Cannes, France, 21st to 23rd February 2020
We thought of the next trip to France, to the Cannes Game Festival as a family trip. The first test, my participation in 2017, was clearly positive, which means that I liked it enough to go there again. The second visit took place a year later, when the tournaments were declared the European Championship, so it was something what, of course, we could not miss. So the plan was to visit this festival for the third time, though not so much because of the mankala, but because of the various film and comics characters that apear there as well. The best years to visit for these reasons were years 2019 and 2020, when that festival weekend was part of our spring holiday week. We had to give up 2019 because of other journeys, and so we were thinking of 2020. But when I started searching for airline tickets in August, our little comic book fan furiously resisted the idea, that we will use air transport. So the family trip was gone. When I returned from Kyrgyzstan in December, with my backpack on the weight limit, but not all things inside, knowing the fact that the Kyrgyz already have tickes and that the next event is half a year later, I just looked at the tickets and what I don't see Nice - Vienna for 10 euros. We have to take advantage of this, with such a cheap ticket it would still be financially cool. In addition, it flies Sunday night, so I should be able to play Sunday's tournament and Monday in the morning I can normally be at work, so I save a day of vacation. Unfortunately, I do not see the super cheap accommodation that was long seen when we planned a trip in 2018. So it would be good to find a partner because two often live at the same price as one. I agree with one enthusiastic soul that we met in the last Pardubice. Great, we are going together. So I arranged everything, we have bus tickets, air tickets, packed backpacks and we go.
Most of the way we train - I have a magnetic board and stones from the Go set, a few rubber bands to mark fields of board of any size. It's not that comfortable, of course, like a classic board, but at least the balls don't get lost on the bus. First half of way is behind us, we are in Munich. While in Prague it is enough to get on the bus with citizen ID and long-stay card, a bus driver from Munich to Barcelona requires a passport. However, when exploring it, he is interrupt by other passengers questions and so somehow he returns the passport and lets us in. Only with this enforced show of passport we realize that we have a big problem. My colleague took not her passport but her husband's passport. So I start the phone and try to find out if the long-stay card is enough or not. At first it looks promising, but in the end I find that it probably will not be enough. Because on the French border has always been a check and I have experienced a few passengers dropped off, I am afraid my colleague will not come to the festival. And the sooner she turns back, the better for her. Control stops us on the border between Germany and Switzerland. I get off bus with her to help with the translation, fortunately German police officers speak English. They have no problem, if we continue, but we should count on any further check to mean another fine and, after return, another visit to the country's embassy. The driver doesn't want to wait any more, so I'm getting back on the bus and my colleague is going to plan how to get home to the restaurant/motorest where they stopped us. Of course I'm a friend on the phone, but there is not much to think of. She has to find out where she is, then I can help finding out how to get out of there.
Bus stops in Milan, Genoa, and then it is morning and there is a check on the border with France. Cannes - Cannet, I am getting off the bus. Great, I see the toilet, it is even free of charge. One is relieved - at the border check the driver closed the door from the toilet in bus so well that it could not be accessed. I just go straight down the street to the festival palace. I leave my backpack full of things for Kyrgyz and I queue up at the entrance to the family section, as my experience is, that it has always been shorter. And in about 40 minutes, I'm inside. I am trying to see as much as I can from the baby part and then hurray down behind the mancala. Friday is dedicated to Bao, there are big boards on the tables, ready for the tournament. I'm not doing well in the tournament. I managed to beat just Kamchybek, I lose other games. After one of the rounds there is some misunderstanding about pairing and we are waiting so long for the next round. After this round Kyrgyz players are leaving for the hotel because their hotel has check-in only about two hours a day and I thought the tournament is over anyway. So I'm going to spend the remaining time in the kids section. This decision caused that I am missing one round of the tournament and after warning I came to play the last two rounds. So I end up at the almost last place, but I do not mind. Finally a proper tournament in the game, which for its complexity too many people don't want to play. As I say the tournament is best way how to learn, I am happy because I found out few things about this game strategy. I'm going to my hotel. I solve the delivery of the Kyrgyz things and then go shopping. Two years ago, we lived only one stop away, so I know that close is big mall and so I am trying to go there, but the crossroads are really somewhat confusing with their roundabouts and I reach the sea instead of the shop. I turn back to the hotel and try the way around hotel and fortunately it is correct. I unload the purchase, load things for Kyrgyz, and go to their hotel. We sit and talk for a while and then I go to my hotel. The morning sun wake me up, ideal for a scheduled walk to the Festival Palace along the coast. I queue up exactly at the moment when they the first visitor is allowed to get in and again after about 40 minutes of waiting I'm inside, going through the kids section…
Today we play Oware. My first opponent is Serik, and we can play without clocks. That will delay the whole tournament, but the game is amazingly interesting and even all the time and end with a draw, which is simply overwhelmingly pleasing. The second game is very close, but I am losing - we repeat the position 5 to 3, where 5 balls are unfortunately on his side, so I finish with only 23. Well, the third game I failed too. Draw from the first game, wow! I do not care that I have 0 points from the first match, the game was great and most of if I have recorded. All the other games are played with a time of 10 minutes. No, blitz games are not for me, if I want to win, I need longer time. Almost all other games I lose, the second game of the second round, which I have won, I draw because I just did not count that capturing 4 is enough to win and instead of this I played something to have a good number of moves. At the end I only win both games with Oliver. So I end up almost last place again. But because I am the only full-blooded European at this open European tournament (born in Europe, living in Europe), I deserve a medal. We announce results just before closing time, then it takes time to pack everything, so we are there just a lot of overtime and several times they try to chase us out, for example by turning the lights off. But I stick to the group because we're going to have dinner together. We are so late that I hope it is impossible that they won't let me get out by same exit as the others, because I don't have a tag like the others. This situation we experienced two years ago. I am lucky this time. Dinner is super.
I leave the hotel, I sit on the bus and go to the festival palace for the last time. For sure, I ride to the train station and walk from there, in the evening it will need every minute, so I want to be sure with the shortest way. I queue up long before opening, so I am inside in less than 15 minutes after they open. This time I mainly go through the bottom and look for a place where I saw yesterday 3D printer. The tournament in Toguz is short, Serik, as the boss, plans to play a rapid and blitz tournament, but knowing that some of us are in a hurry to get train, he makes the tournament shorter using in Kazakhstan quite usual division into women and men, which I do not like at all. I understand that I have a certain medal, but that is definitely not what I want. Well, so I'll get twice on my ass from K & K and I collect bronze. So I am testing the first game 7-4 with the Kyrgyz player again and I am not doing very well. The second game, I start with Kazakh, so I use my suprising strategy, which means first move from 9 cup. It really looks like she play this opening for the first time. However, in the game I overlook twice and lose a lot of balls and so I am losing. There is not time for the third game with Italian lady, because they are running to get an early afternoon train. Anyway, few minutes later I see her with the third place medal on the neck. She is replaced in blitz tournament by Nuria, so that no one has a bye. All games I'm losing, but training is of course good. The Kazakhs probably really took 8 sets of medals, so we got two medals for the third place again. Someone know I am going after medals or what? Well, not every tournament I play... What am I going to do with a two-kilo book as a price? It's probably better than a half-meter cup, but my mini-backpack is simply full already. Just send it to Pardubice after someone in the summer. Will I be able to print my boarding pass or not? Although we are trying hard, it is not possible to arrange the cooperation of phones, computers and printer to print if. So at half past four I give up and I hope it will work with the phone at the airport. I run for train, of course they don't want to let me off by the shorter way, so I have to take the longer one. No need to panic, I have 15 minutes and it is not the last train I can take.
I am at the train station in 4 minutes, less than ten minutes before the train departs. So where can I buy the ticket? Info works - ticket office is on the left. It has a queue system, I can speak a little French, so I press the right buttons and due to departure today I'm next to be served. I say Nice, Saint Augustin and I get Nice - Ville, which is a few cents more, but I don't have time to argue about it. I checked that I should stamp my ticket, so I put it into the yellow mashine. I ask the nearest person on the platform if it goes from here to Nice, but people say it is going from the second platform. Information how to get there, I'm trying to get again from the guy from the info. He says that there is a tunnel that will come down. Okay, I find some stairs with an escalator, but half of the stair way is covered by a one-way sign, which stops me using that way. I don't have time to investigate if there is another subway a few meters away and so I ask the nearest person, who thinks I should go up, so I run up the stairs and get on the street, or rather on the highway. It certainly does not look like the way to the second platform. I'm coming back down and after all I climb the stairs that are half closed by a one-way street. In a few seconds I stand on the second platform. I ask the nearest man if the train standing there is going to Nice. No, the train to Nice is just coming to the second track. Uff, I made it. It's 16:53 and I'm leaving for Nice. I check that I have my passport and phone, and I see I miss something. I left a sweater and fleece jacket there. I immediately try Kyrgyz and Kazakh friends and the main organizer to see if any of them could take it to Pardubice. Succeeded. I land in Nice. The way to the airport is well marked, so I just follow the arrows and easily walk all the way to Terminal 1, where you can take a free tram to the other terminal. Everything goes more or less as planned, now just finish food and drinks and then test how it works, if you want to get to the plane with the ticket on the smartphone. Beep and the control door opens. I take the metals out of my pockets before I go through the frame. Your boarding pass please. Above the belt is a small device that is attached to the phone (screen up) and after a beep, I can go through the frame. My flight will be delayed. Yeah, but how much delay? Should I directly rebook a bus or not? They start preparing the gate a few minutes before scheduled departure, so I think maybe I can catch the bus. However, it takes a long time for nearly 200 people to get on the plane. We take off almost an hour late. We have a fine captain, by the name he is Czech, and he informs us that the flight will take an hour and twenty minutes. So we will land around 22:45, so I will have more than half an hour to get on the bus, it is still ok, I can make it. I ask the crew if there will be stairs given to both exits after landing. She says that there is strong wind blowing in Vienna and so it is not usual. So we'll see. The captain informs us that we are flying over the Alps and that we should land at 22:50. But it is 23:00 and we are still not on the ground and on the contrary we are rising. In a short time captain informs us that he will make the last landing attempt, if we are not able to land safely, we will be redirected to Budapest. All the time we're close to Vienna, you can feel that the wind outside is really strong. The plane shakes, from time to time it sinks down a bit. Simply turbulence. A low-cost company is not providing anything like a sack in case of nausea. One passenger in the row in front of me is obviously sick of the turbulence, so he goes to the toilet. We hear the stewardess calling him to immediately return to the seat and to fasten the seat belt, but the seat stays empty until the end of the flight. I don't like it either, but I know it's enough to breathe deeply, so my stomach content stays where it should be. But you can smell that a few stomachs failed. Hooray, we are on the ground! A long applause to the captain. We are sitting on the ground, but the wind is still waving with the plane, so it swings from side to side. When I climb the stairs, the wind leans into me with full force, and I have to step aside not to fall. Wow. I catch the railing and then I can easily get to the airport bus. Nothing like control happens, the place of departure and arrival are inside the Schengen area, so we go straight to the area where the suitcases are obtained. We landed five minutes before the departure of my bus, so I have to spend the night at the airport. There are not many seats, a lot of people just lie with the phone plugged in, so I also sit at one plug and I book a bus. Then I move to one free chair and trying to relax. I'm not extremly cold, just a little uncomfortable. So I change sleep and walk to warm up. Finally I am on the bus. The bus is pretty warm. I sleep most of the way. I am at home and continue to rest as much as I can, fortunately I only have a cough in the next few days.