January 31, 2011

Tata Steel Chess - Closing ceremony

Tata Steel Chess has come to an end, like all good things - cannot last forever...yesterday we had the closing ceremony and now I am already writing to you from my Dutch home, from Woerden.
I don't know if you have ever felt this, but I always have a "special" relationship with time, during a tournament. To be more specific, I think I am not the only one who loses track of it: is it Monday, Thursday, Sunday maybe?! And which date?! Time enters a different dimension, moving extremely slow sometimes: while waiting for the game to start, after a lost match, or running like crazy: when you're in time trouble, when you discover a hole in your lines and no time to repair it, when you have a free day...all in all, playing chess gives you a wide range of experiences and I think I am not exagerating when I say: you feel like living more lives in only one. The tournament is finished, I don't know when and how come, but it's over. The winners are already known, the last games were decided yesterday...and when I say yesterday, it feels like ages ago, but somehow I am still there...let's see than how the closing ceremony was:

All these people came to watch live the winners!
I would like to see this attitude more often, instead of quickly
packing and running away. To attend the closing ceremony
is not only a nice gesture to all the hard efforts of the organizers
and chess players, but also a strong motivation for your future
career, a good opportunity to speak with people and, the most
important one: take a break! Allow yourself to have some enjoyable time,
after toasting your brains during the tournament:)

The closing ceremony took place in the same very well known tent. In the video you can see the Grandmasters giving autographs to the happy and enthusiastic kids, future GM's! And, of course, they are still speaking about their games:) Couldn't really steal any ideas though...:)

We all gathered together for what it became another tradition: pea soup! Served to all the players and visitors for the 68th time, the pea soup is another sample of how the present and the future are moving into the right direction, after understanding the past. Symbolizing the war times, when people had troubles to find food, erwten soup was a substantial meal, replacing even a main course. Because you cannot let your guest leave with an empty stomach, serving this soup was a gesture of kindness and courtesy for everyone present. 

Waiting for the famous pea soup!

Pea soup is soup made, typically, from dried peas. It is, with variations, a part of the cuisine of many cultures. It is greyish-green or yellow in color depending on the regional variety of peas used.
Erwten soup, also called "snert", is the Dutch version of pea soup. It is a thick stew of green split peas, different cuts of pork, celeriac or stalk celery, onions, leeks, carrots, and often potato. Slices of rookworst ( Dutch smoked sausage) are added a few minutes before serving. The soup, which is traditionally eaten during the winter, is emblematic of Dutch cuisine. The consistency should be such that "you should be able to stand a spoon upright in a good pea soup." To be honest, I didn't try the "spoon trick" but I can tell you it was very good:) It is customarily served with rye bread (roggerbrood) and bacon, cheese or butter (see the picture). But no one will punish you if you use French bread instead of rye bread:) 

Everybody is enjoying the erwten soup!
A special moment in the closing ceremony arised when the organizers offered their recognition to Johan van Hulst, who just turned 100!!! Maybe you didn't hear of him, if you are not Dutch.
Van Hulst has served as a politician at several levels. From 1956 until 1981 he was a member of the Dutch Senate. From 1961 until 1968 he was a member of the European Parliament and from 1969 until 1972 he was chairman of the Christian Historical Union (CHU). From 1972 until 1981 Van Hulst was group leader in the Dutch Senate; first for the Christian Historical Union (CHU) and from 1977 on for the Christian Democratic Appeal.
Van Hulst also is a prolific chess player. At the age of 95 he won an event, part of the Corus Chess Tournament, for (former) politicians. He won the tournament again in 2010. On 28 January 2011 Van Hulst celebrated his 100th birthday and he came yesterday to Wijk aan Zee to give a special award.

Wisdom and a whole life of experiences together, on the same stage,
with the enthusiasm and energy that youth can bring:
Van Hulst and Anish Giri, awarded for his more than
promising career!

Winners of the C-group.
Remarkable was Kateryna's performance, winning in the last round a long and tiring game. Dramatic was the fight for the first place, between Daniele Vocaturo and Ilya Nyzhnyk. Daniele needed a draw to become first but Ilya had the game in his hands...but the game is finished only when the scoresheets are signed. Daniele found resources, put problems to his opponent and managed to hold in an incredible tactical fight! My personal respect to Ilya, who analyzed the game afterwards, with no hard feelings, a mature and professional attitude, coming from a boy who's only 14! 

He was also rewarded as a rising international star.

Sebastian Siebrecht giving autographs. All the chess
players were happy to help the children in their search
for the GM's and their signatures:) Sebastian was not
very polite with Tania Sachdev in the last round,
he won the game:)

Luke decided to come back to chess,
a great decision for his career: he will be seen in the
A-Group next year!

The last decisive round, between Luke McShane and David Navara, was
anxiously waited by all chess lovers. Both of them had exactly the same number of points and we were all wondering: who will promote in the A-Group?! There is more news: not only Luke is going to be there next year, but also David, as the organizers happily announced!

Winner of the A-Group: Hikaru Nakamura!
A suprise for some people, a completely normal result for others,
Hikaru is definitely showing he is improving with each and single tournament that goes by. And winning a strong tournament like this one, requires a lot of hard work, a bit of luck, a good physical condition and...as the people from the company like to say: "nerves of steel"!

Winners and journalists.

Ilya is still attracted to chess!
Or...is it because of the special chess set?!
Remember it?! From the competition on Schaaksite.nl,
when you could have won a Rotterdam Chess Set?!

In the middle of the the party, Jan Smeets and Erwin l'Ami had to leave for an interview to one of the biggest radio show, called: "Met het oog op morgen" (With an eye on tomorrow).
As you probably imagine, I also joined them - I took the picture:) But not only that, they even asked me something! In Dutch! I was a little bit scared, actually...to be honest, I was really afraid not to missunderstand what the journalist have said! Luckily he was speaking a clear Dutch and I managed to follow the entire conversation and to reply normally but in English.
I can tell you that the GM's did a great job, they had no problems to speak in a relaxed and open way, especially if you consider the following:

  • they played a difficult game in the morning and a long tournament
  • it was almost 24 o'clock
  • they just showed up after taking part in the party - the wine was good:)

What am I supposed to do with that?!:)
After the interview we rushed back to Wijk aan Zee. It was around 1 o'clock and many people were still enjoying the atmosphere:) Unfortunately, my camera didn't cooperate anymore, so I will end my report here:) The chess players were having a great time though:)

Until the next time!


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