Saturday, the tournament

The Saturday tournament was as usual a round-robin (all play all) with two games played at each round. The tournament is not designed to be the most hard-fought competition, but rather to be a way allowing everyone to play each other at least once. As such it ran very smoothly, with almost no problem whatsoever about either pairings or game rules. Firefly, by some distance the best player in the field, elected not to get a strong partner in order to make the tournament more interesting. Ferdinando Galeno was his lucky partner, and they went to win the tournament despite some problems with English understanding. Two examples (more to come with the final):

After one or two games Firefly understood that pointing at the squares was more efficient than telling their names in English. I told him that it was against the rules of the tournament (no physical intervention on the other board) but then I had for fairness to concede him the right to do it after the following test (me asking Ferdinando who pretends that English is no problem for him):
Me: Can you understand it if for instance he tells you "e3"?
Ferdinando: Wait this one is easy, e3, e3, wait a minute.....(looking for an english word sounding like "e3").....

Firefly: Play bishop a4!
Ferdinando: Well, not too much at the same time, "bishop" is fine, but "a4"....

There was no contest about who was the faster starter. After something like 4 moves in the first game (see the first picture for the start of the game), Jean-Pierre Vegh as black was already one move ahead of his opponent zola. False start, as they say it athletism, and it was decided to start the game again.

The team Laurent Bartholdi - Quentin Bogousslavsky is a classic of the Geneva tournaments. Watching them play is like watching one of the comical duets of the silent movies, where every single thing achieved by one of the actors is immediately destroyed by the other (except maybe that their movie is not silent at all). But this never affects the excellent mood of both, obviously enjoying very much their lousy partnership. Here is about how it worked this year:

Laurent: Don't play before I tell you!
Quentin: But after you play, can I play?
Laurent: NO!
Laurent plays one move, of course Quentin then plays too and Laurent gets into some difficulties. At one point of the game his king is being checked of f7, but he doesn't move for 30 seconds, neither tells anything (maybe because he thinks it obvious that he is in trouble). Quentin then trades queens and Laurent gets mated on the next move.
At the end of the game Quentin summaries what went wrong by telling Laurent "Communicate more!".

In the next game, Quentin gets mated while Laurent is still up on time, but doesn't tell anything about it. Laurent just goes for a 30 seconds think and the game is over.
At the end of this game Laurent summaries "And our victory dreams are flying away".

After the mid-tournament break (which saw a tired Quentin getting a can opener in order to open a bottle of wine), the team began to work better, and Laurent could sing his famous Zorro song (which in French starts with "a kniiiiiight...") in a won game against Tjeulesbetes and Jean-Pierre Vegh, and then proudly announce the result of both games as "one-one for us".

The collaboration between Alexander Cherniaev and Ishamael followed the reverse path: after a fine start against the weaker teams, their partnership suffered a lot from their first 0-2 defeat against MiRU and zola. Probably Alexander didn't like the way he lost an endgame to MiRU while zola was sitting with one minute up; MiRU played in the simplest of ways to trade all material, then sat for a mating rook which zola could take in one.

It is sure quite understandable that a strong player like Alexander would play some excellent chess throughout the tournament, but would be in more trouble when stuff would come on his board, for instance thinking some 15 seconds about a position where he could mate while giving away a part of his enormous amount of stuff, and then opting for a move defending his knight under attack. This happens. But the following game was harder to understand: Ishamael tells him "don't move or I'm mated". Alexander (up on time) unhappy about that wants to move, but Ishamael is firm about it and insists. Nevertheless, Alexander still plays, gets his partner mated, and while putting the pieces into place tells him "please play more accurately".

After it was clear that the Firefly - Galeno team would come first, only the last round decided between the three teams in competition for the second place. Finally no tie-breaker was needed as Fabrice Delay and Hung Fioramonti were the only team to win their last match by 2-0. So they were to play the final, with few expectations: in the game of the regular tournament where Fabrice Delay played against Firefly, he managed to find half a dozen of different expressions to mean that he was being wiped out ("je me fais buter, massacrer, mais file-lui plus rien, mais buter, mais pulvériser...").

Go to... THE FINAL