The first surprise was that I didn’t expect we were going to fly on water (remember you can click on the image for a bigger version):
The second surprise was our guide – silent, yet very expressive:
The trip was along the coast, southward from Arenal. The scenery was captivating, first rocky coastline with some vegetation:
Then we passed by a residential area with its own nooks and crannies:
Followed by private beaches:
Then the big rocks came:
We made our only stop at one beach which it seemed it could only be approached from the sea. I’ve always fancied having a yacht (let’s not be too modest here) and exploring such hidden treasures, like the people who were already there when we arrived:
I imagine that this kind of boat trip must be fantastic in mid-summer, as the idea of the stop is to allow the people on board to have a swim in a very nice place and clean water. Unfortunately it was too cold for me, but not so for the other passengers. Here you can see a mermaid swimming with the fish:
|WGM Irina Sudakova|
And here definitely not a mermaid:
|GM Andrey Sumets (2600+ whale)|
The stop lasted for 30 minutes and then we went back. I must add that we had a very experienced captain. He navigated with his feet:
In spite of my initial skepticism, it turned out to be a very pleasant experience. I think it gave me a lot of positive energy and I continued to have a very successful tournament.
|I’m smiling and he’s not, probably he didn’t see the game|
Colovic,A – Christiansen,Jo [B51]
Reykjavik op (2), 2014
This game was played in the second round, at the somnambulistic (for me) time of 9.30am. 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ even I decided to jump the Carlsen bandwagon! I had no wish for sharp Dragons at the ungodly hour. 3…Nd7 4.0-0 Ngf6 5.Re1 a6 6.Bd3 b5 7.c4 Rb8N [7…Ne5 8.Bf1 was played in Carlsen,M (2872)-Nakamura,H (2776)/Zurich rapid 2014] 8.Nc3 b4 9.Nd5 e6
10.Nxf6+ choosing the simpler route [10.Bc2!? was very tempting 10…exd5 11.exd5+ Be7 12.Qe2 and it seemed that white had great compensation 12…Kf8 (12…Ng4 13.d4; 12…Ne5? 13.Nxe5 dxe5 14.Qxe5 Rb7 15.d6+-) 13.d4] 10…Nxf6 11.Bc2 e5 12.Ba4+ Nd7 [12…Bd7 13.a3] 13.a3 a5 14.axb4 axb4
15.Bc6 transferring the Bishop to d5 15…Qc7 16.Bd5 Nb6 17.d3 and in this moment the loudspeaker in the Harpa went ballistic with the information about the fire that broke out somewhere in the building. All the players were forced to stop the clocks and exit the building. It didn’t last very long though, only after a few minutes we went back and he played Bg4 [17…Be7 18.Be3 with the idea of Nd2] 18.h3 only to have another attack on the ears with another loud warning! This time it was much longer, some 15-20 minutes in the cold Icelandic weather. Luckily it didn’t disturb me much. When we went back he played Bxf3 [18…Bh5 19.g4 Bg6 20.Be3 Be7 21.Nd2] 19.Qxf3 Nxd5 20.cxd5 Be7
21.Be3! kingside play didn’t promise anything. With this I try to take control of the a-file [21.Qg4 0-0 22.Bh6 Bf6 23.Ra6 Ra8 24.Rea1 Qb7=; 21.Qg3 0-0 22.f4 Bf6] 21…0-0 22.Ra4 Ra8 23.Rea1 Qb7 [23…Rxa4 this gets rid of all the Rooks and was probably preferable 24.Rxa4 Qb7 25.Qd1 Ra8 26.Qa1 Rxa4 27.Qxa4] 24.Qd1 Rfc8 25.R1a2 h6 26.Qa1 Rxa4 27.Rxa4 now white has a stable advantage
27…Qb5[27…Bg5 28.Bxg5 hxg5 29.Ra7 Qb5 30.Qa6 Qxa6 31.Rxa6+/-] 28.Ra7 Bf8 the Bishop does cover d6 safely, but is also extremely passive [28…Bg5 29.Bxg5 hxg5 30.Qa6] 29.Qa6 Qxa6 30.Rxa6+/- Be7 [30…c4? 31.Rc6] 31.Kf1 Kf8 32.Ke2 Ke8 33.Kd2 Kd7 34.Kc2 Rc7 35.Kb3 Bf8
36.f4 white needs to open a second front on the kingside in order to break through 36…f6[36…exf4? 37.Bxf4+- f6 38.g4 and eventually d4 should decide] 37.f5 Be7 38.g4 Bd8 39.h4 Be7 40.Kc4 Bd8 41.Ra1 Be7 42.g5 hxg5 [42…h5 43.Rg1 with the idea of gf] 43.hxg5 Rc8 [43…fxg5 44.Rg1]44.Rh1 [44.g6 Rc7 should transpose to the game (44…Rh8? 45.Ra7+ Ke8 46.Bxc5! dxc5 47.d6+- Bd8 48.Rxg7) ] 44…Rg8 [44…fxg5 45.Rg1]
45.g6 already here I saw the final combination45…Ra8 46.Rh7 Rg8 47.Kb5 Kc7 48.Bh6 Bf8 49.Ka6 Kc8
50.Bd2 first winning a tempo to play b3, avoiding …b3 ideas [50.Bxg7 Bxg7 51.Kb6+-] 50…Kc7 51.Be3 Be7 52.Bh6 Bf8 53.b3 Kc8
54.Bxg7! Bxg7 55.Kb6+- now it like a pawn endgame when white wins because he has taken the sixth rank! 55…Kd7 [55…Bf8 56.Kc6 Kd8 57.Ra7 Ke8 58.Ra8+ Ke7 59.Rb8
this is the cute zugzwang position that probably caught the eye of the organisers 59…Rh8 60.Rb7+ Ke8 61.g7+-] 56.Kb7 Ke8 57.Kc6 Bf8 58.Ra7
Rh8 [58…Kd8 59.Ra8+ Ke7 60.Rb8+-] 59.g7 the rest is simple59…Bxg7 60.Rxg7 Rh3 61.Kxd6 Rxd3 62.Ke6 Kf8 63.Rb7 Rxb3 64.d6 Ra3 65.Rb8+ Kg7 66.d7 Rd3 67.d8Q Rxd8 68.Rxd8 c4 69.Rb8 b3 70.Kd5 1-0
The weather promised to be nice,
but as they say here, if you don’t like the weather, just be patient for 5 minutes, it will change. And so it did, before long we had the usual charming Icelandic weather:
The first stop was the Rift Valley, Thingvellir, which separates the American and European tectonic plates. It was here where the Vikings held their assemblies back in the 10th century. The following photo was shot from the American plate looking over the parliament fields:
We then walked downwards into the valley
into the tectonic no-man’s land and from there I took a photo of the American tectonic plate
Several kilometers separate the tectonic plates and because of the weather the European plate wasn’t visible. But what was visible were the coins that people throw for good luck in the springs and rivers that flow in this area (we were told this custom was started by a Danish king).
The next stop was the Gullfoss waterfall. The sight was spectacular:
And even the sun decided to come out:
But you haven’t been to Iceland if you haven’t seen a geysir erupt:
This happens every 5-7 minutes. A great thing to see, but the other, non-erupting geysirs were no less interesting.
Since this was a tour for chessplayers, the inevitable last stop was the Bobby Fischer Centre and his final resting place in Selfoss.
The centre was a bit of a letdown, at least for a Fischer-fanatic like myself. But I was told that this is a centre run by volunteers and is still in its early stages (it didn’t even exist last year). What I found interesting were a couple of rare photographs and a scrapbook of Icelandic newspapers from the famous match.
The surprise was the presence (he drove from Reykjavik for the occasion) and the short speech by the former president of the Icelandic Chess Federation, Gudmundur Thorarinson, the man who was head of the federation during the match in Reykjavik in 1972 and one of the members of the RJF group that managed to get Fischer out of Japanese custody. He gave a brief resume of the events around the match and Fischer’s life in Iceland.
The final stop was Bobby Fischer’s final resting place. After my visit of Alekhine’s grave in Paris in 2004, followed by Capablanca’s in Havana in 2005, this is the third world champion I paid tribute to.
After this we returned to Reykjavik, just in time for the round. It was a pleasant journey through a country that’s so unique in every possible aspect. But today the touristic part of the tournament finishes and from tomorrow it’s back to the old routine of preparation and play (ad infinitum). Six rounds to go and all to play for.
After getting a good night sleep today I got a chance to take a stroll through the city. The first thing that struck me was the lack of traffic. Naturally, there are cars, but I had the sensation that it’s pretty empty on the streets, probably that’s why they cross them wherever they please. When in Rome, do as Romans do, so I followed suit.
One street I crossed was this one:
I wonder how many Jesus Streets there are in the world.
Following the street of their main God, I reached the Cathedral:
It’s pretty impressive on the outside and very simple on the inside:
And they use crystal to keep the Holy water. Unfortunately, it was empty:
It was time to go the playing hall to register, so I started in that direction. The first thing I saw when I exited the Cathedral was this:
I suppose they opened it for the lovers of the film Thor. But by now I realised they were very fond of their Gods, even the nastier ones.
Further downwards I encountered The Pond. I couldn’t help but wonder whether Tchaikovsky had been to Reykjavik:
One pair of swans was very much in love:
I had to leave them and continued to the playing hall called Harpa, the concert hall and conference centre of the city:
It is equally impressive on the inside:
Eventually I registered with the organiser and at 4pm was the opening ceremony, followed by Round 1. I won rather easily against a weaker opponent. Tomorrow is a double-round day, so it will be tough.
Time to rest now. More stuff from the north when I get more time in the following days.