When I was told about participating in a WGM tournament in Indonesia (Jakarta) I had no second thoughts about making this trip! This famous Mecca of tourism is situated in the Equatorial part, mostly in the southern hemisphere between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The country’s numbers are quite impressive: it consists of more than 10,000 islands with five major ones: Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Irian (Papua) and Java. The population is 240 million (80% Muslims, 10% Christians, 3% Buddhist, 3% Hindis and 2% others). And more than two million people play chess! After a 13 hours flight from Amsterdam, we are in Jakarta one of the biggest cities in the world. The population is twelve million, but from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. it increases by five million more (!) because people come to work in the city from other areas. I have never been in England, so I was very impressed by the cars with no drivers – initially I couldn't figure out that since they drive on the left side of the road the driver's seat is on the right in the car!
Skyline view of the city: small houses feeling comfortable in front of giant sky-scrapers
Before arriving in Indonesia, I heard a lot about the warm hospitality of local people, but I couldn't even imagine that the organisers would take so much care about every little detail and made us all feel like home.
Kartika Chandra four-star Hotel is the place where we stayed, enjoyed swimming and played all the games of the tournament, except the ones of the first round.
Press conference before the start of the tournament
Regina Pokorna, wht well-known WGM from Slovakia, arrived two days before the start of the tournament and together with Irene Kharisma S., Lindiawati Ewi and the organisers she took part in the introductory press conference.
The organiser of the event was the President of the Indonesian Chess Federation, Mr. Eddie Widiono (the chairman of the National Electric of Indonesia), the chairman of the Organizing Committee was GM Utut Adianto, the sponsor of the tournament was Mr. Eka Putra Wirya, General Secretary of the Indonesian Chess Federation Sebastian Simanjuntak and many other people.
The first round has started in the National Electric Head Office Building. Not by accident the name of the tournament was "Electric Woman Stars Brainy Beauties!"
The tournament was also part of the birthday celebration of the president of Indonesian chess federation. So after the first round, which was held in the National Electric Head Office Building, there was a good concert and dinner.
After the first round we switched to the Kartika Chandra hotel and played the rest of the tournament here
The visitors of the event could watch the games from the big board in the playing hall...
…or on the special computer monitors and TV screens
The girls from Europe we only had one problem: the time difference. It was a four hour difference for Natasha Zdebska and myself, and five hours for Jana Krivec and Regina Pokorna. During the tournament we had three double rounds, and the first games started at 9 a.m. So imagine that for us it was like playing at 4-5 o’clock in the morning! Once Jana Krivec woke up after the call to her room, only ten minutes before the game. Natalya Zdebska forgot to make a simple move in an opening she has played many times before. I also couldn't adjust myself and slept sometimes for only three or four hours.
This funny picture was made by Sebasttian Simanjuntak. The girls are drinking coffee quickly, desperate to wake up properly before the game
WIM Irene S. Kharisma
Irene is a 15-year-old chess star with great experience and a good nervous system! She is the Indonesian women's champion, a member of Indonesian women's team and the winner of the Asian Youth Championships. She is very popular in her country and already used to this. After finishing school she wants to study science of politics, and maybe she will also become a famous politician in the future.
Ewi Lindiawati is also a member of the Olympic team and Indonesian women's champion in 2002.
The Organisers noted that women’s chess is now spread all over the country and our royal game is played by many youngsters. And nowadays, under the leadership of Mr. Eddie Widiono, women’s chess is in top gear and organisers want to improve it further and bring it on a much higher level.
As usual this women’s tournament was very stressful, and I'm sure the spectators felt the increase of adrenalin! Regina started with three wins but then lost to Jana Krivec, so there were three leaders in the tournament: Jana, Regina and Irene. Jana and Irene were trying to achieve seven points (WGM norm). In the 8th round Jana Krivec outplayed Irene Kharisma, but in the 9th round she lost to Natalya Zdebska and wiht this the chance to make her last WGM norm.
WIM Jana Krivec of Slovenia, currently rated 2341
Jana is also a star in Indonesia. It was her third tournament there, and she is known to all the Indonesian chess players who supported her. She plays very well and everybody is sure that her final WGM norm is just a matter of time.
Nastja Karlovich vs Irene S. Kharisma
During the tournament more than 30 newspapers and seven TV channels covered the event and had chess as a headline on sport news. In the above picture I am fighting with Irene for third place, and the media are capturing every move. In order to achieve third I had to win, but Irene defended well, and after four hours of play the game ended with a repetition of moves.
During the rest day we visited a big souvenir shop. There was such a variety of souvenirs and drums!
The girls are watching the preparation of very tasty Indonesian coffee
The Organisers also treated us with an excellent excursion to the big aquarium...
where we could see crocodiles...
a turtle family which everybody could touch…
and even giant sharks.
During the closing ceremony, the organisers decided to check how well we could …sing! After a little shock we sang “Hotel California”, a song by the Eagles. It's a tradition in Indonesia to sing and dance during such events!
We also tried Indonesian dance...
The President of the Indonesian Chess Federation giving the cup to Regina Pokorna, the winner of the tournament, and the $2000 prize check to second placed Jana Krivec
Irine Sukandar, Anastasia Karlovic (me), Natalia Zbedska and Evi Lindiawati receive our prizes...
On the last day we visited the swimming pool...
and checked out the Indonesian tropical climate
Anastasiya (Nastja) Karlovich was Ukrainian champion and vice-champion among girls under 16, 18 and 20. She was European Champion with the Ukrainian team in the Youth Team Championships. She is also