July 15, 2011

34th International Open Barbera del Valles

Back to my Dutch home: it's time to draw a few conclusions after the tournament which just finished. From 4th of July until 12th, I've been playing in Barbera del Valles, Spain, and, for the first time, I can say: well...it was not bad at all:) A GM norm and a plus of 48 elo points, is more than I could have dreamed of.

I am quite ambitious and, just like any other player, I can be pretty intransigent when it comes to my achievements. Somehow, a strange but normal psychological reaction was happening within myself before: whenever I was winning, I tended to think: of course, it's the logical outcome for my hard work, I deserve it (minimizing the result); whenever I was losing - this is not fair, I was much better etc...thus, the happiness I was experiencing was never equalizing the sad moments. And to be honest, it's not so much fun to think this way. So, after this tournament, I realized once again, that I should enjoy those moments, of playing well, there's nothing wrong about that. It's not a sign of lack of modesty, it's simply a matter of respecting yourself and your work. Anyway, we all know that sooner or later we'll be facing again tough times, of bad tournaments or sudden shut downs of our brain. So why not indulcing yourself just a little bit longer?! Of course...not too long. I'll be playing again next week, in Dieren, Holland, and I wouldn't like to deepen into an undesirable side effect: too much confidence. Every single tournament is different, who knows what will happen next? Besides, if you take a closer look at your games, you will always discover that you have a LOT to improve.
For the moment though, I choose to enjoy the wonderful result and to share with you a bit from the event which is already becoming history.

There are tournaments where, no matter how well you play, you just cannot gain your points! Or, on the contrary, you don't play at your best, but, for some mysterious reasons, you win game after game. In Barbera del Valles I was somewhere in the middle: I had some luck, some badluck as well, chances which I grabbed straight away, or others that evaporated. But the final result was an excellent one. What or whom should be "blamed" for that?! If only I could know...if it's the Spain's sun, their great Sangria or Horchata, the support I felt from everybody, my husband's help, the fact that I had no pressure or a combination of all - I don't know. I can only say that I trully enjoyed playing chess, facing GM after GM was not easy, but so challenging...I was focused and I didn't let my thoughts to fly elsewhere. I shouldn't overlook the work invested into the pre-game preparation, something like...at least 3 hours?! It's surely not recommended, I am very tired now, but it worked for me this time. It is wonderful to play chess for the sake of chess. Is it so difficult to "trick" yourself into feeling this way each and every single tournament?!

Underneath you have a selection from my over the board experiences:

First game was played with the tournament's winner, in the second round. After a tough fight, a draw was agreed. There were chances on both sides, but practically speaking, it's not so easy as the computer might say. 
The critical moment appeared on move 24, when I suddenly decided to be very agressive and played 24...d5. Objectively, this move is a bit over ambitious, but back than, I just couldn't find the refutation. And my opponent couldn't either. Now I know that the only way that White could have claimed advantage was: 27.Qc3 instead of 27.Qd2. But over the board, White's position looked quite dangerous and it's highly possible to go wrong. 

In round 6, I was facing with Black the Spanish GM Arizmendi Martinez. I prepared a lot that game and I was rewarded for that, when the following position appeared on the board: 

My last move was 16...Be6 preparing a positional trap, in which White has fallen into:
17.Nxe6 Nxe6 18.Qxd5 Bxc3 19.bxc3

19...Ncd4! 20.Bc4 Qxd5 21.Bxd5 Ne2+ 22.Kf1 Nxc3 and Black's position was preferable. Finally, the game was drawn, giving me more and more confidence.

And that could be seen immediately, in the 7th round, when I played a game which still makes me smile of pleasure:) Again, I prepared a lot for it, but it was worth! The move combination: 9.e5 and 10.Bg5 gave Black a hard time and I won a beautiful game in 26 moves. Li Chao has played this against Le Quang Liem in Tata Steel Chess Tournament, 2011 - my source of inspiration.

Another nice moment, for me, appeared in the game against Ibarra Jerrez Juan Carlos (2530). I was White and I was already running out of time...when a trick just entered my calculations: 25.f5

My opponent was probably not patient enough and overlooked the idea behind my pawn sacrifice...and he just took it.

25...gxf5 26.gxf5 Bxf5? 27.Bc6! this was my idea and I was very happy to play it:) Black cannot take because of 28.Nxf5 and Ne7 or Qg7.

Instead of taking with the bishop on f5, Black should have sacrificed an exchange: 26...Rxg2 with an unclear position and chances for both sides.

In the game was played: 27...Qe6 28.Bd5 Qd7 29.Bf7+ Kh8 30.e6 with a completely winning position for White. The game continued for a long time afterwards, because I decided to give myself some extra headaches, but eventually I managed to win.

Beautiful memories...if, not all tournaments, but the majority, would look like this one...but yes, I know, it's rather difficult. In any case, I enjoyed every single bit of it!

Playing against Kiril Georgiev. It's the only game I lost,
but I was happy to face such a strong player!

Protecting my treasure: Sangria!

On the beach, in Barcelona

Not everybody likes it, but I find it very tasty: Horchata

Receiving the GM norm

UPDATE: Just received a video from Josep Farell Duran, a nice overview on the tournament.

Open Barberà 2011 from Josep Farell on Vimeo.

That was it.
Hasta la proxima!

1. Detailed results
2. Official website


  1. Bravo!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Very nice and interesting combinations.


    Ya ers una SGM te lo mereces !!!
    desde Colombia te seguimos y apoyamos !!!

  3. http://queensofchess.blogspot.com/2011/07/xxxiv-open-int-de-barbera-del-valles.html

  4. Proficiat! Bravo, Alina, si mult succes la urmatorul turneu.

  5. FYI, the latest version of your javascript chessboard viewer supports showing variations, if you enter your notes in the PGN data, the chessboard will show the variations, like this:

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