2012 Panama Open: Where oceans meet

by Alina l'Ami
12/12/2012 – After witnessing a historic result in the 2012 Panama Open by IM Eric Hansen, we are taken on a tour of a city famous not only for the canal where two oceans meet, one of the modern Wonders of the World, but also the home to numerous World Heritage sites. All this quite apart from the Red Devil buses, local flora, local fauna, and lots and lots of pelicans!

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2012 Panama Open: Where oceans meet


Yuca is another of those wonderful dollar stretching foods found in local Panama markets.
It's the starchy root of the Yuca (AKA Cassava) plant, similar to potatoes but better.
There are probably as many ways of preparing it as there are cooks in Panama - loved it!

Overwhelmed with the intense week I just had, I was wondering: how can I share with you the emotions I felt? And then it struck me: the quintessence of my recent Panamanian quest couldn’t be better explained than through Paul Gauguin’s paintings!


"Diablos Rojos" - or 'Red Devils' in translation, is one of the public buses in Panama
City. Unfortunately it is threatened with extinction since the authorities are switching
to the more modern ways of transportation.


I agree it might be more comfortable and faster, but, as a tourist, I prefer the traditional,
colorful ones. They immediately cheered me up!

The leading Post-Impressionist French artist is well known for his colorful and bright masterpieces, depicting scenes bathed in the intense tropical light. His wild greens, blues, yellows and all the other vivid, bold colors he used were simply floating right there, in front of my eyes, in Panama City. Because the capital is not just skyscrapers, a shopping and tax paradise, but a great example of how the country moves with the times without losing its authenticity.


Of course I had to try the local beer. A very good weapon against
the tropical sun!


One doesn't need to travel for hours to discover the rich flora and
fauna of Panama. Beautiful plants, trees, intriguing animals can
be seen even in a modern city like Panama.


This boat was originally owned by Al Capone. Yes, the one in the photo!


A campaign to fight against AIDS in Panama

A thousand words could not transfigure the essence of Panama better than Gaugain did it in just one square mater of canvas. So you can imagine my total surprise when I found out that Gauguin worked as a laborer on the Panama Canal. Woah, the Panama Canal! This is what I call an unexpected coincidence.


The Panama Canal is popularly described as one of the "Wonders of the World", for
good reason. It is an engineering achievement of epic proportions!


I was really stunned and pleasantly surprised to see a ship making its way through
the canal, coming from...Groningen, Holland, the country of my departure!

Here is where the seven seas become one and the reason why Panama is called 'the crossroads of the world'. Prior to this 20th century marvel, the only way to cross the continent was either via Cape Horn or trudging overland. The distance between a harbour in Ecuador and Europe for example would be about 8000 km longer if the ship has to go round the Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America.


The two oceans have different sea levels and different levels of high tide, so this was
a big challenge for the engineers. Here you can see the levels are not even...


...while here they are: time for the ship to cross.


A reader wrote to us on the subject of the engineering involved:

About the lock systems of the Panama Canal you say: "The two oceans have different sea levels and different levels of high tide, so this was a big challenge for the engineers. Here you can see the levels are not even...". This is plainly wrong. The lock systems of the Panama Canal are there in order to lift ships to the level of Gatun Lake some 26 meters up (and then lower them back past the lake). Digging a sea-level canal (no locks needed) was just not economically viable. In contrast, the Suez Canal is a sea-level canal, so that is why it does not need any locks. The tidal differences of the sea levels at both ends of the canal are immaterial.

Tomek
Lublin, Poland


Returning to our struggle of living in the present un-tense: once you set foot in Panama you will forget about living in the past (Yikes! I didn’t check that Najdorf line; what a simple win I missed earlier today…) or living in the future (I have to reach 2500 by the end of the year!).


Something in common in this uncommon land: the skyline


Vasco Núñez de Balboa, one of the most influential figure in the
history of Panama.

Several parks and avenues throughout Panama bear the name "Vasco Núñez de Balboa,"; his name is also attached to Panama City's main port, Balboa (the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal) and a number of monuments honour his "discovery" of the South Sea. The Panamanian currency is called the Balboa, although the US dollar is used interchangeably. What I found interesting is that although one US dollar is exactly one Balboa in Panama, outside the country it is a completely different story. Besides, one cannot find any Balboa notes at all except coins.


Panamá Viejo is the remaining part of the old Panama City and former capital of the
country. It was sacked by the king of all pirates, Morgan, after he discovered that the
place was an important base where gold and silver were sent to Spain. (Unesco World Heritage)


One of the things you might want to see when you visit Panama is the famous golden
altar of the Church of San Jose in Casco Viejo.

Commonly known in Spanish as the "Altar de Oro" (Golden Altar), it was originally in a church in "Old Panama." When the English pirate Henry Morgan attacked the city the jesuits painted the altar black to hide the gold. The pirates left it alone, thinking it was worthless. After Morgan sacked and burned "Old Panama" the Jesuit monks of the Order of St. Agustine moved the altar to the new church and its present location.


This is what all the touristic guides would call: 'an intoxicating mix of contrasts'. Others
might have a different label...

Your senses will be filled with all these exotic vibes that you will simply have no time to worry. At least, this was what I felt on my first visit to this tropical country. Thoughts like: “I have to, I must, I should…seize the moment” faded away and I simply realized that nothing ever happens except now. I was there, I was present – body, mind and soul!


Mi Pueblito features life-size replicas of rural villages found on the Península de Azuero,
in Bocas's del Toro and in the Darién.


Keeping the traditions alive! Author/photographer Alina L'Ami with colorful locals


The bridge between the two Americas


Casco Viejo (Spanish for Old Town), is the historic district of Panama City. Completed
and settled in 1673, it was built following the near-total destruction of the original Panamá
Viejo in 1671, when the latter was attacked by pirate Morgan, as mentioned above.
It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1997.


The restoration of Casco Viejo is still a work in progress, so exercise caution while
exploring this fascinating neighborhood!


Panama - a respite for people and...pelicans. And a possible alternative for the famous
Alfred Hitchcock's movie: 'The Birds', without the violent part of course!


So many pelicans and turkey vultures gliding around the harbour in search for fish - I
couldn't believe my eyes!

Final Ranking (after 9 Rounds)

Rk Title Name
FED
Rtg
Pts
 TB 
1
IM
Hansen Eric
CAN
2539
8.5
43.5
2
IM
Prasca Sosa Rafael
VEN
2415
7.0
35.0
3
GM
Cordova Emilio
PER
2568
7.0
34.5
4
IM
Hevia Alejano Carlos Antonio
CUB
2508
6.5
36.5
5
GM
Almeida Quintana Omar
CUB
2519
6.5
34.5
6
GM
Marin Mihail
ROU
2547
6.5
34.0
7
GM
Bacallao Alonso Yusnel
CUB
2580
6.5
33.0
8
FM
Hambleton Aman
CAN
2404
6.0
33.5
9
FM
Obregon Rivero Juan Carlos
CUB
2480
6.0
33.0
10
FM
Delgado Ramos Hector
CUB
2478
6.0
31.5
11
FM
Fernandez Cardoso Alexey
CUB
2447
6.0
30.5
12
IM
Bassan Remo
VEN
2272
6.0
30.5
13
GM
Arencibia Rodriguez Walter
CUB
2526
6.0
29.5
14
GM
Quesada Perez Yuniesky
CUB
2604
5.5
32.5
15
FM
Vera Siguenas Deivy
PER
2396
5.5
32.5
16
IM
Gomez Garrido Camilo Ernesto
CUB
2510
5.5
31.0
17
 
Fernandez Fernando
PER
2311
5.5
30.0
18
IM
Kjartansonn Gudmundur
ISL
2394
5.5
30.0
19
GM
Hernandez Carmenate Holden
CUB
2562
5.5
28.0
20
WGM
Ordaz Valdes Lisandra Teresa
CUB
2350
5.5
27.5
21
WIM
Llaudy Pupo Lisandra
CUB
2258
5.5
27.0
22
FM
Pacheco Marco
PER
2377
5.5
27.0
23
 
Ramos Efren Andres
NCA
2166
5.5
25.5
24
CM
Mathews Cesar
PAN
1981
5.5
23.0

Full standings and results

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Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.
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