27 May: Rest day – Moscow is Moscow

Posted in Chess Tigers on Tour, Moscow, Strange things with tags , , on May 27, 2012 by Chessurfer

Sunday, 27 May was another rest day (the last one?) and after staying more than three weeks in Moscow, it is about time to show you some of my impressions from the Russian capital. Initially I started the blog for my family, friends and colleagues back home: I occassionaly wanted to show a few impressions from Moscow, but after shooting so many pictures during the opening and the inspection of the playing hall, I thought it might be nice to share some of the background information of the match with more people. And I thank you for the positive feedback.

As I do with the chess related pictures, I do not want to show you the normal tourist shots, but just a few strange and beautiful things I saw.  I explored the streets of Moscow with Anand’s delegation leader Hans-Walter Schmitt, on a couple of days our wives accompanied us, on other days a few friends came along. HWS has posted many pictures on the Chess Tigers website: http://www.chesstigers.de/

Moscow is Moscow, what can I say? Enjoy!

Impressions from Moscow 

In case you missed this picture: on our first day in Moscow, we saw this car and we were wondering if this is an ambulance. We found out that it is a repair service for rims. The car certainly gets much attention in Moscow and we saw some more service cars during our stay.

This car owner should call the above mentioned number.

Talking about cars: on the first night of our stay we were wondering what the hell was going on on the Red Square that night, and it turned out that more than 14.000 servicemen were rehearsing for the Victory Parade on 9 May. It was an odd view to see tanks crossing the street, just before our windows.

Marching through the streets. There was another rehearsal two days later, that started Sundaymorning at 8 AM!

These young lads were marching with a bottle of vodka or beer in their hands on 9 May, the day of the Victory parade.

On the way from the hotel to the Tretyakov Gallery, a 10 minute walk, I saw many happy newly wed couples and I finally understand why these grooms are carrying their brides. The girls must have ankle fractures, because…

… Moscow girls stubbornly wear stiletto heels! And it is not easy walking with these shoes on the streets of Moscow. Respect to them!

 This does not look healthy. As an orthopedist, you can make a fortune in Moscow!

This is a crazy theme park near Hotel Cosmos. The last time I visited Moscow, in1993, it was a beautiful quiet park with nice buildings, a bit strange though.  Now it is a funfair, with loud music everywhere, a go-kart track and all kinds of sub-stuff. I was a bit disappointed.

Odd couple: Hans-Walter Schmitt and Peter Doggers had a good time in the park.

Also a strange sight during a boat tour on the Moskva river: a Russian Space Shuttle on a ferry boat. And no, it is not a photo composition.

This gentleman voluntarily posed for us in the beautiful Novodevichy Convent. A must-see. (I mean, the convent)

We did not see many animals in the streets. HWS is making a picture of the only cat we saw in three weeks. There are many Chinese restaurants in Moscow, though.

There are many parks in Moscow, with beautiful flowers.

Moon over Moscow – one last stroll before going to sleep.


26 May: Behind the scenes – part 2 (VIPs and Grandmasters)

Posted in Chess Tigers on Tour, press with tags , , , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by Chessurfer

After the chess and football and chess and art articles it is about time to take a look in the VIP and pressroom again. When the most important event on the chess calender 2012 takes place in the center of the chess world, it is no surpise that many VIPS and grandmasters step by the Tretyakov gallery to take a look, socialize,shake hands, meet old friends, comment to the game and to have a drink or two.

At most days, the playing hall is overcrowded, but there are some neat “public viewing” areas in the Tretyakov, where people can watch the games, listen to the commentary and talk about the games. As you can see, these areas are very popular.

Meanwhile, in the VIP room, you can follow the games, get a drink and a snack or take  a nap. Following the games is exhausting for some  guests…

…whereas the journalists and photographers in the press room perform a “journo shuffle” to get the best spot. You can see Cathy Rogers (Australia) elegantly performing the shuffle before the eyes of  official match photographer Anastasiya Karlovich. The Dutch jury gives 12 points.

A VIP giving a press conference on “Chess and Terror”Edvard Stanislavovich Radzinsky (Russian: Э́двард Станисла́вович Радзи́нский). He is a Russian playwright, writer, TV personality, and film screenwriter. He is also known as an author of more than forty popular history books.

Another guest at the press conference last week: Anatoly Karpov, who celebrated his 61st birthday on 23 May.

After the press conference, Karpov was invited in the studio to chat about the game and his career with host Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam and Hungarian Super Grandmaster Peter Leko. According to the expression on Karpov’s face, this was one of the most exciting games of the match!

One for the girls: Ian Aleksandrovich Nepomniachtchi (Russian: Ян Непо́мнящий; born July 14, 1990), current ELO 2716. Ian has a very difficult last name and I will never get used to it, although I met Ian at various Chess Classic tournaments in Mainz and had to write down his name very often, since he won the Ordix Open in Mainz 2008.

Here is an old “Nepo” picture I shot in Mainz during the Chess Classic 2008. Nepo is much easier to write, pronounce and to remember… He was wearing his lucky sweatshirt during the event.

After the press conference Ian played several blitz games with Maria Fominykh, under the critical eye of a 7- year old kibitzer.

Maria’s boyfriend, GM Alexander Morozevich doing an interview for ChessVibes with Peter Doggers.

Enter Garry Kimovich Kasparov for the press conference, having a quick chat with the legendary Russian coach Boris Postovsky. What is the security gorilla in the back looking at?

FIDE president Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov sharing the latest news of the Alien Conference 2012 in Moscow with Russian chess journalist Yuri Vassiliev, Sport Express.

All smiles: FIDE Vice President Boris Kutin (Slovenia) and Anna Sharevich (Belarus). Kutin is member of the Appeals Committee.

Peter & Peter discussing the games. Peter Svidler took his sons to the Tretyakov on two match days.

The Svidler twins Nikita and Daniel met Aruna and Vishy Anand after one of the games.

One of the strongest chess couples in the world: Robert Fontaine and Ekaterina Lagno.

And one of the strongest players in the world dropped by for a quick stop on Saturday: Levon Aronian. Levon will play the Tal Memorial in Moscow, which will be played almost immediately after the world championship match from 7-19 June.

I’ll leave you today with the “Moon over Moscow”: a quiet Saturday night in the streets and on the Moskva River.  The Russians are all watching the babushki at the European Song Contest in Baku.

25 May: Searching for the original

Posted in art, Chess Tigers on Tour, football, Strange things, Tretyakov with tags , , , , , , on May 25, 2012 by Chessurfer

In an earlier post I wrote about Viktor Popkov’s painting “The team is resting” , the art symbol of the 2012 match. Today, on the restday Hans Walter Schmitt and I decided that we wanted to see the original painting and we were told that should go to the Gallery at 10, Krymsky Val for the real thing.

But first we had to do some shopping…

…and since we needed a lot of mineral water for “our boys” as we fondly call Vishy and his seconds, we decided to take the red car today.

We just had difficulties to park the car.

Since we are regular customers of “Atak” supermarket, HWS is allowed to use the ladder.

After our shopping spree and another hazardous drive through Moscow traffic, we walked from the hotel to the Gallery at Krymsky Val, a 30 minute stroll. Since the weather was fine, sunny and not too hot, we made several photo stops, so it took us about an hour to get there.

The Peter the Great Statue was designed by the Georgian designer Zurab Tsereteli to commemorate 300 years of the Russian Navy, which was started by Peter I of Russia. At 94 metres, it is the eighth tallest statue in the world. In November 2008, it was voted the tenth ugliest building in the world by Virtual Tourist. In 2010, it was included in a list of the world’s ugliest statues by Foreign Policy magazine.

And we also spotted some flying umbrellas. Moscow is a strange city sometimes.

Triumph of Caïssa

Despite the fine weather, we entered the museum, certainly one of the ugliest buildings in Moscow, but on the inside it is a different story. We bought a photo permission (entry was free with the world championship badge) and started searching for the original Popkov painting. There was an extra interesting exhibition for chess lovers in the museum, that runs through 3 June:  Triumph of Caïssa, dedication to Marcel Duchamp.

From the Tretyakov website: “The State Tretyakov Gallery’s section of contemporary art presents special exhibition project in scope of the “Museum night 2012” and the World Chess Championship. This project is is timed to the World Chess Championship Match and dedicated to Marcel Duchamp. One of the most influential artists of the XXth century, Duchamp was an able chess player.  He claimed that his ardour for chess should be taken as a part of his creative work: “While not all artists are chess players, all chess players are artists”.

So we started the tour with a 3D chess animation in a TV set…

…and a big chess board painting in the lobby.

Then we noticed this row of chairs, with chess pieces on them, and when you look carefully…

…you can see that the chairs are resting on tennis balls! It is soooooo tempting to take a ball….

The white and black king at the end of the row of chairs, on the highest pile of tennis balls.

But we had not found our painting yet, although we saw some famous pieces of chess art in the collection, when strolling through the art gallery. This is the table of constructivist Alexander Rodchenko.

And we actually did not find it. The museum staff shrugged their shoulders, when we asked where the painting was. They suggested us to go to the main building where the chess match takes place and ask there.

And HWS really got angry, after searching for hours without seeing the painting. Thank god he found a punching bag.

I did not get mad, but decided to” improve” this piece of art. What is wrong in this picture? Please comment!

After a final stroll through the museum, it was even too late to visit the friendly football match Russia-Uruguay, to see how our new friends Dick Advocaat and Bert van Lingen would do.

Ha, there he is, doing a TV interview before the game. The game ended 1-1.

And we will continue our search for the original…

25 May: Lucky man

Posted in cartoon, stiefel on May 25, 2012 by Chessurfer

Only two more games to go in the 2012 FIDE world chess championship…the factor “luck” will possibly play an important role in the last regular games and maybe in the tie-break. Our cartoonist Frank Stiefel created this new cartoon of the “lucky man“. How many symbols of luck do you discover?

Explanation of the symbols. 

The four-leaf clover is an uncommon variation of the common, three-leaved clover. According to tradition, such leaves bring good luck to their finders, especially if found accidentally. According to legend, each leaf represents something: the first is for faith, the second is for hope, the third is for love, and the fourth is for luck.

The tradition that pigs bring good luck — especially at the New Year — is apparently Teutonic in origin; it certainly did not originate in Jewish or Arabic cultures where pig flesh was a forbidden food. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the image of a white pig (almost never a spotted, belted, or brown breed) is used as a lucky charm in Germany, Austria, England, and Ireland, as well as among Anglo-Americans.

And what about our “lucky man in the cartoon, the Chimney Sweep?  This custom started about two hundred years ago, when a London Chimney Sweep saved the life of King George 11. The Sweep had been the only person brave enough to step forward when the King’s coach and horse’s bolted, the Chimney Sweeper pulled up the horses and saved the monarch. The King was so pleased that he made an announcement by Royal Decree declaring that all Chimney Sweeps are good luck bearers and must be treated with respect. The folklore was established and to this day Chimney Sweeps are still considered Lucky and are invited to attend Weddings to kiss the Bride.

24 may: Happy birthday Peter Heine Nielsen!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 24, 2012 by Chessurfer

Happy birthday Peter Heine Nielsen! The second for Vishy Anand celebrated his 39th birthday today.

Tillykke med fodselsdagen! 

Nielsen, born in Holstebro, Denmark became an International Grandmaster in 1994. He won the Danish Chess Championship five times: in 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2008. He played for Denmark in seven Chess Olympiads, three times on top board, with an overall result of 60.1% (+24 −10 =35). He won an individual gold medal on third board at Moscow 1994.  His current rating is 2665, number 87 of the world. If you want to play through some of his games, go here: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=11670.

After the 10th game, “PH” invited us over in the laboratory for a piece of birthday cake! Big guy, small cake. Thanks!

24 May: Chess and football in the Kempinksi

Posted in Chess Tigers on Tour, football with tags , , on May 24, 2012 by Chessurfer

Football is like chess,only without the dice“. This ultimate piece of football logic, the profoundest of the profound, even made it to one of Germany’s biggest news portals, Spiegel Online (http://www.spiegel.de/).

“As any devotee of the game will tell you,” the Spiegel writes, “footballers do not always make complete sense in their utterances. Perhaps it is the endorphins rattling around their system, or the sheer exhaustion of running around for 90 minutes. In any case, one can only regard such nonsensical statements with awe and wonder if they, like Zen Buddhism’s paradoxical koans, work on an intuitive level that transcends rational thought. This piece of Dadaist genius is attributed to Lukas Podolski, who will play on the German side in Euro 2012. He appeared to be channeling Yogi Berra when he came up with this instant classic from the ‘like a fish needs a bicycle’ school.”

German striker and dadaist genius Lukas Podolski.  Picture taken from his official website http://www.lukas-podolski.com/. “Poldi” will play for Arsenal London next season and we cannot wait for more linguistic gems.

Press conference with team manager Dick Advocaat

Quite a fuss in our hotel today! As I reported earlier, the Russian football team stays in the Baltschug Kempinksi this week, preparing for the EURO 2012, which will be hosted by Poland and Ukraine between 8 June and 1 July. The team is in the final stages of their preparation in Russia and after their friendly game against Uruguay on Friday in Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, they will travel to Switzerland and later to Poland. The Russian squad will face Greece, Poland and the Czech Republic in the group stage.

The home jersey of the Russian team.

At 11.00 an open press conference took place in the Kempinksi, so Hans-Walter Schmitt, Dirk-Jan ten Geuzendam (New in Chess) and your @Chessurfer went there to take a look. We have met the team manager Dick Advocaat and his Dutch assistants in the hotel on a few occasions (elevator, bar) and chatted a bit about chess and football. Advocaat  knows that the chess world championship is going on in Moscow, and even knows who are playing!

I guess we should follow this sign to get to the press conference?!

And here we are, in an overcrowded room, with TV teams, reporters and photographers. It was a press conference with team manager Dick Advocaat, the press officer and an interpreter. Loads of close-up pictures can be found here: http://www.rfs.ru/main/media/photo/vc36022/2557.html

Look who is sitting in the second row, pointing the camera in my direction: Hans-Walter Schmitt. Nobody can stop the Chess Tigers!

After the 30 minute press conference, in which Advocaat managed to reveal absolutely nothing, HWS asked him to sign a chessboard for our team. That caused some commotion, because several photographers wanted to take a picture. Advocaat: “You want me to sign..what?”

“Yes, Dick (no pun intended) , just sign a chessboard”. Picture courtesy of http://www.rfs.ru.

And we managed: Advocaat and his assistant Bert van Lingen signed the board.

HWS and Bert van Lingen are happy! Bert, you can leave the tickets for the game tomorrow at the reception desk of the hotel. Thanks. Bedankt.

Best friends: your Chessurfer and Dick Advocaat. Picture taken by Dirk-Jan ten Geuzendam.

24 May: Vishy’s fortress

Posted in Anand, cartoon, stiefel with tags , , on May 24, 2012 by Chessurfer

Game 9 was like watching a Barcelona-Chelsea game. A new cartoon by Frank Stiefel.

Vishy Anand, dressed in a Chess Tigers T-shirt is building a fortress in game 9.