European Championship 2016
The Master, taking advantage of the school holidays, went to Athens to do some sightseeing and, incidentally, to participate in the European Solutions Championship.
As he was the only Frenchman in the competition, it goes without saying that France does not appear in the team ranking.
Here is a short report on the course of the events.
The Master's word
Not easy the open. I got maybe 32 out of 60...
The Open had not been brilliant, but at least it was okay. Absolute disaster, however, for the first day of the championship. In the second 2-move (by a Frenchman!) I crossed out the right key to write the try! I did it again in the first 3-move, seeing no follow-through on two black defences. And again in the second, where I see key and slow threat, but write nothing, seeing nothing on ...Rxg1. To close it all, I forget a variation in the third. I approach the studies in a state close to Ohio, as we used to say in Clichy. In the open, neither study was solved by anyone, only one participant already knew it. I decide to write down the moves that pop into my head, without worrying about anything. In the first one, I miss the main defence. In the second one, my enthusiasm makes me write thirteen moves, while nine were required (yes, in the previous championships, I stopped too early). And the third one is impossible to solve, of course. Several competitors I interviewed, including Mladenovic, the winner of the Open, agree with me (and with Beasley, who used to run a study magazine!) that they should be removed from the solving contests.
Finally, there is a consolation. When you walk around Athens, you happen to pass a Euripides street, then a Sophocles street. The bus stop near my hotel is called Nausicaa. Still, a different face than Jaurès or Couturier...
And the beautiful Julia is there! It's minus two in Riga, she tells me. But with her, there is no need for heating.
Selivanov, the wizard of selfmates, also agrees with me about the studies. Also spoke with Paavilainen, the best Finnish solutionist since Perko's retirement. Having learned that he lived in Brussels, I made a point of getting him to speak French, hoping to hear a Belgian accent like the late Igor Ivanov's inimitable Quebec accent. Not at all, he has a charming accent but... simply Finnish.
the 2nd day
Yesterday I was Leonidas. This does not mean that I was Eurybiades today, but at last, complete ridicule was avoided.
The test of the selfmates went "normally". Which for me means doing the first two and failing the third. Yes, your phoney master, even in his so-called glory days, has never been a threat to the World or European Champion title. I know that I am disappointing the thousands of women fans who read the "master's lessons" but, as you know, the wise man is the one who knows his limits.
But even this 10 out of 15 is no mean feat. The selfmate in 3 was vicious, because two moves seem equivalent, so that if you give the wrong one, you score zero having seen three-quarters of the problem. This almost happened to me, but I saw the variant that makes the difference 3 minutes before the end.
Moremovers: not wanting to repeat the mistake of Iasi, I started with the last one, a logical 6-move, which I cleaned up in about 20 minutes. Then the 4-move tortured me. You can see that something is going to happen on d6 but what, and especially when? After half an hour, it was good. But the 5-move is vice incarnate. I won't say any more in case you want to suffer. Nothing to do, so also 10 out of 15.
Finally the helpmates (the switch between helpmates and selfmates event is a trick to avoid delaying the prize distribution, the latter being harder to correct). The 2-move is interesting, recommended for Daniel, but finally takes time. The 3rd solution resists, then the 3-move. With 5 minutes to go, I have a solution for the 3-move helpmate, but I won't be able to finish it, the second solution having nothing to do with it. Not a glance, of course, at the 5 and a half move helpmate, of which at least one solution is easy... at home. So 7.5 out of 15: 50%, a la Ferry!
The final ranking calls for some comments. Piorun's modest (for him, of course) result, coming after the one in January, is obviously the consequence of the immense work he is doing at the moment in the "normal" game: let's not forget that he is the Polish vice-champion, following Wojtaszek. One consequence of Mista's absence is that, for the first time in years, Poland is not first in the team competition. But this will not last. The Serbs, with a particularly fit Mladen, are at their best. They have a new generation of players, I might see them if I go to Belgrade, but they are inferior to the Polish cadets. Ditto for the Azeris, impressive though: look at these juniors at the top of the ranking. As in the normal game, in the Swiss system there is a "swamp" in the middle of the scoreboard. For example, if I hadn't crossed out the key to the 2nd 2-move, and thus with 5 more points, I would be 30th instead of 40th! But the gap between Murdzia and 2nd is impressive. However, there is an advantage to my underperformance: imagine that I am the 3rd old man in this competition. I should have posed in the photo, to the left of the most antipathetic of all the competitors, who is also a megalomaniac and a swindler. To live happily, let's live hidden. Women are coming. Certainly not in France, a country in full decline, but see in detail the score of the young Russian Marina (on the right of the photo). Try to do better at home. Not easy! And 11 year old russian girls compose. Unbelievable! So they don't know that there has been male oppression for centuries, and that they are forbidden to shine...