Day of Arrival

My official chess adventures started when I left Toronto last night. I flew into Paris this morning. I took a connecting flight to Barcelona from there, and everything was going smooth. I waited a long time for the luggage, but it came. So far so good.

I had the address of the place where I was staying, and gave it to the taxi driver. At some tournaments, GMs get picked up at airports, but that happens in Canada more often than anywhere else. Events like Olympiads and WYCCs are exceptions. The driver didn’t know where the place is, but found it on the map. Some time after, he dropped me off, saying that we are on the right street and just pointed to a building.

Without a doubt, it was the wrong building. After asking about 5 people, none of who speak English, I finally found my destination.I found out that I am staying at a university dorm. I have been spoiled by Canadian arrangements. If anybody remembers my Windsor stay, it was a nice Hilton. This dorm is something special. No towels. They don’t provide soap/shampoo. No tv (if that was in doubt after the last few things). Need to pay for internet. But the internet (as well as the towel and soap) was a must. My blog has only been a lead up to this. It’s tournaments that matter.

I knew that the life of an “average” GM would not be glamorous. But I thought it might be a bit better than this. Canadian events may have spoiled me. My last European event was the Olympiad, which always treats its participants well. Before that, I had Hungary, where I had other arrangements. But we are here for chess. Either way, here are a few pictures of the room:

Not too shabby. Has everything I need (except for what I previously mentioned). But not what I am used to. I guess this year of professional chess will force materialism out of me. Not necessarily a bad thing.

After seeing the room, I thought its time for my first meal in Barcelona. I walked around the residence for about 20 minutes, but finding something decent to eat was not easy. I walked into something that looked like a hybrid of a fast-food and a cheap restaurant for a quick meal. Not impressed. Everything (ok, not the coke) looked microwaved.

Bought a bit of groceries (including the soap) and went back to the room. The fatigue hit me. I was able to sleep for a few hours on the plane, but when I couldn’t I was able to watch a few movies. A 2 hour nap followed, after which I felt GREEEEAT. Showered and felt even better. That’s how you beat long hour flights.

I grabbed a chicken shawarma pita at about 7.30pm and came back to the room. I was going to call it a night, chatting online for a bit, then reading. Then I saw a message from Vinay Bhat, who I got to know last year. I actually tried to call his room number a few times earlier in the day. I went over to his room and we decided to go out a bit later.

Vinay is one of the nicest people you would ever meet. I am just starting my first year of professional chess. This tournament is his last in his 2 years of professional chess, made possible by his 2 year fellowship. The beginning for me, the end for him. He has been in Barcelona for about a month now, as he rented an apartment and played in previous tournaments up to now. Below is a photo of Vinay at the Tapas restaurant we went to.

Tomorrow, it all begins. I look forward to it. There has been added pressure, but I also see the encouragement and support provided by the Canadian chess community.

The tournament website is:

I will try to post daily… Let the games begin…


2 Responses to Day of Arrival

  1. Chris Mallon says:

    Good luck Mark!

  2. Paul Leblanc says:

    Interesting detail on your arrival in spain. Good luck in round one.


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