Saturday Coffee



Good morning , Saturday!  For those of you who like to count,  this is the 20th Saturday this year and there are 228 days left until the end of the year.  I usually don’t count these things (too depressing), but one of my readers sent me a link to his blog where the ONLY post everyday is this kind of shit!  Surely he can do better…if he tried.


Now for some coffee numbers:  total volume of sales last year was approximately 80 billion dollars.  In Europe alone, 17 billion dollars.  In the USA, specialty coffee alone has sales of  18 billion dollars, of which 35% is served black.   Nesspresso (remember all those George Clooney commercials?), in Europe alone, accounts for 3 billion dollars.  Starbucks worldwide has sales of more than 13 billion dollars.  Considering only the USA and Europe, coffee ingestion is, on average, one third that of tap water.  THAT is a LOT of coffee!



Finally, following up on my blog last week about the merger between Mondelez and D.E. Master Blenders to create the  world’s second largest coffee company, this week the CEO of the number one coffee company (Nestle)  had this to say:  “This creates a fantastic player and we love good competition. It’s getting tougher, but I never knew a market that isn’t getting tougher.”–Paul Bulcke

It is this kind of positive attitude surrounding every aspect of coffee –from TOP to BOTTOM–that is one of the reasons why I think coffee is so GREAT!








Reigning Canadian Champion Bator Sambuev is currently participating in the Premier section of the Capablanca Memorial in Havana.  The  Russian born Sambuev, ranked number three before the start,  is dead last in the tournament, with 1-win, 6-losses and just one-draw.  There is just one more round left.





Bator has a very sharp, dynamic style of play that, while is very popular with the spectators,  demands LOTS  of energy.  Trying to win every game–regardless of colour or rating of his opponent–the 33 years old Montrealer is increasingly finding that age  works against him.  At the 2012 Olympiad Bator lost 6 games, won 3 and drew zero. Never satisfied with a draw on principle, the Canadian star should soon start thinking of adapting his game along more practical considerations.

That being said, Sambuev also had his share of bad luck in Havana.  Take a look at this howler:

gm  Sambuev, B


im  Hevia,Alejano

Position after White’s 35th move.  A totally chaotic game where Sambuev was losing from almost immediately after the opening up until several moves ago when White blundered.  Here Black can win by playing 35…Qd1! , attacking the White Queen, followed by promoting his c-pawn.  White would have had nothing better than resign!

INSTEAD, Sambuev played 35…c1(Q)??  and got mated after 36.QxN+  Kb7  37.Qd7+ Ka6  38.Qd6+  Kb5  39.Rb3+ etc




Sambuev spends most of his time in Canada playing in what are known as ‘week-end’ tournaments, usually 5 rounders, where most of his opponents are 300 or 400 points lower rated.  Occasionally a strong player or two will also participate and give Bator a run for his money.  For some reason or other, Sambuev hardly ever participates in the much more competitive tournaments in the US, where the participation of a dozen grandmasters or so is the general rule.

As I also grew up playing in those 5-rounders  in Canada during the 1970’s and 1980’s,  I know quite a bit about this style of life.  It is BAD for your chess progress as you are almost always playing weaker players.  While Sambuev has had a remarkable string of successes in these events–even gaining some 30 to 40 ELO points this past year–there is a price to pay: you begin to develop bad habits and lose your sense of objectivity.  You begin to EXPECT to win every game, regardless of who your opponent is or of how good/bad your position is.  Then, when one finally plays in a strong tournament, such as the one Sambuev is playing in now in Cuba, you get a cold shower:  grandmaster-strength players are not weekend-patzers.  









21-year old Canadian grandmaster Eric Hansen appears  in a long interview/piece in the latest edition of SPORTSNET magazine!  I haven’t yet read it, but I know that Eric was followed to Reykjavik earlier this winter  by Brett Popplewell,  a journalist working for the magazine with the intention of producing a long article on Calgary’s star player.  I was contacted by Brett several times for information and my opinion and I assume that several other top Canadian players are also mentioned in the article.



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