Globetrotting in Barbados

by Alina l'Ami
5/7/2014 – After two intense weeks working in the press room of the Women Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk, our favorite globetrotter IM Alina L'Ami took off to Barbados but this time to play in a round-robin. With little rest and no preparation, was this a mistake? Her colossal 9.5/10 victory says not, and she still managed to get up during the games to take pictures for this gorgeous pictorial.

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The Pearl of the Caribbean seen from the flight

Two intense weeks as a press officer of the FIDE Women Grand Prix from Khanty Mansyisk couldn't prevent me from staying consistent with the "Alina L'Ami globetrotting policy". I hadn't played chess in more than a month and was looking forward to sit at the chess board again. Could there be a better place for it than at the antipodes, with a ten-hour time zone and 40 degree difference, with respect to the Siberian chess Mecca?

The Barbadian capital city was originally named the "Indian Bridge" for the crude
bridge that was constructed over the river by early Indian settlers. Sometime
after 1654, a new bridge was built and the name Bridgetown was born.

The shore at sunset

The colonial reminiscences; the one with the clock is the Parliament building,
built in the neo-Gothic architectural style during the Victorian era of Great Britain

Life's tumult has made me an expert at suitcase packing in ten minutes flat and has taught me living without acclimatization wherever I go, so just three days after the Grand Prix closing ceremony I took flight for the Heroes Day Master tournament, which was held in a true paradise in a nutshell: Barbados!

This is were we stayed and had a wonderful time

As happy as I was to visit a new country, meeting new people and getting in contact with their culture, I was aware that chess and rating-wise I was exposing myself to a great risk.

Wouldn't the double round robin six players event with two games against strong guys every day prove to be like shooting your own foot? ... a friend kindly questioned my wisdom on my Facebook page and, frankly speaking, I was kind of worried myself.

But the alchemy of chess results stands beyond logic and my chess marathon ended in a breathtaking 9.5 out of 10! And to tell the truth, I was even winning in the one game I drew!

The six players of the Heroes Day Master event

The tournament hall of both sections: Master and Candidates

David Jarrett with his wife, who never cease to smile! And it is...contagious. David
Jarrett finished on the honorable 8th place with 6/9; more info on his titles here.

The tournament was all over the local media

Throughout the tournament, my opponents never displayed any shadow of frustration at losing to a woman with both colors. They remained polite and generous, true to the droll and kind spirit of the island. It almost looked as if they felt happy that the others also lost to the girl, so nobody could be pointed at with irony!

I played all my games with such pleasure that can be explained only by the fact that the island is nothing less than absolutely perfect. Saying that it looks just like the postcards would be an understatement since the beauty of the colors cannot be captured by a camera. You have to be there and see it with your own eyes!

The beaches around our Barbados, nature abounds and the
opportunities to appreciate such treasures are just as plentiful, if only I would
have had my camera at all times...especially when I was snorkeling, but my
camera is not waterproof, so you have to trust my word.

Endless beaches inviting you discretely yet irresistibly to walk and lie down, shadowed by one of the wonderful palm-trees and leaving your sight captured by the magic sea waving all the shades of blue, turquoise and aqua-marine... Even for a player like me, keen on preparing and resting as much as possible during tournaments, it was impossible to resist the magic of Barbados. I spent most of the limited free time (including the relatively short break between rounds) on the beach and I felt that for the first time in my life I had learned how to relax properly... I also got myself sunburned, although I did use sun-cream. True, I later found out it would have been better to use it before lying in the sun...

And for the first time in my life I combined my passions for chess and photography in a tighter way that I could ever imagine.

There is a whole world under the ultramarine water! All kind of fish, from pink
to yellow, from green to blue, it is all there for your eyes to enjoy! It was the
first time I did it and I can say that I almost felt sorry for my body who had to
breath at times...

A typical Barbadian native

This is what I like a lot in Barbados: the rainbow of colours,
which you can see everywhere, from the water to houses,
people, clothes, variety of food etc etc. Everyday in Barbados
is a celebration, a spectacle of living.

And of course, the unmissable bus stop; but what is it doing
here? Do they have floating buses?!

During my 3rd round game with GM Mesgen Amanov, the organizer and a security guard escorted me all the way up to the top of the Bridgetown Central Bank building, answering my kind request to help me take some panoramic pictures... And what a fantastic view I was offered! I could embrace in one sight almost all the natural beauties of the island, because beauty is the best word to describe Barbados.

Panoramic view of Bridgetown. I took this during my game against Mesgen Amanov
in the third round.

Spectators everywhere, outside, can see outisde the tournament
organizer and president of the Chess Federation in Barbados: Rohan Waithe,
commenting the last ongoing game of the day with Mesgen Amanov.

Deep in thought

I was happy to see many representatives of women chess, which
is currently growing in Barbados; and I like their hair style too

Like father like daughter...chess is a bug to which we didn't
discover a cure; but do we want to?!

Enemies only on the chess board

The organizer of the already famous Martinique international
tournament - Gilles Suez-Panama. Not only is he a successful
organizer but he is a good player too! Gilles came second in
the Heroes Day Candidates, with 7.5/9.

I was so absorbed and lost in thought that for a while I forgot about my game, my clock and, maybe exaggerating a bit, I almost forgot who I was. After waking up from the euphoria, I became a bit worried about my chess clock, but won the game anyway, in the crazy lines of the Botvinnik-variation.

After many moves of theory, a critical moment appeared, where the Turkmen GM played the unfortunate:

26...Bxf6 (perhaps more stubborn is to run away with the centralized king, via c7, but taking the pawn is more tempting, right?), which runs straight into 27.Ng6! Mesgen couldn't recover from this shocking pin and lost the game a few moves after 27...Rxh4 28.Nxh4 where White is an exchange up and Black has zero compensation. The interesting part is that Black had an alternative to 27...Rxh4, which gives White quite some headaches too: 27...Rh6!!

This amazing defensive idea, where White has only one clear cut win, but also a very difficult, computer-like continuation! So how would you continue?!

  • 28.Bxf6
  • 28.Ne5 or
  • 28.Rxb4?

Let's start with the most natural one:

28.Bxf6, strangely enough, doesn't really work due to: 28...Kc7! 29.Be5+ Kb6! And now...oops! White has to defend the mate on h1 with 30.Rh4 but 30...Rxg6 comes and White is still better but certainly not winning.

The second option doesn't work either. 28.Ne5 looks extremely good, with all kinds of pins around, but fails to 28...Rxh4! And if 29.Nxf7 Ke7! 30.Rxh4 Bxh4 and White achieved nothing; for example, the line could go on with: 31.Nd6 Qa6 32.Nf5+ Kd8 33.gxh4 Qxa2...

It became obvious that the last and clearly not least variation is the best one: 28.Rxb4 wins the lottery! Black’s position is hopeless but I bet some people will have the same problems as me, to fully comprehend why! The reason is that if 28...Qxb4, then 29.Ne5! is very strong now and Black has to defend on d7; for example: 29...Qb5 runs into 30.Nxf7+Ke7 31.Nxh6 Bxh4 32.Nf5+ and the technique should do the rest; in case Black takes back on b4 with 28...cxb4 White has a cunning trick – 29. Bxf6 (we see now how these Bxf6 and Ne5 ideas work perfectly now, thanks to the rook sacrifice!) and if 29...Kc7 30.Qc1+ (the point, hitting on the h6-rook); 30...Qc6 doesn't save much due to 31.Bd8+ Kb7 and now 32.Qxh6...

My game with black against Kevin Danny took place on the 1st of May, when the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) held its usual street parade. I couldn't resist the attraction of the music exulting on the streets, so I took my camera and hurried to immortalize the moments. There was something in the street dancing of the Barbadian people emanating their complete abandon to the intensity of the moment, leaving aside their worries, problems and tiredness.

May Day celebrations went ahead as usual despite a troubled industrial climate
marked by the public sector job cuts. The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) held
its usual street parade from the Garrison to Brownes Beach.

Dressed in bright red, green, yellow, blue and white T-shirts
with this year’s slogan – All Hands on Deck – in bold lettering,
workers took part in the annual parade.

This seems to be a bit contagious and when I returned to my game I won one of my most beautiful Sicilians ever... or at least I perceived it that way during and after the game, since I quite liked the aggressive concept I came up with. Judge for yourself:

[Event "2014 Heroes Day Masters"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.04.28"] [Round "4"] [White "L'Ami, Alina"] [Black "Denny, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E71"] [WhiteElo "2415"] [BlackElo "2295"] [PlyCount "103"] [EventDate "2014.04.26"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. h3 O-O 6. Bg5 Na6 7. Bd3 e5 8. d5 c6 9. Nge2 cxd5 10. cxd5 Nc5 11. Bc2 a5 12. O-O Bd7 13. a3 a4 14. Qd2 Qe7 15. Ng3 Rfc8 16. Rae1 b5 17. h4 Rab8 18. Na2 Qf8 19. f3 h6 20. Be3 Kh7 21. Nb4 h5 22. f4 Ng4 23. f5 Qd8 24. Bg5 Qb6 25. Kh1 Be8 26. Bd1 Nb3 27. Bxb3 axb3 28. Rf3 Rc4 29. Ref1 Rbc8 30. Rxb3 Rd4 31. Qe2 Bh6 32. Rbf3 Bxg5 33. hxg5 Qd8 34. f6 Rdc4 35. b3 Rc3 36. Qd2 R3c5 37. Ne2 Qa5 38. Rh3 Qxa3 39. Nc6 b4 40. Ne7 R8c7 41. Ng3 Rc1 42. Qe2 Rxf1+ 43. Nxf1 Qc1 44. Qxg4 Qxf1+ 45. Kh2 Qf4+ 46. Qxf4 exf4 47. Kg1 Rc1+ 48. Kf2 Bb5 49. g4 fxg3+ 50. Rxg3 Rd1 51. Nc8 h4 52. Rh3 1-0

Tournament organizer and president of the Barbados Chess
Federation - Rohan Waithe

The closing ceremony, where the sponsors cannot be overlooked (Digicel Barbados)

Winner of the Heroes Day Candidates - FM Orlando Husbands with 8.0/9

Winner of the Heroes Day Master - yours truly, with 9.5/10

I know, in many other places of the world, my mini-escapades during the rounds might have been regarded as disrespect towards the opponent, but here it all felt so natural. I simply couldn't say no the temptation to collect a few more pieces of the perfect puzzle named Barbados, wishing to share with you a slice of the Paradise.

Ryan Harper, the strongest chess player from Trinidad and
Tobago, is also a chess trainer and a well known...DJ! Nice mix.

Mesgen Amanov in good spirits, as he finally takes a break from his successful
yet demanding chess coaching career. Mesgen is a prominent chess teacher in
the USA, in case you didn't know this already.

So much fun in the free morning we had, and the organized tour was just great.
Hope this won't suddenly collapse on the GM's head...

Most visitors to Barbados stay on the west coast, never
venturing to its wilder, Atlantic side. They’re missing out
so much, as you can see.

On top of their wonderful open character, Barbadian people have some dose of sophistication, too. This small country has a 98% literacy rate, not bad at all, is it?

At the end of this wonderful week, while I had my last walk along the beach, stepping with my bare feet through the water, freed by any shadow of travel-anxiety and with my forehead clear of worries and fatigue, I understood that all these tourists, half a million annually, many more than the inhabitants of the island and surely more than the hotels can host, all these tourists, I said to myself, could not be wrong. And I cannot help transmitting the message I got: "Pack now! Barbados is the place to be!"

Final standings of Heroes Day Masters


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 12 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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