Chess in the land of dried apricots (2/2)

by Alina l'Ami
9/5/2015 – In spite of the many interesting things to see and enjoy, the Golden Apricot tournament was still about chess, and the event saw a number of surprises, notably two players rated just over 2000, both young and old, who finished with wins over master and grandmaster in a moment of inspiration. Here is second part of Alina L'Ami's report, chock full of portraits, profiles and moments.

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For such successes and to be able to overcome fatigue from a fully packed schedule, youth helps a lot but there are methods employed by everyone out there, to keep cortisol under control and/or to recover lost vigor. Some would choose dark chocolate, some would go for coffee or (green?) tea, others would opt for vitamins, but no doubt, everyone playing chess would bring along a stimulant to boost the fading energy.

Playing chess with the strongest Turkish player in the tournament, Kıvanç Haznedaroğlu

The tournament director, who was tirelessly working, being present everywhere: Cemal
Gürsel Toy. I must say he reminds me of my father...

Chess with gods

You know the U2 song, "Beautiful Day"?! I guess it would fit the picture

The summit at dawn

A classy finish

[Event "3rd Golden Apricot 2015"] [Site "Malatya TUR"] [Date "2015.08.29"] [Round "8.5"] [White "Ozer, Omer Faruk"] [Black "Neverov, V."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B94"] [WhiteElo "2067"] [BlackElo "2515"] [Annotator "l'Ami,Alina"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "1r3k1r/5pp1/p6p/6P1/5P2/1NN5/1K5P/3R4 w - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "23"] [EventDate "2015.08.25"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "TUR"] [SourceDate "2015.08.31"] {Sports in general and chess in particular would never be as exciting as they are if not for surprises. The Golden Apricot tournament featured two new ones, through their talented yet under rated players. One of them was Faruk, who in R8 won an important game against the very experienced Neverov. After a messy game and a big advantage for White, Black fought back, restored the fragile balance and almost got away with it...but the Turkish player found a very nice continuation, exploiting Black's poor rook position on h8.} 35. g6 $5 fxg6 36. Rd7 {Dominating the black king, which should remain in a passive position.} g5 (36... Kg8 $5 {is an interesting plan, re-routing the king, when a possible line could be} 37. Nd5 h5 38. Nc7 Kh7 39. Ne6 Rhe8 40. Rd6 (40. Nxg7 $2 { doesn't work} Re2+ 41. Ka3 Kh8 $17) 40... Rec8 41. Rxa6 $13) 37. f5 h5 $2 {a mistake usually attracts another...} (37... Kg8 {would still be the route the black king should take.} 38. Ne4 Rf8 39. Nd4 Rf7 40. Rd6 Kh7 41. Rxa6 Rc7 42. Rb6 Ra8 $132) 38. Ne4 {White's pieces will soon become a simply unstoppable dream team.} Rh6 39. Kc3 Rc6+ 40. Nbc5 g4 41. Kd4 Re8 42. Kd5 Rb6 43. Ne6+ Kg8 44. Rxg7+ Kh8 45. Rg5 Rb5+ 46. Kd6 {An important victory and shared 1st for Faruk, rated 2067!} 1-0

If I were to take a wild guess, maybe Hür and Faruk were the smartest ones to use the local yet worldwide famous dried Malatyan apricots?! In case you haven't tried them out during your chess games, perhaps you will next time, since dried apricots are an important source of antioxidants, carotenoids (vitamin A), potassium, dietary fiber and iron, making them a convenient (no mess or melting in your bag, as chocolate would do), and healthy way to quickly increase your energy level. Unfortunately for me it was too late when I indulged in the golden chess was going down the pan and yet I can still give you a good piece of advice: “Keep calm and enjoy the apricots!”

Visit to the Armourer Mustafa Pasha Caravanserai, Malatya. (Caravanserai was a roadside
inn where travellers could rest and recover from the long journeys)

Lunch with the officials, in a pleasant and informal atmosphere

You can see the tournament director and the president of the Turkish Chess Federation, Tulay Gülkız.

It's always the right time to play chess

Learning how to make carpets, the traditional way. (Not that I know the modern way...).
In 20 years time maybe I will show you a masterpiece.

Turkey is known to be the leading producer of dried apricots, and produces a staggering 70% of the world’s supply, from which 90% comes from Malatya alone. It is therefore no surprise that the citizens of Malatya are proud of what they have achieved and they are always inviting you for a tasting, from which there is no way one can “escape”! Apricots are present everywhere: in the shops, on the streets, painted on buses, on the front cover of the city map, in the name of our chess tournament, and if you are not careful enough, you will even stumble on the yellow fruit, since ornaments of all sorts are to be seen at every step. It couldn't be different, when the apricot has the power to bring so much to the hard working locals; this is another aspect that took me by surprise: from the airport already, while driving to our hotel and during the strolls I had in the city, Malatya struck me as a very modern town, without losing its traditional roots. And by traditional I am also referring to their hospitable nature.

The opening ceremony: the speech of the President of the Turkish Chess Federation, Gülkız Tulay

All the high officials are present to mark the event

The giant tournament hall welcoming 400 players spread in the A, B, C and D categories

When the stars align

[Event "3rd Golden Apricot 2015"] [Site "Malatya TUR"] [Date "2015.08.30"] [Round "9.4"] [White "Yasin, H."] [Black "Azaladze, S."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B06"] [WhiteElo "2029"] [BlackElo "2489"] [Annotator "l'Ami,Alina"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "2015.08.25"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "TUR"] [SourceDate "2015.08.31"] {The other surprise in the event was the 2029 Turkish player, who also won a decisive game in the last round, against the Georgian IM Shota Azaladze. You can go through his game here, which should bring hope to everyone of us that in a good day(s) we can achieve incredible performances!} 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. h3 Nf6 5. Bd3 O-O 6. Be3 e5 7. dxe5 dxe5 8. Nc3 Nbd7 9. Qd2 c6 10. Bh6 Qe7 11. O-O-O Nc5 12. Bxg7 Kxg7 13. Rhe1 b5 14. Qe3 a5 15. Ne2 Re8 16. g4 Na4 17. c3 Rb8 18. Bc2 Nb6 19. Nd2 a4 20. f4 Nfd7 21. f5 h6 22. Qg3 Nc4 23. Nxc4 bxc4 24. Bxa4 Nc5 25. Bxc6 Bb7 26. g5 hxg5 27. Bxe8 Rxe8 28. Rf1 f6 29. h4 Bxe4 30. hxg5 Bxf5 31. Rxf5 gxf5 32. gxf6+ Kxf6 33. Qh4+ Kf7 34. Qh5+ Kf8 35. Rg1 Nd3+ 36. Kb1 Qe6 37. Rg6 Qd5 38. Qh8+ Ke7 39. Qf6+ Kd7 40. Rg7+ Kc8 41. Qa6+ Kd8 42. Qb6+ {And again, shared 1st with 7/9, another Turkish player rated just a bit over 2000!} 1-0

The future

A penny for your thoughts

Hear no evil, see no evil

I was almost afraid to look at the shops or various products because I was surely going to be invited to try it out, or maybe for a tea/coffee or a drink of unknown provenience... I found out later it was liquorice root drink, which ...well, let’s just say it’s not my cup of tea. Still, I did appreciate their smiles and kindness, which were immediately multiplied if I mentioned my Romanian connections. It is good we had Hagi, Popescu, Comaneci etc. to put my country in the light it deserves...

Two rounds a day is no piece of cake

The tournament winner, Georgian GM Davit Benidze - the tattoo is the
Chinese spelling of his children's names

Top seed, Sergey Tiviakov

Losing to a brilliancy

[Event "3rd Golden Apricot 2015"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.09.02"] [Round "?"] [White "l'Ami, Alina"] [Black "Eminov, Orkhan"] [Result "*"] [WhiteElo "2371"] [BlackElo "2361"] [Annotator "l'Ami,Alina"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2kr4/pp1r1p1p/2nqb3/1RP5/Q3P3/5P2/PR1N1P2/4KB2 b - - 0 19"] [PlyCount "15"] {This game doesn't bring back nice fact I was so emotional once the game was over that I crumpled up my scoresheat. Probably tiredness played a part for my state of mind as well. Nevertheless and at the same time and strangely enough (!), the game offered me a very weird sensation of aesthetical pleasure from the beautiful way I lost. I am far from being masochistic but seriously now, I have a dozen different ways of losing and this one was not that bad. It started with} 19... Qxd2+ $1 {which I clearly underestimated when I went Qd1-a4, aiming to have my own business in sacrificing on b7 etc.} 20. Rxd2 Rxd2 21. Rb1 Ne5 22. Be2 {thinking that I pushed away any dangers and that I should be actually winning.} Rxa2 {was played, which I calculated but was not afraid of. At this point I was questioning which square, b5 or b4 would be the best. To me it looked rather equal, since anyway the continuation would be 23...Rd7 24. c6 - sacrificing a pawn but getting rid of the nasty knight and so forth.} ({Instead, and once I checked with the computer, I was surprised to see that Black could have had big chances to win with} 22... Bc4 $1 {where} 23. Qxc4 {is the only decent response} (23. Bxc4 {loses immediately to} Nxf3+ 24. Kf1 Rg8 $1) 23... Nxc4 24. Bxc4 Rc2 {I would have continued to defend this position of course, I just wonder for how long.}) 23. Qb5 $2 {Was what I chose, thinking I am a genius, setting such a devilish trap for my opponent...} ({The right square was} 23. Qb4 {avoiding any Rxe2 ideas} Rd7 24. c6 Nxc6 25. Qc3 {and planning to push soon the f4 pawn; White should be winning since Black lost the pressure and its king is out in the open.}) 23... Rxe2+ {which was planned and answered with } 24. Kf1 {waiting for Rd7, where I would have played c6 and only after he will take back with the knight, I will take the e2-rook. But unfortunately I jumped out the frying pan straight into the fire...} (24. Qxe2 {Is not working since, unfortunately, all the pieces will fall on the battle ground:} Bc4 25. Qe3 Rd3 26. Qf4 Nxf3+ 27. Kf1 Nd2+ 28. Kg2 Nxb1 {Rook+2 pieces+pawn is a bit too much for the white lady to handle, I would say the position already winning for Black.}) 24... Re1+ $3 {I didn't see this incredible resource, after which my entire position is just a house of cards.} 25. Kxe1 Nxf3+ 26. Kf1 Bc4+ {Game over. Although I got a zero, it is a nice tactic that can go straight into the books:)} *

The strongest Turkish player in the tournament, Kıvanç Haznedaroğlu

The Russian GM Sergey Volkov shared the first place as well, with 7.0/9

GM Andrey Zhigalko from Belarus, shared first with 7.0/9, but ended in
third place according to tie-break.

Life is supposed to be wonderful yet nobody can guarantee it will be easy. The greatest battles are not with the humongous obstacles we get along the road, not with the ferocious opponents and certainly not with the ubiquitous daily inconveniences: the greatest battles are those with our mind. With this conclusion at hand, why wouldn't I participate next week in another double-round event in Mexico City? Rest assured, I will keep you posted.

Top boards in action

GM Valeriy Neverov from Ukraine

GM Azer Mirzoev from Azerbaijan

Hard working team for a smooth event!

The top three in category A

Happy children and proud parents!


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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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