Česká federace mankalových her

6. MS

Aktobe 2022

Czech version

The world is only slowly recovering from the covid restrictions and the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and their consequences. Where are those times when there was an effort to get more and more participants. The 6th World Championship will be a bit limited, the organizers have hard limits. In Astana 2017 we rejoiced that we had already managed to involve 33 countries and perhaps quietly hoped, that maybe 40 countries will come next time, but the reality of the 6th World Championship is only half as many. 80 athletes from 20 countries are invited to the 6th World Championship. (see promotional video) Plans to hold a three World Championship in the spring of 2022 in Turkey fell through. The September plans didn't work out either. Let's hope for the November ... On the other hand, if it were postponed again, I probably wouldn't be dissapointed. We are among the invitees, and I learn about the fact that the World Championship will really take place 5 weeks before it's start. The Deskohrani festival starts next day, maybe I will have a few training sessions during this festival it, but mainly it means a lot of work with all the organizing. And together with this I will have to look for tickets and finding out who will go... brr.

The dates are in collision with the finals of the Logical Olympiad, where I could get some new players, especially when I know that there is plan to organize the Junior World Championships next year. I am thinking of returning earlier, but the airfares are not at the levels that would allow it. Our only chance to get within the financial limit with a fully returnable ticket is to fly to Bishkek and from there take the train to Aktobe. A day and a half journey in a sleeping coach is no problem for me. David doesn't like it much, but we'll either take the train, or we won't go at all, or possibly you can fly alone when you want to be there so much. And it is solved. I have completed a full-day train journey on the route Bishkek - Astana in 2017 (sleeping coach) and also a day and a half on the train to Romania this September (normal open carriage and normal seats). If I compare the cost, little bit smaller distance Prague - Constanta is about 3 times as much as a train through Kazakhstan.

Everything is ready and I'm just praying there will not be need to cancel it, because of the covid tests that might eventually be required on the plane. The first part will be seasoned with the worst working period. I can no longer leave without a computer, like in Romania. Here, in the free time between games, instead of playing and talking with other participants, I will simply have to fulfill work duties. So more than vacation it will be a home office from a distance of 6,000 km. It is going to be hard, but I'm really looking forward to it. I don't really believe in a medal this time, but if I can manage the standard 5th place, I'll probably be satisfied this time. Unfortunately, I can only get it in the main tournament. About 20 Kazakhs will play in the rapid, so it will be a success just to reach the first half of the table.

Still no travel arrangements, looks like we're really going to fly. Every now and then we don't have water, right now everything has to be complicated. I write down the instructions, what and how, pack and finally we leave for the airport. The departure is full of stress, I give David the keys, which he sovereignly left in the doors and immediately forget about it. I go through all the pockets several times during the trip to the airport. Where the hell are David's keys??? Well, they were found when he wanted to open his suitcase at the airport, normaly in his pocket. Phew!!!

Not a second without water - David just has to have water on board. And there is no other way than to buy it at the airport for about five times more compared to a normal store. If you have it packed in a special bag, it can go on board. Our plane is delayed. At the airport, there was some fire on the runway lights (I find out after the flight). We only hear reports about the delay and the end of the emergency situation. Ok, a shortened break in Istanbul. We have about 3 hours there, so it will only be two. But in addition to the delay of departure, due to a cloudburst over Istanbul, we also have a delay in arrival. In other words, at the time of landing with the plane Prague-Istanbul (20:00), our boarding begins in the direction of Istanbul-Bishkek with departure at 21:00. David probably thinks that if he is the first on the bus, that the bus leaves earlier. He also unhappily informs one of the stewardess that our second plane will be leaving shortly. She just smiles... I'm sorry, I can't do anything for you... Look, it's going to take some time to get everyone on that plane. We are ruthlessly running ahead - line at the security check is of course quite long. I'm sorry, can we pass, we already have boarding time... One of our fellow passengers scolds us a lot for this - but David simply cannot run very fast with a stick, he has a problem standing in line for a long time, and luckily the gentleman accepts the explanation... A few other people try to calm us down because we're both really nervous about it. I run a little ahead, David just sticks to me and drives as hard as he can. I follow directions to our gate. We board on last call about 10 minutes before departure, but we made it. However, our suitcases probably have problems to get to plane. The captain says we are waiting for about 7 suitcases, and that he would not like to fly without them. Then again it's rush hour, lots of planes want to take off, we should have been gone a long time ago, so we're waiting for them to let us onto the runway. The departure is almost an hour and a half late. They say we will have the wind at our backs, so we can still arrive almost without delay.

Bishkek - we go to Kamchybek's school and while David will be there most of the day relaxing in the kitchen on the couch, I go round the shops to find supplies for the train. We are scheduled to leave for the station around 11 in the evening - the journey to the train station so late can take just over 2 hours. Our helpers are designated to take our suitcase and large backpack. I take two small backpacks and supplies and even so I have quite a lot of weight to carry. The help works across the border, it works on the train, but not after getting off the train. Traveling by train is quite easy. There are two ladies in our compartment. We have lower beds, we can relax and sleep quite comfortably. There is quite hot on the train, but I manage to ventilate a little, so David is not complaining. In the morning, we introduce our fellow passengers to the game a little, but then they leave and we are alone until the evening. During the afternoon I am in a coach with the Kyrgyz team. Nobody wants to train with me, so I just play the openings from book, but at least we talk to Assel, who also happens to be on the train. Two gentlemen approach us in the evening. David admires how quickly they get on their bed. And the gentlemen laugh. It is just normal. There is some very naughty child in the coach. One moment he will find himself in our compartment as well. Unaware that this is the screamer that has been heard all evening, we try to show what we do with the board and with the balls. But this kid is a nightmare. He takes the marbles and it looks like he will soon try to throw them all over the coach. As I fight with him for marbles, his parents appear and luckily they take him away.

Aktobe - it's snowing, helpers are nowhere to be found, but there is a man with such a truck structure and when he sees me moving a suitcase and a backpack a few meters, he immediately loads our stuff on it. I explain that I don't need his help, that our helpers will come soon, but no one is coming, so later I give up and let him help. He is much faster than us... In front of the station building is the Kazakh team of volunteers who will load us into cars and take us to the hotel.

A WhatsApp group has been set up and to give us a little idea of what awaits us tomorrow, a video from the preparations is sent through it. Two rounds tomorrow and an amazing opening ceremory as always. Hopefully I'll record something this time. I've always lacked the equipment for this, now it's not a problem. I am seeded fifth best, which means a weaker player in the first round and a must win over him. Well, it worked. So for the second I expect KAZ/KGZ and really, my second opponent is Assel. The opening ceremony is happening before the second round. With a flagging start. The flags are standing in two corners of the hall and we approach them through the aisle between the chairs of those watching the ceremony. And we are brought by about 10-year-old children holding a sign with the name of the country. A few speeches, the anthem and then we leave. So I will not be able to take photos, I'm the country representative again. It is time to play. Of course I lose to Assel. I wasn't in the mood to play that first game at all. It is played in the museum, in the large hall on the first floor. The toilets are only downstairs (32 steps) and the lift to them is currently being repaired. No problem for an ordinary person, but a serious situation for David... The more often I experience it, the less I want to deal with it. This is simply the last event and I'm not going anywhere else.

I have a night shift at the computer. Tomorrow will probably be the hardest day. Fortunately, the third round is a relatively unproblematic point. The fourth round I have KGZ and I see my chances to win a point for this round minimal. However, the game doesn't start bad. The rival probably wants to surprise, and that's why she starts from the 4th hole, but I did surprise her much more, because he thinks about the 5th move for about 20 minutes. 43-43, 99-89, 34-78, 79-68, her long thinking makes me happy (but also puts me to sleep a little). The game looks promising, but then on the 11th turn, I simply overlook the the threat and have a full hole taken unnecessarily and game is over. Well, what can be done.

If, if, if...

Now there will be an easier opponent, I suppose, but there is not. For the fifth round I get the second player from Kazakhstan. The game looks very good to me, a lot of people, especially arbiters, are coming to watch our game and wonder how I did it. However, at one point I force my opponent to sow one of the two overcrowded holes. 100% trap, when she have to sow one and thanks the arrangement of the balls on the board, she can loose the other one, doesn't work. I can't capture the other hole, but I can capture the smaller one right next to it. I'm just set on capturing something. And so I play like that. I don't see that she is blocked a bit and having less moves than me, if I don't capture. So I end up losing. Such a shame...
I now sow a hole with five balls and the opponent has to play one of the big ones.
Then the distribution of the balls is like this. Optically, it looks like opponent has more moves and therefore it is necessary to reduce the number by capturing. If you count the moves, if I played 92 instead of 64, it's working for me...
The last two rounds are quite easy points again, I'm very lucky that I'm not getting the second player from Kyrgyzstan. So I have a total of 4 points. Fifth place is mine. Fourth place also has 4 points, but bucholtz is a few points higher. It doesn't bother me at all. It bothers a lot of other people. If, if, if... Well, it shows that when there is enough time, we have chance to beat them. And that we don't have to worry about them. So next time I'm going for first place, okay? I just don't know how will I find a time to play at least 10 games a day for 3 months before the championship...

After the fifth round we have a break, we go to the museum. To the other one than where we play. Muzeum of history and nature. Beautiful exposure. The best part for me, musical instruments is at the very top of the building. Museum closes in 10 minutes, so we go through just very quickly. The expert interpretation is interesting, but I prefer not to listen to it much. I am still tired after that night shift and I do not want to be tired even more... I just float past the showcases and observe the exhibits. It was very nice.

Blitz is not good discipline for me. You need to train to play intuitively good moves and I am not ready for that. 3 points out of 7 with non-professional players puts me in ninth place. I don't care, I enjoy playing. I'll probably play more minute games online before next championship. The rapid will feature the top 20 players from Kazakhstan and will have 9 rounds. Kazakhs pay very high entry fees, to be able to play here, similar to the previous championship in Turkey. I'm fine with this system. After nine rounds, the Kazakhs fill the first half of the table and the rest of the world the second half. I have my mandatory 3 points from games with players from the rest of the world. And I'm quite satisfied. I didn't expect more. One day maybe...

We play in the Art Center in Aktobe. In the museum. It's a big building. We live in a hotel about 4 km from it. We are driven by cars and minibuses for 12 people. We play from 10 am and from 3 pm, 45 minutes before there is meeting for pickup. They drop us off on the side of the building, we go down the stairs to the area of the dressing room and toilets. There we take off our jackets and they collect our phones. Then we can go upstairs to play. David is able to use the disabled entrance due to knee problems. But the toilets are downstairs and the lift to them doesn't work. And he normally needs to go quite often. Just the perfect situation. Never more. On the first day, we are figuring out if we move the board down for him, if two strong guys will carry him down, or if he somehow will be able to go by himself. At the end, he somehow manages it, but his knee hurts more and more and he is not exactly excited about walking up the stairs twice. In addition, he should also arrive for the afternoon blitz rounds, because someone wants him for an interview on TV. The interview is scheduled for 3 p.m. So David arrives, even though he originally didn't want to come here. But the interview won't take place until after five o'clock, so not even the plan to quickly change out of uncomfortable clothes was working ... bad luck...

So I usually walk with David through the entrance for the disabled, and thanks to that, I only find out about the rules of handing the phone downstars when the tournament is half over. My phone is always turned off, hidden. But even that is against the rules. When I want to take a picture of the game form, none of the referees warn me about it. They just wait patiently for the phone to start up, but not a word that I shouldn't have it with me. So later I leave it in my jacket. I can take pictures of my games after the tournament. After the game, I copy the form into my notebooks. We don't need to record the games of blitz and the rapid, so I write it directly in the notebook. Well, at least the beginnings. One must be prepared for everything. Anyone can surprise you by openining, which you have not trained in any way. Of course, I waste some time on it, but it is more important for me than more time and a potential win.

World Federation Meeting. The most interesting thing is that they want to declare 9th of September (09. 09.) as a public holiday, Toguz Day. We all have to sign it. Great idea!!! After signing, we receive a participation diploma and commemorative medal.

The return journey by train starts around 10:00 in the evening and ends at 1:00 in the afternoon. We board as soon as the train is at the station, i.e. about an hour before departure. Some lady with 4 year old boy will travel with us in the same compartment. Shee doesn't look exactly thrilled when she finds out that we are already in the lower beds. So I give her my bed and I move upstairs. No problem for me. They won't be here long, they leave early in the morning. Then I move to the bottom bed. Ainur is coming in the morning, and we play Abaku together for a while. We just rest in the afternoon. The Turkish team, which is traveling with us too (but getting off sooner), is announcing a tournament in Mangala, and I manage to pass their compartment at the moment when they are singing and dombyra (a two-stringed guitar) can be heard from there. I perform the sound of my kazzoo and then disappear again. If I could use my midi piano...

End stop is here. Again, I have to somehow take our 2x20kg by myself. Helpers are already sitting in the station building. 2h journey to the border. On the way almost everybody in bus is singing. The Kyrgyz are almost home, they have a few medals and so they are in a good mood. All the team's luggage is loaded into one car and the team leaves by mashrutka buses to Bishkek. Meeting at school. We get our two assistants and we get into a taxi and go to the hotel. For the next two days we walk around the markets (Oš bazaar, Dordoi bazaar), I look for puzzles and a komuz (a three-string local guitar) and David spends lot of time with stops at stands with pink sweaters. No, I really don't need a new sweater... It was snowing overnight, it is getting cold, it's cold in Dordoi and David's knee hurts more. We're coming back. The trolleybus from the center to the second bazaar is so crowded that a funny story by Šimek and Grosmann about how someone stands on one leg in a tram in Prague in the 1960s and not on his own is coming to my mind... I remember the empty subway trains in Prague last two years...

Our stay is over. We get into a taxi and go to the airport. Because of the knee, we have assistance at the airport, and because of that, they are apparently changing our departure gate. That's why we have to to sit at the very front, by the windows and in the middle, which David doesn't feel good about, preferring the aisle and near the toilet. Well, he survived and so did I. In two years there will be another Nomadic Games, this time in Almaty. So we have a lot to look forward to.

List of stories