Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Hannover tournament

棋友亚兰。迪克不久前参加德国的一个比赛,地点在汉努沃 (Hannover) 城,同行的还有曼城的马丁。哈默。这是他的一篇报道。

Xiangqi tournament from Hannover, Germany

by Alain Dekker

Here is a quick tournament summary from the German Xiangqi tournament held last weekend (17/18 November 2007) in Hannover.

I was invited to this tournament informally by one of the German players, Karsten Hoffarth, when we met in Macau at the World Championships. For a few weeks I heard nothing, and then I received an invitation which sounded like it would be fun to accept.

My friend, and fellow Xiangqi-enthusiast, Martyn Hamer, agreed to come with me and we booked separate flights, Martyn from Manchester, and myself from London. We arrived at 23:30 in Hannover and proceeded to the train station, only to find out that for the first time in many years, the Germans were in the middle of a train strike! We ended up catching a taxi to Ludersen (where Karsten lives) south of Hannover and managed to wake Karsten up!

The next day we had a wonderful breakfast consisting of a great deal of excellent German cheese and bread before heading to the tournament held in a Buddhist/Vietnamese pagoda. The venue was very good. There is quite a big difference between the German tournaments, the tournaments I've attended in England and the World Championships. The Germans like things to be quiet and this is very similar to most Western Chess tournaments.

The first round was a small disaster for me. I blundered in the endgame! After initially rejecting a draw, I thought my opponent would swing his rook across and capture my advisor, but was a little stunned to find him retreating it one square, forcing my king forward and he then captured not my advisor, but my rook! Oh dear! Also winning their first rounds were Dhong Lai Hop and Michael Naegler.

In the second round, my opponent failed to see a retreat of my knight and gifted me his rook. He threw his hands in the air and said (in German of course), "Not again!". Unfortunately for him, exactly the same thing had happened to him in the previous round! Then in the 3rd round, I managed to win a rook for a cannon and then converted the tricky endgame.

That was the end of the first day, which found me on 2/3 which was a nice recovery after the first round loss. We found a take-away and ordered pizzas at prices that will seem very low for English readers - a tuna pizza for about 3 pounds! That evening, Michael Naegler, Lars (surname unknown) Bastian Gollmar, Karsten Hoffarth, myself and Martyn played a German card game called Doppelkopf (literally "Double heads"). Lars, a student from Lingen, proved to be very good at this game, and he won quite comfortably. I'm pleased to report that Martyn Hamer, playing in his first ever game of Doppelkopf, managed a respectable 3rd place!

The second day started very well for me. I was drawn to play Reinhard Knab, who is referred to by his fellow Germans as "The Wall"! This is a reference to the fact that he draws a lot of games, and very seldom loses. Reinhard is a very good player and was a member of the German team in both Paris, 2005, and Macau, 2007. I managed to outplay Reinhard and pin his rook against his king with my cannon. My rook was then free to terrorise his knight and I eventually managed to break through.

In the 5th round, I beat another member of the German team, Andries Klein. This game was probably the most complex game of Chinese Chess I have ever played. With apologies for any mistakes, here it is:

1.C2=5 N8+7 2.N2+3 N2+3
3.R1=2 R9=8 4.P7+1 R1+1
5.C8=6 P7+1 6.R2+6 C8=9
7.R2=3 R8+2 8.N8+7 R1=4
9.A6+5 C9-1 10.R9=8 C9=7
11.R3=1 R8+6 12.R1-2 C2=1
13.N7+6 R4=6 14.R8+7 R6=3
15.C6=7 C1+4 16.C7-1 C1=7
17.N3-1 C7+2 18.C7+5 C7=9
19.C7+2 C9-3 20.C5=3 C9=7
21.E3+5 C7+1 22.R8=7 E3+5
23.C7=4 N7-5 24.R7=6 R8=6
25.C4-3 N5-3 26.R6-1 C7=8
27.K5=6 C8+8 28.K6+1 C8-1
29.K6+1 A6+5 30.C3=4 R6=7
31.R6=5 C7+1 32.R5-2 C7=9
33.R5=2 P7+1 34.R2+5 P7=6
35.R2-7 C9+2 36.R2+2 C9=8
37.R2=4 R7-2 38.R4-1 R7-1
39.N6+5 N3+4 40.R4+1 R7+1
41.P5+1 R7=4 mate

Obviously 41.P5+1 is a blunder, but Red was running very short of time.
What a game! This left me with 4/5 and in second place for the final round. Michael Naeglar lost round 5 to the eventual winner, Dhong Lai Hop (and behaved rather badly!) so that meant I was to play Dhong in the final round.

Meanwhile, Martyn Hamer had picked up a rather nice win, to put himself on 2/5. Martyn got a draw in the final round to achieve a respectable 2.5/6. In the final round, I somehow managed to blunder 3 pawns against Dhong, but then played like a champion to make the win very difficult for him, but he eventually managed to make the extra pawns tell (though at one stage I thought I had succeeded to trapping and winning his knight on the edge of the board). That left me with 4/6 and 4th place, Michael Naeglar won to get into 2nc place, and a Chinese German whose name escapes me got 3rd place. Dhong achieved the excellent result of 6/6 which is apparently only the second time this has happened in German tournament history.

A most enjoyable experience in Germany and I hope I will have another opportunity to go there again to play Xiangqi.

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