Abby Blogs from Turkey
By Abby Marshall   
November 19, 2007
abbylead2.jpgBefore getting to Abby Marshall's entertaining blog on her preparation and arrival for the World Youth (Antalya, Turkey Nov.18-28), let's recap the U.S. round one results. As a team, we scored 23/33. In round two, there are several interesting pairings. Warren Harper plays on board one of the Boys Under 16 against IM Vasif Durabeyli, from Azerbaijan.  There are also two All-American matchups: Daniel Naroditsky plays Christopher Heung in the Boys Under 12 while Evan Xiang and Simone Liao play in the Girls Under 8. Here are the individual scores of our U.S. team  after one round:

  World Youth U.S. Team Scores
After one round

Girls U18 
Ettie Nikolova     1
Elina Kats     0
Julia Kerr     0
Girls U16    
WFM Alisa Melekhina     0
Abby Marshall     1
Courtney Jamison     0.5
Louiza Livschitz    1
Girls U14    
Dai Yang     1
Jennie Liu    0
Gayatri Vempati     0
Girls U12    
Alena Kuzniatsova     1
Anna Matlin     0
Girls U10    
Sarah Chiang    1
Ellen Xiang    1
Girls U8    
Evan Xiang    1
Simone Liao     1
Boys U18    
FM Elliot Liu     1
Boys U16    
Marc Tyler Arnold    1
Warren Harper     1
Samuel Shankland    1
Boys U14    
FM Ray Robson     1
Victor Shen     1
Alec Getz    1
Michael Yee    1
Christian Tanaka     0.5
Boys Under 12    
Daniel Naroditsky     1
FM Darwin Yang    0
Christopher Heung    1
Boys Under 10    
Brian Luo     1
Varun Krishnan    0
Jarod Pamatmat     0
Boys Under 8     
Jonathan Chiang     1
Dachey Lin     1
Total round team score     23/33

Now, on to Abby's blog:

When I play chess in the United States, my name is Abby Marshall. When I play chess in Turkey, I am Tveshti Nookilova, according to my ID badge. I guess it is part of a new intimidation strategy by the US team, or maybe I was just making less sense than usual when I registered for the tournament.

In case you hate my blog, there will be a regular guest blog from Mr. X (not his real name) who obviously cannot be identified, but he is a total genius, even if he is incredibly lazy and meets none of the requirements to go on the trip. You can try and guess his identity, but hopefully you will not be right. (I was going to put this little piece of news at the end of my blog, but I figured if you do not like it, you may not get to the end.)

OK, now that it is clear that my blogs will be written by Tveshti, first: hello Mom, Dad, sister, and brother because if it weren’t for you guys I would not be writing this blog or, by extension, playing in the World Youth. Thanks also to my friends and generous supporters for all your help; I will be thinking of you guys. Also, hey to my psychology class: awesome send-off party, but I still wanted to leave.

    I’m really thrilled about blogging for the World Youth because last time this opportunity arose (in the recent U.S. Open), I started winning all my games. My blogging record is 3-0. I think a blog such as this will keep me honest, working hard, and doing my best not to play like an enormous moron, because I know I will have to report back to you guys. I wish I could say the same for my roommates... I purposely decided to blog before the first round so I could make predictions for myself and my roommates, so: Ettie Nikolova-0/11 (Ettie hasn’t played for a couple of months, so hopefully her coach will review how the pieces move as part of her preparation. But she still gets the big sad egg because the organizers make sure each section has an equal number of participants, so not even a bye.); Louiza Livschitz: 11/11 (in case her dad is reading this blog); Me: 10/11, since I’m losing to Louiza in the last round….

I heard the Limra hotel has been preparing assiduously for my stay, fearing the great influence of my acid pencil . The organizers have done a super super job, and the Limra fulfills every possible human desire. Food and drinks are all included; shops and a cinema and a disco are downstairs; the pools are pretty, and the beach is a five minute walk from the rooms, which are weirdly without any sort of desks or tables. I’m in a triple, so floor space is tight especially with the extra cot which obviously does not belong.

View from the room. Photo Deren Getz.

The hotel room setup is a cross between the Biltmore (site of the US Open 2005) and the Gaylord/Opryland in Nashville (Supernationals 2005), which means to get to your room requires at least 45 minutes (round-trip) and a good sense of direction because of the myriad catacombs and multiple levels. Luckily it’s really great weather, warm enough to swim, and the mountains are absolutely shocking and beautiful, blending into the background of the massive resort. Food is great, I mean it’s free, so as long as it’s edible I’m good, but truly it tastes wonderful. They use different spices and it’s really interesting how an apple in the US differs from an apple in Turkey (honestly). Though I am getting nervous, because even with all the walking it takes to get to the room, I fear I will steadily gain weight: I’m eating as much for breafast here as I do for dinner at home. I’m on vacation, however, so no low-fat junk, you know?

    The travel went remarkably smoothly. Of course, international travel involves waiting, and waiting. And also waiting. So to pass the time, Ettie and I played a game; she names a book and I have to name the author. Easy enough, right?

Graphs of Wrath?
Me: Oh, I know this. John Steinbeck.
Ettie: The Pearl?
Me: dunno
Ettie: The Little Prince?
Me: Oscar Wilde.
Ettie: Oh my god, you're an idiot.
Ettie: On The Road.
Me: High Fidelity.
Ettie: You have to name the author, not a title.
Me: Oh well I was reading both those books...I can’t think of any more authors.

This is my first time traveling internationally (Canada and a day trip to Mexico don’t count), and I think the best way to explain my psychological state is “tired and confused.” But no luggage was lost, no one was hurt, and we all arrived safely, even if the bus took a few unscheduled stops: first the parking lot, where the driver just left, saying “It will be alright,” and then arriving at this magnificent place to learn it was for the Mexican and Venezuelan team.

Anyway, this whole “being in a foreign country” thing is so new to me and I’m loving it. Antalya is primarily a tourist destination for the young and hip on the shores of the Mediterranean. It’s awesome, and I can’t wait to go into the town on the free day (next Friday). What’s different is the hotel staff, who are very helpful and not only ask where you are from, but also your original nationality. For me they don’t ask that but, for example, Ettie, they are very interested to know she is from Bulgaria, though I’m sure they are very interested in Ettie regardless. The US definitely has one of the more diverse teams.

John Fedorowicz told me not to put anything about him in my blog, so before I forget: everyone had their picture taken as they walked into the hotel after 20+ hours of traveling (if you guys check out the games online, I’m sure you will see the pictures). I dunno what kind of face John was making, but what a god-awful picture, his head is literally cylindrical and his eyes are rolled toward the ceiling in a delirious state. Of course he was fine with it, but the hotel requested a retake. 

I have been tricked multiple times. I tried to learn some Turkish before I left and was all set to use it at the customs desk. I didn’t understand why I had no idea what he was saying until I realized he was speaking German. And somehow I got stuck sitting next to Ettie (my roommate) for the ten hour flight to Istanbul, the two hour flight to Antalya, and then on the equally long bus ride. I mean she’s brilliant, but she can’t figure out how to buckle a seatbelt, though at 2am she can calculate to the hundredth place the number of calories in a single hazelnut (6.2).  I’m sure you guys were all very interested to know that. Technically, Ettie forbade me to disclose the seatbelt incident, but it’s my blog (I’m using her computer, but so what?)

The opening ceremony was fantastic: native dancing, music and fireworks; unfortunately, to enjoy those things you had to make it through the 5 speeches which become 15 when read in three different languages.

Opening Ceremony. Photo Deren Getz

Turkish apparently does not translate well to English: one speech had a very long metaphor involving hands and body parts as chess, not very clear… I’m not complaining, but it easily stretched two hours plus. However, I did keep my ears, if not my eyes open, and here is some Turkish wisdom, a saying about chess:               

Eat Sweet,Talk Sweet, Play Sweet, Make Chess Sweet

I'm excited about playing in an all-girl’s section because I will not have to worry about the ever-present “maybe he played badly or too quickly because I’m a girl?” question. Though don’t get me wrong, if winning that way is what it takes, I guess I don’t mind. No GMs in my section (Girls under 16) but maybe some 2400+? But, whatever. I was telling myself on the plane, “You aren’t the best here, and you don’t deserve to win because you don’t know as much as these people, and you don’t work as hard at the board, but who cares? You could get lucky.” But I don't want people to get the idea we are only here for chess. Ettie and I are going to have a 1/2 mile race around the hotel, and I'm already set up for bocce and darts. I was listening to Absolute Garbage on the plane and on the bus, and it was great, but totally I need to buy Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron & Wine. Those songs are like lullabies, really deep, so I don’t really understand a lot of it, but I like it. I’m feeling pretty good right now and hopefully I can get up for breakfast, muster enough energy for my next blog. I’m also doing some reading: On The Road by Kerouac. I actually had the choice to read this for school, which means I thought it would be massively boring, but I love it. The narrator sounds like this guy I know who is an absolute genius.

Ciao for now (too late I realized that I studied the wrong language)