I was standing in the bathroom braiding my hair and thinking about the upcoming event. Nils had asked me to join him for the opening ceremony of the TePe Sigeman & Co chess tournament, and I had been so excited about getting a chance to wear a pretty dress that I had talked about it for days (more than a month of backpacking had limited the opportunities to dress up). Nils of course did not care at all about how we looked, but some female guidance never hurt anybody, and I was of course looking magnificent… I mean we were.
Toothbrushes and glamour
The opening ceremony was hosted at Malmø City Hall, a stunning old building with lots of detail and decorations. I especially enjoyed the huge paintings of Danish Kings hanging all over the walls. It was nice reminder that Swedish and Danish history is tied together. I would say that the Danes have always made the Swedes stronger! Furthermore the opening ceremony consisted of some nice speeches, a little live music from a string quartet (the guy playing the violin… not sure it is a violin… could probably have been a chess player. He was so committed to his breathing that I could hear it and his veins were pulsing – the music was lovely) and the drawing of starting numbers for the tournament.
I joked with Nils that he would probably get the worst number (three blacks against the top seeds) he did… and answered:
“There is no such thing as a bad pairing. No matter what pairing I get I will be happy, because I get to play chess”
I wish I could relate in any form of way, but we have not all been raised by Bob Marley’s spirit. Anyhow food was served and I definitely felt that I fitted in between the huge chandeliers, baroque carvings and white tablecloths even despite of the fact that Nigel Short was sitting to my right. I have to admit though; he is hiding his dubious opinions and questionable behaviour towards women pretty well behind that charming British facade. All in all I hope Nils gets to play more tournaments of that kind.
The little red riding hood
In the first round Nils was playing with the black pieces against the rather controversial Baadur Jobava. He is quite a lot of fun, which is probably the reason why he is always wearing those sunglasses. I have to say I like his down to earth way of greeting everybody before the round, it gives a really nice vibe and makes the spectators, sponsors, judges and so on feel like somebody actually care. You get a long way with being friendly and I think that a lot of the better players have a hard time finding the space for that, since their ego takes up most of the room. On the other hand it is hard to tell if Jobava is actually sober when doing this. In Reykjavik he was also playing Nils and the first sight that meet us when entering Harpa (the playing hall) 5 minutes before the round, was Jobava holding a big beer and an even bigger slice of cake. As Nils said: “it is hard to take serious”. But why does it always have to be that serious?
The game was finished and we were on our way out of the playing hall, when Jobava pointed at my hat:
Jobava: “I like your hat”
Me: “Thank you! I bought it in Kosovo”
Jobava: “It is red, so Nils must be a wolf”
Referring to the story about “The Little Red Riding Hood”. If anything I would claim that the roles should be reverted. Nevertheless I think Jobava is a nice kick to any tournament and he makes sure that something is going to happen, whether it is a spectacular game or bringing pizza trays into the club and getting kicked out is 50/50 chance. Also I have a hard time disliking him after he referred to me as “pretty lady”.
Eat, sleep, play, and repeat!
I think that Nils would probably agree to the statement: “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, he would add that coffee is also necessary and I agree. Nothing is going to happen before coffee is served so Nils woke up every morning and placed a cup beside my bed. Then he wet to work and I went to the kitchen. Every morning this was my routine:
- Make him a big omelette with some new filling
- Pick his clothes
- Iron the shirt I had picked
- And polish his shoes
I felt like a real housewife but on the other hand, he would have done exactly the same for me, if I had been the one playing. At least I hope so; otherwise he will be in grave trouble.
They played 5 rounds and 4 out of 5 I was there almost all day to “support him”. I am not sure what to call it since I just become extremely nervous when I sit all day and follow his game. I do not trust his play enough to relax, unfortunately. I have commented one game from the tournament, so you can get a feel of how I think when Nils is playing: http://www.viewchess.com/cbreader/2017/6/12/Game37312.html
To ease my nerves I made sure to sit right in front of Stellan Brynell while he was doing his commentary, just to make sure somebody would suggest the right moves. The annoyance in his voice when I pointed out something he had missed was completely worth it. I had even suggested that he needed a sidekick and I would be happy to help him out and elevate the commentating from Sahara sand to Sunny Beach. He thought it was the worst idea ever, but I think the audience would be happy to hear all the good stories/gossip I can tell from the chess world.
A little detour to Copenhagen Chess Challenge
Do you ever get tired of pretending to be housewife? Yes. I am not suited for that role and I already decided to do something else the day on the 3. round. In Ballerup outside of Copenhagen some of my friends were playing the Copenhagen Chess Challenge and I thought it would be a good idea to go and be a supporter somewhere else than at the Tepe Sigeman. Martin Lokander had played a quite dubious tournament and I had made myself ready to step in and show him the way. First I bought a chocolate gold medal with the text “you are the best” and forced him to wear it during the round, and then I brought him and his friend Deniz to a Bodega (a bar with cheaper beer) in the centre of Copenhagen. As Martin had said earlier that day:
“I played this tournament 5 years ago and concluded I was never going to visit Ballerup again. 5 years later I had forgot everything about it and indeed Ballerup is the most horribly boring city I have ever been to”
In the tournament they have also applied the rule that you cannot make a draw before move 30, which is completely outrageous when there is already 4 double-rounds. What are they trying to achieve… get people to hate chess? Martin is definitely completely right about the city and therefore our night out also contributed to lift his spirit. Actually he did not loose one game after he received my guidance. Never forget: You are the best, Martin!
The tournament in general (OBS. serious text)
The playing venue was Malmø Statsteater (the theatre) and once again they really managed to make the surroundings enjoyable for the eyes. I personally believe that it is a big pleaser for the spectators that they experience this professional vibe, when there are 6 players in a nice looking room with cut of sections for the judge, spectators, players and a accessible room with a commentator. The tournament was well organized and except for the lack of posters and advertising in general, they did everything right. The rest of the entertaining is up to the players and despite of the fact that one victory and 4 draws was enough to win the tournament, there was enough drama on the board to keep the spectators attention. This also has something to do with the choice of players. I find the idea of having women (one or more) in the tournament very interesting; since it appeals to a broader audience (both commercial wise and chess wise), and it is not seen that often in closed tournaments. Rating average is not everything, interesting chess and players I am a bigger fan of (not to forget Nils). Maybe, they should also consider a co-commentator for next year. I got a suggestion 😉
Something to celebrate
In the end Jobava Baadur and Nils Grandelius ended up sharing the victory with 3 points out of 5. As Nils said: “what he had learned from being a second for Magnus Carlsen, only +1 is needed”. Their shared victory was celebrated together with the rest of the participants (Harika, Eljanov, Erik and Nigel), the sponsors and people who had helped during the tournament. All in all it was a small party who enjoyed dinner at Sigeman & Co’s lawfirm. Jobava was very eager to go to the casino but nobody wanted to join him. Nils and I had planned to go and it was very hard to explain why we could not. You see, in Sweden you have to be 20 years old to go to the casino, and I am not. Once again Nils avoided having to stay up late and waste his money, maybe Nigel was right, when he called Nils a slippery bastard. Instead of the casino Nils, Erik, Finn (a tech guy) and I went to a bar and grabbed a beer before closing time. A nice finish to a strong tournament.