World Championship 2008 - Jurmala

Pessoa's report

Here, in Jurmala, the weather is nice but cool.

About the open, I would just like to say that a certain Charpentier will have done us a lot of harm with his (...) of helpmate in three moves!


I admit my fault. So far, no victory for our French and Romanian friends. To note all the same a respectable 14th place of Vlaicu CRISAN.

The open was won by the German Boris TUMMES, followed by the Russian Georgy EVSEEV and the Greek Kostas PRENTOS.

The serious business starts tomorrow with the World Resolution Championship.


Live from Jurmala (2) The hotel bar provides me with Wi-fi and beer, so I can write at ease while those who are able to do so compose.

Curiously, I have in front of me a giant screen broadcasting MCM in French. So I discover this famous Tokio Hotel that young people like. So be it.

I give you a short summary of my morning. A hearty breakfast (the basis of Latvian breakfast is cucumber, it is in this kind of details that we find the disorientation that makes the charm of travel), then I go to the championship room. My French team is complete (I say "my" because as a hazing, I was elected captain, and you think they would have given me an armband? Not even!).

We start with the sprint test: three two-movers in twenty minutes. A little bit of calculation, a little bit of intuition and there you go, that's the first one. The next one is a bit tougher, but still okay. As for the third one (n°2 by the way, I never solve in order, it's a principle), there are so many candidate moves, it's really hard to calculate. At the gong, I write down the most plausible solution. Good choice! And there we have it, three good answers, it couldn't have started better.

Alain and Michel also score 100%, France is in the lead at this moment of the match!

Next round, the middle distance: three three-movers in one hour. I'm a bit tricky, so I fix the variants on the two easiest ones, but I stall on the remaining one. No problem, I try to bluff once again, but don't kid yourself: this time it's a failure. Ten points out of fifteen, however, is not so bad. Alain is brilliant once again but Michel also misses a step (the same problem as me, a tough one!)

Finally, the in-depth test: three studies, one hour and forty minutes. We'll have to analyse for real this time, and not just bet on the most aesthetic key move!

Caissa, who was passing by (she was coming back from the beach, we are in the Soviet equivalent of the Riviera), puts her finger on me, what have I done to deserve this honour? I am lucid for half an hour: the first study seems easy, the second obvious, the third a pleasant trifle. Incredulous, I check the registered strokes, it is beautiful, I have nothing to add, I leave the room like a prince after three quarters of an hour. Then for an hour I worry while waiting for solutions, it's not normal, the leaders are still thinking, I missed the good defences... Yet everything is perfect!

Alain also found the three studies, Michel stalled on one (presumably, so I did better than him).

A little well-deserved comfort, sauna, swimming pool and here are the results. France is in 7th place, not far from the best, everything is still possible. Alain is 12th and I am 17th, we can be satisfied with our performance. Michel, our striker, is behind, but I know that tomorrow will be his day. This year, we'll have to reckon with France!

My beer is coming to an end: I send you my best wishes from Latvia and see you tomorrow.

Your special correspondent in Jurmala, Pessoa

Live from Jurmala (2) After the first day (2 moves, 3 moves, studies), the French team is ranked seventh, a very honourable performance since we are ahead of Israel and Finland, not the first ones to come. Germany is in the lead with a perfect score so far.

As an individual, Alain Villeneuve shines: 12th at the halfway point. And yours truly is very proud to be 17th! Michel, a little distracted on a romantic study of Nestorescu, is behind, but tomorrow is another day.

Note that there are still 5 players with 100% of the points, among which Nunn is the fastest.

To tell the truth, the gaps are not yet made, everything should really be decided tomorrow.

This is Pessoa, your special correspondent in Latvia.

Deferred from Jurmala I have some free time here, since I don't compose. From time to time I glance over a shoulder. The Romanian trio is working on a "proca retractor in circé assassin" with prise en passant. Michel Caillaud promotes a pawn in five different pieces (yes, five), between the pear and the cheese. I keep quiet and admire.

Jurmala riga 011Jurmala riga 024

The competition starts again, early in the morning. Yes, ten o'clock is early, especially as I left my watch on French time and that makes me one hour less.

We start with the helpmates. Rumour has it that this is my speciality, on the pretext that I am responsible for this section in the magazine Phénix. But you shouldn't listen to rumours. Three more problems, but with two solutions each. That's a lot for only fifty minutes. I write my name on my copy, specify that I am writing down the moves in French and set about placing the pieces on my chessboard. Suddenly Piotr Murdzia, who was sitting next to me, stands up. What is going on? Nothing, I haven't started, he has already finished.

In short, I find one and a half problems (failing on "the easiest one, Axel, didn't you watch it or what?"). My poor performance did not penalise the team, as Alain and Michel scored all the points (in each round, the results of the two best players from each country are counted).

Coffee break, no sugar, bad omen. Then comes a piece of choice, the "multimovers", i.e. problems in four or more moves. One hour and twenty minutes. I know the trick: the longer a problem is, the easier it is. You have to know that. I load the six-shooter and fire! The idea is almost simple but the order of the moves is subtle; it's a matter of checking your solution carefully.
A secondary variation was worth half a point, many will forget it. A championship can be played on these details. The five moves problem is quite linear, I also manage it. I move on to the four-moves problem, a monster full of variants. Impossible to get out of it, in desperation I note a solution too obvious to be correct. In fact, it was the wrong move. My teammates, once again, score the maximum number of points.

Last round: selfmates, the judge of peace (fifty minutes). It's about forcing black to checkmate the white king. Nonsense, isn't it? I never manage it. I'm not masochistic enough, I think. In short, I'll pass over my result modestly. Michel Caillaud is one of the few leaders to find everything, including a particularly hairy selfmate 5#.

At the end of the championship, it's time to relax, a trip to the sauna to clear the head and here are the results. Russia, Germany and Poland form a fairly classic podium. We are just a few steps behind the Serbs and the British. What a shame! There's nothing more enjoyable in sport than beating the Perfidious Albion. That's for next year, or for the Six Nations tournament.

Piotr Murdzia (who is the look-alike of Olivier Besancenot) is champion for the fourth time, in front of the formidable Goergy Evseev (the n°1 in Elo of the solutionists) and Michael Pfannkuche who can lament having missed the famous sub-variant of mate in six moves. Alain Villeneuve, thirteenth and best Frenchman, becomes one of the rare double masters in the world: IM for the game and for the solution. All that remains is to become a composer to complete his collection of titles. Michel has already done better, I will do better next time.


It was Pessoa, slightly delayed from Jurmala, for France-Echecs.

Flash from Jurmala A quick note to give you some raw results:

The new World Chess Problem Solving Champion is Poland's Piotr Murdzia, who simply solved everything, as did the runner-up, Russia's Evseyev, who also solved everything (the tie-breaker is by time, and having sat next to him, I can assure you that Murdzia is VERY fast - he didn't even have time to copy).

In the team competition, Russia is ahead of Germany by a hair's breadth.

And the rest of us? Well, France gets a nice sixth place. Alain Villeneuve gets a superb 13th place, which is perhaps synonymous with the GM standard for our IM (for the game). He is ahead of some prestigious names, including Michel Caillaud who has recovered well today but is paying for his day yesterday (around 20th place).

Our Romanian friends, from memory, are eleventh.

What about me? Well, let's say that providence couldn't be with me all the way. Today's performance was in line with my poor level, and I ended up 60th and a bit. But I'm very satisfied, despite, this first time!

More details in the evening


Solving show : John Nunn wins the final by a wide margin. This will console him for his modest performance at the WCSC, he broke his teeth on the selfmates, only 6 points is a bit of a blow. The British lions team (which featured three GMs for the game, Nunn, Mestel and McNab) suffered, 5th is surely a disappointment.

Vlaicu's word


in long deferred from Jurmala Here the French-Romanian team (Vlaicu & Eric) greeting you! (A special hello to Alain too)

Axel told you everything, so we won't repeat it. We will only tell our dear Mr Charpentier all that he deserves for his h#3 of the Open !!! But between four eyes... he loses nothing by waiting.

All our congratulations to the French solutionnists, much more at ease than us in this championship.

The problems selected by Milan seemed a bit too easy - just because we couldn't solve them doesn't mean they were difficult! Our team score (155 points) this year puts us in 12th place, whereas last year with 150 points we would have been world champions.

Without revealing the results of the Tzuica composition tournament, which we have just finished judging in a state of extreme tiredness (it's true, moreover, we go to bed late during a congress), let's say that our French friends will be a little disappointed, but that they will also have the opportunity to enjoy themselves. The results will be made public on Friday, hopefully the special envoy Pessoa will give you a full report after the closing banquet. Many of Michel's problems will, no doubt, be rewarded.

Jurmala riga 039

the Solving Show by Pessoa

Yesterday in Jurmala, the solving show was a very spectacular event, which pitted the sixteen best solutionists of the championship against each other in knock-out matches. Not quite the sixteen best, some of them declined the invitation, including the champion who we didn't see all evening. It's a step from there to conclude that he celebrated his victory in the Polish way, a step I won't take.


The principle is simple: a mate in two moves is displayed, the two participants have three minutes to give the key. A buzzer is pressed like in "Questions for a Champion", if the answer is wrong, the point goes to the opponent. There is a complicated rule in case neither of the opponents finds the answer, but it has not been used much.

In this little game, you have to calculate correctly, but also have intuition, even a sense of bluffing. Trying, after ten seconds of examination, the paradoxical move, a sacrifice, a queen's move in a corner, often works, but not always.

Some educated problemists recognise a problem, which is not always enough to remember the solution!

Many light problems were chosen, including quite a few French ones. It didn't help Alain to beat the formidable John Nunn in the quarter-finals, but he falls with honours to the eventual winner.

In this game, the most impressive in my eyes is Maryan Kovacevic. Ten or twenty seconds are usually enough for him to give the key shot in front of an amazed and hilarious audience. But a fall in concentration in the semi-final against the Russian Leontiev deprived him of the final.

While the internet broadcasting is not working, Nunn settles the final, which is a consolation for his disappointing performance in the morning.

Today is a holiday, at least for those who don't have a judgement to make.

Jurmala riga 007For the others, as you will have understood from Vlaicu and Eric's message, it was an all-nighter...

Pessoa, les yeux dans les bleus

Add a comment