In September, I started my third semester of university. As the months went by, the days got shorter and the dark got longer. Sooner or later, we were bound to enter December and the last on-campus teaching before exams started. Since I am not in the slightest way an exam person, it felt like a stroke of genius when I discovered that I could escape the cold winter and replace it with sun and chess by the beach. Sitges, a city in Spain only an hour by bus from Barcelona, was calling my name so loud that the sounds of exams and responsibility were nowhere to be heard. When I finally arrived, the view from my room over the endless sea made me forget all about the snow that had fallen on my face in the cold morning hours. It was a dream that wouldn’t stop when I ran into fellow Offerspill member, the talented Laurin Perkampus, who told me that we both might be playing on the top boards the next day. Though the fact that Laurin has caught up with my rating feels like a nightmare, the thought of playing one of the best players in the world more than made up for it. For the next 12 hours I waited with anticipation for the first round. I must have refreshed the webpage more times than I can actually count, and when chess-results finally showed the pairings of the first of ten rounds, a smile immediately filled my face and a small sound of excitement escaped my mouth. I was going up against no other than Vassily “Chucky” Ivanchuk, ranked number two in the world several times and the man who almost destroyed Magnus’ hope of winning the 2013 Candidates Tournament - in a game where I was actually present in the playing hall. I best remember Magnus’ sitting with his bottle of orange juice that he would always bring to the game and Ivanchuk walking around spectator seats while pointing in the air as he was clearly still calculating what was happening on the board. But enough with all the talk, the next day at 4:30 pm, I sat down at the board.
Oh well, no matter the result it was definitely a great experience getting to play a living legend like Ivanchuk. For the next round, my opponent entered my tricky preparation. He entered my preparation so deeply that he blundered a piece on move 11 the same way I did against the computer when I looked at the variation a few hours before. This resulted in a quick 1-0 and so a nice day at the office. Round 3 was a loss after a fighting game against IM Gokerkan who is very well-known on the internet as SatrancTV. After this loss, rounds 4 through 9 were on paper, unfortunately, not much to write home about. It was draw after draw after draw after the free day after draw after a bye after draw. Though the draws were not “just” draws but exciting games with both winning and losing positions, it still meant that I kept being paired each and every round until the last round, round 10. Here it was time for me to finally prove that I wasn’t just a drawing machine but that I came to win. Luckily for me, it was a morning round and I was playing against someone younger than myself. I definitely do not consider myself a morning person, but somehow I seem to get good results in morning rounds against younger people - they must somehow manage to end up more tired than me even though one would not believe that to be possible. I finally managed to get away with a whole point and at least end the tournament on a high note.
I will admit that this tournament recap is significantly delayed, and I have even managed to play another tournament since then: Tata Steel Amateurs! If you just have a little patience, I promise that the recap from that tournament will be ready in due time - stay tuned!