2009 Gibtelecom Chess Festival

2009 Gibtelecom Chess Festival

| 3 | Chess Event Coverage

Professional chess players need to be true globetrotters to earn their keep, travelling to all parts of the world in search of the next pay-day.  The Gibraltar Chess Festival, sponsored by the local telecoms provider Gibtelecom, was inaugurated in 2003, and the latest edition is currently underway in this famous British territory at the southern tip of Spain.

Gibraltar lies at an important strategic position at the entrance to the Mediterranean sea, and British sovereignty is disputed by the Spanish government.  Apart from it's military installations, it is also a tax haven and a popular tourist destination, especially for Brits, despite having an area of only 2.6 square miles.

The headline event of the festival is the Gibtelecom Masters - a 10 round Open Swiss event featuring many Grandmasters including Peter Svidler and Hikaru Nakamura.  However, after 8 exciting rounds Vugar Gashimov and Vadim Milov share the lead on 6.5 points, half a point ahead of the chasing pack which includes Svidler and Nakamura.

[correction/update: after 9 rounds, there was a five-way tie between Gashimov, Svidler, Nakamura, Harikrishna and Milov on 7/9].

The crucial final round games will start on 5 February at 10 a.m. local time (9 a.m. GMT) and live coverage, complete with commentary from current British Champion GM Stuart Conquest and even live webcams are available at the excellent official site.  The pictures and video below are among the goodies on offer at the site.

Hikaru 'H-Bomb' Nakamura contemplates his first move

Irina Krush - brushing up on her openings, or playing on Facebook?

Krush trying her hand at cricket...

and Peter Svidler - famously a big fan of cricket - has a try too...!

The rate of play is a fairly brisk 40 moves in 80 mins, then 20 mins to finish, plus an increment of 1 mins per move from the start of the game.  In the event of a tie, there will be rapid playoffs to decide a winner of the £15,000 first prize.  The best women's score in the Open event also attracts a prize of £6,000.  The leading contenders after 8 rounds are Nana Dzagnidze and Antoaneta Stefanova on 5.5 points.  US Women's Champion Anna Zatonskih is still in the hunt on 5 points, with Irina Krush a further half point behind.

Here are sample of games from the event:

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