Jersey: Sunshine state of mind (1/2)

by Alina l'Ami
4/26/2016 – To most US readers, saying a tournament was held in Jersey will bring up images of New York's neighbor across the Hudson, but to Europeans, it is a small island between England and France. This little haven off the coast of Normandy has gorgeous views from above and across the sea, and has just organized the second edition of their tournament. Here is a large illustrated report.

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Go big, dream big, live bigger, anything is possible (!!) – are the usual suspects in most of the worldwide acclaimed motivational speeches. As good, bombastic and inspirational such advice may sound, sometimes it simply doesn't work. A reason could be that one key element is left behind: dream big, all right, but think smart and start small! Besides avoiding organizational havoc or disincentive falls, it is the little things that matter, that make life big.

Enjoying the sunshine

Travel gives me time to think

Over and above the metaphorical trademark of your reporter, also when taken literally, chances are the tiny things will prove cuter or even heartbreaking adorable: babies, puppies, miniatures, bonsai trees, small but well thought gifts or gestures, and the... Polar Capital Jersey Chess Festival! To disambiguate, the fete wears the name of the major sponsor and has nothing to do with geography.

Google Map of Jersey


Sailing the seas for chess, adventure, open air... a wonderful harbor for my ship – Jersey!

A rather 'petite' organization if you look at numbers (23 players in the Open Section and 24 in the Holiday Under 1900), the tournament I had the chance to play was anything but insignificant.

Start unknown, finish unforgettable

You might have noticed by now that in general I prefer to focus on the positive aspects but without any exaggeration, this event warmed the cockles of my heart. It had a soul, a life and such a social atmosphere that is better lived than described; a great achievement if you consider it was only the 2nd edition (surprises are reserved for the next year but more about that later).

Mark is quite a character, hence I look forward to his King's Indian DVD!! (nudge nudge)

It was not just me, spoiled by the destiny, as I had the chance to speak my native language again (!) with the friendly hotel staff, but the positive vibes became a general topic over dinners: we were simply happy being there – gens una sumus at its best!

Hebden - Williams

[Event "Polar Capital Jersey Open"] [Site ""] [Date "2016.04.11"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Hebden, Mark L"] [Black "Williams, Simon K"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2489"] [BlackElo "2452"] [Annotator "AA"] [PlyCount "96"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "England"] [BlackTeam "England"] [WhiteTeamCountry "ENG"] [BlackTeamCountry "ENG"] [WhiteClock "0:35:56"] [BlackClock "0:42:08"] {It is never easy to play against a very good friend they say, especially if you dislike agreeing for a draw. I would actually subscribe, as I don't have the best memories ever after having faced my own husband on the chess board... Mark and Simon are good buddies as you probably know but had no problems to sharpen their knives in their encounter and still hang around together after that!} 1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 f5 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 g6 5. O-O Bg7 6. c4 O-O 7. Nc3 d6 8. Re1 Ne4 9. Qc2 Nxc3 10. bxc3 e5 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Ba3 Re8 13. e4 Nc6 14. Rad1 Qf6 15. exf5 Bxf5 16. Qb3 Bg4 {Critical moment, when White must decide which route is the best way to compensation and initiative.} 17. Rd3 {Not the best choice, after which Black firmly took over.} ({Better was} 17. Nd2 Bxd1 18. Qxb7 Ba4 19. Bd5+ Kh8 20. Ne4 Qd8 21. Qa6 {with a messy position but I would take White.}) 17... e4 18. Rde3 Bh6 19. Nd4 ({Obviously} 19. R3e2 {runs into} Bxf3 20. Bxf3 Qxf3) 19... Bxe3 20. fxe3 Ne5 21. Bxe4 Bh3 22. Bg2 Bxg2 23. Kxg2 Ng4 24. c5+ Kh8 25. Qxb7 {What else?! Tongue in cheek, Mark was commenting on his decision to go for an unhealthy walk with the king: "Didn't see the mate, so... why not?":)} Qf2+ 26. Kh3 Qxh2+ 27. Kxg4 Qh5+ 28. Kf4 g5+ 29. Kf5 g4+ 30. Kf4 {I remember we were sharking around the top board, trying to figure out where is the mate?! Simon did the same but didn't manage to figure it out nor did we. Of course computers are laughing in our faces in these type of situations...} Qe5+ {is of course not spoiling anything but delivering mate is somewhat a nicer way to finish for a chess player.} ({During the game I was calculating} 30... h6 31. Ne6 Qf7+ 32. Kxg4 Rg8+ 33. Kh3 {when I thought hummmm, cannot see the mate! But there is one after} Rxg3+ 34. Kxg3 Rg8+ { and 0-1 next move.}) 31. Kxg4 Rg8+ 32. Kf3 Rab8 33. Qxb8 Qxg3+ 34. Ke2 Qg2+ 35. Kd3 Rxb8 36. c6 Re8 37. Bc5 Qd5 38. Bb4 a5 39. e4 Qxa2 40. Bc5 Qf2 41. Re3 Re5 42. Ba7 Qf1+ 43. Ne2 Qb1+ 44. Kd4 Re8 45. Nf4 Qd1+ 46. Kc4 Qf1+ 47. Nd3 Qf7+ 48. Kd4 Rd8+ {Game is over, scoresheets are signed, time for some social activities. I respect so much the players that succeed to think "it's only a bad game if you react badly to it; don't beat yourself up and just accept the facts". If only it would be that never is. But Mark not only papered over a less fortunate game but also bounced back stronger. See his win with Black against the tournament's top seed!} 0-1

We all had to play each other and I contributed with two points both left and right. But here we
are, the happy fellas! As a coincidence, we were also the top three in the final standings, Mark
and Simon clear 1st and 2nd respectively, while I shared third.

When people are happy, they don't need to tell the whole world about it. It just shows!

What was kind of shocking though, was that in spite of the glowing warmth floating in the air, in the chess meetings there were none, nil, zero prearranged draws, not even in the two days with double rounds! Sofia or 30 moves rules had no place in Jersey, as the fighting spirits were as high as ever, without the organizers being 'forced' to find some trickery to tie the players up onto the tables.

Since I just showed you above the peculiar king march in the game Hebden – Williams, here's another one where Simon took his majesty for a quite unhealthy walk:

Williams - Houska

[Event "Polar Capital Jersey Open"] [Site ""] [Date "2016.04.12"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Williams, Simon K"] [Black "Houska, Jovanka"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2452"] [BlackElo "2376"] [Annotator "AA"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r1r1k1/pb3qbp/1p2p3/3n1p2/3PpP1B/1P2P3/P2Q1N1P/R1R2B1K w - - 0 30"] [PlyCount "28"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "England"] [BlackTeam "England"] [WhiteTeamCountry "ENG"] [BlackTeamCountry "ENG"] [WhiteClock "0:14:20"] [BlackClock "0:04:52"] {Since we just saw a rather unusual king march in the previous game, adding another one to the collection cannot hurt.} 30. Bb5 $2 {Something went wrong for White in the opening and middlegame but after the next move it is suddenly all over!} (30. Bg3 {is more stubborn, with an inferior but certainly playable position for White.}) 30... Qh5 $1 31. Bxe8 Rxe8 32. Bg3 Qf3+ 33. Kg1 Nxe3 34. Nh3 Nc4 {and the b7-bishop turns from the 'ugly duck' into...not a swan but a dragon!} 35. Qg2 Bxd4+ 36. Bf2+ Qxg2+ 37. Kxg2 e3+ 38. Kg3 Nd2 39. Be1 Nf1+ 40. Kh4 Bf6+ 41. Kh5 Bf3+ 42. Kh6 Nxh2 43. Ng5 {Courtesy:) Allowing Black the satisfaction of delivering checkmate. Great game played by Jovanka and a good tournament over all, hadn't it been the last game against your author...} Bg7# 0-1

True love for the game: double rounds don't matter, there is always room for more chess!

Who said that children cannot focus for long time?! Chess and...

… the young talents will prove them wrong!

Actually, it was your reporter that had to 'forget' about the scenery and concentrate on the board!

Easier said than done...

If only more playing venues had such views!

Ranked third, Simon finished on a fine second place, gaining some rating in the process. With
his house specialty, creative/original/crazy chess, Simon never ceases to spice things up, in a
true Ginger GM's style!

Williams - Alan Merry

[Event "Polar Capital Jersey Open"] [Site ""] [Date "2016.04.15"] [Round "8.2"] [White "Williams, Simon K"] [Black "Merry, Alan B"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2452"] [BlackElo "2375"] [Annotator "AA"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "England"] [BlackTeam "England"] [WhiteTeamCountry "ENG"] [BlackTeamCountry "ENG"] [WhiteClock "0:24:27"] [BlackClock "0:03:50"] {This game is so much fun, just like its owner, Simon! His over optimistic approach though turned out to be too risky and backfired in the skillful hands of Merry Alan.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c5 3. d5 b5 4. Bg5 a6 5. a4 b4 6. Nbd2 Nxd5 { the first pawn goes down in flames.} 7. e4 Nc7 8. Nc4 f6 9. Be3 d6 10. e5 $1 { another one bites the dust!} dxe5 11. Bd3 {choosing to keep the ladies on the board.} ({I believe Simon considered the following line to give compensation for Black.} 11. Qxd8+ Kxd8 12. Nb6 e6 13. Nxa8 Nxa8 {How would the engines assess this position?! Slightly better for White but I think Black's play should be easier, from a practical point of view.}) 11... Be6 12. Nb6 Nd7 13. Nxa8 Qxa8 14. Nd2 g6 (14... Qxg2 {the third pawn would be more than welcome but it feels a bit too greedy} 15. Be4 Qh3 16. Nb3 c4 17. Na5 {asses that if you can!}) 15. O-O Bg7 16. f4 Nd5 17. Qe2 Bh6 18. Nc4 Nxe3 19. Qxe3 Qd5 20. Rae1 Nf8 21. Rd1 Bxf4 22. Qf2 (22. Qe2 {the queens should have still remained on the board, since Black's king is not yet completely safe.}) 22... Qd4 23. g3 Bxc4 24. gxf4 Bxd3 25. Rxd3 Qxf2+ 26. Kxf2 exf4 {another soldier falls on duty} 27. c3 Ne6 28. cxb4 cxb4 29. Rc1 Kf7 30. Rc6 a5 31. Rd5 Ra8 32. Kf3 g5 33. Ke4 h5 34. h4 gxh4 35. Rxh5 Ng5+ 36. Kxf4 h3 37. Rc5 {was not necessary but I doubt White can still put up a fight against the massive number of black pawns. In a true sportsmanship style, Simon congratulated his opponent for his surgical technique in mastering the initiative and despite feeling scandalized with his own play, went on to analyze the game!} Ne6+ 0-1

Ranked fifth, finishing fifth – Alan Merry showed good chess, sometimes playing computer-like
moves; difficult to beat that!

Not easy to defeat such determination!

What I like about chess a lot is the passion behind every move at all the levels!

Moreover, how masochistic could this be, that I enjoyed my losses too??! Of course I was not thrilled but probably the fair-play and the wonderful characters I had the chance to confront on the board (almost) fully compensated for the bad moves. There was no gloating over winning but rather mutual respect and understanding that we all have bad days with less good games. At the end of the day we gathered, talked, walked, enjoyed the moment and then back again in the playing hall... including the organizers, who were juggling with the behind the scenes work, their daily office duties and the strong opponents too!

Challenging, enjoyable but tough work too for Paul (the tournament organizer – middle)

Same goes for Louis, a great person, chess fan, organizer...

… pilot (!) and a wonderful guide as well. Thanks a lot for showing me/us your beautiful homeland!

Continued in part two...

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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