Barbera del Valles: chess and architecture

by Alina l'Ami
7/20/2015 – Alina L'Ami likes to travel and there are many places in the world where she feels like home. But that does not stop her from seeing the places she is in with fresh eyes. When she took part in the open tournament in Barbera del Valles she used the opportunity to visit Barcelona again and enjoyed the city and its amazing architecture. Report and pictures.

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For Alina L'Ami Barcelona feels just like home.

People may have a point when wondering and asking me with curiosity, combined with a hint of worry, how come I never get tired by traveling around the world with almost no time to relax from one trip to another. Everything depends on the perspective and my participation in the Open of Barbera del Valles offers a good answer. The truth is that in Spain I feel at home and how could anyone possibly be tired of returning home?!

At its 38th (!) edition and part of the famous Catalan Circuit (highly recommended, you can practically play non-stop over the whole summer, jumping from one tournament to the next one), the Barbera Open makes me think of a big family ready at any time to receive its errant sons, alias the ever-traveling chess players in permanent search for a brilliant move, a great game, a masterpiece and, why not, a tournament win.

There is no secret the event is very dear to me. I have played it several times and here is where I scored my only (hopefully, so far) GM norm. True, this year things didn't go precisely my way, I had many tough games with young promising talents (how can they be so well prepared in the opening?!), but this is just another reason to look forward for returning and give it a new try in the future.

This leitmotif was in fact inspired to me by the movie Terminator 5, launched in the cinemas during the days of the tournament. As a coincidence, Arnold Schwarzenegger  is a renowned chess lover, but his “main” contribution is the philosopher's stone he revealed to all the players who, like myself, donated sometimes very generous rating points to their opponents: "I'll be back"!! But, since we were in Spain and because the movies are dubbed, it is better to give the local version: "Volvere!"

For some players things went unexpectedly smoothly. Take for instance the top rated Karen Grigoryan, who won the tournament by playing only... 6 games! His first and third round opponents didn't show up for some reasons and in the last round he drew without fighting, since this result was convenient for his opponent as well.

Very efficient: Karen Grigoryan

The main off-board attraction of the tournament is Barbera's neighborhood with Barcelona, the magic city attracting zillions of tourists from all over the world. And how could one help loving this country infecting all its visitors with its incorrigible optimism? How to stay indifferent to the country of Gaudi, Dali, paella, sangria, Picasso, Don Quijote, the famous jamon iberico and (for the connaisseurs) clara? How could you forget the country of los paseos, so beautiful that they make you losing your mind, with trees, terraces, artists of all sorts, so colorful, joyful and friendly?!

I will never get tired to say it again and again: Spanish people are inimitable. I love this country for its old citizens habits, taking their coffees in the morning (or after midnight) in the pub next door, enjoying the sun, the good company and life. I love this country for not forcing me to be a different person than I am, simply Alina. And Spain provides the chess world with an endless string of chances, tournaments, opportunities to reveal our multiple talents.

The only problem with this year's edition (even if invaded by optimism, we cannot cease being objective) was the warmth. I don't mean the inexhaustible warmth of souls displayed by the organizing team, but at the temperature from the playing hall.

Levan Aroshidze fights the heat.

Unfortunately, the air-conditioned system refused cooperation to compensate for the outside 41 degrees heat and soon after all the players sat down for their games we all felt a bit like in the sauna. But returning to the positive thoughts, weren't we all in the same situation, keeping the equality of chances and the fairness of fight? We have to sweat for good results, that's how life goes; besides, it is an excellent physiological process in getting rid of toxins.

As I said, everything depends on the perspective. And I surely... VOLVERE forever, in chess and in Barbera.

The "Sagrada Familia" by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926).
The building is unfinished but impresses through its bold architecture and design.
Every year millions of tourist visit the UNESCO World heritage site.

A different type of "Ramblas" - you walk on the water.


Las Ramblas

Barcelona is a beauty - from whichever point you look.

A stroll through the Gothic quarters

Montserrat Monastery

The inside of the monastery

Casa Batlló - also by Gaudi

A detail of Gaudi's famous mosaics

Detail of the facade of "La Sagrada Familia"

Gaudi's works draw zillions of tourists.

More architecture by Gaudi

Casa Milà - La Pedrera

Landscape around Barcelona


One way to escape the torrid sun

I just love Horchata - a Barcelona specialty. It is a drink made
of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts.

Barcelona from above

History at every turn

The little Sister of "La Sagrada Familia" - another Gaudi masterpiece

Inside "La Sagrada Familia"...

Montserrat Monastery again

Back to chess: the tournament hall for the A-group

The top games were played on stage.

"Share your happy"? Probably the translation went wrong? Or was this intended? Well, it worked!

Bartlomiej Heberla

Marc Narciso Dublan

Always positive - Margarida Coimbra from Portugal

Spanish GM Arizmendi Martinez Julen Luis

The Polish GM Jacek Stopa

Krystian Kucmicz - he is close to the GM title but needs some more Elo-points.

The Catalan circuit and the Barbera Open... very popular...

...among Indian players.

Tigran S. Petrosyan

Tigran K. Harutymian

Filemon Cruz from Peru made a GM norm.

IM Leonardo Valdes from Puerto Rico

Daniel Gurevich from the USA won 30 rating points.

Concentration from the start

Martha Mateus from Colombia


Five selected chess highlights from the tournament


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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