Wijk aan Zee: the pictures and their stories (1/2)

by Alina l'Ami
1/23/2015 – While the readers will no doubt have enjoyed and appreciated the fine photographic work provided by Alina L'Ami in our reports, there were many that never made the cut simply because they did not fit anywhere specifically. It is often assumed that the photographer's work is just a good camera, a good eye, and lucky timing. Not so! Here are some wonderful pictures and their stories.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


The funnier the face, the happier the photographer

I just love when chess players do not care if the photographer is there...usually it is quite difficult (for me) to give some dynamic to a rather static chess, so when I have strange/funny/out of the ordinary faces, I am just thrilled! And chess players should also accept and understand that media loves this, that they don't look strange nor ridiculous - on the contrary; it is a huge help for the game since these are the things that sell...and not the poker faces.

"This baby is mine!"

This one I made in the third rest day but the players have no rest day at all! I was quite shocked and (unpleasantly) surprised that Magnus & Co. had planned a basketball session at 10AM! (Ed: Try following some football-mad chess players until 2AM) So yes, unfortunately chess players are not all night owls. On the other hand, I wouldn't have liked to miss it and I was right: it was so much fun to watch them live! Perhaps next time I will use and master flash photography, since indoors sports photography is quite challenging.

Everybody loves Wijk aan Zee

The heart of Wijk aan Zee, a small Dutch village that turns into the chess capital for three weeks

Not a fantastic shot but I started to laugh at the thought: "Team building"

I was kind of worried Magnus will shoot straight into my lenses, but everything and
anything for a good shot! Besides, I trusted Magnus' sports skills and I was not wrong.

From the same football series: I personally didn't expect to see MVL with short trousers, certainly
not in winter time in Wijk aan Zee! It is really cold and windy and rainy and misty and simply unpleasant
at times; but the atmosphere remains warm, even during on and off the board fights.

So nice to see chess players enjoying their time...the Tata Steel Management evening is back and the
Dutch GM David Klein, who gave the usual simul against the Tata Steel people, had a rough time. The
reason is that he had to face all the GMs together, who "secretly" worked against him. I particularly liked
Fabiano's expression that, together with Salem's, made my day - I smile every time I look at this photo.

The only quiet and still public moment that Magnus has here...oh well, minus yours truly, the photographer.
Trust me, journalists and photographers are like vultures, diving into their prey...this photo is right before
the Opening ceremony, where Magnus was probably wondering how can he keep the media away.

This shot is quite liked by many - you have the recipe for success: the two world champions and the
local hero...plus the artists that made a great show during the opening ceremony. And I liked it too, it
is glamorous, it has all the ingredients: my personal preference is for less posing and more paparazzi
style, when they don't know (or they forget) I am there. This shot is sort of doing just that, since they
don't look into my camera. I have mixed feelings about it, but this is good, it keeps my interest alive.

The law of the jungle

I will always start laughing with this one, with a squeeze of heart, too....I am not a daring person, I am quite shy in fact, but sometimes when I am into something, no matter what that is, I go all in...so of course, I paid more attention to my composition than to all the other photographers. As a result, I destroyed all their shots, since they ended up with me in the middle of their photos, on the stage, facing them.

I can tell you, the comments that came back were nothing gentle. I was also literally pushed away at times, it is a jungle out there, and one has to fight. I usually leave my knives at home but I learned, the hard way, that one needs to "elbow fight" in case of an emergency...I prefer the nice approach though, so next time I will invest in a wide angle lens (Ed: and some elbow pads just for good measure)

Patience, patience, patience

Brrrrrrrr! That's all I can say. That morning, I looked out, saw the first ray of light in Wijk aan Zee and thought: hmmm, I should under no circumstances leave this opportunity slip away! So I grabbed my camera, rushed out, climbed the necessary hills and then of course: shade, no sun, windy, huge sand storm. I was shivering there, wondering what on earth I am doing, instead on enjoying a cup of tea behind four walls, and I kept on waiting and waiting and waiting...for one hour! And then finally the sun smiled to me on my way back to the room, I had to protect my camera from the huge sand waves, which, for some reasons, were always finding their way into my lens and eyes.

Really lucky with this one. In the picture is Johan van Hulst, a famous politician, World War II hero,
almost 104 years old, and a huge chess fan, right there in my hotel. I had different shots too, but I
preferred this one, with different shades and colours. I can say he is a kind person too, and he even
asked to be immortalized in as many angles as I wanted.

It may look like a lucky shot, to just be there at the right time, but it required some preparation. It also
required multitasking; but mainly: press and shoot...I cheated on this photo, I must admit. Magnus was
clearly not thrilled to lose but not so upset either. I just waited for the right moment to tell the story.

Chess is everywhere in Wijk aan Zee, even in pubs and bars

I am still amazed that Dutch people don't realize how Dutch this lips expression is!
I wonder if it is just me or if everyone feels the same. If you disagree, then what
exactly is this supposed to mean?

This is my favourite by far! I love this shot, especially the long process behind it

It started with the lucky moment when Chucky decided to sit in front of me, on our way to The Hague. Then he leaned on the window, sinking into his own thoughts. He faced Magnus Carlsen that day, precisely during the Tata Steel on Tour.

Then I saw it. I felt there was something in the scene. I don't know if many people feel the same way but I believe they do, and I felt that my fingers had no rest. They had to search for my camera, first to take it out of my bag, then to adjust the settings, then to waiting for the right moment. Then I took the shot! And oops!...bad photo! Why?! First of all, I saw there were horrendous stains on the window, which made the reflections very unappealing; secondly, the background was too light, so Vasil's (he likes to be called Vasil) face in the reflection came out too bright. So I thought: ok, I can fix the these things, but please God, don't wake Chucky up!

I quickly began looking for tissues, napkins, the sleeves of my coat, whatever it took, to clean the window. I sort of managed, the background was still no good. After feeling all my efforts had paid off, I pressed the shutter button...enough to wake Chucky up.  Yikes! What if he asks me to delete the photo? He is known for not liking people photographing him, but to my relief he said: don't worry, it's ok, do what you want. As if I were not already a huge fan.

In The Hague, with all the top GMs...I liked this shot too, despite the lack of a wide angle lens on
my new full-frame camera, luckily on my neck I had hanging my older crop-sensor DSLR with its kit
lens, and thought, "ok, I have to use this one", which saved me in the end.

Making lemonade from lemons

I was so annoyed that morning, that I got up from bed extremely early. I had suffered from horrendous insomnia and was tired and sleepy and grumpy. I then opened the curtains a bit, enough to see outside but not wake Erwin up, and I saw the potential! The light was just incredible and I told myself I would be a moron if I didn't go out in that exact second! So I rushed, pressed the buttons and voila! Sometimes insomnia is good for something.

When imagination, experimentation, and diligence come together

No, I was not bored; it was a rest day and I was experimenting. The toughest part was to find a wine glass in Wijk aan Zee. I mean a wide enough one, to give me the effect. Once I solved this issue, I had problems with reflections, stains and so on. To make a long story short: I needed the shot, despite not having a macro lens: after all, I had enough people staring at: what is this girl doing? So I had to prove it was not in vain. In the end I loved the new, the effect, something different. And I know I am a hopeless case, I will invest in a macro lens, too. I just don't know when exactly...

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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register