1st Srefidensi Chess Celebration - Suriname (2/2)

by ChessBase
12/2/2013 – In this second part of Alina l'Ami's report on Suriname, she takes readers on a visual trip through this micronation with astonishing religious diversity and acceptance. The capital itself has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its innumerous colonial buildings that remain a throwback to its origins. You don't want to miss this lovely pictorial.

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1st Srefidensi Chess Celebration - Suriname (2/2)

By Alina L'Ami

And it was not before long that I saw the promise fulfilled. The tournament was truly a feast and it was impressing to notice that the organizers had really taken care of details: the tickets for the invited players, the accommodation, the playing conditions (including coffees, snacks and a perfect illumination), the opening and closing ceremonies…

Aaaa! The hardships of a chess player's life...true: I didn't go to the swimming
pool even once!

A walk just outisde of our hotel

Right behind our hotel

The rich wild life will have to wait until my next visit

The Presidential Palace

True, for a European the double round system is far from optimal and may become a reason for criticism, but in Central America and the Caribbean countries this is quite normal: chess players are happy to play their favourite game the whole day long! I had, for instance, the impression, that Ryan Harper from Trinidad and Tobago displayed so much energy that he would have been just too happy to play triple rounds!

The historic inner city of Paramaribo has been declared a
UNESCO World Heritage Site...

...with its beautiful colonial buildings

Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral

Inside it is a beautiful wooden Roman Catholic cathedral

Here is the place to mention that to me the local players seemed strongly under-rated. This is typical for countries situated far from the geographical areas with intense tournament activity. But the potential of the Surinamese players shouldn’t be underestimated. Almost three decades ago, Dewperkash Gajadin had won the gold medal on the reserve board, at the Thessaloniki 1984 Olympiad. In Paramaribo 2013, Roger Matoewi achieved winning positions against each of the top three classified players (Thomas Willemze, Sriram Jha and myself), but the relative lack of experience of this kind restricted his reward for these games at just two draws.

Not far away from the Roman Catholic cathedral are some of the continent's
finest examples of other religious buildings: the biggest mosque in the Caribbean

...and the Dutch Israeli synagogue, sitting harmoniously side by side on Keizerstraat.

And since I have just mentioned the medalists, let me introduce them briefly. As the trainer of the Surinamese players, Thomas Willemze had good reasons to win the tournament: no, the moment when the pupils have overtaken the teacher has not come yet! Shiram Jha started with a heavy handicap: by travelling from India, his jet-lag was more than double with respect to European players: eight and a half hours!

The Arya Dewaker Hindu temple: when the entire world is fighting about religion,
Suriname sets the example for peace and harmony with its cultural diversity

Even Indian deities are represented

On the hand of the Hindu God you can read the very powerful,
sacred and important word: "OM", which is a mystical Sanskrit 
sound and 
mantra of Hindu origin

As to yours truly... there was this critical game against Ryan Harper when I blundered an exchange in a promising position (instead of playing Rd2, as I intended, I was shocked to discover that I actually dropped the piece one square further, on…d3?!?!), but despite all obstacles (including headaches and sometimes half-zombie looks) I managed to follow the internal voice telling: c’mon, you are the only girl in the tournament, show them what you can do! Or at least scare them off (not with the zombie look of course)!

With such a torrid weather, no wonder that the locals will
opt for the usually extremely sweet drinks! I've been told
sugar helps.

The jackfruit, which can weigh up to 36 kg! You wouldn't
like to be under this tree when the fruits are ripe.

Apart from the Master Class, the festival included an Open section, the Novices Class with several age-groups for children and, on the last evening, a blitz tournament! Quite a feast, offering everybody a chance to measure his (or her) forces, or simply enjoy the favourite game...

The frenzied central market

When not in a frenzy the stall owners wait seated

It does not take long for customers to arrive

The Surinamese Chess Federation didn’t build everything overnight. Previously, they had organized all kind of smaller or bigger events, but the standards reached at the 1st Srefidensi Chess Celebration could be taken as reference by many countries with richer chess tradition.

Tourists will never get bored with all the casinos to contribute to the economical
development of Suriname

The festival’s main sponsor, the Central Bank of Suriname, chose the motto: “Door schaken je budget bewaken!” which could be translated as “through chess, to better financial management.” It is encouraging to find out that chess can be interesting for the business world and this leaves little doubt about a long series of future (and each time more successful) editions of the festival.

The beauty of simple life

The 1st Srefidensi Chess Celebration ended on the 25th of November, Suriname’s national day. Symbolically, this means that chess is important at national level, an idea sustained by the presence at the opening & closing ceremonies of the representatives of all the Embassies in Suriname...

I didn't manage to mention upfront how delicious this Soto soup was. I truly
enjoyed it somewhere in the middle of nowhere. But what I liked most was
the atmosphere around it: there was no restaurant, no fancy waiter, just an
old lady with trembling hands, who prepared it herself with love and care.

The closing ceremony was technically impeccable and really touching at the same time. We received headphones with the possibility of choosing the preferred language, although this time it didn’t surprise me anymore. I got used with it from the opening ceremony, but nobody needed them since the language of dancing and music is universal…I loved the show and the idea the organizers had: to bring the multi-faceted Surinamese culture closure to us, through the beautiful performances of the cultural formation “Alla Kondre Drun”. The group is blending the beats and rhythms of the different cultures in Suriname as one and I almost burst into tears during the performance of a local singer...

Hitchcock?! Just a glimpse of how rich the bird life is in Paramaribo.

During the nocturne taking off on the returning day, I threw a last glance at the dark silhouettes of the surrounding trees and I felt it quite clearly: time had been too short and I had been so busy with the chess board predators that I couldn’t perceive the true beauty of natural wild. I have to come back next year, there is a whole jungle waiting for me to unravel its mysteries...

The flight on my way back - Paramaribo is a small airport, with only one lane
- another detail that reminds me of my native city Iasi


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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