Saturday, July 17

Iím off to Switzerland! I really should use a smaller suitcase. I bought the largest suitcase I could find at AAA and itís a behemoth. It encourages over packing as the 64 pound weigh-in at the airport can attest. Looking back, I packed too many books. While I planned to read on the plane and in the airport, I planned mostly sightseeing in Switzerland not reading. I also didnít really need my chess set & clock since equipment was provided at the tournament. It just felt too weird to go to a chess tournament and not bring a set. The first leg of my flight went to Newark. I booked the flight on Continental to get frequent flier miles. While in Newark, I had time to eat at a Chinese place called ďWok and RollĒ. There was no trouble with the flight, although they switched planes which caused a Ĺ hour delay taking off from Newark. The week before leaving I purchased some noise-canceling headphones for the long flight. While they worked well, it was awkward trying to sleep with the headphones on.

Sunday, July 18

Arrived in Zurich at 8AM on schedule and had no trouble finding the train station. I didnít have more than a 5 minute wait from the time I got my ticket until the train arrived (trains left for Biel every hour). The only noteworthy thing I saw in my brief time in the airport was a person playing a musical instrument off to the side collecting donations. While in the US, this person would be playing a saxophone or guitar, this guy was playing a large harpsichord. Unfortunately, I had my camera packed away and didnít get a picture. I had no trouble figuring out the trains or getting to Biel. Once there, I first went to my hotel which was two blocks behind the train station. It was too early to check in, but I could leave my bag with the hotel desk so I could wander around town. I found the chess site about 8 blocks from the hotel, 6 from the train station. Although it was not that far of a distance, there were a lot of twists and turns and it wasnít until Tuesday that I was completely comfortable with where I was going. I watched part of a rapid (game in 25 min.) tournament won by GM Mikhail Kobaljia (RUS), and then I went back to the hotel to check in and take a nap. I only slept a couple hours which was good since I wanted to get my body on Switzerland time. It was quite warm (mid to high 80ís I guess) probably the warmest day I encountered. Iíll be roughing it as the hotel does not have air conditioning. I tried to hook up my laptop, but my European converter wouldnít fit their plugs. Below are some of the pictures I took the first day. The other noteworthy thing I found was a Hemp Market near the hotel that sold a certain kind of plant, planters, seeds and (Iíd have to believe) final product for the lazy type.

My room in Switzerland. Well, I didnít come here to watch TV.

View from my hotel window.

The Hotel Continental

Palais des CongrŤs, site of the Biel Chess Festival

Hemp Market