Scenes from the Jersey International

by Alina l'Ami
5/1/2018 – Beautiful scenery and tough competition made for a wonderful event at the 2018 Jersey International tournament. IM Alan Merry picked up his 2nd GM norm, while GM Tiger Hillarp Persson took home first. A total of 42 talented veterans and up and coming youth competed in the nine-round event. ALINA L'AMI provides visuals and impressions.

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Small but mighty

Shirt with the writing "Here Comes The Judge"

“So conflicted...For the first time in 62 years, Easter Sunday coincides with April Fools' Day. How am I supposed to unleash my savage pranks in a timespan of spiritual restraint?! All those brilliantly evil jokes, gags and tricks must be cancelled as I can't rise to such a discordant occasion.

Providentially, Jersey's Polar Capital international tournament is set to start on April 1st. I might forget the high jinks but I'll give my opponent a hard time instead!”

These were my profound thoughts when I went on with booking the flights to the largest of the Channel Islands.

What a surprise to me that I essentially pulled the most mischievous prank ever — I fooled myself:) Two days before travelling and only by pure chance I realized that the first round was scheduled for 31st of March!?! My sense of humour didn't take a back seat after all, just a darker note.

Jersey beach

Literally running to be on time for the game.
Luckily, I finished sports high school.

Landing at 15 o'clock and playing at 16 was a far cry from what I would call a professional treatment of a chess tournament. It was, however, a scaled-down chapter of the messiest Easter ever and the most wholesome Fools' Day too.

What could have been Jersey justice for my sloppiness (had a rather tough first round against a much lower rated opponent), turned into a jersey of cheerfulness I wouldn't like taking off.

Jersey Beach

A small island with a small chess tournament became disproportionately significant,

casting a long shadow in my memory.

Perhaps the best sketch for this bloody beautiful tournament is through a rugby analogy. If you ever plan to set foot on those grounds, don't expect a gentle treatment. The locals, the English players, the invited ones and even the organizers, who are taking up the challenge too, have no fear of brain injury. Chess in Jersey is a violent sport played by gentlemen. We just beat the living daylights out of each other and then hit the bar. What's not to like?

Three Youth Players

You can be attacked, bound, forked, skewered, chased and mated and love every minute of it!

The English legend and former Candidate could be an excellent example of this national 'malady'. One cannot help but notice the passion when he shares his chess views or the depths his calculation can still reach.

GM Jonathan Speelman

A living legend – Jonathan Speelman

Speelman played a major role in the tournament course of events by defeating Alan Merry in a superb technical game but succumbed in the final round against the wild Swedish GM, Tiger Hillarp Persson.

When surrounded by a wolf pack, a lamb would stand no chance. But the Tiger did and won the tournament undefeated after a stormy finish with three wins in the last three games. Surely the reader will enjoy the rather violent examples underneath:


Click or tap on the games in the list to switch

Tiger Hillarp & Alan Merry

The co-shared winners but with a superior tiebreak for the tiger

Only Alan Merry kept the pace and scored the same 7/9, grabbing his 2nd GM norm as well! Truth be told, losing against him in the last round didn't offer your author a merry Orthodox Easter (how unusual is that, to celebrate it twice during the same event?!). Making errors is not quite invigorating yet the public might be delighted with the following tactical blows:


Click or tap on the games in the list to switch

The results didn't play merry hell with our moods either, it's just impossible in the English Channel anyway.

Jersey Beach

If the games don't go your way, something else will

What I worship about this tournament is not only the no-half-measures-attitude which makes for incredible games or the solace one would get from the easy on the eyes surroundings. It is the sense of community which is unique.

Dinner Hall

Long and lovely dinners are the norm

I am the type of person to dot the i's and cross the t's until a headache would appear but I still didn't find a satisfactory explanation to why this event is simply great. It just is! In fact, the mammoth tide alone is descending from a parallel universe...

Jersey Beach

Impossible to get tired of or used to

Good things take time but great things might happen in a blink of an eye. You could just be walking on the beach when suddenly a random person would come by and reveal a close affinity with...correspondence chess?! Or you might be enjoying your space and privacy during the excellent dinner times to only realize after 3 hours you have been friends for a lifetime with someone you've just met?!

Youth Player

Best would be, however, to spot our opponent's mistakes...

It is possible that our chess pranks will not be seen as the most hilarious ever and our Christian chess feast a bit difficult to chew. But Jersey's Polar Capital Festival has some of the most beautiful Fabergé Eggs for your dream Easter Basket, too!


A true chess feast

Final standings (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 HILLARP PERSSON Tiger 7,0 48,0
2 MERRY Alan B 7,0 43,5
3 WILLIAMS Simon K 6,5 43,5
4 VAKHIDOV Jakhongir 6,0 52,0
5 WADSWORTH Matthew J 6,0 45,5
6 SPEELMAN Jon S 5,5 51,5
7 L'AMI Alina 5,5 50,0
8 ARKELL Keith C 5,5 49,5
9 ANSELL Simon T 5,5 44,0
10 LE QUANG Kim 5,5 41,0
11 VERMA Aditya 5,5 40,0
12 RUDD Jack 5,5 36,5
13 PRUIJSSERS Roeland 5,0 53,0
14 VOGT Lothar 5,0 47,0
15 STEWART Ashley 5,0 42,5
16 WOUDSMA Martijn 5,0 41,0
17 HOUSE Glenn L 5,0 39,5
18 KABOS Tobias 4,5 41,0
19 PITCHER Thomas 4,5 40,5
20 KLINGHER Dominic 4,5 39,5
21 MODI Kishan J 4,5 39,0
22 MITCHELL Martin 4,5 38,5
23 VAN LEUSDEN Dennis 4,5 35,0
24 HEBDEN Mark L 4,0 46,5
25 EGGLESTON David J 4,0 46,0

...42 players


After such hand-to-hand combat, one would need some time to recuperate and your author thought a change of scenery would do the trick.

Jersey Beach

From Jersey's beaches...

I head to...the mountains of Nepal and the chess tournament in Kathmandu! Strangely enough, the travelling part and the double rounds schedule didn't allow for the meditation I was hoping for:)

Then onward towards Malaysia with more to come from both Nepal and Indonesia. Don't ask...more double rounds but also more stories which I so look forward sharing with you. As soon as the mind and body will allow that...


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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