Impressions from the European Championship
|Written by Administrator|
|Tuesday, 27 March 2012|
by Natalia Pogonina for her
Chess.com Tuesday column
From March 1st to 19th most of the strongest European female chess players gathered at Gaziantep, Turkey to compete for the classical, rapid and blitz titles. I don’t want to dwell too much on the statistics and peculiarities of the tournament struggle and will dedicate more time to the atmosphere and general impressions. After all, we had to spend over two weeks at the same venue, which is not very easy.
This year I decided to arrive at the Championship one day in advance. Two flights require a lot of energy, so the spare day was quite handy in terms of taking a rest, getting some sleep and familiarizing myself with the place.
Preparation for a chess tournament is by far not limited to working on one’s chess. Many other things are important as well: your physical shape, psychology, living conditions. By the latter I mean the hotel, nutrition, working schedule, etc. Having good Internet access is critical for communicating with your coach/second and other people via Skype. Overall the hotel was fine, although a lot of noise came through my window in the mornings. Also, the Internet was ok in the hall, but quite unstable and slow in the room itself. Last but not least, the choice of dishes at the restaurant was somewhat limited, so by the middle of the tournament many of us got bored with the cuisine and started eating out.
As I like to take walks before the game and afterwards, it is important for me to have a park nearby. In this case a park was available within 15 minutes by foot. I wonder how many miles I walked during those 19 days?!
The playing hall was spacious and comfortable:
I started the event with a win, but then slowed down and made four draws. In round 6 I won again and got 4/6. March 8th was a rest day aka International Women’s Day. In Russia it is considered to be a popular holiday, but I am indifferent towards it since I have a birthday on March 9th. Therefore, all the attention that is left over from celebrating Fischer’s birthday (also March 9th) is transferred to mine. Frankly speaking, I don’t like participating in tournaments on the eve of my birthday. I tend to get reflective and reconsider my life in general – not the best state of mind for playing competitive games. Nonetheless, I have been doing it on a regular basis, from the Russian junior championships until now. This year the game against Olga Girya in round 7 was also quite challenging. Eventually I got a draw. Naturally, one can’t celebrate the birthday too actively during a tournament, so the procedure was limited to a modest cake-eating ceremony with my friends on March 8th, reading a nice column titled "Do women have a chance against men?" and having a chuckle at a list where I was named one of the top-10 Russian female athletes.
After a victory in round 8 I found myself at 5.5/8. On the next day I had a promising position against Kateryna Lahno, but made a blunder and lost. Just like in 2011, I had to win both final games to qualify for the World Championship. I succeeded in both cases: 2/2 with Black and 5th-11th place (10th by tie-break); 8 rating points gained. The total prize of the classical chess championship was ˆ 100,000 with a record ˆ20,500 for the winner. My share was ˆ5,170 (about $6,900) – obviously, not much for 11 days of work, but at least more than enough to compensate for travel expenses, accommodation and the services of my chess second. Being a chess pro is tough even if you perform well.
After the classical tournament some players decided to stay for the rapid and blitz events. For some of the girls the idea was to have fun and train, while others were taking things seriously and aiming at the titles. Russia has confirmed its status as the #1 chess country in Europe: all three gold medals went to members of our national team. Having played 42 games in 19 days, I was rather tired and anxious to get home as soon as possible. This was typical of other participants as well.
At the Moscow airport I and my friend Baira Kovanova went to a traditional Russian restaurant and ordered borsch, meat rissole and fried potatoes. Home, sweet home!
In the first round I had to face my compatriot and long-time friend Liza Bronnikova.
All the photos are courtesy of Anastasiya Karlovich, http://eiwcc2012.tsf.org.tr
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 March 2012 )|
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