Free day: Internet, quails and bowling in Linares

3/7/2009 – Between the rounds of the Super-GM in Linares there are free days. The evening before a break is a great time to take dinner with even the most intense players; and on the free day itself there are usually outings and social gatherings for the journalists. Here's what we did on the last free day, together with pictures of pretty girls and some more-or-less harrowing tales around the tournament.

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XXVI Linares 2009

This year the Linares 2009 tournament is being staged only in Spain – in the previous three years the first half was in Morelia, Mexico, and next year the first half will probably be in the Arab Emirates. The 2009 event goes from February 19th to March 7th, with three rest days. The prize fund is 314,000 Euros, with the winner getting 100,000 Euros, followed by 75,000 and 50,000 Euros for second and third place. There are no appearance fees for the players, so the motivation to fight for points may be unusually high. The venue is el Teatro Cervantes de Linares, the starting time of the games is 16:00h (4 p.m.) Spanish/European time.

Pictorial impressions from Linares

By Frederic Friedel


What is one of the Linares arbiters doing in the hallway of the hotel? Faik Gasamov, like so many others, could not receive a proper wireless signal in his room, and so had to work outside.


This is the ever-cheerful Indian TV journalist Vijay Kumar outside his room.

Vijay compiles film reports which are broadcast on Doordarshan Sports in India and many other countries (includung Britain). For a while DD-Sports had a bit of a monopoly and Vijay's reports reached a large number of viewers. Now due to competition from other sports channels his numbers have halved: on average his reports reach only four hundred million viewers. We feel your pain, Vijay!


The Dominguez team outside their room: GM Aryam Abreu, father Aurelio

Here's something mysterious: I am staying just two doors away from Leinier's team, and two from Lev Aronian, who also has no reception in his room. On my aging Dell Inspiron 9200, in my room with closed doors I have full signal strength. Some have attributed it to my using Windows XP (the other all have the accursed Vista). I think that it is just a gift from the Creator of the Universe, for some unknown reason – or punishment of the others, for some unknown reason.

Dinner at the Anibal. On the evening of the free day we can socialise, and so I celebrated with friends and took the fresh quail Andalusian style. Quite delicious...

... except that the Spanish "Codorniz" apparently doesn't mean quail, but "wild quail which was flying around until someone shot it." You can tell this from pin-head sized metal pellets that you have to look out for. The bad news is that it is quite painful if you bite on them – you can easily chip a tooth. The good news is that they are not toxic and are a sign that you are eating a wild bird, which tastes nothing like the domesticated variety that is bred in captivity. Incidentally, insiders may recognize one of my dinner companions reflected in the plate. I will be truly impressed if someone sends me the correct name.

Addendum: It takes one to recognize one – just a few hours after this report appeared, Casper Dahl Rasmussen of Copenhagen, got it right. "That's an easy one," he wrote, "the dark hair is a give-away. The player in the plate must be Peter Heine Nielsen." Correct, it was Anand's Danish second, watching in fascination while I photographed the pellets. Thanks to our readers for the many messages and wrong guesses (Anish Giri? Uh-uh. Peter Svidler? Be serious!)


On the free day we journalists are taken to a special restaurant that is decorated like a castle


Maite Lopez, our host and press chief, at the open bar


Actually both poses are in many ways typical for Maite


Lunch in Spain consists or multiple servings of meat in various forms, and lasts for hours


Abigail and Aleksandra, delegate and translator

Abigail hides behind the Chinese name of Tian Hongwei, and is not the "Deputy Secretary General of the Chinese Chess Federation" – well, actually she is that as well – but the Chinese delegate to FIDE. By profession she is originally a teacher of the Chinese language (Mandarin) and has promised to give us lessons on the pronounciation of Chinese names, here on our news page. Translator Aleksandra Malgorzata Michalak, generally known as "Ola", is from Poland and speaks a very elegant English, glottal stops and all. Her Spanish, we are told, is pure Andalusian.


Linares Sports Counselor ("concejal") Juan Sanchez tries his hand at Karaoke


Abigail gives us a very cute rendition of the traditional Chinese folksong "You are my sunshine"


In the evening: Bowling with Levon, who took us to the local Alley for some exercise and tappas


Maite Lopez show greater elegance in her throws than the Armenian GM...


... even if her strike rate was lower than his

Here's the scoreboard after the first round. "Man" is Manolo, Levon's bowling alias. Now in the future you may read a piece by him, perhaps as an intro to an annotated game, claiming that the computer had "cheated" and given me a strike after a gutter ball. He may even quote three witnesses from this bowling match. But rules are rules and the fact remains that I came equal first with the great Manolo, and have documentary evidence to prove it. Apologies, though, for the abysmal level of play. Give me two hundred hours of practice at this game and I will produce worthwhile scores.

Hang on, what is this? Same GM, same game, different time and place? It occurs to us that we have a lot of unpublished photos from top players rolling the ball, during the 2007 FIDE Candidates Matches in Elista. I have them all here, on my hard disk, and will prepare a "retrospect" article and publish it shortly.

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