Very hot temperature and very tired crowd at this year's tournament. With most participants having been present up to very late in the night at friday's barbecue party, you could very easily tell by looking at the faces that there were exactly two teams who had had enough sleep : Christian Bieri - Jean-Pierre Vegh and Jean-Pierre Trang - Kevin Trang. To prove that bughouse was not a game requiring a very accurate mind, these were not going to be the most successful teams in the upcoming afternoon - look at the rankings.
All teams had to wait for two late arrivals that delayed the tournament start from 15:00 to 15:30 : firstly Quentin Bogousslavsky, who went to buy some food in France and suffered his "yearly" (he said) control at the customs. Then Hung Fioramonti, that a well-inspired Rodolphe Francey's phone call woke up at 15:10. By chance this made for an odd number of teams, which allowed him and his partner Jacques Sauvin to get a bye in the first round.
The tournament's first decisive turn was the 4-0 victory of the future winners Denes-Morath (=Marv-zola) against Bieri-Vegh, who were seeded as the number one team according to the very approximative Geneva bughouse rating list. They didn't look that bad throughout the four games, but in fact fell to be always trailing by some 5-10 seconds on the clock.The closest of success they came was when Christian Bieri played a mate in two, but unfortunately when it was not his move.
The most exciting game award clearly goes to the third round game Belin - Carno (= clanelle-pagloppaglop) against Francey (=Tjeulesbetes) - Delay. It all starts with a 20 seconds double sit by Belin-Carno, with approximatively the following dialog:
Belin : What do you want ?
Carno : A bishop !
Belin : How good is it ? (and proceed to think a bit more)
Belin : What do you want ?
Carno : A bishop !
Belin : Yes, but how good is it ?
After this Belin decides to go for his own game, finds a good mating attack, forces mate with 8 seconds on the clock, but then knocks down 4 pieces. He still is fortunate enough to replace them all and force mate in 2 with one second left on the clock. Game far from over yet, as now Carno has to win back the time of the double sit against Francey ; after the latter loses one second in a disagreement about who was to move, the blitz is hectic and it is Francey who gets flagged by... one second ! Delay asks for a draw in regard of the previous incident, but Francey very sportingly admints that he may have got "saiteked" (the Saitek clocks owned by my club have the one disadvantage that the buttons are too small and that you often miss them when trying to press the clock).
This wasn't the only messy situation between these two teams, as in a latter game Delay was a bit too violent in passing a pawn to his partner and knocked down 5 of his pieces in the process. Not realizing where the mess came from, Francey immediately asked that his opponent - Belin - reestablished the position on his time. I fortunately was watching the scene and explain to Francey that he was the one who had to reestablish the position on his time. He seemed so surprised (or unable to reset the position) that in fact it was Belin who proceeded to replace all pieces for him in about 25 seconds. All that Francey could say after watching him doing it was "Do you accept this [position] ?"
What makes it even more fun : these games and the 3-1 victory by Belin-Carno proved to be the decider about the second place and the qualification for the final !
The award for the most tumultuous partenrship goes as usual to Laurent Bartholdi and Quentin Bogousslavsky. But after a lot of dissensions and some insults, they managed to tune their styles, Quentin even trying to use for himself one of Laurent's favourite techniques : at the start of the game, pressing the clock and immediately after that offer the handshake. They even went on to win a game against the winner team Denes-Morath, but as you may have guessed, only after the end of the tournament.
The award for efficient fair-play goes to Ralf Zoeller (RalfiZoller). In a game against Hung Fioramonti, Hung moves cxb8 and announces "queen". Ralf ask "Is it really a queen ?", as a knight instead would have given check. Hung answers "Yes", after which Ralf politely mates in one.
The final, like the tournament, seemed to be a piece of cake for Daniel Denes and Philippe Morath, a team which showed a tremendous progression, especially compared to their 2001 performances.
The day ended with some friendly bughouse, a look at the great fireworks from the Fêtes de Genève, and - you could tell - some more bughouse.