David Smerdon | July 09, 2012 18:59

Curaçao 2012 – Caribbean Coffeehouse

With only 14 players in the main section of the 9-round Open, the pairings are going to get weird really soon.  The top two seeds met already in round three, with my roommate Robbie and I slugging it out in a real coffeehouse classic.

On move five I found myself faced with the white side of a standard open game where I should be trying to nurse home a slight edge.  However, whether on account of Curaçaoan inspiration or too much sun, I was suddenly sacrificing a piece, and then a rook, attempting a bizarre beach version of a nineteenth century, romantic masterpiece.  The sacrifice was overtly optimistic and hideously unsound – but I’m on vacation, after all.  I threw down a ‘tactical’ draw offer just as I felt the illusion of my compensation was being exposed, which, given the aforementioned, sunburn-induced inspiration, was something of a cowardly anticlimax, but I think we were both happy with a draw.

This sees the talented Aruban junior Jasel Lopez move to the sole lead with 3/3, with Robbie and I trailing behind by half a point.  Today Jasel and I cross swords before the tournament breaks for its rest day (beach, barbeque and beers have been promised by the organisers).  The field of participants is disappointingly small, a result of the familiar economic environment and poor marketing, but it’s gezellig, or cosy, as the Dutch would say.  It does look a little ridiculous, having such a small field play in the Hyatt’s cavernous  grand ballroom, though.

Our very spacious playing venue

Of course, most people are not here for the chess, after all, and  naturally the beaches here are fantastic and the people very friendly.  I have to say, though, that I’m not surprised there aren’t more titled players.  Of the hundreds of chess events I’ve played in forty countries, the accommodation here is by far the worst I’ve encountered.  The small ‘studio apartment’ Robbie and I share is the size of a bedroom, and sun-facing with broken airconditioning, turning it into a medium oven for both the day and the night.  (This at least negates the fact there is no hot water.)  I sleep on a decrepid mattress on the floor, which I’m not on principle not opposed to – save for when there’s a cockroach infestation.  They are proving harder to kill than the mosquitoes.  Meanwhile, the car we rented from the same apartment owner is held together on three sides by electrical tape, and the premium we paid for air conditioning is irrelevant, seeing as, somewhat predictably, it doesn’t work.  It may have something to do with the fact that the engine occasionally conks out of its own accord, but, in a similar style to an IT support officer, the owner has told us to “just turn it off and on again.”  Of course, the owner has decided not to return the premium.

Your author honing his Caipirinha-making skills

Still, we don’t spend that much time in the apartment, so the issues are not very important and make for a great yarn.  And given the priority for the trip was sun, surf and a little chess on the side, I can hardly complain that I’m not well satisfied.  Occasionally in the evenings, some of the Aruban kids come round to get their games analysed and play some blitz, and afterwards some of the adults join us for a beer on the balcony. Gezellig isn’t a bad way to describe it.

The Aruban squad

POSTSCRIPT: The owner has just informed me that she’d like to change over our rental car for another (hurray!) because she wants to sell the incumbent to an ‘interested buyer’.  I can only assume the buyer is thinking of entering a smash derby.

PGN string

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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

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Comments

Owen's picture

Great stuff. Looks like last winter I stayed at the very same studio-complex, which I will not name (9 letters, starts with an F?). Not staying there too much and explore the island is indeed the best advice I can give you.

Anonymous's picture

Can you post the game against the Arubian talent?

Yes, also I would like you to post your game with Jasel.'s picture

It would be interesting if you could give an analysis of your game with the Aruban talent. It seems that the game was an interesting one and it looks like he is going to trail you and the IM by a notch. Am looking forward to seeing his game with Robert.

greek chess player's picture

from previous post:
"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."

you shouldn't be scared mate, we may be kinda poor, but we have not resorted to eating tourists yet :)

have fun in Curacao!

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