It's quite funny how day-by-day nothing seems to change, but when you look back, everything is different. Caught in the daily hallucinatory chess whirls, I even forgot how it felt back in those days when adjournments still existed (yes, I did catch the era of the “dinosaurs”!) or when as a 14-year-old I had to play long and exhausting games lasting up to seven hours.
The beautiful new mosque in the central square of Malatya, built in 1912
If not for the many minarets in the background, I could have easily said the photo
was taken in the Netherlands or maybe Spain? A very modern and pretty town indeed
The new mosque...
...perhaps the only one in Turkey as I have been told...
...that features three minarets.
To fall in step with the need for speed of modern times, aiming to make the life of chess players a bit less brain consuming than before or to promote the game as an exciting and thrilling board adventure, soon enough, the time control has undergone a few makeovers, to finally reach one of the most common FIDE formats: 90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move for the whole game.
Daily scene, where the tournament poster is perfectly integrated in the very heart of the city!
Probably this is the first time I could say about the
poster of a chess tournament that looks...delicious
Obviously, change is inevitable, but any change, even one for the better, is accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. In our case, the shortened time control makes for even crazier battles, bringing chess closer to sports and all the drama surrounding it, but in a way it backfired too. Like mushrooms after rain, more and more tournaments embrace the idea of double rounds, since the number of chess hours per day is actually double, and sometimes it is not just one or two days with double games but the entire event. Some countries go the extra mile, organizing tournaments with three rounds a day (it goes without saying I am not talking about blitz or rapid), meeting the needs of all devoted chess fans, who are ready to show and challenge their skills at this non-stop pace.
Conversations without tea are like...
..."a night sky without the moon" - Turkish folk saying.
Danger alert: Turkish delights!
They provide a unique visual
For me, staring at all these spices and unknown products from exotic shops is like a stroll
in a fairy tale from 1001 nights!
Sergey in paradise
"Giant Fennel Root Water" - can someone explain what I am supposed to do with these?!
This certain type of cheese, forgive me for not knowing the exact name, is one of my favourite
products that I tasted during my stay in Malatya
Normally I would say this is not for me, I need my time to rest, to explore, to prepare or whatever I might invent as an excuse. On the other hand, I came to realize that limiting my challenges will not help me grow (although it does “help” my rating drop) and maybe I should move to another angle, the one that will challenge my limits!
Time for more experiments: as I was gazing at the man's golden thing from his back, I was
suddenly invited to have a cup and join the party. Such an offer I couldn't refuse, as I was not
very fresh and I sort of expected tea or coffee. It turned out to be licorice root drink which I
will skip next time, bBut I heard it is very good for throat pains and for health in general.
Quiz question: guess the product. I thought it is some fish thing, or something used to catch fish,
along these lines...Sergey thought it comes from a plant, but we couldn't reach an agreement.
It is chewing gum!
Drying clothes in the same fashion is more common; but drying peppers I personally never tried. Must be good.
Spices are essential in any cuisine
Fair enough, so why would I avoid playing a third tournament in a row, with the same double-round schedule each day? Besides, the location and the hidden promise of an intriguing chess venture fully convinced me to take the plunge and participate in the 3rd International Golden Apricot chess tournament, held in Malatya, Turkey.
Friendly and expressive people
The art of baking bread
Enjoying the waterfalls park...
...and the beautiful panorama.
Life is good
As expected, it was...tough, very tough in fact, when facing 1900 Elo opponents that were clearly under rated, making incredibly good moves and posing problems whenever given the opportunity. In fact, I was told to add a minimum 200 rating points, to come a bit closer to their real strength, although even that may not be sufficient. I shouldn't have been surprised though, since the Turkish players are writing their chess history as we speak.
Resting between the games
Traditional Turkish house
A beautiful cafe to rest and watch endlessly the sunset and the cityscape
Even though the tradition of playing chess doesn't go as many years back as other countries, it is clear to me that the harvest season is coming, thanks to all the efforts made in promoting and supporting the chess culture on the Turkish territory. In Malatya the tournament drew a lot of attention, from media to officials, from parents to children, transforming the city into a chess enclave and the event into a prestigious but difficult competition.
We had an afternoon free, which was used at the maximum by yours truly,...
...thanks to an amazing trip to Nemrut Mountain.
Special congratulations go to Faruk Özer Ömer and Yasin Hür, who both shared first place with 7.0/9, “in spite” of their relatively modest ratings of just over 2000, outrunning mercenaries like Sergey Tiviakov, Valeriy Neverov or Azer Mirzoev! And of course, kudos for the winner, the Georgian GM Davit Benidze, who succeeded to strategically keep his energy level all-round the event and, when the crucial moment came, to win a hair rising time troubled game, against the top-seed and fellow globetrotter, the Dutch GM Sergey Tiviakov.
Nemrut Mountain (2134 m high), notable for the summit where a number of large statues are erected around...
...what is assumed to be a royal tomb from the 1st century BC. You can read more on the UNESCO page.
LinksThe games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.