I managed to catch a cold while in Germany, possibly from my team captain. A very short pause in my chess commitments meant I could have my first day off in a while on Monday (lots of board games with Sue and Tom – I may be addicted!) and generally relax and try to fight off the bug. Sue tended to me very well as always and by today the cold has ebbed to an annoying cough and blocked nose. Unfortunately my nurse has now caught the same thing but I hope a relaxing weekend will make her feel better.
I’m writing this from my hotel room in Bastia, Corsica. My trip was painless enough; the first flight was rowdier than the normal 11am flight with a group on their way to a hen party. I found a seat at the back that was fairly quiet until the toddler behind decided they’d had enough of the flight and started screaming…
Being back in Corsica is an odd sensation. This is the first tournament I am repeating since we came back to Europe in July 2010. I’m in the same hotel (but a different room), the venue is the same and again I managed to miss my lift from the airport and got the bus instead!
To those of you who haven’t followed the tournament before, the format needs some explaining. It starts as any normal tournament with 9 rounds (last year 7). Here, however, it gets interesting. The top 14 places don’t win any money but instead are joined by two invited players (last year Leó, the organiser, invited the top two Azerbaijani players Teimour Radjabov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov). These 16 play a knockout with two rapid games in each round.
Last year I didn’t know the details at all but a good start allowed me to get into the top 14 comfortably. We were then seeded in rating order pitching me against top Canadian GM Mark Bluvshtein in the last 16 who I managed to defeat before going down to the eventual winner Mamedyarov. Hopefully I’ll manage to repeat finishing in the top 14 and then I’ll need some luck!
The tournament website is here. I doubt I’ll know my first round pairing until just before the game tomorrow evening but will try and keep you all updated with my progress.