Martinique c'est magnifique (1/2)

by Alina l'Ami
4/27/2017 – Sun, sand, coconut trees, crystal clear turquoise waters, fruity drinks and epic cocktails are just some of the things that come to mind when imagining that postcard-perfect-laid-back beach bliss. Ahhh, the Caribbean and its tropical light which seems to promise blue morning after blue morning forever after... Such is the backdrop of the 6th Martinique Open, reported here with plenty of photos by Alina L'Ami.

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Martinique c'est magnifique (1/2)

Text and photos by Alina L'Ami (click on images for high-res)

Waking up in Paradise, in the French West Indies

The 6th edition of Martinique's International Open, held in Fort-de-France between 09-13.04.2017,  made your Romanian author by birth become Caribbean by conviction. I am still trying to understand quite what that means though.

Blending in

Focusing on chess with such premises – now that's a challenge

The stunning scenery with volcanic backdrops can break open the heart of the most misanthropist chess player. But if nature doesn't really jazz you up, the worldwide winning rums will make sure you'll get at least a punch of optimism with the local Ti' Punch.

Martinique's cocktail heavyweight champion, rhum agricole + cane syrup + fresh lime, could prove a bit too lethal for a chessy brain, so here's Plan B:

Rum's authority shaken up by ingenious beer mixers

This could be, however, distracting too (boo hoo, pity the poor exhausted chess tourists from the rigors of vacation).

But how could one say no to such an inviting smile? Forced move here my friend, you must try at least a sample of Le Planteur (another rum-based drink in Martinique).

Almost obscene to complain under such beguiling circumstances, the everyday double rounds, however, didn't quite allow for some time off to recover from all the voluntary excess, excitement, jet lag or any other excuse you could think of.

The professionals remain professional no matter what

At the end of the five days marathon, the tournament finished with GM Romain Edouard breaking the tie against GM Fabien Libiszewski, after they both scored an impressive 8.5/9!

Just because I am in Reykjavik at the moment: “I don't believe in psychology, I believe in good moves”

Romain Edouard vs Evgenij Ermenkov

[Event "Open de Martinique"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.04.12"] [Round "7.1"] [White "Edouard, Romain"] [Black "Ermenkov, Evgenij"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A54"] [WhiteElo "2631"] [BlackElo "2400"] [PlyCount "67"] [SourceDate "2017.04.16"] [SourceVersionDate "2017.04.16"] {What I respect a lot in the chess displayed by professional players is how smooth and 'easy' they make it look. This game is a good illustration of that and it also brings an interesting and active idea for White against the Old Indian.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. Nf3 e5 5. Bg5 Be7 6. e3 O-O 7. Qc2 Ne8 8. Bxe7 Qxe7 9. Bd3 Nef6 10. O-O-O {I am a big fan of playing these type of positions, with opposite castling, and Romain's execution is worth learning from.} Re8 11. Nd2 Nf8 12. h3 c6 13. g4 a6 14. dxe5 Qxe5 15. Nf3 Qe7 16. Nd4 g6 17. g5 Nh5 18. h4 Nd7 19. Be2 Ng7 20. h5 Nf8 21. hxg6 fxg6 22. Bd3 {White grabbed the advantage and is now giving back a little for a bigger reward further on.} Qxg5 {Poisoned pawn but what else was there for Black?} 23. Rdg1 Qe7 24. Ne4 Bd7 25. Ng5 c5 26. Ne2 Bc6 27. Rh6 Qf6 28. Nf4 Re7 29. Nxh7 $1 { The coup de grâce} Nxh7 30. Bxg6 Kf8 31. Rxh7 Ne6 32. Nh5 Qe5 33. Qf5+ Qxf5 34. Rh8# 1-0 PGN

Romain and Fabien got into the chess groove through their simuls prior the tournament

Chess feast

Take that Creole spirit of freedom, add the Gallic joie de vivre and you'll get a picture which can hardly ever be seen in a FIDE rated event: chess players bursting into laughter while playing their good or bad moves. It is not frivolity nor thoughtlessness but rather a Martinican sensibility which goes beyond the chess board. The chess fire cannot fully be enjoyed unless you're sharing it with the others.


I couldn't repress a smile either when my radar caught similar chuckles in the tournament hall, although I was in deep suffering against an opponent rated hundreds of points lower than me.

Alina L'Ami vs Pierre Grego

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.04.09"] [Round "?"] [White "Alina, l'Ami"] [Black "Pierre, Grego"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A53"] [Annotator "Alina l'Ami"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "r2q2k1/1ppb1r2/3n1p2/p1pP2pN/2P2R2/2N3QP/PP4P1/R5K1 w - - 0 22"] [PlyCount "4"] [SourceDate "2017.04.16"] [SourceVersionDate "2017.04.16"] {This is a typical out-of-shape Alina example. I did my best, drank gallons of coffee, focused to the paroxysm attempting to combat the inevitable travelling and time zone tiredness - but to no avail. When head is not cooperating, it just won't cooperate whatever you do. So I listened to my husband's advice from Europe to just try without getting frustrated. The last move of my opponent was the rather panicky 21...g5. How would you respond?} 22. Raf1 $4 { Deserves three question marks actually but seems that CB doesn't want to be that harsh.} (22. Rxf6 {is of course the bull's eye and correct continuation. I did see the following line:} Qxf6 (22... Rxf6 {obviously doesn't help} 23. Qxg5+ Kf7 24. Qg7+ Ke8 25. Nxf6+) 23. Nxf6+ Rxf6 24. Qxg5+ Kf7 {and instead of simply going on this winning path, I decided to take a shortcut. Why would I prolong forever a materially unbalanced position when I can do something else? Not a good train of thought...}) (22. Nxf6+ {is the other version of the temporary sacrifice, which would have worked as well} Rxf6 23. Qxg5+ Kf7 24. Raf1 Bf5 25. Nb5 {and looks like White should collect the point soon.} ({ During the game I only thought of} 25. g4 {and after} Qh8 {I didn't quite like the resulting position as I thought Black is back in business.})) 22... f5 $1 { When this move appeared on the board I was literally shocked. I didn't even smell this was coming! Looking at it now with rested eyes, it does look like a very simple reaction but back then my brain was on strike.} 23. R4f2 Kh7 { Suddenly Black has no more issues despite the optically open king. I even went to be dead lost but saved the game by a whisker.} 1/2-1/2

Fun is fun but everyone wants to win

Continued in Part 2

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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