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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kosteniuk visits Athens: Story & Photos

Hello to everybody!

I'm back to Halkidiki and am ready to tell you now about my trip to Athens.

First of all I want to thank the organizers of the event, the Petroupoli Chess Club and Michael Taylor for making this trip a reality. Everything was organized on the highest level one can wish for and I'm feeling very fortunate to meet people with such big hearts and such passion for the game of chess.

Now let's return to the early morning of the 14th of October where I had to travel to Athens. I had a plane at 9 AM, so I needed to wake up at 6AM in order to get from Halkidiki to Thessaloniki. After getting to the airport I looked up at the departure flights screen and that's what I saw:

Now try to guess what was the flight I was flying in.

There was a long line to check-in on my flight to Athens but I found a self-check in machine and in less than a minute I had my boarding pass. After that I went to have breakfast:

The flight from Thessaloniki to Athens is 50 minutes, at the airport of Athens I was greeted by one of the organizers of the simul - Michael Taylor.

From the airport we went directly to a wonderful hotel where I had a pleasure to stay - the hotel Grande Bretagne.

It is located right in the center of Athens on the Constitutional Square. I had a million dollar view from my hotel room:

On the top of the hill you can see the famous Acropolis.

The room for her Majesty. It's nice to be the chess queen. ;)

After enjoying the hotel for a while,

we went to see the ancient part of Athens. I had a chance to climb onto the Ancient Steps to Mars Hill (Areopagus).

The Apostle Paul ascended these ancient steps to make his famous speech to the philosophers of Athens. The speech is recorded in Acts 17:22-32.

The Areopagus, as the area atop the rock was called, was a place of discussion of philosophers of the day.

Paul's audience, chiefly Epicureans and Stoics, wanted to know what Paul had been proclaiming in the Athenian Agora, a public area a couple of hundred yards away where we went to walk later on and next to where we sat in a cafe where I had a chance to try the famous greek frappe.

After this cultural part of my trip to Athens we walked back to my hotel. I bought some chestnuts (or are they chessnuts?).

which are for me a sign of the coming autumn and then we head to the Petroupoli Square where the simul was scheduled for 6 PM.

The Athens Chess festival was taking place from October 10 to October 14. The organizers decided that the ultimate point of this festival would be my simul on the 14th of October. The whole week before the simul there were various tournaments, the winners of which got a chance to play in the simul. So every opponent I was playing against had to deserve this right to play against me. That's why the simul was very hard and challenging for me. I faced 35 opponents, it took 5 hours for me to complete the simul. Below you will find the posts of the official Athens Chess Festival page on Facebook:

10/10/2009 The Athens Chess Festival started today! The weather was beautiful and 52 players ranging from new girl juniors to FIDE master Mr Christos Goritsas competed in the Open Blitz Tournament "Kosteniuk" in a friendly atmosphere with food, drinks and music. We especially want to thank the junior players of A.S.O.P. DIAS who worked so hard all day helping to make the chess playing environment perfect for everyone. We are also very grateful to the Mayor of Petroupoli and the President of E.S.S.N.A. for their enthusiastic speeches in support of chess as a cultural sport and to our local sponsors NOW and HRW for catering so well for everyone present. Congratulations to the 4 girls who won places in the simul on Wednesday with GM Alexandra Kosteniuk and we wish you all the best! A few hours now remain before Day 2 and the Junior Blitz Tournament!

11/10/2009 Petroupoli Square was filled with kids and excitement today as the Open Junior Blitz Tournament took place. In the heatwave, kind neighbouring shops and restaurants brought down umbrellas to the square and hundreds of bottles of water and caps were handed out to the juniors who played brilliant chess! A total of 16 medals and places in the Simul GM Alexandra Kosteniuk were awarded with 6 special places being given to junior girls. Bravo to all!

12/10/2009 A field of strong players including IM Nikolaos Kalesis played in the OPEN RAPID TOURNAMENT "Kosteniuk" this evening in Petroupoli Square and 3 more girls won places in Wednesday's Simul!

13/10/2009 Tonight there was a great discussion at Petroupoli Chess Club on chess simuls, what impact they have and how they should be orchestrated. Very educational! Finishing touches are being made to Petroupoli Square in preparation for the arrival of Women's World Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk tomorrow and her Simul and Press Conference!

As the opposite to my simul in Panama, during the simul in Athens was very cold. I started the simul like this:

In a few hours continued it like this:

and finished like this:

The last game of my simul finished in the following position:

You can see that my opponent just resigned in view of the following variation: 1. ... Ke7 2. Re6+ Kd7 3. Re5+ Kc6 4. Be4+, winning the rook and the game. The final score of the event was +28=3-4.

The happy organizers - Michael Taylor and the president of the Petroupoli Chess Club.

After the simul I gave the press-conference where despite the late hour there were still many peope and many interesting questions were asked. The organizers promised me to send me a video-recording of the simul and the press-conference as well to send me all the games of the simul as soon as I have all of this available I will let you know.

With the president of the Petroupoli Chess Club and his wife.

Thanks again to the organizers for this wonderful chess festival and hope to see you all again next year!

Photos are copyrighted by Alexandra Kosteniuk and Michael Taylor. Please do not take them without permission. All you need to do is ask me for permission at and mention the photos come from and that will be fine!

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women's world chess champion



  • At October 15, 2009 at 9:02 PM , Anonymous Harry B. said...

    Nice photos! Please tell me, Alexandra, what is the composition of the "frappe", is it like an ice-cream milk shake?

  • At October 15, 2009 at 10:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Thanks for coming to Athens, Alexandra!

    My son and me consider ourselves fortunate to have seen you, and you have inspired us with the love of chess.

  • At October 16, 2009 at 5:48 AM , Anonymous Michael Taylor said...

    Dear Alexandra the Great,

    You have given Greek chess a big boost and we are looking forward to seeing Petroupoli Chess Club "Dias" packed with kids and new women who are now keen to learn and play chess. Everywhere I go, people are talking about the Simul! You have captivated Athens with your beauty, talent, endurance and charm. A big thank you,

    Michael Taylor and the members of Petroupoli Chess Club "Dias" (

  • At October 16, 2009 at 6:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I believe the score was in fact +27=4-4. Sorry if I'm mistaken. Best wishes to a woman who gave me and many others inspiration and made us love this wonderful game even more.:)

  • At November 3, 2009 at 4:18 PM , Anonymous sanjay k said...

    alexandra i saw your photos
    hotel was very good
    can you tell me which is your favourate place? i mean which country?
    now i understood the real potential of chess game in the globe
    best wishes
    sanjay k

  • At November 3, 2009 at 5:50 PM , Blogger Alexandra Kosteniuk said...

    Hi Sanjay!
    I love all places in the world where chess is played!
    Best wishes to you!
    Alexandra :-)

  • At November 13, 2009 at 7:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Beautiful story and photos!Thanks


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