To be or not to be
By Alina L'Ami
To be or not to be…a chess player, that is the question. Probably you have your own personal answer to the famous Shakespearian dilemma. But if you are reading this, I guess you have already made your choice, and so did the other 300 players who were present in Helsingør, the city of Hamlet. The answer for us was clear: to be part of a beautiful traditional event – the Politiken Cup!
An oasis of peace, the place where the tournament was held
The main sponsor of the festival: Politiken newspaper
Konventum Lo-Skolens Conference Center, the host of the Politiken Cup
July 28th not only marked the start of the Olympic Games but also the beginning of the well known Scandinavian tournament. Just in between, I cannot stop but wonder when and if chess will ever be an Olympic sport. We keep on saying that chess is science, sport and art, but how to prove that chess is turning physical, that it’s not merely an intellectual activity? Although, I am sure you experienced the fatigue of a long fought game, when the body muscles are literally worked out as if you were running a marathon! Unfortunately this is not enough to convince a severe jury…
Olympic or not, the organizers of the Politiken Cup made me feel as if chess almost made it! I have difficulties remembering when I could follow as many games online as here. What a surprise I got when I realized that my board, board 33, was live. You also had the chance to play interesting games, if you were lucky or good enough to face players such as Malakhov, Dreev, Portisch or Timman, amongst many other grandmasters present on the battle field. Commentary everyday, lectures, simuls, blitz, a solving competition – there was something for everyone.
Chess can be successfully played at a more experienced age.
Jan Timman and
Lajos Portisch are wonderful examples that sustain the above theory.
Top boards with Malakhov, Dreev and Salgado
The reason why many amateur players love to have just one big group:
to play against strong GM's.
Malakhov shares his thoughts with his opponent.
Dreev does the same
Future world champions?
A great festival requires hard work - the organizers have everything under control
What I found interesting as well was the ten-round system. It seems logical to me to have five whites and five blacks which, by the way, doesn’t always happen (I had six whites), plus an additional chance to come back in the tournament if your brain fails at some point. And in the worst possible scenario, if you were simply not able to put yourself together to play decent chess – no problem! There were so many different activities to switch your head off, that I am sure the bad vibes from an awful game would have been thrown straight into the sea.
A walk in the city, along the historic pedestrian streets, admiring their delightful
Different perspectives: here is one...
...and here is another.
Staring out to sea
Helsingør is often known in English-speaking countries by Shakespeare's spelling as
Elsinore; It is known internationally for its castle Kronborg, where William Shakespeare's
play 'Hamlet' is set.
Back to our tournament: well...not yet. Chess players are trying
to follow the good
old latin quotation:
'Mens sana in corpore
- time for outdoor activities!
Here Ivan Cheparinov islearning to ride a bike under Erwin's supervision. I was really
impressed by his performance! Ivan dared
to drive all the way into
the city, between
cars, uphill, downhill, even if it was the first time in his life when he sat on a bicycle!
This is to show how great chess can be: it teaches you endurance
and fair play
Don't worry, no permanent damage.
The Hungarian woman grandmaster and girlfriend of Ivan Salgado:
There were many different tournament halls: a true maze which
continues to amaze me up to this day. No problems though for
the experienced chess players to find their way in the labyrinth.
Since Danish designers pioneered a new kind of down-to-earth design in the 1950s,
‘Danish’ has been synonymous with ‘stylish’. This was obvious in the beautiful place
where we were lucky enough to play chess: full of artwork and attention to detail.
The complicated ceiling and the very expensive painting in the background are just
some small samples.
'You will draw both friend and foe' - (Hamlet).
Last round between Ivan Cheparinov and
Erwin l'Ami ended in a draw.
Nevertheless, a better tiebreak secured first place for Ivan.
If you had troubles finding your way out in the complicated waters of chess calculation,
this was your chance for salvation.
Jacob Aagard explaining his methods from his
latest book during an evening lecture.
Sune Berg Hansen proudly presents a beautiful painting done by none other than his
own father! The winner admires it as well.
Once the tournament has finished it's time to relax and explore one more time
hidden beauties of the city.
Now, looking back at the full picture, I can praise the organization: well done, professional and yet relaxed. I expected nothing less from the rather overwhelmingly happy Danes! In fact, if you believe those surveys that come out every couple of years, Denmark is one of the happiest nations on earth with some of the best quality of life (and huge taxes). But you don’t need statistics to understand the Dane’s happiness though. As I was strolling around Helsingør and a little bit in Copenhagen, I experienced some of the most harmonious civic spaces anywhere. Especially the clockwork transportation system makes other countries look like they are on the verge of a nervous breakdown
Helsingor's train station
Frequent ferries shuttle to and from Sweden, filled with Swedes on a mission to buy
cheap (at least for them) Danish alcohol.
Having a Scottish GM as a guide (Jacob
Aagaard) made everything
On the way to the airport we
quickly jumped off the train
and visited one of the Copenhagen icons: The Little Mermaid. Thanks Jacob!
Your reporter and photographer
To come back to our existential question: to be or not to be a chess player…you know the saying: when in doubt – play chess! I personally feel richer and richer with every tournament that goes by.