July 28, 2011 23:39

Summer chess in Ikaria

Ikaria Open 2011It's summer, and it's the time of summer chess events. After covering so many tournaments for this site in the past few years, I decided to play one myself again. For the first time since August 2007 I participated in a 9-round Swiss, on the beautiful island of Ikaria, Greece.

In fact the tournament I'm writing about ended already more than a week ago, but since I've been so busy with covering Ningbo, Biel and Dortmund, I hadn't had the time to do this report earlier. But in these busy times it's certainly nice to go back in time again, and relive a bit of the wonderful two weeks I spent in Greece.

Already back in January a group of friends invited me to join them for a summer chess tournament, and I hesitantly agreed. Especially in the last two years my appetite for playing had dropped below sea level, so even after we had booked the whole trip, I was still considering to cancel the tournament and bring some thick novel to enjoy on the beach!

But they, and my girlfriend, managed to convince me that I should play. "The stress, the excitement, it'll be good for you!" And indeed, as a journalist it can't be bad to, every once in a while, to experience what these chess players have to deal with...

And so I joined my friends on a plane to the island of Samos, Greece on Tuesday, July 9th, early morning. We had picked the annual open tournament in Ikaria, which can only be reached by boats (or local planes). Samos happened to be the closest island nearby to which direct flights from Amsterdam were available. And so the holiday was partly 'island hopping': we spent three nights in Samos, then nine nights in Ikaria and then two more nights in Samos.

After spending three days in a wonderful apartment with swimming pool and dining every night in the pretty harbour town of Pythagoreon, the prospect of playing a chess tournament didn't seem to attractive even to my friends! But on Friday morning we took the ferry to the Ikaria island, and a day later we would play our first game.

The island of Samos seen from the ferry to Ikaria

The island of Samos seen from the ferry to Ikaria

The accommodation in the town of Agios Kyrikos, where the tournament was held in Ikaria, was arranged by the organizers. For this they had divided our group in two. Three of us were placed in an excellent bungalow, but three others had to share one, not too big hotel room. Not a good start.

However, as soon as we asked about other possibilities, organizer Dimitris Kapagiannidis started looking for alternatives, and admittedly, he helped us splendidly. After the first night we moved to two apartments right next to each other in the town of Therma, which was about a twenty minute walk away from Agios Kyrikos. But, more importantly, the beach was excellent and everyday there was a bus that took the players to the playing hall.

The little village of Therma

The little village of Therma

When I entered the tournament hall on Saturday, it was with mixed feelings. The boards, the pieces, the players, they all looked the same as always, and somehow everything felt different at the same time. I... was one of them! :-)

Luckily the games of this 9-round Swiss were played at 7PM, so that everyone would have enough time during the day to enjoy their holiday. More importantly, in the afternoon the playing hall inside the Athletic Center of Agios Kirykos was just too hot. Unfortunately the players had to endure this once: on the third day there were two rounds scheduled, and the first started at 11AM. I guess I had forgotten the many summer tournaments I've played before, because, well, moving chess pieces in a big hall where it's 30+ degrees Celsius, is not funny...

The playing hall

The playing hall

The tournament, held for the 34th time already, was dominated by GM Sergey Zagrebelny (2485). He's the 5th-6th player of Uzbekistan together with Tahir Vakhidov, the strongest of course being Rustam Kasimdzhanov. The top seed started his Ikaria Open with an impressive 7.5/8, including a win against yours truly, although it must be noted that he was the only GM in the field. (Ikaria wasn't the strongest tournament in Greece this summer, but to some extent it was the best: from what I've heard, there's no other Greek tournament with so much space between the individual boards.)

However, what nobody expected happened: Zagrebelny lost in the very last round, to the untitled Georgios Goumas (2323). Both ended on 7.5/9 but the grandmaster had the better tie-break. The first two prizes of 1,000 and 600 Euro were distributed using the 'Hort system': every player gets first 50% of the prizes according to his rank, and the other 50% is distributed uniformly within a scoregroup over the players.

Sergey Zagrebelny dominated the tournament for eight rounds

Sergey Zagrebelny dominated the tournament for eight rounds

ChessVibes co-editor IM Robert Ris is spending almost his whole summer in Greece, and also participated in the Ikaria Open. He played a nice combination in the 6th round:

Agios Kyrikos, 2011

25. Ng6+ Kg8 26. Nfe7+ (26. Nxf8? Rxf8 is good for Black) 26... Kf7

27. Nh8+! Kxe7 28. Qxc5+ 1-0

During this round, Pavlos suddenly appeared in the tournament hall. Pavlos is a 64-year-old waiter we met before the tournament, in Samos. On one of the nights there, he suddenly started speaking Dutch to us. As it turned out, he had lived in Amsterdam for many years and knew many Amsterdam club players, but also e.g. GM Genna Sosonko.

He had told his colleagues he couldn't work in the restaurant for a few days, jumped on the first ferry to Ikaria, to watch us play in the tournament! We joined several drinks in the nights that followed, and after we returned to Samos on the same boat, obviously had a dinner in his restaurant the same night.

My own tournament went much better than I expected, but I cheated a bit. In both the 5th and the 6th my higher rated opponent offered me a draw before move 10, and, how politically incorrect, I accepted twice. This way I basically played a seven-rounder with two rest days in the middle. :-)

In the end I beat all the lower rated players, drew three higher rated ones, beat one slightly higher rated one and only lost to the GM. I was happy with this one:

Agios Kyrikos (04), 2011

46... Kd6!
Initially I was intending 46... Bg6 but that's less clear: 47. Nc6+ Kd6 48. d4 (48. Nxa7 f4 49.
Ke2 f3+ 50. Kxf3 Bxd3 51. Kg4 Bg6) 48... Bf7 (48... a5?? 49. bxa6! Kxc6 50. d5+ Kc7
51. d6+ +-) 49. Ne5 Be8 50. Ke3 and White can try it for a while.
47. Nxf5+ Ke5 48. Nxh6
Interesting was 48. g4 Bxg4 49. Nxh6 Be6 50. Ke3 Kf6 51. Ke4 en nu eerst de wachtzet and now the waiting move 51... Bd7! (51... Kg6? 52. Ke5) 52. Kf3 Ke5 53. Nf7+ Kd4 54. Nxg5 Kxd3 55. Nf7 Kd4! 56. h4 Be6 57. Nd8 Bxc4 58. Nc6+ Kd5 59. Nxa7 Ke5.
48... Kd4

The activity of the black king is just enough to hold it.
49. Nf5+
49. g4!? seemed critical to me during the game: 49... Bg6 50. Nf5+ Kxd3 51. Ne7 Bh7 52. Nc6 Kxc4 53. Nxa7 and Black has to stay careful.
49... Kxd3 50. Nd6 Kd4 51. h4
Or 51. Nc8 Kxc4 52. Nxa7 Kd4 53. h3 Bf7 54. Kf3 Bh5+ 55. g4 Bf7 56. Kg3 Ke5 57. h4
gxh4+ 58. Kxh4 Kf6.
51... gxh4 52. gxh4 Kc5 53. Nc8 Kxc4 54. Nxa7 Kd4 55. Kg3 Ke5

White cannot make progress.
56. Nc6+ Ke4 57. Ne7 Be2 58. Nc8 Ke5 59. Nxb6 draw agreed. We were the last board still playing!

Ikaria Open 2011 | Final standings (top 30)
Rk. Ti. Name Fed Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 GM ZAGREBELNY SERGEY UZB 2485 7.5 55.5 43.5 7
2 GOUMAS GEORGIOS GRE 2323 7.5 49.0 39.0 7
3 FM LAVENDELIS EGONS LAT 2303 7.0 51.5 40.5 5
4 IM SAMOLINS VITALIJS LAT 2412 6.5 54.5 42.5 5
5 DOGGERS PETER NED 2263 6.5 54.5 42.5 5
6 IM RIS ROBERT NED 2395 6.5 54.0 43.0 4
7 IM BERZINSH ROLAND LAT 2434 6.5 52.5 41.0 4
8 KANAKARIS GEORGIOS GRE 2281 6.5 52.0 40.0 6
9 LAGOPATIS NIKOLAOS GRE 2181 6.5 51.0 39.0 6
10 WIM SKINKE KATRINA LAT 2242 6.5 49.0 38.5 6
11 IM GRIGORIADIS ALEXANDROS GRE 2300 6.5 47.5 37.0 5
12 WGM BERZINA ILZE LAT 2307 6.0 54.0 42.0 5
13 IM KAMENETS ANATOLIJ UKR 2328 6.0 52.5 41.0 6
14 FM GAZIS EFSTATHIOS GRE 2322 6.0 52.5 40.5 5
15 PANAGIOTOPOULOS VASILIOS GRE 1965 6.0 52.0 41.5 5
16 FINOKALIOTIS GEORGIOS GRE 1983 6.0 49.0 38.0 4
17 FM POUNTZAS HRISANTHOS GRE 2177 6.0 47.5 36.5 5
18 KOUKOUFIKIS ALEXANDROS GRE 2258 6.0 46.5 36.5 4
19 WFM IKONOMOPOULOU MARIA GRE 2102 5.5 47.5 37.5 5
20 WFM UNGURE LIGA LAT 2101 5.5 47.0 36.5 4
21 GOUMAS IOANNIS GRE 2202 5.5 46.5 36.0 3
22 WIM VORONOVA TATIANA LAT 2225 5.5 46.0 36.0 2
23 PAPARGYRIOU ANASTASIOS GRE 2114 5.5 45.5 35.5 4
24 TSIOTRIDIS PANAYOTIS GRE 2033 5.5 45.0 36.0 5
25 FAHOURI NIDAL JOR 1882 5.5 44.0 35.5 5
26 TSAGAROPOULOS SPYRIDON GRE 2018 5.5 44.0 35.0 5
27 WFM UROSEVIC MARIJA SRB 2058 5.5 44.0 34.0 4
28 NIKOMANIS ANDREAS GRE 1980 5.5 43.5 33.0 5
29 XIROMERITIS EVANGELOS GRE 1865 5.5 43.0 34.0 5
30 ZERVOGIANNIS ALEXANDROS GRE 1707 5.5 42.5 32.0 4

Besides the main tournament, the festival also included a blitz tournament, a rapid tournament (which was in fact the 2nd Mediterranean Rapid Team Tournament) and even a blindfold tournament. However, many couldn't attend the latter as they had to catch their ferry to Athens or, in our case, back to Samos.

In general I look back to my first big tournament in four years with happy feelings. The tournament was well organized by an extremely helpful tournament director. Playing chess, followed by some drinks on the terras, was a nice way to finish a sunny day. As so often, the chess tournament turned out to be a nice excuse to meet new people. And, last but not least, I haven't totally forgotten how to play...

Agios Kyrikos, where the tournament was held (although the venue was another 15-20 minutes walking

Agios Kyrikos, where the tournament was held

The lovely, quiet beach in Therma

The lovely, quiet beach in Therma

What's this note besides the chess board in the playing hall? As it turns out, you could order souvlaki and other food to get delivered at your appartment. :-)

What's this note besides the chess board in the playing hall? As it turns out, you could order souvlaki and other food to get delivered at your appartment. :-)

Typical: many stray cats join you for lunch or dinner

Typical: many stray cats join you for lunch or dinner

The beautifully clear water in Greece

The crystal clear water in Greece

The ferry that took us from Samos to Ikaria

The ferry that took us from Samos to Ikaria

The one that took us back, unfortunately leaving at 04:40...

The one that took us back, unfortunately leaving at 04:40...

The upside of getting up early: sunrise in the sea

The upside of getting up early: seeing sunrise in the sea


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Nima's picture

Taking draws in less than 10 moves?! Where are the Sofia rules when you need them? :-)

S3's picture

When you meet a waiter of exactly 64 years old you just know it's gonna be a good tournament.

luzin's picture

i had been following the tournament and was wondering when you would write a report :)
nice one, as always!

towa's picture

I played this tournament a few years ago and it seems not much has changed. This articel brings nice memories back. Only the playing hall seems to be better now . Organization was well done, but in the "greek" way. If someone is looking for a down to earth tournament in a very relaxing environment , this one is recommended. A nice place far away from mainstream tourism.
If you are looking for 5 star hotels and luxury vacation, then stay away. If you can enjoy the simple life on a greek island in summer then this one is recommended.

noyb's picture

Nice pics!

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