After two years we will have the World Championship again. Another chance to finally win a medal and get a win with one of the Kazakh or Kyrgyz profi player. Will I make it this time?
It's nice that we know the date already in October. I cannot miss it, so I use sale offer and I buy a ticket more than half a year in advance. Fortunately, the date has not really changed in the meantime. Well, except that I counted with the arrival day 26 and the first around 27, and it was the arrival day 25 and the first day of the game 26, but one can survive this. Nothing like information in advance, except two messages through whatsapp group - well this part could be better, but so be it. They want our flight times, so some airport pickup will be arranged. Well, they could inform us in advance, that they plan aiport pick up just three times a day, but I am pretty lucky because I am almost the last. Only Oskar will arrive after me. Despite the big team and many members of federation, and fact, that there are three possible exits at the airport, there is just one guy from some transport service, who got photo of arriving people. So he is trying to find us, but like this is difficult. Somehow we met.
So we are waiting for Oskar together, but Oskar nowhere. Later I found that he though that nobody is waiting, so he simply took taxi, so eventually he was in the hotel before I did. His suitcase arrived again a few hours after him, maybe that's why we missed him. I got a room - to get there, you must go through an unlit footbridge over the pool, stairs without a lift, a maze of corridors. David certainly did not like this, we will have to change this tomorrow. But there are two mistresses in the room instead of David. They are not angry and they told me where David is. I am going through another maze of rooms into our one. Let me close my eyes for an hour... And then we go for breakfast. To get to breakfast, you need to get to reception, then is is easy. So I am looking for reception, but I could not find the way there for more than half an hour. Breakfast is super, except cherry juice, which quite disappointed me, but everything else was simply great and we had amazing choice of food.
We play the first two rounds. I won the first round easily even after almost awake night, and thanks to this game I get contact of the Romanians team. Second round I have Assel. I wanted to enjoy this game, and to try the opening from the nine cup, which I was training with the phone and which I found a good way to test skills of both players, but I am totally tired and sleepy and I just somehow play... Maybe someone even took a picture of me resting on the podium with David's backpack under my head, but I don't care. The next morning I am still somewhat out of shape, playing with the Turkish lady, and I think it's going to be an easy win again, and I'm trying instead of practicing 7-7 opening 7-5, which I actually can't play at all. But my opponent is not so easy rival and I lose. Well, I'm looking forward to mangala anyway. (But despite the hard workout, I am not doing as I expected in the Mangala Main Tournament.)
But my moment is coming. In one round of Toguz, my rival is Saltanat from Kazakhstan and I like the draw because I am starting. We will finally try. I play from nine. The rival too. Then for some time the game is the same as what I have trained with the phone. Great. My position, and number of captured pieces looks like I win. It looks like this long time. Those who can just watch, see it and they are suprised, what they see. Only sometime after 25th turn, instead of seven balls from the sixth cup, I sow seven balls from the seventh cup. And then it slowly begins to turn. Everyone says it was a great game, and most of all, the fact that I was leading for so long was somewhat unexpected. Assel is interested to comment this game in the next book. Well, we all say that it has been around for a while, that it will not take long and one of Kyrgyz or Kazakh player will lose with one of Czech player. Well, let it happen next time.
The next few days we just play, my good mood can only be spoiled by a blocked back for a while, but fortunately they can quickly recover by themselves. The announcement of winners is coming. We are once again awarded for the promotion of the game. David and I receive a special medal and a commemorative card for merit in developing the game. Paul gets a cup, both for a computer program that beat a new Kazakh phone application last year and, in fact, for having five points after six rounds. And Radka becomes vice-president of the World Federation. The Kazakhs counted on me, but this option will be better for everyone. After the federation meeting dinner with live music is arranged for us somewhere in the city. I'm sitting right next to the pianist so I can guess the keystroke order. He lends me his keyboards for a while, so I can play David's favorite song. So I play and David is singing. In addition, David is the first to throw himself into the space in front of the keyboard and guitarist and cause our entire society to plunge into the whirl of dance. (Everybody except me).
Next day starts a special part where the rapid is played. Unlike the basic part, where there is a limit of 2 people, here it is without a limit, but with a terribly high starting fee for extra players. So I have a rest day. Many Kazakhs play, great training, probably like in Pardubice, but no medals to look for. The next day the same in mangala, the starting fee is lower, and the number of players is much lower too. I'm lucky. My opponent didn't come in the end, I got a free point, then I beat one Kazakh and Alona and with a with total of four points I finally get to the desired third place. Hurray. Well I felt I may get gold of silver, but I'll keep that one next time. However, my game with Saltanat definitely leads me to decide to participate in the December Kyrgyz tournament. They say there are over 200 players and I could get two or three points there. Maybe it will be more. We'll see.
Well, not everything was perfect, but the organizers still deserve out huge thank you for fine event. We are looking forward to come to some other mancala event in Turkey later.
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