Friday, 9 September 2016

Baku Olympiad - I'm Abroad! & a Walk around the Baku Street Circuit

It's day 3 for me here, Days 1 and 2 were dominated by wall to wall meetings but as luck will have it, I seem to have a free day.

Now being an avid F1 fan, I just had to walk the street circuit.  Looking at where the hotel is, it is a 0.5 - 0.75 mile walk to the circuit and a pleasant nearly 4 miles round.

Apart from one thing.  It is hotter than hell here! I never understood what was meant by track temperature and air temperature until today.  Yes the thermometer might say it is 29C here but walking in the streets, it was reaching nearly 40 in some places!!  Was really glad I went fairly early and so missed the midday heat (well I was still walking in it but almost back) and also that I carried 2 liters of water with me.  Went through all of that and still had to buy more in a charming little shop.  2 liters of coke and 2 x 500ml of water cost me 2 manat.  That is just under a pound!!  For the nicotine addicts out there, a pack of 20 cancer sticks will set you back a whole 3 manat, or just under £1.50!!  Petrol is between 35p for Diesel and 45p for a liter of premium fuel!

So after getting up this morning, at about 10am (7am UK time) I decided to go for a walk.

I started and finished at Turn 15 as it was closest to the hotel but for the purposes of the blog, I will start at the start line (don't want to confuse anyone)

As I walked down the long straight leading to the Start / Finish line, the pits came into view.  I was astonished when I saw them in real life, they look massive on the TV.  Next to the pits was where the Rostrum was

 Next you can see where Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo sat waiting for the green flag (if you look at the shadow you can just make out the faded grid places)

The straight into turn 1 is exceptionally short

 Now we have a left hander, another short straight and into turn 2

Another 90 degree turn that led to one of the DRS zones

At the end of the straight there is a sharp left and a sharp right (Turn 3 is about 50m up this, you can make it out at the trees.  This is turn 4 Cars would be coming towards you and turning left from this point of view

This is where I made one of my detours, I had noticed these billboards on an adjacent street when we went for a meal so I was wanting to get a shot of them

After turn 4 we have a short straight then a  crazy left right leading down to where the track runs parallel to the main straights heading to the start finish line

This is the whole corner, you can see the left leading in and very quickly there is a right, the next three pics will break the corner down

Now we run parallel with the track coming up with only the concrete barriers to separate the cars (I had to double back here to find somewhere to safely cross the road!)

Another short straight

Leading down to Turn 7 / 19.  If you look at the barriers you can see them turning slightly to make turn 19

Cars would be going from left to extreme right.  Now we have another short section and we are into the bit that completely blew me away.  We know the speeds they are doing here, but is it so so tight.

If you recall, Lewis Hamilton had a major issue in qualifying and didn't make turn 8.

You can't actually see the corner for turn 8, It is where the right car is on left the chain link across the road was the run off area he went into

Turns 8 to 12 are incredible, It looked narrow and twisty on TV but you really don't get an idea of just how narrow and twisty it actually is,

Here we have 2 views of turn 8, one looking up at turn 9 and the other looking down from 9 to 8

You can see how little width there is with the car!

Straight after 9 you have another left / right kink for turns 10 and 11.  As this is near the castle, the road is a bit wider

To top it off straight after turn 11, you are into turn 12, a sharp left hander.  This means in the space of about 5 seconds the drivers are going left, right left, right, left.  All of this is uphill!!

Finally a bit of relief for the drivers as they have one of the longest straight bits leading to Turn 13.  Again it is uphill

Turn 13 is a gentle turn, none of the 90 Degree nonsense the drivers have had to face

They would be taking this flat out.  Turn 14 is not much of a turn, more a kink in the road! If you look hard you can see it!

This leads downill to Turn 15 and onto a cobbled section.  For the race, this was covered temporarily with asphalt but has been restored since. This was also my start /  finishing point (apart from the slog up to the hotel!)

Now it is a sharp downhill to turn 16 (would have been good if they had left the cobbles there for the race!).

Here we are looking from 15 towards 14 and you can see the cobbles I was referring to

Short downhill drop to 16, Quite a nasty bend this one!

Now at the closing stages, fairly straight bit through 17 to 18 (it is hard to see with the trees, follow the path that runs along side it)

Turn 18 is a right hander

Turn 19 sits on the same junction as turn 7 there is a concrete barrier in the way to prevent crossing.

Which has been clattered by one of the drivers (I am trying to remember who)

Another longer straight bit into the tiniest of kinks in the road which is laughably labelled turn 20

And you are finally on the long straight leading to the start finish line (turn 1 is in front of the hotel right in the distance)

So there you have it, a "Flying" lap of Baku.  In total I walked 6.16 miles in 2 hours, 45 minutes and 25 seconds. looking at my splits my time on the track was 2 hours and 10 minutes. Was wanting to do it in less than 2 hours but given the conditions I can be pleased with that time.

That was fun, need to go and find some salted peanuts to cure the cramp in my legs caused by dehydration :D

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Scottish Championships 2016 - And finally...

It's finally over.  It i 11:45pm, I have just finished and submitted the FIDE grading, put news articles on the Chess Scotland website, sent in the grading (and corrected it as I had made the inevitable mistake), uploaded the photos from the prize giving.  I have 2 jobs left one I am doing now and one I will deal with tomorrow.  I have to combine the pgn file and upload it to FIDE.  Quite honestly I am now in automatic pilot and I know Alex is the same.  For some mad reason I did not take tomorrow off work.  I wish I had as after the last three weeks I am really feeling it.  I suspect I am going to be there in body only.

Well we did it.  Another Scottish Championship completed.  Granted it was not the event we hoped it would be.  We had no idea there was going to be a rail strike and the clockwork orange would be off for a month.  Talk about working against us!

For the first time in a year, I played a graded main list game.  There was a bye in the Minor and I reckoned on having enough time to play the game quickly and still have enough to set everything up.  I sat down at the board and then I realised just how tired I was when my opponent played 1.d4 and I immediately replied 1..d5 instead of my usual 1..Nc6.  Aaarrggh I am playing the Englund Gambit (something I played about 10 years ago with relatively good sucess).  I thankfully won!

Thinking back over the last 9 days, it has been good.  I have enjoyed it.  There has been some incredible performances and some really good chess

I want to thank Lara for suggesting a picture.  At the end she suggested getting the trophy holders together.  Brilliant idea and I'm glad one of us was thinking!

Well we have a champion.  For the 3rd time GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant has prevailed and on 7/9 it is quite an impressive score!

The overall winner was GM Matthew Turner on 7.5/9

We had Joint Seniors Champions this year with GM Colin McNab and IM Stephen Mannion sharing the title (the one in the middle is not the Senior Champion, I'd love to know what he said to them!)

Declan Shafi and Murad Abdulla are the Scottish Boys Champions

The Girls Champion is Rachel Smith

And the player of the year was last years Champion, FM Neil Berry

We spent all tournament trying to keep Alasdair and Euan Dawson apart, unfortunately we didn't check the weekend major draw as the last round saw father playing son.  Talk about a lose lose for dad!

As always we are looking for feedback from the players on how it went, things you would like to see done differently and things we can improve.  I did ask Calum...

Well thats all for this year.  Thanks to everyone for a fun tournament and  your kind comments about the blog.  If everything goes to plan (and that will be a first!) we will be in Dundee next year.  Knowing our luck, we plan for Dundee and will no doubt be playing in Hawick!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Scottish Championships 2016 - Days 7 and 8 - The day after the night before

As predicted, tiredness and other duties got between me and writing a blog last night.  I got in after play and promptly fell asleep where I was sitting!

First order of business, we have some winners to celebrate.

The winner of the 7 Day tournament was George Murphy with an excellent 6.5/7

2nd was James Watson on 6/7

The U1500 winners were David Watson, Bernard Cassidy and Iain Hope on 3.5/7

I had a bit of a scare yesterday about 20 minutes before play started.  Could not get the large tv to work.  After a quick check I noticed that windows 10 had downloaded a new update


Got the games working in time.

Last night saw the start of the weekender.  As a wee bonus we played the top 14 matches on the live boards with the same setup we use for the Open, TV and all.  Quite a few came up to me yesterday and today to tell me that they loved it and would love to do it again!  More than happy to oblige if I get the chance.

You can tell it has been a long tournament and tiredness is starting to kick in with the players as well.  This has lead to some rather "interesting" positions including this unfortunate miniature

The game ended 18. Nfg5 Nxd4 19. Rxf8+ Rxf8 20. Bxh7+ Kh8 21. Qh5 Rf2+ 22. Bxf2 Bxg5 23. Nxg5.  Happens to the best of us unfortunately.

Today was the penultimate day of the Championships.  Not the best time for my tablet to bluescreen in the middle of play meaning we lost the game between Douglas Bryson and Daniel Gormally!!

With the Daniel and Matthew winning, we now have 2 outright leaders on 6.5 and the chasing pack a mere half point behind.

Chasing the Scottish Title, we have Alan and Keti on 6 points Dougie Bryson, Alan Grant, Colin McNab, Stephen Mannion and Declan Shafi on 5.5.  It will be one of those 8 who will be crowned Scottish Champion!

It has been quite a remarkable turn around for young Declan, it does not seem that long ago (2013) that we were presenting him the Primary Individual championship trophy and here he is on the last day with a chance of becoming Scottish Champion.

I think it is fair to say I have been really impressed with all of our Juniors this year in the Scottish.  Declan with a 2200 performace, Lukah with a 2050, Rachel with an 1850, Jake 1850 to name but a few.  For those going on to the Glorney / Faber please take your form with you and bring home the cups!  If anything exemplifies why I like this format for the Scottish I will always say, Neil getting his norm last year and the performance of our Juniors this year.  That makes it worth the effort to try and find sponsorship for the event!!  It really is just a matter of time now before one of our current crop makes the breakthrough and wins it.  Who will it be?  I would not bet against any of those playing this year!!!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Scottish Championship 2016 - Day 6 - When will I learn?

We have a maxim in Engineering.  If it aint broke, don't fix it.  Wise words indeed.  Last couple of days we have had 13 stable boards.  13 is my lucky number so I should have stayed there.  No I wanted to try and get another on to give us 14.  I arrived early and wired up another board.  After an hour of testing, it was working fine.  Play starts and the wired boards kept switching themselves off.  I have spend all day keeping a close eye on the boards because of this!

Today was the penultimate game of the 7 day event.  I don't think I am being unkind when I say that the event has been dominated by 2 players.  Leading on 5.5 we have George Murphy and closely following is James Watson.

By this time tomorrow we will know which of these fine Gentlemen will win the 7 day event.

In the Open, the joint leaders face each other on the top Board.  Keti and Colin will be battling it out to try and remain ahead of the chasing pack.

In the chasing pack is one of our Juniors.  It does not seem that long ago that Declan was winning the primary individual.

Rating performance of 2240, facing his second GM and on a very creditable 4.5/6.  A very excellent performance from Declan to date

To be honest we have had some really good performances in the first 5 rounds from our juniors.  Lukah (3/6) has a 2000 performance rating, and there are several on 2.5/6 with 18-1900 performances.  It is really good to see them doing well in the Scottish.

I was alerted to one of those strange and curious things that can happen.  I have to confess to doing this myself in a league game to the bemusement of the opposition.

The following position arose

White has 2 sensible options Kb1 (+8.65 on the very basic engine I just downloaded) or Kd2 (+4.31).  Incredibly white took the third option and resigned.  Like I mentioned, I did something very similar years ago and was kicking myself for ages after.  Definitely a sore one!

If you have been looking at the photos, you will notice there is a very cheery chap each day, Steven Brown

There is a story behind this.  Apparently he got a hard time for not smiling when I took the picture on Saturday...

When he did it on Sunday, I could hardly hold the camera for laughing :D  The look up and smile has been one of the highlights of the day so I have tried to catch him unawares.  Got him today (and I hope he does not get into trouble for it)

Tomorrow sees the day we dread.  the start of the Weekender meaning we don't get to leave until after 11pm.  I will try to get a blog out but chances are it will be Saturday before I do!