Kissing the stone for luck.
The first round in the tournament had to start at 8 p.m. on 26-th of March, so I took the advice given by the locals to go to Blarney. It is a small town, situated some ten kilometers away from Cork, where a noble old castle is the main attraction. The guys told me that there is a stone that brings luck if you kiss it, I could not miss this before the tournament for sure; it was not easy though, and there is some risk for the ordinary chess player…
The thing that they did not explain to me at the beginning is that kissing the stone also means that you get that gift of speaking too many things without saying anything, rubbish to put it mildly…there is even such a word in the English language, and it comes precisely from that place. The story tells that it was the Queen who addressed the word to a noble called Blarney, and it started its existence since then.
Anyway the place was wonderful, with some old buildings, druid and witch stones, wonderful lake, some funny animals and lots of flowers.
There were three tournaments altogether, although the participants were a bit less than expected.
The event started without big surprises, and up to the fourth round the top seeded four players in the “A” open had full amount of points. I should admit that in round three the Blarney stone did quite a good job in my game against Philip Short- a five-time Cork champion and local legend when he blundered in the time trouble in winning endgame.
Before the final round I managed somehow to get half a point advance and the white pieces against Alex Baburin in the final one. Alex is a strong Russian player who lives for seventeen years already in Ireland, and represents the country. He was not in his best form though, and could not show the best of his play. We drew our encounter, and this gave a chance for two players more to tie for the first- Alex Lopez, young Spanish player who lives in Cork, and Bogdan Lalic. The former one had the habit of coming late at least 10-15 minutes for the game, but I managed finally to take a picture of him at the closing ceremony.
There was a small surprise before the closing ceremony, since the top two players in each group had to place an “Armageddon” blitz game to define the winner. In group “C” there was a four way-tie for the top, but only the best two played a game. One important thing was that the games were “friendly”- which means that you can touch any piece that you want, and even take your move back before you press the clock. In case of a draw, a second game would have taken place. The calmer young player won the blitz game in the “C” tournament.
“B” tournament saw a clear winner, so there was no match. However, our cute organizer Michael Bradley, after a first-game bye due to the organizational stuff managed to score 4/5 in the remaining games, and to tie for the second place. “Connections, what to do”, explained he at the ceremony, presenting the price for himself. By the way, he is from Blarney himself, do not be astonished.
From our three-way tie Alex Lopez had the worst criteria, and did not play. I chose the white pieces (remember the stone?), and was lucky enough to win the game. I received the chance to make some pictures with the wonderful cup, and the promise to defend the title the next year.
However, the thing that I am most proud of are the remarks of two of the local players who took part in the Tactical Lecture on Thursday, one day before the tournament- that they managed to win one game each thanks to the knowledge they got that night.
Next stop- Australia.