April 20, 2011

Thailand Chess Open

Pattaya - the great host of the Thailand Open Chess Championship

"There is no place like home"...a favourite quote amongst many chess players. We are travelling so much and so often that we could almost say our life is based on buses, flights and trains schedules. Being awake for many hours in a row, dragging your heavy luggage and facing many unforeseen events, is part of the whole package, usually not a very easy affair:) So when you are finally back home, preferably with some extra rating points, money or a trophee, you cannot be happier than that. Right?! 
But still...when the tournament was organized according to the highest standards, when the place where it was held was an incredibly beautiful one, you just can't stop wondering how come time went away so fast. New friends, wonderful memories, new experiences, you miss them all, as if you left a piece of you behind. At least this is how I feel, when I look back to the tournament which just finished 3 days ago.

You will understand my point of view when I will further say that the tournament was called: "Thailand Open Chess Championship", held in Pattaya this year, between 11th and 17th of April. With a starting list counting 10 GM's, of which 4 players were above 2600 and one above 2700, with a total number of 141 players, held in a fantastic 5 stars resort, Dusit Thani Pattaya, the competition had all necessary ingredients for a successful edition.

Dusit Thani Pattaya, the luxury hotel which
hosted the tournament.

Some of the invited players, organizers, sponsors,
arbiters, gather together for a delicious dinner!

And it is not just me to say this, a true-born traveler, delighted to play the best game ever in an exotic place like Thailand. The professional chess players who usually go to bed late in the night, after checking all possible lines (what else?!:), had the same thoughts, despite the tough tournament's schedule.
We  had double rounds in two consecutive days and three games starting at 9 o'clock in the morning:) In combination with the jet lag, this was definitely not the best news ever for nights owls like chess players, but it seemed that we all adjusted and that we all had a great time. In fact, Jan Gustafsson, the winner of this year's edition, mentioned in his speech in the closing ceremony that he trully enjoyed the tournament and that he will overlook the morning rounds, a detail of which he was not very happy of, but the entire organization as a whole fully compensated. You can read Jan's impressions on his website and if you are lucky to speak German, you will surely enjoy his sharp and funny comments:)

The winners!
Photo: Ian Rogers.

The final ranking after 9 rounds can be seen on chess-results, with the 1st place being shared between the first three top seeds, almost according to rating, just the order is the other way around:

1. Jan Gustafsson           2647
2. Nigel Short                 2676
3. Francisco Vallejo Pons  2707

All three scored 7.5 out of 9 games, but the final standings have been displayed according to the "thai-break" as the players like to say:)

The critical moment in the tournament, when the winner has been more or less decided, came in the seventh round, in the game between Nigel Short and Jan Gustafsson.

Short vs Gustafsson
Photo: chessvibes.

You can enjoy the game's analysis by the top GM Jan Gustafsson here! Next day after the game, during breakfast, Nigel was telling me that he just wanted to play his chance, he was having White, it was just one round that day, so he declined a legitimate draw offer. A loss came afterwards but I admire his attitude and the fact that he didn't lose his motivation after playing chess for so many years!

Another important aspect which shouldn't be forgotten was the almost perfect organization and the tremendous amount of work the organizers invested in the tournament.

This is just a part of my fantastic room!
There was also a living room, a dress room,
another huge TV, plenty of mirrors and amenities. 

Rainforest in the middle of our hotel!
On the right side you can see where we were
having breakfast:) 

Lots of swimming pools around the hotel.

Tournament hall

The hotel was absolutely amazing, I think the best one I've ever had, the playing hall was capable to suit everyone's needs and their efforts to please everybody were visible through many details. As a small sample I will tell you that we all received a survey to give our opinions on several questions, to make the next Thailand Open even a better one! All suggestions were taken into consideration and now I am wondering where the next edition will be held, if it will be Bangkok or another place. 
One should know that Thailand has so much to offer - no matter how many times you visit this country, you will always discover new things and you will always want to come back! This is the principle that guides the organizers as well, in their decision to choose different places for the tournament. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket or Pattaya, bring diversion for the players who already attended the tournament and it makes it alive and fresh every single time! And for those who have never been to Thailand...I think it's the right moment to search some flights and plan in advance:)

For me personally...I might have even brighter memories than other players. The 26 elo points that I gained came just on time, after losing so much rating in the previous 2 tournaments: Romanian and European championships. I was even very close to make my second IM norm, but it was not to be, for now!
I loved Thailand, I was very happy to be there and probably this might have influenced my games as well. I will publish more in the next coming days about my Thai adventures, but for now this is it. Looking forward to share more tomorrow!

La-gon! (Goodbye:)


  1. http://szacharnia.blogspot.com

  2. wonderful insight about this tournament you played in. thanks a lot

  3. Congratulations to the winner, I hope to join next time. Thanks.

  4. That looks like a lot of fun, I hope I'd be able to go to these types of tournaments when I visit Thailand. Thanks.

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