Guernsey Chess Club and Federation Reports

Fred Hamperl reports from Neuchatel Open, 25-28 May 2007

We (Peter Kirby and Fred Hamperl) arrived in Neuchatel, Switzerland on Thursday evening 24th May 2007 so we could settle in before the first game scheduled for late Friday evening 25 May. unfortunately Peter's flight was delayed by an hour so we didn't meet up in Geneva station on the way.

The Neuchatel station was half way up the big hill that stood behind the town. I walked down the tourist path right opposite the station. There is a funnicular railway that goes to and from the town every 3 minutes as well, a must on the way back. Our hotel was Hotel les Arts quite near the venue (5 minute walk along the lake). The first few days were fantastically hot so I arrived at the hotel quite hot too after carring my luggage down the hill. I found my room was in the attic of the hotel on the sixth floor, there were roof lights in the ceiling as you can see in the photo. Well when I opened the door the room was unbearably hot so I asked for a new room, but they could only move me the next day. So that night I had to bear the heat, the roof light allowed some air in. In the early hours of Friday I was awakened by a noise, on opening my eyes I could see a big pretty blue pigeon starring at me, lucky it flew straight out of the room once I moved. I had wondered why there were twigs on the top of the wardrobe, a nice nest was being created.

Neuchatel is a really lovely old town on the large Neuchatel lake between Bern and Geneva.

A typical square, there were many statues of knights.

On the lake front were some impressive buildings.

A tram bus network operate around the main town. Some of the old tram stations had been converted into shops and cafes and looked really good.

Peter stands outside his favourite ladies clothes shop.

Some artists were painting a balloons scene on a small back street, it looked great when it was done.

The venue entrance was painted in an egyptian style. this picture was taken on the monday when it had rained. There was a mini golf course next to it right on the lake.

The playing hall was an old curling arena.

The playing hall was nice and cool with loads of space, every pair of players had a big table to themselves.

The analysis room was in the viewing gallery and overlooked all the games.

Peter and Israeli GM Leonid Gofshtein. Leonid had played and won our Guernsey tournament in October 2006, so I knew him quite well and he seemed pleased to see us. Peter and I both won our first round games on Friday night I didn't finish until nearly 11 pm. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday we had to play 2 games a day, and with such a tight schedule I had no time to get the pairings and do preparation before any of the games. So on Saturday morning at 8:55 am for the 9 am round 2 start, I greeted Leonid as we appraoched the pairings list only to find we were playing each other. After the pigeon incident in the night in my hot hotel room I was tired. The game was a Taimanov Benoni, needless to say I lost, but it was fun.

In round 3 at 2 pm on Saturday, I played Megane Miralles (Geneva Chess Club) daughter of GM Gilles Miralles. She played a Skandinavian, the position got quite tactical and I entered an interesting combination. I missed several lines that were winning and opting for a line that was not so good for me. With my tiredness Megane steadilly outplayed me and got into a winning position. In desparation I chopped off her well advanced pawns to enter a pawnless endgame rook and two knights against my rook. I placed my king between her knights and we chased rooks around the board. A crowd had gathered as we were about the last game still going. GM Gofshtein was stood looking over my right shoulder. My clock had ticked down to just a few seconds and I was just making random rook moves in a defeated manner. I was hoping I could win a knight and then swap rooks for the draw. When my clock was down to less than 5 seconds (with no increment), she put her rook between my king and rook forcing me to exchange, I resigned. Gofshtein found it very amusing because if I had just taken her rook I should have been able to claim a draw as the two knights can't mate without the opponent's assistance. So that was quite embarrassing for me but also quite funny at the same time. It took me a while to establish Megane was only part rated so I hadn't lost ant FIDE rating points over the debarcle which was a relief. Leonid then told us a story of a situation that he said was only marginally funnier that what I had just done it was about two players that had both resigned. They both signed their score sheets as having lost, apparantly the controller had to work out which one resigned first.

In round 6 GM Leonid Gofshtein played English GM Mark Hebden. Mark has also played and won in Guernsey many times in the past.

Peter finished on 4.5 out of 7 having played two GMs Gofshtein and the tournament winner and I managed to win my last 3 games to recover to a score of 4 out of 7.

Switzerland is a really beautiful place, the chess was hard with two games a day, but was great fun overall.

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Written by Fred Hamperl.