Miskolc 2006: on nature, kings, wine and hospitality

by ChessBase
9/2/2006 – Friday was a free day in the rapid chess match between Peter Leko and Anatoly Karpov in the Hungarian city of Miskolc. But the organisers arranged a number of events for the players and visitors. In particular we were taken to a nature park where Peter Leko often trains. And then there was a wine-tasting special in the Town Hall. Big illustrated report.

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Peter Leko vs Anatoly Karpov in Miskolc

Chess Rapid Match – Miskolc

Peter Leko and Anatoly Karpov are playing a rapid chess match in Miskolc, Hungary, from August 30 to September 3, 2006. There are two games per day at 16:00h and 17:30h European time.

Péter Lékó was born on 8th September 1979 in Subotica, and has been living in Szeged since 1980. At 2738 Elo he is ranked sixth in the world (July 2006).

Anatoly Karpov, born on May 23, 1951, is the legendary 12th world champion and the most successful tournament player of all time. His peak strength was 2780, his current rating is 2668, putting him at no. 40 in the world.

"Free day" in Miskolc

Report and pictures by Frederic Friedel

Miskolc (pronounced "Mish-kolts") is the third-largest city in Hungary, after Budapest and Debrecen, a modern industrial town with some very beautiful nature reserves around it. The area of Miskolc-Lillafüred, which lies about ten kilometers to the west of the city, is especially peaceful and attractive. This is where Peter Leko used to come to do protracted training session. "It is perfect for work," he told us, "you have the most beautiful nature and climate you can imagine, and in half an hour you are in the middle of a big city, with all its facilities, when you need that." He urged us to take a trip to the region, and our indefatigable organiser Attila Barva promptly arranged one for us.

First stop: the famous Palace Hotel (Palotaszálló), which was built between 1927 and 1930 in neo-Renaissance style. It is surrounded by a large park with waterfalls and rare plants, perfect for long, contemplative walks by strong grandmasters.

The Palace Hotel, idyllically located in the Lillafüred region [Photo: Wojsyl]

Our guide Ilona told us that this beautiful lake, between the hills, with boats and
water-fowl, was artificial, a piece of information we choose not to believe.

We cannot imagine anything more relaxing then this

A bronze statue of Attila Jósef in the nature park

The Hungarians tend to cast their heros in bronze and provide full reports on their historical importance, as on the wall next to the statue above. Attila Jósef (1905-1937) was the country's greatest poet of the 20th century. Although his works were melancholic, they also expressed the author's faith in life's essential beauty and harmony. Jósef spent his entire life in abject poverty and suffered from depression. He committed suicide at the age of 32.

The main lounge area of the Palace Hotel, with the obligatory chessboard

The theme of the hotel are the lead stained glass windows

The hotel has three restaurants (and two bars). One restaurant is named after the Hungarian king Matyas Corvinus (Matthias the Just), who ruled in the 15th century. Peter Leko told us to eat there, as he himself had done on many occasions. We didn't – it was too early in the day.

King Matthias in the stained glass window of the restaurant

There are a number of natural caves to be found very close to the hotel. They were formed in karstificating triassic limestone with the typical dripstone columns which result from the lime content of water oozing through gaps in the rocks, over millions of years. We visited the Szent István caves, just a few minutes drive from the Palace Hotel.

Entering the St. Sitván cave through a 50-meter corridor

The dripstone columns, typical for these triassic caves

Lunch break at a beautiful roadside tavern, then back into the city for...

... an afternoon reception in the Institute of Technology

The reception room is famous for being extensively decorated with fine needle-work embroidery

Peter Leko with his wife Sofia (daughter of Armenian GM Ashraf Petrosian)

Former world champion Anatoly Karpov at the reception

Peter Leko's (and Vladimir Kramnik's) manager Carsten Hensel

The chief organiser of the Miskolc event: Attila Barva

Attila, a lawyer who has a chess rating of around 2400, never ceases to amaze with his ability to look after the hundreds of components that go into a chess spectacular of this kind, and by doing it in real time. The staging is exemplary, and in addition to attending to this he personally arranges our attendance at every important function, sending cars to fetch us and drop us back in the hotel. We have yet to see him in panic mode.

After the reception lectures by Leko and Karpov for guests of the Technology Institute

Peter shows the audience his game against Radjabov in Morelia, Mexico

In the evening a visit in the Town Hall with the Mayor of Miskolc

Sándor Káli is the very popular Mayor of Miskolc, and credited with the prosperity of the city, which after a period of very high unemployment now has the lowest rate of unemployment in the country. When the Mayor discovered that Peter Leko was taking quarter in this region for his preparations he decided to organise the yearly Miskolc chess tournament. Sándor Káli studied acoustics electrotechnics in Dresden in the 70s and speaks excellent German. The lady in the picture above is the senior Hungarian chess player Zsuzsa Veroci, who is the arbiter and translator (Hungarian, Russian and English) at this match.

The Mayor in discussion with Leko and Karpov in the town hall

The high point of an eventful day: wine tasting in the Town Hall

These are some of the finest wines in a famous wine-growing region

You cannot drink all the wine they serve, so the rest is poured into a carafe. Sill, Peter Leko said: "After this I cannot be held responsible for the moves I make tomorrow!"

The day is not over. Late at night we are taken ot the Miskolc thermal bath

The Cave Bath in Miskolc is built in a natural cave, with natural thermal water –
the perfect, relaxing end to a very long and eventful day.

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