David Smerdon | July 04, 2012 14:25

Caribbean Calling

Greetings (or, apparently, “saludos fo’i” from Curaçao!!

If you’re, well, not Dutch, you’ve probably never heard of Curaçao (or else associate it with a sickly sweet, fluoro-blue-coloured liquor.  If that is you: my sympathies).  It’s a small island off the coast of Venezuela, and apparently a former Dutch/French/British colony at various points in its history.  Part of the Netherlands Antilles (or, more frequently cited, the ‘ABC Islands’), it sits next to Aruba, which, for me, gives it two main advantages:

  • It means I can say “Oh, you haven’t heard of Curaçao? It’s next to Aruba” to give some gepgraphical context to my atlas-phobic friends;
  • It means all the American tourists stop their holidays at Aruba and never make it this far.

Not that I have anything against American tourists, mind you.  In fact, the only differences I can tell so far is that the white tourists here are a little skinnier (and, of course, speak Dutch).  In fact, there’s so much Dutch heritage here that I just got back from an excursion to the Albert Heijn – the famous Dutch supermarket chain.  Dutch is the most common language I hear around here, followed by Papiamentu, with English and Spanish fitting in somewhere after that.  Actually I’ve been incredibly impressed by the locals’ ability to switch between languages, a trait also honouring most Dutchies.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Why am I in Curaçao?  And for the Aussies reading, how is it that I ended up watching the last rugby league State of Origin match over a Caribbean sunrise?

Well, it’s been a really tough year for everyone in Tinbergen (a democratic vote at the end-of-year dinner by my classmates overwhelmingly saw the motion “This was the worst year of my life” passed).  Of course, I’ve been dying to get back into the chess, but unfortunately my brain is a little worn out after this last few blocks of studies.  And more importantly, I hadn’t seen a beach in a long time.  Initially I planned to travel to Crete and play a tournament or two in the famous Greek Summer circuit, but logistics, expenses and a little bit of uncertainty about Greece’s economic climate scared me off.

But it turns out that for the past couple of years, Curaçao has been host to its own chess festival in July.  And, due to it being a hotspot for Dutch tourists, Curaçao has good flight connections from Amsterdam.  The idea of a tropical island, 30 degree sunshine, white sandy beaches and daily chess may sound an odd combination to most, but frankly, I can’t think of anything more appealing.

So here I am, sharing an apartment with Dutch International Master and ChessVibes columnist Robbie Ris, ready to kick back, chillax, and finally play some chess.  I’ll try and update on the tournament each day, but I’ve heard from locals and tourists alike that the island lifestyle is infectious and has a way of cleansing the mind of all obligations and worries.  I’ve already gotten rid of my watch.

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David Smerdon's picture
Author: David Smerdon

David Smerdon is a chess grandmaster from Brisbane, Australia. David attended Anglican Church Grammar School and Melbourne University. To qualify for the title of Grandmaster, a player must achieve three Grandmaster norm performances, and a FIDE Elo rating over 2500. Late in 2007, Smerdon achieved his third and final Grandmaster norm. In the July 2009 FIDE rating list his rating passed 2500, so he qualified for the title of Grandmaster. He is the fourth Australian to become a Grandmaster, after Ian Rogers, Darryl Johansen and Zhao Zong-Yuan. In 2009, Smerdon won the Queenstown Chess Classic tournament.

Source: Wikipedia




kamalakanta's picture

Wow! Sounds like fun! Chill, relax and let us see some of your games later on! Best of luck!

Galaxian's picture

You must be a young chap, if you think we've never heard of Curacao. Something *did* happen there in 1962.

Lee's picture

Bear in mind, this blog is cross posted from another site. Not all readers of that original location are fans that frequent chess news sites.

PhilFeeley's picture

Is there a tournament web page where we can follow the games and results?

David.Smerdon's picture

Yep; you can find it at http://www.curacaochess.net/

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