas Erdelyi, who kindly showed me my room and then gave me a 30 minute tour of the surrounding areas.

Outside the Caissa Panzio

Park in the centre of Kecskemet, with chess players in background

When I got back it was just about time for the first round. None of us had any idea who we were playing until the player numbers were drawn immediately before the first round. Unfortunately I got paired with the GM Attila Groszpeter (2521) as Black in the first round. The game was a closed Sveshnikov in which a couple of my dubious moves in the opening lead to him being able to secure a slight advantage. I felt like I was defending the whole game and as if I never really made any big mistakes, but he ended up winning quite comfortably.

My second round was a bit of a disaster. I played the underrated 13-year-old Tibor Antal (2286) as White. I should have prepared better before the game, as it was quite clear what opening I was going to get, but it had somehow turned out reasonably well until I made a serious mistake that gave him all the initiative, and suddenly I was fighting to equalise. Before long I made another mistake and I had to sac a piece to have any hope of staying in the game (by perpetual check) but he refuted all my attempts and before long I had to call it a day.

The nice and cosy tournament venue, with organiser Tamas Erdelyi to the right.
The venue also had a lot of interesting chess memorabilia and artwork.

In the 3rd round I got paired with another GM as Black: top seed Levente Vajda (2557). Vajda is quite easy to prepare for as he basically only plays the Alapin (c3-Sicilian) after 1.e4 c5, but he is one of the world's leading experts in it and can easily turn an objectively equal, normal looking position into a dynamic, attacking position that is not easy to defend against. I got quite a decent position after about 20 moves but missed an attacking idea that he had, and before long I made a serious blunder that gave him a mate in 5. Interestingly, although I wasn't too fond of the position I got into after 24 moves, I looked at the game later with a chess engine and  found another way to defend that probably would have resulted in a draw with best play from both sides.

(show chess board)(hide chess board)

So by losing the first 3 games, I had not only lost all chances of securing a GM norm, but continued with the very pattern of results I had hoped to stop in this tournament - that of 4 losses, 4 wins, 4 losses from my last 12 games. But on the upside, I thought, at least I could look forward to 4 wins now...

Part 2 will be up in a few days.

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