– from Balvinder Ahluwalia
So here we are on the penultimate day of the tournament. The players, their supporters and coaches have survived 7 rounds over the last five days – no mean feat! Everyone has thrown themselves into being here and the level of commitment all round is admirable. Routines have been established: breakfast; coaching; lunch; the walk to the tournament hall; the game(s) followed by the walk back ready for the post mortem with the coaches; dinner, checking the net for the next round’s pairings and bed. But this would be too boring and far too predictable – today has seen everyone cope with there being no water available in the hotel or the city of Novi Sad! In true English spirit everyone has risen to the challenge, as they have to the other challenges of this trip (a heat wave; temperamental air conditioning; a thunderstorm; stomach cramps and a parents room where the no smoking sign was illicitly removed overnight!).
As parents the consensus is that we have all observed our children grow in ways we could not imagine and perhaps even questioned whether we are right to allow our children to put themselves through the challenges of playing at this level. The answer has had to be a resounding ‘yes’ for all of us because the players have not once shown any signs of giving up. For most of the players no game has lasted less than 2 hours and for some games have lasted in excess of 4 hours. This is no mean feat when you consider that in the last 3 days they have played 5 rounds. That is a lot of hours playing chess. Especially coupled with coaching and preparation.
As to today’s chess – the players surpassed all expectations in the sense of having just come through 2 double round days we all expected them to be tired and for more blunders and shorter games. Whilst Toby posted a win after just 26 minutes this was far from the norm. Most games lasted in excess of 2 hours and Daniel G’s game was entering it’s fifth hour at the time the writer left the tournament hall!
There were some notable wins today for Toby, Freddie, Tom, Samir, Ethan, Laura and Mahima (go, girls!!), Matthew, Vincent and Jonathan. Also of note are Charlie’s draw to the second seed taking him to 5 out of 8 and Daniel G’s drew. Today’s statistics were 13 / 25 – a great result at this stage of the tournament. Well done all – there are a number of players on 4 out of 8 and therefore they have everything to play for tomorrow in their last round.
We will all say a bittersweet good bye to Novi Sad on Friday but we will leave you with the top 5 things we have liked about Novi Sad (other than the excellent playing facilities!):
1. Laura’s sparkly Lolli Kelly Shoes
2. Meri battling with a Rubik’s Cube, despite Mike F’s one to one tutorials
3. Dr Raghu’s open all hours emergency clinic
4. Mike M’s almost daily motivational talks under the glitter ball in the Disco
5. Free “working” wi-fi
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