JAPFA in Jakarta (1/2)

by Alina l'Ami
5/1/2015 – Held in Jakarta, Indonesia, the GM JAPFA round-robin event was recently held, bringing strong players such as Sergey Tiviakov as well as local talents to provide norm opportunities and experience. Among the list of invitees was WGM Alina L'Ami who brought along her good cheer, enthusiastic and colorful photography, and confessional travel writing. Here is her illustrated chronicle.

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I took a stroll down memory lane today, trying to recollect the last time I felt such a pleasure while writing about a tournament that was, in a word: disastrous. If I consider only my final result. The closed GM JAPFA tournament from Jakarta, held between 14-23 April, was indeed a tough affair, with strong opponents, double rounds and jet lag, to top it off; but still, I am past the phase of finding excuses, so I won't blame anything or anyone, except myself. In hindsight, I actually did everything I could: I prepared, I slept (or at least tried to), and felt absolutely excellent, but somehow and for mysterious reasons it just didn't go my way.

Street chess culture at its best!

Learning and experimenting with new techniques such as long expositions. Tripod is a life saviour!

Meeting the locals

Benzine anyone?!

As if it had a life of its own, instead of playing the moves I ordered, my disobedient hand kept deciding at the last second to go its own way, taking a pawn here, forgetting my queen there, missing a chance here, blundering over there... although I started well, with 2.0/4, winning one game along the way, by the end of the tournament I was left in the dust: 3.0/11 and a massive rating loss. Ouch!

Food culture is incredibly strong on Jakarta's streets, you will never suffer from hunger or
thirst. Any corner is ready to welcome you with some comfort food, in case your mood is in
need for this remedy.

Color everywhere

The water is a part of life

Playing on the piers



No, I am not a masochist and of course I am not happy with the number of points I scored, yet I still feel wonderful looking back at this event! After all, my play was not bad at all: I tried new openings, new lines, played refreshing chess and applied (at least some) pressure on my opponents.

Street photography in the fish market. Just loved the people, the smiles, the authenticity, everything!

Cats on the pier

The organization was flawless, with a good hotel, a great location, tasty Indonesian food, warm weather that I love, a helpful organizing team and a generous sponsor – the complete checklist to make one feel at home and display the best possible chess. So you may argue that, in spite of my 'philanthropic' gesture of leaving behind quite a lot of points, the warm atmosphere, both on and off the board, would easily compensate for any inconvenience.

The old square in Jakarta with colonial buildings

Chicken with the famous Indonesian peanut sauce --> addictive!

One of the most beautiful Cafes I have have seen!! Batavia Cafe - a true gem.

The famous local....STARLINGS! Different types of coffee can be enjoyed at any time of the
day or night. It is instant coffee but has the reputation to bring Starbucks coffee to it knees.
So "Starlings" comes from "Starbucks + keliling" - "ling" meaning moving around, mobile
(because of the bicycle, obviously)

Motorcycles and scooters during rush hours; quite often one can spot more than one passenger...

And that is definitely true, no doubt, as I usually like to look at the nicer side of the coin. Money and rating come and go, just like life itself; what remains important is the journey. To reach this degree of serenity though, forgetting about missed chances, blunders & Co., I must admit I usually took some time (sometimes quite a huge and unnecessary amount of time!) which is the normal route for any chess player I assume.

Local entertainment for children

Food is absolutely gorgeous, although sometimes it may not look like those from top notch restaurants

It has the power to bring you back in time, back in those moments when grandma was
the absolute best in the kitchen.

No, I did not, I repeat: I DID NOT enhanced the colours, on the contrary, I had to post process
the pinkish nuance, since the real colour of this fruit is mind blowing and extremely strong. It is
the dragon fruit, which I thought it should be white with black seeds. But this particular type
made my eyes pop.

However this tournament somehow proved to be a turning point for me... If before I was consciously inducing this peace of mind and a positive attitude no matter what, after these ten days in Jakarta I am so happy to discover a big change within myself: winning or losing, I managed to effortlessly “let it be”.

Saved by the gong

[Event "Grandmaster Turnament 2015"] [Site "Jakarta"] [Date "2015.04.16"] [Round "2.2"] [White "Alina, L'Ami"] [Black "Winshand Cuhendi, Sean"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E63"] [WhiteElo "2397"] [BlackElo "2428"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5rk1/2P4p/pp1p2p1/3Nb3/2P5/1P2Pp1q/P2Q4/5RK1 b - - 0 29"] [PlyCount "18"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] {I did my utmost to defend this game, I calculated, fought back, scratched my head in search for better ideas....in the end I honestly thought this is it, I should resign soon...I could lie and say that everything was planned, that I set a devilish trap for my opponent, but truth be told...things just happened. We both missed an incredible resource which is, at the same time, unusual and extremely beautiful!} 29... f2+ {played without thought, as the move came automatically from a series of previous more or less forced moves, so this should have been the end of the line, followed by my signature under a zero... but never say never!} ({Instead} 29... Kg7 $1 {as we both agreed in the post mortem analysis, would have kept all the threats alive and prevented any possible counter chances.}) 30. Rxf2 Bh2+ 31. Kh1 Bg3+ 32. Kg1 Bxf2+ 33. Qxf2 Rxf2 34. Kxf2 {Surprise! The position is draw! This is where becomes clear why the black king was better placed on g7. Now White has the threat of c8=Q, Ne7+ or Nxb6 followed by c8=Q and there is nothing Black can do besides deliver perpetual check. Draw!! Pretty, isn't it?!} Qf5+ 35. Ke2 Qc2+ 36. Kf3 Qd1+ 37. Kf2 Qd2+ 38. Kf3 1/2-1/2

The advantages of having warm weather all year round...beautiful vegetation

The city is not only a huge mess of cars & co but also an oasis of parks and promenades,
you just need to know where they are.

Smiles all over - I had a zillion of shots, since everyone was asking me to take a picture
with them or of them.

More chess on the streets

A fascinating finish

[Event "Grandmaster Turnament 2015"] [Site "Jakarta"] [Date "2015.04.21"] [Round "9.6"] [White "Firman Syah, Farid"] [Black "Irine Kharisma, Sukandar"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E43"] [WhiteElo "2422"] [BlackElo "2415"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r2rk1/1b2qppp/pp1b1n2/2ppN3/3P1PPQ/1PRBP3/PB5P/5RK1 w - - 0 18"] [PlyCount "9"] [EventDate "2015.??.??"] {How would you continue with White?} 18. Bf5 $1 cxd4 19. g5 $1 {I liked a lot this sequence of moves which brough White a full piece and the point soon after.} Nh5 (19... dxc3 20. gxf6 $18) 20. Rxc8 Bxc8 21. Bxc8 Rxc8 22. Qxh5 $18 1-0

I believe they try to solve these type of puzzles called Fairy Chess - with selfmates and helpmates

Whispering such Beatles-like-words-of-wisdom wouldn't have been possible without some triggers, which I believe to be Jakarta itself, together with its people. I know, I did play two years ago in the same place without reaching the same philosophy, but back then I won the tournament, which 'didn't help', as I tend to learn much more the hard way.

Sergey choosing Kopi Luwak - a local 'delicacy' which...perhaps you would like to Google this,
since the story of how the coffee is being produced may not be for the fainthearted.

Kopi luwak, or civet coffee, refers to the seeds of coffee berries once they have been eaten
and defecated by the Asian palm civet (above)

Anyhow, I now have a very good example and a model to follow: the winner, Sean Winshand Cuhendi. Rarely does one see during tournaments someone who enjoys chess that much, ready to comment, watch the games and always smile, even when the position looks pretty grim on his board. There is a saying that 'eyes don't lie' and Winshand's eyes were glowing the happiness of playing chess, probably the reason why he won the tournament in the end and scored his first GM norm! Perhaps his sweetness comes from the...brown sugar he likes eating just like that?! I must say it makes sense, since the local sugar is actually not sweet at all (lack of heavy processing) and in fact the Indonesian desserts are far from being candied, they are even salted at times.


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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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Jimliew58 Jimliew58 5/5/2015 11:15
Photos are very well captured and tell a story, everyone of them...thanks
Christian Sasse Christian Sasse 5/2/2015 08:56
Your photos just keep on getting better! Life is a marathon, so you are right to stop worrying. I can see you are really enjoying yourself, keep it up
Hasiholan Hasiholan 5/2/2015 05:06
Chess become a beautiful game because of women.

ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 5/2/2015 04:42
kudos to indonesia .... for it has been organizing strong GM tournaments since 80s.....
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 5/2/2015 04:41
yes.. indonesia boasts largest muslim population in the world... but before the islamisation of the country, there were multiple religions.... the tamil/indian chola emperors conquered this area.... the beautiful bali island follows hinduism..... you can identity the underlying/deeply enshrained hindu/influence in the very names of the indonesians...... Henry saputra...upin darmayana damayanti, suradiradja.....veerawathy fajrin etc.
PEDRO ASTIG PEDRO ASTIG 5/1/2015 09:47
very nice coverage. next time come to the philippines.
Bill Simmons Bill Simmons 5/1/2015 08:56
Excellent photos and photo essay, Alina.
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