World Chess's blog

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29 Sep 2012: London Grand Prix, Simpson's-in-the-Strand, Round 8

All photos by © Meri Grigoryan

Boris Gelfand psyching out Anish Giri

Rustam Kasimdzanov vs Michael Adams

Rustam Kasimdzanov vs Michael Adams

Peter Leko vs Alexander Grischuk

Peter Leko vs Alexander Grischuk

Vasyl Ivanchuk

Vasyl Ivanchuk

Hao Wang

Round 8 results
GM Leko Peter 2737 ½ - ½ GM Grischuk Alexander 2754
GM Gelfand Boris 2738 ½ - ½ GM Giri Anish 2730
GM Kasimdzhanov Rustam 2684 1 - 0 GM Adams Michael 2722
GM Nakamura Hikaru 2783 0 - 1 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2769
GM Topalov Veselin 2752 ½ - ½ GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2729
GM Dominguez Perez Leinier 2725 ½ - ½ GM Wang Hao 2742

Budapest First Saturday August 1st-12th 2009

First Sat Start

The start of the August First Saturday tournament with Mr First Saturday (Laszlo Nagy) standing on the right. The tournaments are all round robins organised every month. The format is more conducive towards getting IM norms and improving your standard of play.

1st August

Round 1

Played out a draw with a young Hungarian Bence Szabo.

2nd August

Round 2

Lost to another young Hungarian Tibor Levicsky ! It was a Schliemann too - shame !

Sitting Room

This is the sitting room of the flat where I am staying. In fact some very famous chess players slept on this sofabed. I will have to erect a small plaque !

Hic Lindonius terra africanus australis dormit !

Or something like that !

August 3rd

Round 3

A win against IM Evarth Kahn ! Best game so far !


View of St Stephens Basilica near where I am staying

August 4th

Round 4

Won again against FM Zoltan Simonyi - very long game !

In Budapest there are many antique shops ! e.g. BAV below :


You like !? You want to buy my friend - I make special price ! Just for you.

August 5th

Round 5

Lost to Emil Szalanczy - there goes the IM norm ! A game I really patzered up.

August 6th

Rest day - recovering pschologically from defeat.

August 7th

Round 6

Beat another young Hungarian Adam Kormos

Round 7

Won again against German Martin Villwoch

Round 8

Had a lucky escape with a draw against Sandor Farago 


Scottish Championship 11th-19th July 2009

City Chambers - Edinburgh

The venue - City Chambers Edinburgh 

 Nice to see the Scottish champion was FM Iain Gourlay ahead of the five Scottish GMs. The tournament was won by Prasad of India and the venue was the City Chambers on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. A brilliant venue  and I wouldn't mind playing there again ! I didn't do so well in this one - 5.5/9 18th place but a poor rating performance. Some photos and apologies for the poor picture quality as I am still getting used to the new camera:

View down the Royal Mile

View down the Royal Mile. This leads from Holyrood Palace at the bottom to the Castle at the top

 St Giles Cathedral

 St Giles Cathedral opposite the venue 


Playing Hall

The playing hall : Iain Gourlay seated left. Jan Markos standing (bearded). Keti Arakhamia far right.


Hebden v Prasad 

Hebden v Prasad 

A remarkable save by Hebden - worth playing through !


Mandel Room

The Mandela Room (analysis)

Nelson oversees all chess players !



Part of the castle viewed from the south-east  


St Giles Cathedral viewed from the west 


Halls and Arthurs Seat

View of the Halls of residence where I was staying with Arthur's Seat in the background.


Roslin Chapel

I took the opportunity to visit Roslin Chapel (now of Da Vinci Code fame). Pictures cannot be taken of the amazing interior so there is just one picture of the outside !



Blog resurrected !

The World Chess blog will now be taken over by Mark Lyell! I am currently aiming to report on several tournaments at home and abroad in which I will be playing in an effort to get IM norms and increase my rating.  The first of these will be First Saturday tournament in Budapest starting August 1st

16-23.03.2008 XXIV Cappelle-la-Grande International, Dunkerque, North of France


In the north of France at the heart of maritime Flanders, Cappelle-la-Grande is located at the crossroads of the coastal motorway and a Dunkerque-Leon-Paris motorway. The town belongs to the Dunkerque urban community and is on the outskirts of inland Flanders. The town is build on an area of 546 hectares. It has a population of 9000, and has an extensive areas of land for expansions for both housing and business needs. In the beginning of last century Cappelle was just a small farming town with a few thousand inhabitants. For over 30 years now the municipality has been striving to achieve an overall balance between housing, business and search land leisure facilities and to encourage Flemish style architecture.

Now the main challenge that faces the municipality could be summoned up in two words “living together”. This is why the town has build numerous facilities enabling the people of La Cappelle to meet, to debate and to welcome others through sport, culture, leisure and social projects.

La Cappelle has two sport centres. The oldest of which bears the name of Albert Denver. It offers weight training, tennis, table-tennis, and basketball as well as a multi-purpose room. The more recent Roger Gouvert (who was the governor of the town in 1960's) centre offers judo, boxing, gymnastics, a climbing wall, two multi-purpose rooms and a reception room. These facilities are fully equipped and provide optimal conditions for sport and complimented by two football pitches, one rugby pitch, an athletic stadium, where it's possible to practice Olympic disciplines. It has a swimming pool, a shooting range, a horse riding centre and more. In all sixty different sports are offered here. It also has a Planetarium! Culture is not left out, thanks to the Palais des Arts et des Loisirs, where chess players meet continually for 24 years.

The playing venue: Palais des Arts et des Loisirs

The secretary of the tournament Sylvie Templeur and vice-president of Cappele-la-Grande chess association Stéphane Gouvart


The rhyming flock has taken me
To breezy Dunkerque by the sea.
Cappelle-la-Grande is not far away,
Six hundred pawns for Kaissa play.

On my first day I really did feel
It's not all for nothing with words to seal
The motto of FIDE I cannot conceal:
“Genus Una Sumus”, we all have the same thrill!

They all are here with no fear,
Thirteen from Britain but where is Glenn Flear?
You can see names like Mark, Anthony
And even old wolf, Gulko Boris
Who's trying to quench his long lost thirst!
So many belles like les femmes fatale
Thrashing potential Petrosyan and Tal!

Heard enough of the striking note?
Then take a look on the perky report,
Can you guess who won the event's jack-pot?!

 And the winners are...

1. Vugar Gashimov AZE 7/9

2. David Arutiunian GEO 7/9

3. Sergey Fedorchuk UKR 7/9

Take a look at the complete list of the participants and the winners

Boris Gulko of the USA, the winner of the veterans' prize

David Arutinian of Georgia: came 2nd on tie-break

Thomas Luther of Germany

Tigran Petrosyan of Armenia

Vasilios Kotronias of Greece

Vladimir Belov of Russia

Vugar Gashimof of Azerbajan: won 1st place on tie-break

The photos of the chess Goddesses are in the alphabetical order, for we are not to judge their beauty...

Alina Motoc of Roumania

Anastazia Karlovich of Ukraine

Anna Rudolf of Hungary

Anna Zozulia of Beligium

Bella Igla of Israel

Carolina Lujan of Argentina

Donna Schut of The Netherlands

Elena Boric of Ukraine

Elena Dembo of Hungary

Elina Danielian of Armenia:the regular winner of the ladies' prize, alas, not this time...

Iona Smaran-Padurariu of Roumania

Iozefina Paulet of Roumania

Julia Kochetkova of Russia

Lisa Schut of the Netherlands

Manuela Mader of Germany

Marie Boyarchenko of Luxemburg

Martha Fierro Baquero of Ecuador

Melanie Ohme of Germany

Mihaela Sandhu of Roumania

Nelli Tovmasian of Germany

Spice Grils of Georgia

Ginger: Nino Khurtsidze

Baby: Nana Dzagnidze the winner of the ladies' prize

Sporty: Solome Melia

Posh: Nino Maisuradze

Sarah Hoolt of Germany

Sylvia Johnson of Norway

Turkan Mamedjarova of Azerbajan

Vita Chulivskaja of Ukraine

Zeinab Mamedjarova of Azerbajan


"O, Cappelle, wherefore you're not the heart, the belle...

For Beethoven's tune in one of your kirk bells

Makes us all sing “Ode to Joy” and bid farewell..."


27/10- 07/11/2007 16th European Team Championship, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

The European Team Championship took place in the small town of Hersonissos, which is 25 km away from Crete's capital Heraklion. There were 40 teams in the open section and 29 in the women section. Since Mark Lyell has been reporting for the BCM's website ( I will only cover the photo report part.

Hotel Creta Maris

Hotel Creta Maris

Round 1

Scotland vs England

Russian vs Sweden

Bulgaria vs Lithvania

Round 2

Playing hall

England vs Ukraine

England vs Czech Republic

Armenia vs Russia

Scotland vs Austria

Round 3

Austria vs England

Finland vs England

Russia vs Bulgaria: Battle of the Sleeping Beauties

Round 4

Israel vs England

David Navara

The 4 Ks of Russia

Morozevich vs Belyavski

F.Y.R.O.M. vs Ukraine

Round 5

England vs Spain

Free day in Knossos

Knossos Palace

If you know the name of this reconstracted place then let me know.

Southern chambers

The storage room

Throning room (original)

Sarunas Sulskis in front of reconstructed Western gate

Gerry Welsh looking into my camera

The Armenians: Liana, Gabriel and Siranush

The inhabitant of the Konossos Palace

On the way back we stopped in Heraklion

Morosini Fountain on Venizelou square in Heraklion, built in 1628 during Venetian Era (1204 - 1669)

Pomegranate souvenirs are popular not only in Armenia but also in Greece

And some photos of our evening activities...

Ingrid Lauterbach, Michael Adams and wife Tara

Mark Hebden, Nick Pert and Mark Lyell

Gawain Jones: don't give me that look, Mr!

Levon Aronian and Gabriel Sargsian enjoying their game, while Lilit Mkrtchian watches

Gawain Jones, Sabrina Chevannes, Peter Wells, Mark Lyell and Mark Hebden

Sabrina's having fun with the Dutch team

Stewart Conquest is in a dancing mood and so is Ivan Sokolov

There are many but Tea Lanchava is more "centralised"

The Armo & Co: Nelly Aghinian, Liana Aghabekian, Siranush Andriasian and Tigran Nalbandian

Even the loud music can make you sleepy

A Greek Godess shouting out for mercy from Poseidon... And nobody cares to rescue Tea Lanchava and Edwin L'Ami from sinking...

... and even Gabriel Sargisian on "a1" and Vladislav Nevedenichy on "h8" can't hear a thing

Gabriel: "If I can't hear anything then I will cry out loudly" . And guess which girl has got so long arms?

If you can't work out who is who on this sweet snap then you can at least now tell me who the girl is with so long arms, right?

Unfortunatelly there are no photos of round 6 and 7.

Round 8

Lithuania vs England

Georgia vs England

Azerbaijan vs Armenia

Karen Asrian and Gabriel Sargsian

Slovenia vs Israel

Russia vs The Netherlands

Poland vs Armenia

Germany vs Spain

French Silvia Collas and Sophie Milliet

Maya Chiburdanidze without her trademark hat!

Vladimir Akopian

Vasilij Ivanchuk and Sergej Karyakin

Alex Shirov (single again!)

Round 9

Happy Peter Svidler shows off his T-shirt!

The Ukrainians

England vs Ukraine

Levon Aronian

Gabriel Sargissian and Karen Asrian

Michael Adams

Emil Sutovsky

Armenia vs Israel

Russia vs Bulgaria

Closing Ceremony

They all danced well but...

Aren't they good at everything?! Wink

The audience

Russians came first

Armenians second, hang on where is Aronian?

Always at last minute!

The Armenians: Now we have the whole team!

Azeris came 3rd

Russia's 5 Ks won the gold

Strictly come in suits: Poland 2nd place

Jolly happy Armenian girls won the bronze

Do I have to mention their names?

You should know them by now!

People were strugling to recognise the two guys on right, do you?

Board 2 winners

Board 3 winners

Board 4 winners: I know only Nana Dzagnidze how about you?

Board 5: I get 2/3 in this game of guess who is who

The English Team

Aren't they all photogenic? I love this capture! Swedish girls posing with Shirov and with you tell me who

And yet again we all relax ...

Levon Aronian

Aronian and Aghabekian in Armenian dance mood

Siranush, Lilit and Anna Motoc

David, Siranush and Lilit

Love, Love, Love, all you need is Love...

Cheers: I wish you all success but above all love and happiness!

Will be seeing you, Meri Grigoryan.

21st-29th August 2007: XIX Festival Internazionale di Scacchi, Porto San Giorgio, Italy

The Marche is one of the 20 regions of Italy and is divided into 5 provinces: Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Fermo, Macerata and Pesaro e Urbino. And Porto San Giorgio is a town and commune in the province of Fermo.

Le Marche, the name derived from "Marca di Ancona" o "Marca Anconitana" and from "Marca di Fermo" o "Marca Fermana" (The march of Ancona and The march of Fermo), is distinguished not only for its river valleys, hills, shoe and bread making but also for its ‘sagra delle cozze’ (mussels feast), wine testing and eminent Rossini opera festival, and undoubtedly its colourful ‘living chess’ festival is known to every child in the region!

Le Marche: a view from Ripatransone

Picturesque park in front of Porto San Girogio railaway station

This year the playing venue Palazzetto dello Sport accommodated 317 players instead of 297 in the previous year. The first prize of €2000 attracted 16 GMs and 16 IMs. IM Lawrence Trent of England won this tidy sum for the last two years and this year it was the turn of another young talent GM Gawain Jones of England. To secure the win by half a point, he had to squeeze his last round opponent GM Miezis Normunds of Latvia, who played almost till checkmate in K+R+N+p vs K+R endgame.

Final standings:

1.9Jones Gawain C BENG7.525262682+1.76
2.31Estremera Panos SergioSPA7.023752651+3.26
4Korneev OlegRUS7.025652616+0.59
12Rotstein ArkadijGER7.025152554+0.52
1Fedorchuk Sergey A.UKR7.026182601-0.02
6.2Hamdouchi HichemMAR6.525762492-0.66
13Farago IvanHUN6.525012564+0.96
7Sulava NenadCRO6.525442504-0.29
11RAUSIS IgorCZE6.525242479-0.31
19Trent LawrenceENG6.524582503+0.76

Palazzetto dello Sport di Porto San Giorgio, the playing hall

Signing authographs for his fans: the winner 20 year-old GM Gawain Jones of England

2nd place: GM Estremera Panos Sergio of Spain

Fermo on the hill: a view from Hotel Riviera, Porto San Giorgio

Chess Festival: spectacular traditional flag-juggling performance by the young ones in a beautiful town of Fermo

After the colourful performance follows live chess! Video-clip:

Apparently, White King and Queen are married and 6 out of 8 pawns are their children!

My favorite photos of Le Marche

6:03AM Porto San Giorgio

6:53AM Porto San Girogio

Within Sunrise

Magic round about: a view from a town of Moregnano

Castle in the Heaven: spotted while approaching Ancona

Fascinating sunset over Le Marche

Moon Caravan

Moon Transformer: playing with my camera while shaping up the full moon into a cacti

“A nun will always find her cross!”: My mobile phone is in action

And last but not least: ‘Va bene!’ watercolour by Meri

Interview With the 94th British Champion GM Jacob Aagaard (pictorial rport)

Interview with the new British Champion Jacob Aagaard by Meri Grigoryan

MG: Jacob, congratulations on the great achievement!
JA: Thank you!

MG: How do you feel?
JA: Absolutely delighted! I must say that after 7 rounds I felt really tired and just wanted to go home. I didn’t care for the idea of winning the British Championship and even at the end it didn’t mean much to me until I looked at the chart and realised who I played against. I am ecstatic. It is one of the greatest things that happened in my life.

MG: I suppose this must be your best tournament win.
JA: For sure. I won the Scottish Championship once but I don’t mind it. It is not my highest rated tournament performance but for sure is my best tournament win.

MG: Jonathan Rowson won the championship 3 times and now you did, what sort of effect do you think will it have on the future of Scottish chess?
: Well, I think we already are seeing the effect. Many won different British titles this year and many young players becoming strong and I believe the golden years are ahead of us.

MG: Andrew Martin’s best game selection was your game against Nick Pert. What is your favourite game?
: I very much like my games against David Howell and Simon Williams. But I understand why it had such an attraction in the commentary room, apparently the audience made 24 guesses not breaking the 29 guess record back in 1998. On move 11 Nick played a novelty and then I castled and he played his pawn to d5 and I thought that it was strategically wrong move, then I spent 5-6 minutes and realised that I can take on e3. I didn’t even calculate it I thought it was a strategic necessity but maybe it’s not true. Actually it is the prize I preferred to win rather than the championship itself. (That makes him an artist already!)

MG: Jacob, do you see yourself as an artist or a sportsman?
: I am definitely not a sportsman, I am too unfit. I like to create, so I suppose that makes me an artist but I am not a great one. I think it is important for strong players to play interesting games. In this tournament my games had lots of attention because they were combative. Not only did I win the best game prize but the second best prize was won against me, so that shows already something.

MG: Jacob you write chess books. Are you a full time writer?
: I am not full time at anything. I play, I write, I have two students whom I love to work with. I own a publishing house with John Shaw, hopefully that would be a profitable business in the future. I think mainly I am a journalist, writing articles about chess. I don’t think I can do one thing. I am not going to be super great at anything. I enjoy my versatile life.

MG: What is your next book’s subject?
: My next book is going to be in two volumes and it’s titled “The Attacking Manuals”. I have been writing this book on and off for six years now. I have written about 2500 pages of notes, so I will chop it down and hopefully it will be a very good book. I am not writing books for money as it does not pay off. I like to have a feeling that people enjoy reading my books. I like it when people make compliments about my books. I have sent two of my books to Mark Dvoretsky and he said that he liked the first one, as it was written very plainly and understandably. However I think that the book was a rip off of his books with some additional good ideas. I asked him about the second one and he replied that it was stolen by Inarkiev. I was very proud to have such a compliment.

MG: Do you wish to say anything for the final touch, for you fans maybe?
JA: I don’t think so I have any fans.

MG: How about the Scottish fans?
JA: Yes, if I have something to say then I would add that I am happy to bring the trophy back to Scotland and if I did not win it Jonathan Rowson would have done it. Jonathan is a fantastic player, for the last three years he won the title. This year I was riding the luck and I believe Jonathan will win the trophy in the future.

MG: Thank you Jacob and good luck for the future.
: Thank you.

Alexander Best Game Prize

Nick Pert vs. Jacob Aagaard 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Bg5 Bb7 6.Nd2 h6 7.Bh4 Nc6 8.e3 Ne7 9.f3 Nf5 10.Bf2 c5 11.Qc2(N) 0-0 12.d5 Nxe3! 13.Bxe3 exe3 14. Bf2 Re8+ 15.Ne2 dxc4 16.0-0-0 b5 7.Nc3 Bc6 18.Nxc4 bxc4 19.Bxc4 d5 20.Bh4 Qb8 21.Bg3 Qb7 22.Bb3 Rac8 23.Bh4 Bxc3 24.bxc3 c4 25.Ba4 Bxa4 26.Qxa4 Rb8 27.Qc2 Qe7 28.Rd2 Qa3+ 29.Kd1 d4 30.cxd4 Nd5

Second Best Game Prize

Stephen Gordon vs. Jacob Aagaard 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.f4 0-0 9.Kh1 Qc7 10.a4 Nc6 11.Be3 Bd7 12.Nb3 b6 13.Bf3 Rfe8 14.g4 Bc8 15.g5 Nd7 16.Bg2 Bb7 17.Qh5 Nb4 18.Rf2 Bf8 19.Nd4 g6 20.Qh3 Bg7 21.f5 exf5 22.exf5 Bxf5 23.Kxg2 Ne5 24.Rd1 Rac8 25.f6 Bf8 26.Kg1 Nc4 27.Bc1 d5 28.Bf4 Qd7 29.b3 Ne3 30.Re1 Rxc3 31.Rxe3 Rexe3 32.Bxe3 Nc6 33.Ne2 Rxc2 34.Nf4 Rxf2 35.Bxf2 Nb4 36.Qc3 Qd7 37.Bxb6 Qg4+ 38.Qg3 Qd1+ 39.Kg2 Bd6 40.Kh3 Qf1+ 41.Kg4 Nd3 42.Be4 d4 0-1

British Ladies Champion Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant

Best Englishman and British U-21 Champion Stephen Gordon, joint 2nd with Jonathan Rowson

Three times British Champion Jonathan Rowson

From right: 4th= David Howell, Anthony Kosten, Mark Hebden and Stuart Haslinger

Glenn C. Flear collecting his 8th= prize money

First English Ladies Champion Lithuanian Dagne Ciuksyte

Senior Champions with the Mayor of Great Yarmouth: David Anderton and Stewart Reuben

Winner of Major Open David Ledger, joint winner with Oliver Jackson and Stephen Orton

U-18 Champion David Howell

Girls U-18 Champion Selina Khoo

U-16 Champion Connor Woods of Scotland (this photo is taken by Bob Jones)

Girls U-14 Champion Sheila Dines

U-13 Champion - Akash Jain, joint winner with Rhys Cumming

Didn’t get the name of the Scottish girl (in the middle) who was a joint winner of the junior major open with girls U-12 and U-13 champion Megan Owens of Wales.

U-12 Champion Saravanan Sathyanandha

Girls U-11 Champion Radha Jain

The Arbiter Mrs Lara Barnes gets a special prize for her enthusiastic work

29th July - 11th August, 94th British Championship, Great Yarmouth College, Southtown, Great Yarmouth

Day 10: Express photo report

Great Yarmouth is an English coastal town in the county of Norfolk. It has been a seaside resort since 1760, and is the gateway from the Norfolk Broads to the sea. The town has a nice beach and two promenades popular with locals and tourists. Great Yarmouth has sub-areas and many chess players are staying in Caister-on-sea, which is a 15 minutes drive from the venue, Great Yarmouth College, Southtown.

Leading players after 9 rounds:

  • 1st Jacob Aagaard 7½
  • 2nd Stuart Haslinger 7
  • 3rd =Stephen Gordon & Pert 6½
  • 5th= Anthony Kosten, Jack Rudd, Jonathan Rowson, Stuart Conquest, Mark Hebden, Glenn C. Flear & Charles Storey all 6 pts.

Round 5:

Nick Pert (0) vs. (1) Jacob Aagaard

Friends in life & friends on board: Anthony Kosten vs. Glenn Flear (draw)

Former British Ladies Champion Susan Lalic

Thomas Rendle vs.British Ladies Champion Keti Arakhamia-Grant (draw)

Round 6: Jacob Aagaard vs. Jonathan Rowson (draw)

Round 9: David Howell (0) vs. (1) Jacob Aagaard

Round 9: Stuart Haslinger vs. Stephen Gordon (draw)

Caister Castle

Caister Castle Car Collection: no photos to be taken indoors

A cheesecake over my roof?

Not yet a full moon rise over Caister-on-sea

Not a sunset but a sunrise: 5:52AM

Sunrise: 6:52AM

A view from my window: Windmills in Caister-On-Sea, Great Yarmouth (a quickie watercolour by me)

Official website:

22nd-29th July: 15th Saint Affrique International Open, France

Saint Affrique is a town of rivers, mountains, bridges, pétanque, chess, cheese and wine. It is situated in south of Aveyron area, where Roquefort cheese is made, in the Midi- Pyrénées region.

Saint Affrique grew up in the 6th C. around the tomb of the bishop St. Africain and in the 12th C. a fortress was built on the neighbouring rock of Caylus.

The town has 5 bridges over the river Sorgues, which cuts through seven hills: des Anglais, de la Quille, de la Fous, de la Serre, des Cazes, de Nougayrolle et du Rocher de Caylus. The land area is 110.96 km² and there are 8300 inhabitants. It’s the birthplace of the musician and inventor Pierre-Augustine Sarus (1813-1876) and the mathematician and politician Émile Borel (1871-1956). (Source:

Saint Affrique
Le Pont Vieux (the old bridge) was built in 1270 and is classified as a Historical Monument.

“A Room With A View”: from my window.

A metallic creation of Gavroche.

Place de la Liberté: another metallic creation.

When I was told that there is an international tournament in Saint Affrique every summer I was surprised as I had never heard about it before. And as I like to write about things people have never written about I decided to visit the town for a holiday, explore the Aveyron area and practice my French but with no intention of playing chess!

I travelled via Montpellier and before getting to my final destination I had time to enjoy the city’s impressive Antigone district architecture created by the Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill (born December 5, 1939).

Antigone district: Cross to the arcade and shopping centre Polygone and all your money will soon be gone...

Antigone district: a scene overlooking the Polygone arcade.

Antigone district : Place de Thessalie.

Antigone district : Insulae.

Place de la Comédie.

Place de la Comédie: Opera House.

Finally I arrived in Saint Affrique! The general welcoming atmosphere made me feel like home and I decided to play but with one condition: if I felt tired I would not continue the tournament, my wish was granted! And so I played 4 games only and after all, this trip was meant to be my holiday...

The tournament was run smoothly and many activities were organised. 201 players, even from India, took part in the 15th St. Affrique International. The winner was Moroccan GM Hichem Hamdouchi and the lady’s prize went to Indian WGM Nisha Mohota.

I scored 2.5/4, lost my second game against English Grandmaster.

Glenn C. Flear Glen C. Flear vs. Meri Grigoryan

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3

It is worth to mention that my opponent was concerned about my Albin Counter Gambit! But I so wanted to play e5!

2. ... Nc6 3.e3 Bg4 4.Nbd2 e5 (Yes!) 5.h3 Bxf3 6.Nxf3 e4 7.Nd2 f5 8.c4 Nf6 9.a3 g6 10.Qb3 Rb8 11.cd5 Nd5 12.Bc4 Na5 13.Qa4 c6 14.Be2 (14.b4 and Qa7 not ideal) 14. ... b5 15.Qc2 Bh6?! (Once I played it I realised that I missed a simple 21. Kf3! Well, 15. ... Rc8 is more subtle, if 16.0-0 then Bd6 with idea Bd8, Qd6 and advancing the K-side pawns, if 16.Nb3 Nb3 17.Qb3 Bd6 18.Bd2 Bb8 then 19.0-0-0 but that’s a different story which I didn’t bother to follow!)

16.b4 Be3 (Well, I have already said “A”! But my opponent apparently had second thoughts about his next move...) 17.ba5 Bf2+ 18.Kf2 Qh4 19.g3 e3+ 20.Kg2 Nf4+ 21.Kf3! Qh5+ 22.Kf4 and White won eventually.

“When not to chase after a mirage combination!” – a good teaching stuff for my pupils.

Round 5: Hichem Hamdouchi vs. Aarthie Ramaswamy
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. Bd3 d5 5. Nxe5 Bd6 6. O-O Bxe5 7. dxe5 Nc6 8. Nc3 Nxc3 9. bxc3 O-O 10. Re1 Qh4 11. Qf3 Be6 12. Rb1 Rab8 13. Bf4 Rfe8 14. h3 a6 15. Kh2 a5 16. Qe3 h6 17. Rg1 g5 18. Bg3 Qh5 19. Rge1 f5 (Yet another mirage chase which started two moves ago) 20. exf6 Bxh3 21.Qc5 b6 22. Bg6! Qxg6 23. Qxc6 Bg4 24. Qxc7 Rbc8 25. Qxb6 Rxe1 26. Rxe1 Rf8 27. Qd4 Qh5+ 28. Kg1 Rd8 29. Re7 Rd7 30. f7+ 1-0

Final standings:

# Name Country Title ELO Points
1 Hamdouchi Hichem MAR GM 2576 8
2 Degraeve Jean-Marc FRA GM 2520 7.5
3 Flear Glenn C. ENG GM 2479 7.5
4 BOUDRE Jean-Pierre FRA IM 2329 7
5 DELORME Axel FRA FM 2317 7
6 MOHOTA Nisha IND WGM 2332 7
7 LEJARRE Ludovic FRA FM 2359 6.5
8 DAVID Vincent FRA FM 2390 6.5
9 PETROSSIAN Armen FRA 2392 6.5
10 PRIE Eric FRA GM 2518 6.5
11 HAMDOUCHI Adina-Maria ROM WGM 2287 6.5
12 COLLAS Silvia FRA IM 2393 6.5
13 VAN ELST Andreas FRA FM 2294 6.5
14 JANEV Evgeni IM BUL 2488 6.5
15 COLLAS Didier IM FRA 2458 6.5

Winners from previous years:

2006: GM Jean-Marc Degraeve (ELO 2540, FRA)

2005: GM Anthony Kosten (2522, ENG)

2004: Viesturs Meiters (ELO 2487, LAT)

2003: GM Jean-Marc Degraeve (ELO 2541, FRA)

2002: GM Alexander Delchev (ELO 2557, BUL) 265 players

1992: IM Didier Collas (FRA)

Playing hall: la Salle des fêtes

Mohota sisters: Swati and Nisha in front of the Salle des fêtes. One of the sisters will marry soon and if I keep my long hair by then, then I will most likely attend her Indian wedding. For a week I was the girls' interpreter as their landlady knew nothing but "Hello!". Before this trip I didn't dare to add French on my CV but now - voila!

Aarthie Ramaswamy plays against the tournament winner Hichem Hamdouchi, who, by the way, came 3rd in Montpellier Open this year.

Adina-Maria Hamdouchi vs. Jean-Marc Degraeve.

WGM Silvia Collas.

I finished my game early and was playing with Silvia Collas' one-year-old son Anthony.

Mohota sisters: Swati and Nisha in full concentration

GM Glenn C. Flear vs. WFM Meri Grigoryan.

Clockwise front left: Armen Petorsyan, Nisha Mohota, Eric Prie, Aarthie Ramaswamy, Lejarre Ludovic, Meera Sai Ravi.

Chief arbiter: Mr. Stephen Boyd

Myself and arbiter Maya Todorova

Couscous night out: some are already waiting for their dessert

Couscous night out: 3rd from right is the organiser Allain Herrero, myself, Nariné and her husband Armen Petrosyan

Couscous night out: le petite Anthony, who couldn’t keep still, with his parents Silvia and Didier Collas, who won the very first Saint Affrique International Open in 1992, and Uncle Ivan

After a nice dinner follows the traditional pétanque!

The annual summer fête: the brass band entertaining visitors

Video clip:The band is playing off the stage "Emmenez-moi” by beloved Armenian Charles Aznavour

Can you imagine a fête without crêpes?

... or without roast potatoes?

Gateau a la broche, Aveyron’s speciality

Roquefort: visiting the cheese caves with friends

Legend has it that the cheese was discovered when a young sheperd, eating his lunch of bread and ewes' milk cheese, saw a beautiful girl in the distance. Abandoning his meal in a nearby cave, he ran to meet her. When he returned a few months later, the penicillium roqueforti mold had transformed his plain cheese into roquefort.

26th July: boat trip on the river Tarn

"Steer to port-side!"

While on the boat trip my camera‘s eye caught up with this “birdie”.

I enjoyed myself enormously and I am looking forward to my next Saint Affrique trip!

Technical info:

You could actually play in Montpellier International open and then go to Saint Affrique, so you will have 5 days to explore the surroundings and witness the annual summer fête.

How to get there: via Montpellier or Nîmes and then by bus or via Saint Rome by train and then by bus.

Report by Meri Grigoryan

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