Battle on the Rock
I would have been pretty happy with 7.5/10 before the event, but it shows how hard it is to win open events these days that 4 players managed to amass 8 points. One of the special appeals of the Gibraltar tournament is the varied array of chess themed evening entertainment. One new feature was the Battle of the Sexes, watching this with a glass of wine in hand ( I recommend replicating this bit at home) was rather entertaining. See for yourself.
I haven’t had a lot of big tournament invitations in recent times apart from Gibraltar and the London Classic but this year is shaping up more promisingly, starting with a strong event in Baden-Baden whose powerful club team has won the Bundesliga for the last 8 years, I was happy they fulfilled their long time plan to organise a tournament. My games were interesting although few ended decisively; I finished the event on a high getting back to 50% with a late win with Black against Fabiano Caruana.
The tournament hotel was the exceptional Brenners Park hotel and spa in Baden-Baden, a beautiful spa town by the Black Forest. The weather has not been nice anywhere during this extended winter, but this can be forgiven in Baden-Baden which is a winter wonderland with the snow on the ground. The event ran very smoothly, particularly for a debut effort, and thanks are due to Hans Walter Schmidt, Sven Noppes , Christian Bossert and Dr. Markus Keller for quality of organisation.
I should also mention the efforts of my fellow chess.com blogger Lawrence Trent who manfully put in long hours in the commentary room.