22 февраля 2020
The year of 2019 ended with the World Rapid Chess and Blitz Championships in Moscow on the 30th December. One day only remained to the New Year – December 31st. And it is on that day one had to accomplish before the chimes the many urgent things to do that had suddenly emerged the day before like mushrooms after a rain. As the evening was approaching it had become evident that one of those urgent matters – the good intention of making a modest contribution to the coverage of the mentioned championships was – alas-impossible because of the acute time deficit. The wide open but yet empty suitcase was angrily appealing to my conscience reminding me about the long road I had to travel the following day and demanding that it were filled with the necessary and specific contents well in advance and not be furiously stuffed with anything your hands would come across at the last moment before leaving home.
And that also required some time.
The destination was New Zealand,
Auckland and Tauranga, the double-round tournament Trundle Masters and the 127th (!) Chess Championship of New Zealand.
And again I am here – standing at the land´s edge…At the height of New Zealand summer when Russian winter is at its height.
Though small this edge might appear it is well lived
in by the local well-fed and complacent seagulls and their equally well-fed fledglings.
However, for the poor kiwi life is not as sweet as the fruit is. It is rather like that of an unhappy Australian bare-footed and blind orphan who, with tears in his eyes, implores his friends, as well as all the infantry and sailors to buy from him real Soviet, which means excellent, without the hypocritical warning by the Minzdrav (Health Ministry) cigarettes.
And again ships are sailing somewhere…
Since they have where to sail, long and without haste.
So if you sail from Auckland to Moscow, or the other way round it would be merely 16 202 km and one is horrified to imagine how many enjoyable days and night.
Luckily one has a choice between the air and water oceans. Therefore, air was the choice. After the take-off in Moscow the first technical (for an hour and a half) landing was in the major transportation hub of China – Wuhan. The first day of 2020 was, as it should be, filled with excellent mood and glad expectations. Five whole days were to go before the coronavirus quarantine in Wuhan was announced.
The next stopover, the last but one, was in Guangzhou. Here the passengers are given an eight-hour respite. During that time none of them would write a line, enjoying themselves in the local small cafes offering all kinds of Chinese delicacies or in the Macdonald´s restaurants where the customers habitually chewed hamburgers and cheeseburgers.
Now the last start and a 10.5 hours nonstop flight into the pitch darkness between the sky and the water, with stars above and their reflections below,
was safely completed on January the 3rd when our plane landed exactly on time at the airport of the largest city in New Zealand – Auckland, which is surrounded by forty eight extinct volcanoes and which has a population of about a million and a half.
After you have gone through all the post-flight procedures can there be anything better than the elation you experience over the meeting of your friends and the friendly embrace of your good old friends - the New Zealander Mike Steadman and the Australian Darryl Johansen? Of course, not!
To recall the notorious apartment building administrator Barbara Plyushch from the famous Soviet comedy Diamond Arm, not only New York (or Istanbul) are the cities of contrasts, as she asserted. This is also very true of Auckland, which has the area the same as Moscow but the ten times less population.
A view of Auckland from a hill to the right,
A view of Auckland from a hill to the left
And wherever you look everywhere you see the blue of the sky, the azure of the water,
the green of the flora, and the whiteness of the fauna.
And the most desirable souvenir from New Zealand – environmentally friendly, white and fluffy, which warms up your soul and in rainy weather your body, too.
Once upon a time such an ordinary New Zealand picture could also be observed in our country, sung by the Russian poet Sergei Esenin:
In these lines – a song, in these lines-the word
Glad I am in my thoughts about no one
Because any cow can read them
And pay back with her warm milk.
(Sorry for the poor translation, lacking the rhythm and melody of the verses of the great poet)
Therefore it is not accidental that the diary produce of New Zealand is so popular all over the world. That is so simply because it is natural.
Some trees give a shade and a rest,
the others – the fruit and enjoyment.
Even though it is summer outside, but to have a New Year s party without a New Year´s tree (a fir tree in Russia) is the same as to drink a toast without wine. However, praised be dear Misha and his good works (God bless them all),
fir trees – not cut down in the woods but planted and grown in his vegetable garden – may come to every home, brining to the kids a lot of enjoyments and sweets.
In Auckland, two personages as unlike as chalk and cheese – Jack Frost
and Vladimir Lenin have never left for many years the places they have taken so much fancy to.
But Vladimir Putin is always on the move, going a long road. And it should be mentioned here that the navigation in Auckland is quite peculiar, due to the numerous hills and small narrow streets which can be blocked quite often, leading to traffic jams. And in such situations all people have equal rights here.
In Auckland, there is even the Soviet district.
And there is a Russian orthodox church with a real tower, which resembles a chess castle.
The tallest structure in Auckland is the TV tower Sky Tower, which is 328m tall and which has a rotating restaurant, just like the Seventh Heaven in Moscow´s Ostankino TV tower. Like a beacon, it can be seen from every side and would not let the lovers of hot food and the feeling of adventure lose their way.
Auckland was founded in 1840 and until 1865 it remained the capital city of New Zealand. The face of the city has, of course, changed significantly as the years passed, especially the downtown area.
Still some historical islets in the form of original buildings have been retained.
Every Aucklander dreams of having his hers own house, car, and yacht. Accordingly, the public transport is not in great demand with the townspeople. As the result, the once popular (that was, of course, before the time of historical materialism) people s tram was liquidated as an obsolete class.
One of the most enjoyable sweetmeats of all Aucklanders is the ice cream "Giappo", counted in the world s five best.
And it is so customary here that before you eat it you must necessarily be photographed with it, just to keep a memo.
It is the fathers of the families who bear on their shoulders or carry in the carts the main burden of all family cares and concerns. In New Zealand, feministic and (not be mentioned for the night) Lesbian movements are quite strong. Okay, all would be well and we could just forget it but the activists of that movement are strictly negative about the revival of New Zealand Women Chess Championships, believing them to be a manifestation of sexism and disrespect. Accordingly, no such events have so far been renewed.
The pride of the townsfolk is the largest in New Zealand stadium "Eden Park",
where football, rugby and cricket matches are held.
And all New Zealanders are proud of Edmund (Ed) Hillary, who together with the Sherpa Tenzing were the first men in history to ascend, after many failed attempts by numerous expeditions over many years, the Everest in 1953.
In honor of this great historical achievement the five-dollar banknote had been issued in the country, which has become a most desirable booty for those who would collect anything and everything that is rare.
The uniqueness of Auckland lies also in the fact that on the one side it is washed by the waves of the Tasman sea and on the other, by those of the Pacific ocean. A port city it is, a city of sails, with its innumerable jetties for motor boats and sailing ships, as well as yachts.
And it is also a city of opening bridges – of course, not so numerous as those of Saint Petersburg and differing from them, but most importantly, with the same functions.
Now it is the 4th of January. And who but Darryl Johansen, the Australian blond with his permanent staggering shock of hair and wearing black boots appears. The legendary Australian grandmaster and one of the world´s best crackers of puzzles, charades, rebuses and crosswords is noticed on the road leading to the chess club.
As Darrel approaches, the bridge straightens and lets him pass to the opposite shore.
And on the other shore, there on the other shore
Something occurred which I will never forget anymore.
So now - to the Auckland chess club we go. It is within the walls of this remarkable for its kindly atmosphere club that the first chess tournament of 2020 took place.
The Chief Arbiter of the tournament was Keong Ang.
The green headlight Caissa with the flamed motor for the heart and four wheels for the hands and feet is always prepared to give the urgent assistance to whoever is associated with chess. It will bring you in and take away where you need.
In the playing hall there is no one and there is nothing which is redundant – present are only all the required attributes for playing and the hall is filled with a lot of light, which is never too much for some people. And it is so quiet here…
"I would like to report. I have arrived for the tournament! The report is over!"
And at the same time somewhere in the vast snow-covered spaces of Russia my message is heard – "I report. I have arrived for the vacations! The report is over!"
(To understand the jokes and allusions to follow the English-speaking readers of these lines need to see the already mentioned film the Diamond Arm. So you are welcome to it!)
"Darryl, why have you shaved off that haycock?"
"What, Leonya?" (Leonya-alias Leonid Sandler, a passionate adorer of ice cream "Giappo", and also the Vice President of the Australian Chess Federation who actively plays chess)
"I say, why have you shaved off the haycock, you silly"
You should have done it like this, like Mike has done it – right to the root!
Well, you would not argue with Nigel Metge – the Sponsorship Director of the New Zealand Chess Federation who had worked in Saudi Arabia for almost a decade – he knows better!
It is largely owing to his efforts that the chess inventory of the federation was renewed. Nigel possesses not only good business qualities, but also very positive human traits – he is kind and full of humor.
Hilton Bennett is one of the directors of the New Zealand Chess Federation.
In the main double-round tournament Trundle Masters, six players took part. Among them is Daniel Fernandez,an Englishman who resides in Sydney. Before the last round he was only half a point behind the leader, Darrel Johansen. However, in the last round Darrel lost to me, whereas Daniel won his game against Daniel Gong, thereby assuring his victory in the tournament.
Vasily Papin played uncompromisingly almost all the games, where the outcome was always unclear. And only the games with Leonid Sandler in the fourth and ninth rounds were finished by a speedy conclusion of peace negotiations. We have played many games before that, with correct play, resulted in draws. And the last two games were not an exception. As the result, I shared the second and third places with Darrel Johansen.
Here is Darryl Johansen who led the tournament up to the last round.
Leonid Sandler is, apart from other things, an extreme – a roller-coaster lover. In the tournament, his rises alternated with falls. Still he happily finished fourth.
Daniel Gong, one of the most promising New Zealand chess players, got an excellent mark, having finished in the fifth place.
Now there is Mike Steadman, a wonderful warm-hearted person of unfailing optimism, the inspirer and organizer of the tournament.
Desperately fighting in the main tournament, Mike spared neither himself nor his formidable opponents. But in the heat of the battle he sometimes failed to make good use of his theoretical knowledge and creative potential. As a consequence, he gathered merely one point of the feasible ten.
Still he got some compensation for the undeservedly disastrous result, for Steadman Jr., Mathew, who participated in the parallel junior tournament Talents, came second.
Along with the main competition (Masters), several round-robin tournaments (Qualifiers, Reserves, and Talents) were also held.
Here is Paul Garbett with Helen Milligan. Last year Paul played in the main tournament. This year he fought to get a qualification from the Qualifiers.
The IM Herman Claudius van Riemsdijk, who arrived from Sao Paulo and who is currently the chief trainer of the New Zealand Women team, was present at the tournament as an observer.
To live in Ulan-Ude is, of course, good, but to live in Auckland is not too bad, either. The less you think it over the more quickly your dreams come true. And so Alex Nagorsky settled in Auckland. He just lacked a tiny bit of luck to win a prize in the Reserves,
Timothy Ha – borned in Viet Nam, studied in Russia, currently residing in New Zealand, but thinking about Ulan-Ude.
January the twelth. All the tournaments are completed. The results are summed up The winner of the Qualifiers, Paul Garbett has won the right to play in the main tournament next year.
Prize winners of the Masters, second and third places. Darryl Johansen and I, Vasily Papin.
The winner of the Masters Daniel Fernandez.
Nevertheless, the main trophy of the Trundle Masters 2020 went to Daniel Gong, who showed the best result of all New Zealand participants (5th place). Yet such is the local tradition – the main trophy should be given to locals. Admittedly, there is something in such reasoning..
And again clouds are hanging over the city, but they are not just clouds, they are Australian thunder clouds – the smoke and fumes of the terrible fires raging in Australia reached New Zealand, turning a sunny day into a cloudy evening.
But the clouds are soon blown away, the wind subsided, and Auckland again appeared in all its splendor, taking pride in the fact that it is rightfully one of the world s ten best cities.
13th January. We are to fly to Tauranga, which is 200km away from Auckland. Having checked the baggage, Leonid Sandler, Darryl Johansen and myself have ascended the gangway to the plane as if it were an ordinary bus – no inspection and no examination whatsoever.
Half an hour later we are arriving.
At the airport we are already expected and met by Bob Smith, who is the chief organizer of New Zealand chess championships in classical chess, rapids, and blitz.
Although Tauranga has a considerably smaller population as compared with Auckland – almost ten times as small, actually, it can boast being the world s capital, as far as the kiwi fruit is concerned, for there are very extensive plantations of this exotic bristly fruit in the vicinity.
This is a quiet peaceful town, yet with some abracadabra of its own, for instance,
festivals of street graffiti.
One should really love his town so much to be able to paint its walls in this way.
Among the numerous sights of the town there is one which cannot be passed with indifference by anyone, be it an adult or a child or their four-footed pets.
It is the sculptures of the animals – heroes of the most popular cartoon film in New Zealand – the Friends of Tauranga.
The beach is the place where you can find a new friend
or encounter an old one emerging from the oceanic depths – Alexei Kulashko, formerly a Russian player who now lives in Auckland and who is the four-time chess champion of New Zealand.
Here you can watch how Nigel Metge, using the method of Gennady Malakhov
and together with him, is rubbing in in his knees the miraculous gel Horse´s Strength.
14th January. The Opening ceremony and the first round of the 127th Chess Championship of New Zealand. The tournament is conducted in two groups. The first is an Open (and is the main one) and the second is called the Major.
So the championship is open with participants arriving from every compass – from Moscow to the most remote parts of Oceania.
Bob Smith who spent countless hours organising a very successful New Zealand Chess Congress in his home town ( the first ever Congress being held in Tauranga ) greeted participants and guests. He was understandably proud!
The crowd that had gathered for the ceremony was greeted and addressed to by Nigel Matge.
Then the Chief Arbiter of the tournament Bob Gibbons has appealed to the participants to comply with the written rules of FIDE, as well as the unwritten laws of the mountains.
Or else you are to proceed to the analysis room.
The tournament s Secretary Bruce Pollard also added his contribution to the successful conduct of the championship.
Bob Smith - husband,
and player. He played in all three tournaments – classical, rapid and blitz.
Leonid Sandler while playing in the championship was already thinking about the forthcoming Chess Olympiad in Moscow this summer.
Malcolm McFarland has arrived from Guam and in the first round had to be completely on the defensive against the vicious attacks launched by Leonid Sandler.
Here is Ben Hague, one of the strongest players of New Zealand.
And here is Kirill Polishchuk, a former resident of Khabarovsk (Russia) and now a New Zealander. In the present championship Kirill has become the champion for the first time. However, his chances to play for the national team at the Moscow Chess Olympiad are very slender because of the missed deadline for the application.
Whereas Kirill has won the title for the first time, his opponent Antony Ker has been champion of New Zealand twelve times!
The traditional friendly derby – Angelo Tsagarakis (Australia) vs Hilton Bennett (New Zealand).
And Herman van Riemsdijk vs Darryl Johansen.
A championship is always a festival, and not only for the children.
The event was conducted in one breath, so to speak,
- in classical chess,
It was hot there, and not only outside.
When players of different generations met over the board, the atmosphere became even more heated, especially when Ralf Hart, last year s blitz champion was at the board.
It is not only about chess in M.V.Lomonosov Moscow State University, but also about football in Sao Paulo.
However, the pitcher goes once too often to the well. Or all good things must end somehow. So it was with the 127th Chess Championship of New Zealand.
To congratulate the participants of this remarkable event, Paul Spiller, President of the chess federation of Oceania has arrived.
He not only congratulated all present there,
but he also personally congratulated those who especially excelled.
Hao Tang won the Major group.
As the custom dictates, the title of the Champion of the country is granted to the player who achieved the best result among the New Zealand participants. Should there be several such, all of them are declared champions. Thus, champions of New Zealand in classical chess in the year of 2020 have become Ben Hague, Russel Dive, Kirill Polishchuk, and Paul Garbett, who scored 6 points out of 9 and shared 3rd to 9th places with other players.
The 3rd place was shared, in particular, by Riemsdijk and Johansen.
The prizes and trophies to the prize winners and champions were rewarded by President of the New Zealand Chess Federation, Grandmaster Murray Chandler.
Vasily Papin came second with 6.5 pts out of 9.
And the winner of the championship, yet not champion, was Daniel Fernandez with 8.5 pts out of 9!
Before the next prize-giving begun Leonid Sandler reminded the present that the championship of Oceania 2021 will be held next January in Melbourne and that it is necessary to start preparing for it well in advance, best of all the very next day!
Rapid – Kirill Polishchuk is the best in his rating group.
The prize-winners of the rapid chess tournament are Vasily Papin and Brandon Clarke with 7 pts out of 9, thus sharing the 2nd and 3rd places.
And the winner was Antony Ker, with 7.5 out of 9.
Now blitz. The prize winners, sharing the 3rd-6th places are Daniel Fernandez, Vasily Papin, Antony Ker, and Darryl Johansen.
The winners are Herman van Riemsdijk and Brandon Clarke who shared the 1st and 2nd places.
Once they also were the first – Ralf Hart
and the seven-time Champion of New Zealand Russel Dive.
kept not only in the photographs but also in our memories.
This championship is remarkable because people actually play in it and not agonizingly rack their brains over how one should play here.
In Russia, when parting, they raise glasses of golden astringent wine. In New Zealand, when parting, cones of "Giappo" ice cream are raised.
So once again we are going our different ways.
Leonid has gone to Christchurch in the South Island, to spend a week´s vacations with his son Maximus,
while we – Brandon Clarke, Darryl Johansen and I, being seen off by the indefatigable Bob Smith,
immersed in a propeller-driven plane
and with the naturally expected sadness departed for Auckland so that we could proceed from there to our own Penates.
25th January. Auckland. The time has come to leave the land´s edge.
The return flight to Moscow followed the same route, only this time without the technical stopover in Wuhan. But this no longer had any significance.
Because the homeward road is always shorter.