2012 Panama Open: IM Eric Hansen scores 2900 performance!

12/11/2012 – Set in the lovely tropics, the Panama Open has just finished. It attracted many players from abroad, seeking relief from the cold and at times freezing winter temperatures in their home countries. The 2012 edition also witnessed a record performance for an IM, as the Canadian IM Eric Hansen scored an imperial 8.5/9 and a 2900 performance. Here is the first illustrated report by Alina L'Ami.

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2012 Panama Open: IM Eric Hansen scores 2900 performance!


The tournament hall

They say the best philosophy is to live in the now, to live the moment, carpe diem…but I know one particular case when I would personally recommend living either in the past or in the future: long haul flights. If you seize the moment in a 40 cm width chair you might soon start being over conscious of every single square centimeter of your body. And that’s not really pleasant.


Top seed: Cuban GM Yuniesky Quesada Perez


Romanian writer and GM: Mihail Marin


Ana Daniela Madrigal, WFM from Nicaragua

Instead, you could rememorize the experiences you just had or dream about the ones which are about to happen…


Our beautiful and kind hostess

Of course, you cannot know what will await you at the end of your journey, so it would be wiser to avoid hitching your wagon to a star. But you think I could do that when the final destination was Panama City?! What a great place to break a European winter in two I thought. Truth be told, I was laughing up my sleeve to escape sub-zero temperatures once again, and indulged myself in fantasies. It’s all about the anticipation, the journey, the arrival…and whether or not you’ll satisfy your craving depends also on where you go. We don’t fantasize about the everyday; we fantasize about the exceptional. And Panama promised to deliver all this and more.


The view from my breakfast table - not bad, right?! On the left was the tournament hall.
Sometimes you could see the players taking a plunge after the game.


This is where we were having our lunch and dinner: at the Casino! Kind of tempting
for the less fortunate players... Lucky at cards, unlucky in chess?

For anyone that thinks Panama is just a banana republic or just the Canal – you have been drastically misled.


While not a banana republic, bananas are present in much of the local cuisine. To be
honest, the sweet flavor gives the other ingredients a perfectly balanced taste: I liked it!

I appreciate diversity and this place simply took it all! But the most in your face feeling you’ll experience here is the instant perception of being…alive. One can feel it through the vivid colors of the plants or buses (yes, buses!), through the humid air or heavy rains, through the exotic fragrances or engineering marvels…a mix of the entire world – I was literally perplexed. In a nutshell: intense is the word to describe it all.


The Cuban GM Walter Arencibia Rodriguez

Nevertheless, what really woke me up to life was the chess marathon sandwiched in between just a couple of days: the 2nd Panama Chess Open. It was not easy to cope with jet lag and with two rounds a day, but my word if it was not one of my best experiences! I don’t run everyday into such exquisite treatment as in Panama, with great food, a great hotel and even better people. Especially the people: what is it that makes them so warm, open, enthusiastic and kind? Maybe it’s the tropical climate that warms their blood, I cannot be sure.


Third seed, Peruvian GM Emilio Cordova kept his starting position

The result of playing in wonderful conditions can be seen in the ‘insane’ performance by the Canadian winner, IM Eric Hansen, who scored  8.5/9 and a 2900 performance! When was the last time you saw a result like that? I certainly forgot. As for the less fortunate players, including myself: there is always something to learn and there will always be a next time for revenge.


The invincible Canadian IM Eric Hansen; only one draw slipped his pockets!


First place in the women section: WGM Ordaz Valdes Lisandra Teresa from Cuba


The President of the Panamanian Chess Federation hands the first prize to its rightful
owner: IM Eric Hansen from Canada scored 8.5/9 and a 2900 performance!


The winners

The 3rd Panama Open will take place under special circumstances: 2013 marks 500 years since Balboa (Spanish explorer and conquistador) discovered what he modestly baptized the South Sea, but was subsequently ‘promoted’ to the Pacific Ocean(!), a feat which changed known geography, world navigation and the history of humanity. So I would say we shouldn’t miss it.


On the left: the tournament organizer Jose Carillo Pujol - a successful lawyer in daily
life; next to him: the president of the Panamanian Chess Federation: Alhan Carrera
Ortega - a well known architect. But they both share the passion for chess!

Full standings and results

To be continued in part two with a look at Panama, the Canal, and more...

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