Rombaldoni wins 5th Festival Capo d'Orso

by ChessBase
6/16/2013 – It is a wonderfully relaxing tournament in Porto Mannu on the northern tip of Sardinia – and the location is beautifully explored by our roving reporter WGM Alina l'Ami, who also found time to play in the event and finish equal 2nd-3rd. The winner was Italian talent IM Axel Rombaldoni, the Tom Cruise of chess, who achieved his final GM norm. Big pictorial report.

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Report from Sardinia by WGM Alina L'Ami

Belief in lucky and unlucky omens has always been a universal part of our psyche. Like it or not, many of us believe in signs of good fortune and imminent misfortune, from the greatest leaders of the world to… chess players (I reckon you won’t try to deny it). Since good things seldom comes in pairs but bad fortune never walk alone, it is kind of natural that many of us are hopelessly obsessive wit luck. Whether you are the tormented type or a very down-to-earth fellow, I suspect you are all ‘forcing’ luck into your friends’ lives by using the common good luck wishes.

Ferry trip from Civitavecchia to Olbia – not simple to reach Sardinia from Romania

At the harbour a gigantic replica of the famous V-J Day Times Square kiss

So many countries, so many customs... I’ve always considered the theatrical jargon “break a leg” to be one of the most original good luck wishes, until I recently came across with the Italian version: “In bocca al lupo”, literally meaning – into the wolf’s snout! Not sure about the expression’s etymology though; it might be an incentive to go ahead with the most dangerous endeavors. In any case, if you don’t want the wish to rebound upon you, you should definitely answer “Crepi il lupo”, ad litteram – may the wolf crack!

There are no wolves or any other dodgy animals in Sardinia, but there is a special guardian looking over the entire Porto Mannu’s bay: a bear! Don’t worry, it won’t chase you, since the wild creature is actually ... a huge rock, which resembles the aforementioned species. That explains the name given by the locals to this region: “Capo d’Orso” (the bear’s cape), the place which hosted a beautiful chess tournament – Porto Mannu 2013.

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The beautiful residence hotel in Porto Mannu

Curious by nature, the first thing that had to be ticked on my to do list was exploring this gigantic bear shaped stone, literally reaching in the bear’s snout (in bocca all ‘Orso). It proved to be good enough for a successful and enjoyable tournament, although the millenary rock would hardly crack to avoid any sudden bad luck?


The bear of Porto Mannu up close ...

... and a view from under its belly

Our intrepid author Alina L'Ami climbs a bear in Sardinia

No matter how satisfied I was for my own enrichment, being it cultural, emotional or chess wise, my attention has been inevitably dragged to the fierce struggle for first place. After a hazy start of the tournament, the fight gradually became a shoulder to shoulder combat between the Italian talent Axel Rombaldoni and his former trainer, Mihail Marin.

Italian talent IM Axel Rombaldoni

Romanian GM Mihail Marin, playing (and beating) Arianne Caoili

The Romanian grandmaster won the direct encounter, but Axel fought back with a series of brilliant tactical wins and scored one point after another, without any draws at all until the last round (which happened to be against yours truly!). Eventually, the youth impetus prevailed over experience with only one Bucholz point in the final tiebreak. But for Axel, more important than having one more won tournament in his portfolio, was securing the GM title, with his third and final norm.

French GM Fabien Libiszeewski, who was beaten by ...

... Alex Rombaldoni in a beautiful tactical encounter

Top final standings (5.5/9 or higher)

Pos Title Name Rtg Pts BucT S-B PRtg
1 IM Rombaldoni Axel 2484 7.5 55.5 44.75 2655
2 GM Marin Mihail 2549 7.5 54.5 44.75 2649
3 GM Libiszewski Fabien 2520 6.5 55.0 37.75 2516
4 WGM L'ami Alina 2345 6.5 53.0 36.25 2415
5 GM Rowson Jonathan 2574 6.0 52.5 38.00 2460
6 FM Bonafede Alessandro 2353 6.0 51.5 31.00 2291
7 WIM Caoili Arianne 2219 6.0 51.0 29.50 2319
8 IM Lanzani Mario 2303 6.0 50.0 29.75 2332
9 IM Loeffler Stefan 2425 6.0 48.0 28.75 2291
10 GM Tischbierek Raj 2426 5.5 54.0 30.75 2326
11 -- Kyas Juergen 2198 5.5 48.5 27.75 2206
12 -- Nohr Finn 2100 5.5 47.0 26.75 2127
13 -- Tommasini Enzo 2161 5.5 46.0 26.00 2226
14 -- Cardili Mariano 2131 5.5 45.5 26.25 2112
15 FM Esposito Luca 2297 5.5 45.5 24.75 2112
16 -- Sprotte Norbert 2144 5.5 44.0 24.50 2129
17 -- Grinblat Artemiy 2004 5.5 43.5 23.50 2118
18 -- Puzko Danila 2018 5.5 42.5 23.75 2197
19 -- Murgia Andrea 1984 5.5 41.5 24.75 2028
20 -- Hajenius Willem 1909 5.5 40.5 23.25 2019
21 -- Virzi Ettore 1963 5.5 40.0 22.75 2025
22 -- Murray Jim G. 1845 5.5 38.0 26.50 2004

The winners with their trophies: Mihail Marin, Axel Rombaldoni and Fabien Libiszewski

The great performance of the Italian (who reminds many of Tom Cruise, the Mission Impossible guy) was not necessarily connected with a Spartan life style. On the contrary, Axel found the perfect balance between leisure and hard work, which is easier said than done, especially in a place like Porto Mannu! That’s because in this chess player’s paradise, one will surely get trapped in the escapeless deadlock, between Scylla and Charybdis… on the horns of such a dilemma, what would you choose: chess without any distractions or the irresistible beach life? How could one focus when the nature is calling for you?!

Another interesting participant, Arianne Caoili (above), is an extraordinary and very intelligent young lady who is working as a consultant for government clients. She is an expert in economics and travels more than Levon himself! She has the option of getting a PhD in Economics at Oxford, but rather likes her current job and all the travel involved.

The beauty of the venue had a redoubtable competitor: besides the challenging playing times there were free lectures pursued with fervor by many of the participants, to the injury of the sun or the sea… There was no other option when the lecturer’s name is (no kidding!) Levon Aronian, who was also officially working as a second to his girlfriend...

Arianna's second Levon Aronian (!) delivers a morning lecture to a packed audience

A view of the beautiful tournament hall

Top seed GM Jonathan Rowson from Scotland

GM Raj Tischbierek, editor-in-chief of the German magazine 'Schach'

Bughouse competitions could be enjoyed in the evening, there was a round by round betting game on the tournament results (called… Toto Mannu), games were followed by friendly analysis over a beer (or two!) with the opponents – a real diversity of activities and the perfect ingredients for a typical delicious Italian recipe. For the professionals and results seekers, the accelerated swiss pairing system until round seven was a true motivating factor to fight till you drop for the beloved norms.

Evening fun: bughouse chess with Levon, Arianne, Jonathan and organizer, Yuri Garrett

Jonathan Rowson asking for silence during the bughouse actions

As for myself, besides the chess factor, I was delighted to deepen my knowledge of the lovely Italian culture. There is hardly anything that can entice your senses more than the old Italy, with its dizzying flavors of basil, garlic and tomatoes, with its parmesan pasta and desserts that lure you into the dolce far niente… even if you’re not a gourmand yet, you would surely become one here!

The tournament winner (sans five-day beard) with organiseer Yuri Garrett and
sponsor Stefano Lupini, who was also an active correspondence chess player

Jubilation: Alex and Juri celebrate the win and Alex's GM title

But what impressed me most was the small team of organization. Just a hand of people succeeded in creating from the rather heterogeneous chess community a true chess family! Just one small example to support my conclusion: it took me half an hour of kisses and goodbyes before I managed to jump into my taxi.

Wonderful hosts and generous sponsors of the tournament: Alessandra Ariotto and Stefano Lupini

The wolves or the Sardinian bear may not always keep their mouths open for the fulfillment of the typical Italian wish but I feel that Alessandra’s and Stefano's arms will permanently be wide open to welcome you!

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