Chess holidays

by Alina l'Ami
6/10/2016 – Playing chess in nice surroundings has a lot of advantages. If you play well, you will enjoy the nice surroundings even more. And if you do not play well, you can always enjoy the nice surroundings. When Alina l'Ami played a small, fine tournament in Salento, Italy, her results could have been better but she enjoyed the tournament and the place. Large pictorial report.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Oh, the sweet vacation...

When you can immerse yourself in complete inactivity or, on the contrary, take up that mountain hike you've always wanted; when you don't have to set up the alarm at impossible hours nor stress yourself too much around the phone and internet... I mean the real vacation when Mondays and Fridays are equally friendly; when you can mentally fire your boss (or your employees) and enjoy instead the sun and the beach, with a cocktail in one hand and a pleasant reading in the other... Those are the days when you can tune into what you really feel like doing at that moment, not having to consult the watch or the agenda all the time.

Stressed? Just spell it backwards or sit back and relax :)

But something surely sounds familiar, isn't this how a chess player's life really is, since you are always your own boss, holding the cards of your own time? I don't remember who said: "Do what you love and you will never have to work another day in your life" (that's a bit of a lie but sounds good nonetheless).

And by the way what does for us, chess players, the term "holidays" mean? Is it staying at home for a longer time or heading for a South American trip (meanwhile the repertoire base will rest in peace)? Playing a tournament in Papua New Guinea or embarking on a tropical cruise (without leaving behind that pocket chess set, obviously)?

Chess life – perpetual holidays?!

Italian patio

Quite often I get this impossible to answer question, which of my trips I enjoyed most. Well, almost all of them but one country does stand out for me: the multifaceted Italy!

I do like chess and the life it brings and I am not indifferent at all to sun, beaches and culture either; this is how I headed for what seemed to be a gorgeous tournament: Salento Open, held not far away from Gallipoli, Italy. And it was indeed a nice event, except for my own chess which went simply wrong.

A relationship with chess requires quite a lot of work and commitment. And even then this whimsical partner-in-crime can let you down. Nothing to do but wait for...

… sunnier days!

The chess scene

I don't know about you but I personally enjoy a lot...

… seeing smiling faces behind the board!


Two times Vovk?! Not this year! If in the previous edition Andriy had to
give the winner's seat to his brother Yuri, 2016 was his!

 If only we could keep these lovely expressions once the game is over...


Many thanks Arthur for the in depth analysis and my respect for daring to play such wild chess! Although the game was virtually in your pockets, time trouble decided it was not meant to be... so how could one deal with that, apart from banging your head to the walls?!

Better hit the ball instead!

Nice people, good times!

Adrenaline still pumping? Tennis was available too.

Not everyone is into sports though, so here is something for you
(and me): a quick trip to Gallipoli, 6 km away from our resort.

According to all unwritten rules of medieval urbanism, a castle is a must have.

And back to the chess board anew! Liza is a chess coach for kids
in Canada who doesn't lack the organizational skills either.

But the one everyone was grateful to – the tournament organizer,
Matteo Zoldan, welcoming players from all over the world, even all
the way from Dominican Republic!

One more look into that prep before hitting the pool...

And last minute secret sharing

With new forces and after having left behind the less fortunate over the board decisions, here you have two more examples of great chess. Once again, many thanks Arthur and Jan for the analysis, highly appreciated! Such games are clearly played by people that enjoy the game.


Back to my own chess route, I tried understanding what had actually happened, especially that the tournament conditions were optimal, I was surrounded by friends and on top I felt I was going along with chess playing very well.


But Caissa had different plans, mainly laughing in my face. I almost always 'locked' the tournament hall by playing the longest game of the day, which too often resulted in a own goal instead of scoring into the opponent's goalpost.

The arbiters still smiling despite me keeping them glued to their chairs for hours in a row, day after day... :)

What can we do?! Chess is complicated business.

 And it is not always going your way. That I perfectly understand, accepting it is a different story

Chess holidays... sometimes the brain decides to have his own time-out too, with no prior notice.

Miraculous escape

White to play. How would you assess the position?  

Objectively and after good play, the Polish IM Daniel Sadzikowski (White) should have won this one but then something happened...

78. Bf3? was played allowing Black to finally breath in again after: 78... Rxf3 and a draw was agreed. Obviously 79. Rg6+ does not work in view of 79... Kf5 80. Rg5+ Ke4 - yayks! Had White taken the bishop on d4 instead, the result would have been different, since 78... Rb2+ 79. Kf1 Kxg3 80. f5 is just winning.

Black-outs are part of the game but if you know how to avoid them, tell me how!

Rather than finding a scapegoat (tiredness after my unique series of 30 games in 30 consecutive days, the double rounds, etc.) I decided to have a look into myself and I discovered that in a way I was not consequent. During the tournament I 'maturely' said to myself: “Alina, you have played a lot lately, you must be tired, so don't go for a swim or lie down on the beach because these would waste your anyway low energy”. So even if at 7 a.m. I felt the urge of relaxing with some holiday activities, envying other players for doing it by going for a swim with a towel on their shoulder, playing tennis or football, making mini-cruises with the motorboats, or taking part in the organized excursions, I inhibited my instinct in the wish of focusing on the tournament. And this was precisely what twisted my new chess vacation into a back breaker... In order to keep enjoying  your hobby you need the interior freedom to approach it as such, without any pressure or constraint, otherwise it becomes a mere overwhelming job.

 Combining work with pleasure: Peter Doggers, the verywell-known
Dutch chess reporter, enjoying his success on the board this time!

And the happy winner of the 2016 Salento Open (which had its 5th anniversary) – Andriy Vovk!  

One time I did get out of my hotel crib and joined the group to Lecce...

… commonly nicknamed “the Florence of the South”.

Can you imagine yourself having your cup of sublime Italian coffee on such a balcony?!I can:)

The Italian cuisine needs no more praise nor introduction.

Food lovers will feel pampered in this part of the world...

… and so will art/souvenirs...

… or culture hunters!

The street photographer in me couldn't let this one pass either...

 … while strolling the cobbled streets...… shaped in hundreds of years of history.
In fact, we were literally stepping on original stones dating back... can you forgive me?
I forgot the exact numbers. I do remember the precise rating loss I had though.

But fortunately I didn't lose the 20 elo points in vain as I learned the lesson perfectly well for the next time. If as I hope I will return to Salento next year I will keep in mind that I only have a vacation four times a year: on Christmas, on the New year Eve, on Easter and... every other day!

The Italian coast is (im)patiently waiting

Final standings

#     Títle Name FED Elo Pts
1 1
GM Vovk Andrey UKR 2632 7,0
2 8
IM Wieczorek Oskar POL 2432 6,5
3 7
IM Van Haastert Edwin NED 2435 6,5
4 5
GM Lazic Miroljub SRB 2455 6,0
5 2
IM Sadzikowski Daniel POL 2546 6,0
6 4
IM Pijpers Arthur NED 2471 6,0
7 3
IM Sprenger Jan Michael Dr. GER 2506 6,0
8 10
  Mohammad Nubairshah Shaikh IND 2413 5,5
9 6
IM D'amore Carlo ITA 2444 5,5
10 11
FM Gilevych Artem ITA 2404 5,5
11 21
WIM Parnali S Dharia IND 2160 5,5
12 22
  Difronzo Andrea ITA 2139 5,5
13 18
  Doggers Peter NED 2215 5,5
14 16
  Chizhikov Vladislav RUS 2229 5,0
15 13
FM Di Benedetto Edoardo ITA 2304 5,0
16 15
FM Lyell Mark ENG 2239 5,0
17 24
WFM Di Benedetto Desiree ITA 2122 5,0
18 20
  Pugachev Artem RUS 2209 5,0
19 9
GM Naumkin Igor RUS 2431 4,5
20 17
  Hill Alistair ENG 2217 4,5

 42 players

Complete standings:

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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register