Friday, April 21, 2017

Grand Pacific Open - 2017

Ghosts, spiders and odd plagues

The Grand Pacific Open, British Columbia's largest chess tournament, took place in the Hotel Grand Pacific, Victoria, on 14-17 April 2017.  The main event has been a 6 round FIDE rated Swiss with $5,000 in prizes.  Brian Raymer, Paul Leblanc, Roger Patterson have done a great job organizing this event.

Naomi has played in the top section and placed in the middle of the Final Standings, befitting her chess rating rank. She has shared the 2nd/3rd Top Women CA$90 prize sponsored by Goddess Chess.  Not bad.

We traveled to Victoria many times in the past, and always loved it: 2009 road trip, 2014 Grand Pacific Open (a Chess Travel blog post), 2015 Grand Pacific Open.

Victoria is one of those places you come back every time to discover something new on top of old memories and familiar places.  It occupies a special place in our hearts.  A favorite travel spot.

Day 1: Victoria Clipper, Bug Zoo, Round 1

To get there, in the past we always took a ferry: either Port Angeles - Victoria (with or without car), or Anacortes - Sidney, or Tsawwassen - Swartz Bay.  This time we decide to live large and pay up for the Victoria Clipper.

As we sail into Victoria's Inner Harbor, my smartphone's camera does blank.  This wouldn't be unusual, since my smartphone's screen needs to be literally warm in order to work.  I habitually press it against my skin, to use body warmth for reanimation, as usual.  Only this time the trick doesn't work!  The device seems to have died, finally, after half a year of daily agony.  That's the First Plague.

We get the room at the fabled Hotel Grand Pacific, and head straight to the Bug Zoo.  There, our amazing guide Jeanine shows each insect (or, more precisely, arthropod) with indefatigable enthusiasm.  This needs to be seen:



Day 2: Legislature, Round 2, Miniature World, Round 3, Ghostly Walks

In the morning, on our way to the Miniature World we pass a quiet and well-organized demonstration of Venezuelan dissidents on the steps of the British Columbia Legislature.  

The Miniature World initially feels a bit claustrophobic and noisy, with tight spaces, voice recordings in loops, and kids running around.  It takes time to adjust.  The experience is both slightly tiresome and very rewarding.

The miniature displays are fantastic.  Meticulous, masterful work done over many years.  They are organized by category: war history, frontier, Canada, castles, dollhouses, London, circus, Camelot.  Take a look:


At night we go for the Ghostly Walks tour with a guide who might one day become a great comic actress.  It's a riot.  Her stories about the unfortunate dead and the ghastly ways they become ghosts resonate with the crowd.

Later that night my Surface tablet dies.  It has been my favorite nighttime e-reader.  The flipback keyboard stand allowed to read hands-free.  This is no joke, the place is definitely cursed!  That's the Second Plague.

Day 3: Round 4, Churches, Round 5, Fisherman's Wharf

This being Easter Sunday, we go for a walking tour of Victoria's churches.  We discover many impressive neo-gothic buildings proudly shown off by each confession.  Victoria's synagogue is the oldest one in Canada.  In the evening, we go to see the picturesque floating houses at Fisherman's Wharf. Click on the link:


The Third Plague: Luda's fancy Google Project Fi Nexus 6P smartphone goes into the infamous boot loop.  We call support, they send an email with a 72-hour link to replacement, but it will only work back in the US.

Day 4: Round 6, Abkhazi Garden, Beacon Hill Park

The Abkhazi Garden turns out to be the hidden gem of Victoria, with a deeply compelling background love story.  

She was an English girl born in Shanghai, he was the last prince of Abkhazia, on the Black Sea.  She was adopted by rich aristocrats, his mother ran away with him into exile while his father was shot by the Bolsheviks.  They met in Paris in 1922 and fell in love, but he was penniless and her mother considered it a m├ęsalliance.  During WWII she was interned by Japanese in China, he was interned by Germans in France.  They lost track of each other.  After the war, she moved to San Francisco and then bought a rocky plot in Victoria for $1800. He moved to New York and found her from the ship manifest.  They married a quarter century after they first met, and together Mr and Mrs Abkhazi created this beautiful exquisite garden.

There we meet the resident docent Joe Harvey, a botanist and geneticist, who tells us about all this, and about the special Bella Bella magnolia he bred:


After the last round, we take Naomi to the Beacon Hill Park and show her the flowers and the peacocks that made a lasting impression during our 2014 visit.  

We sail from Victoria knowing that we'll return.




P.S. Back home, my smartphone and Surface have miraculously revived, and Luda's smartphone replacement should be arriving soon.  The Odd Plagues are gone!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Seattle Chess Masters Series

Three wins, one umbrella
The Saturday, April 1, 2017 round of Seattle Masters Series brought Naomi 3 wins out of 3 games!  

No wonder she's so playful with her mom's umbrella, at the Green Lake promenade between the games:

Photo Album: 2017-04-01 Naomi Luda umbrella (click for more fun photos)



Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday, March 6, 2017

WA State Girls Championship

Who's the best-playing of them all?

The 2017 WA State Girls Championship took place on March 4 in the Carnation Library, and on March 5 in the Bellevue Library.  It was a 4 round Swiss tournament, 90 minutes per game, with 10 second delay, open to all girls under 19 in WA State with rating >= 1000.  David Hendricks put great efforts into organizing this event.

Naomi won first place and got $750 from the Washington Chess Federation!   Add her $320 win from the WA State President’s Cup win last month... it looks like a serious way to make a living ;-)


Top 5 girls: Naomi Bashkansky, Stephanie Velea, Minda Chen, Anne-Marie Velea, Sophie Velea

Naomi's next big tournaments:
  • Grand Pacific Open, April, Hotel Grand Pacific, Victoria BC
  • Supernationals VI, May, Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville TN



The Official Email

From: David Hendricks
Date: Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 12:29 PM
Subject: RE: WA State Girls Championship
Congratulations to Naomi Bashkansky for winning the WA State Girls Championship held Mar 4th + 5th in Carnation and Bellevue libraries. Naomi, an 8th grader attending Odle Middle School and rated 2005 USCF, finished with a perfect 4.0 score.  Naomi wins the prize money of $750 donated by the Washington Chess Federation to assist her in attending a National or International tournament of her choosing this year.  There was a four-way tie for 2nd place between Stephanie Velea, Minda Chen, Anne-Marie Velea, and Sophie Velea, each girl scoring 3.0.  These 4 girls split the $250 prize fund donated by the Chess4Girls organization, or $62.50 each. David Hendricks was the Tournament Director and gets the photo credits.
Back: Naomi Bashkansky, Anne-Marie Velea, Minda Chen, Sophie Tien, Melina Li, Alison Xiao, Melody Wang.
Front: Stephanie & Sophie Velea, Sophie Szeto, Angela Chen, Sonia Devaraju, Angel Shen, Nithya Subramanian, Beatrice Raugei

WA State Girls Championship results

#
Name
ID
Rtng
Team
Grd
Rd 1
Rd 2
Rd 3
Rd 4
Tot
1
Naomi Bashkansky
14048474
2005
OMS
8
W14
W4
W3
W2
4.0
2
Stephanie Velea
15695130
1624
BCS
4
W10
W7
W6
L1
3.0
3
Minda Chen
15185862
1689
ADD
7
W12
W5
L1
W7
3.0
4
Anne-Marie Velea
15689252
1636
EPS
6
W13
L1
W11
W8
3.0
5
Sophie Velea
15695207
1528
BCS
2
W9
L3
W13
W11
3.0
6
Sophie Tien
15248711
1752
TYE
6
W8
D11
L2
W14
2.5
7
Alison Xiao
15248691
1398
SPT
5
W15
L2
W10
L3
2.0
8
Melina Li
15744318
1149
LCN
4
L6
W15
W9
L4
2.0
9
Beatrice Raugei
16244216
unr.
CML
7
L5
W12
L8
W13
2.0
10
Sonia Devaraju
16063933
680
CHR
4
L2
B---
L7
W15
2.0
11
Melody Wang
15689947
1445
OMS
7
W16
D6
L4
L5
1.5
12
Nithya Subramanian
15712898
1034
LEO
7
L3
L9
D14
B---
1.5
13
Angela Chen
15713185
897
LCN
4
L4
W16
L5
L9
1.0
14
Sophie Szeto
15458295
1255
LCN
5
L1
H---
D12
L6
1.0
15
Angel Shen

unr.
CGR
3
L7
L8
X16
L10
1.0
16
Helena Feng

unr.
OMS
7
L11
L13
F15
U---
0.0