Trio of Pre-Olympiad Chess Events

Trio of Pre-Olympiad Chess Events

| 20 | Chess Event Coverage

With the 2014 Chess Olympiad right around the corner, several GM tournaments are squeezing themselves into the busy tournament calendar.

Here's a quick look at three events around the world before the section starts its reporting live from the Norway Olympiad.

1. Canadian Open (Championnat Ouvert du Canada)

The 9-round Swiss was held in Montreal from July 19-26 in the "Grand Salon" of the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, a hotel famous enough for its own Wikipedia page. Eleven grandmasters and two WGMs competed in the top section of 43 players.

Top-seeded chess journeyman GM Sergei Tiviakov won his last-round game against an FM to catch the leaders at 6.5/9.

GM Sergei Tiviakov, racking up the frequent flier miles

Tiviakov finished in a tie with Iranian GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami and GM Robin van Kampen. Tiviakov edged them both on tiebreaks. (The official site does not list if they are all co-champions, but in the past co-champions have been allowed.)

Here's the last-round game that made it two Dutchmen on the podium, and gave a columnist more artillery for his articles:

Canadian GM Eric Hansen, winner in 2012 and co-winner in 2013, could not make it a three-peat as he finished a point back. GM Anton Kovalyov was the highest-finishing Canadian player with 6/9.

Tiviakov has now added another country to his list of recent tournaments. Earlier this month, he played in his native Dutch Championship. Before that Tiviakov competed in Lebanon, Malaysia, Indonesia, Belgium, Germany, Belarus, Panama, and Turkey -- all in the last eight months.

Full results are here. Note that some federations are inaccurate. GMs John Fedorowicz and Nick De Firmian, both still Americans, did not defect while there.

2. British Championships

The 101st edition will actually overlap the Olympiad at its end, but not for the top tournament.

The British tournament runs July 19-August 2, and the Olympiad begins August 1, with the first games beginning August 2. Theoretically a top player could complete the British Championships ending July 30, travel to Norway July 31, and make it in time for the opening ceremony August 1.

It does seem that this Herculean effort will be attempted! GM David Howell is listed as board four of the English Olympiad team, and after nine of the 11 rounds of the British Championships, he's in second place along with GM Mark Hebden with 7/9. IM Jonathan Hawkins started with six straight wins and leads all with 7.5/9.

GM David Howell, ironman (photo: Wikipedia)

Besides Howell, other masters could also attempt the draining feat, since top players from federations like Singapore and Wales are also competing in the British Championships.

Here is Howell advancing all his pawns early in the game to take out one of those players.

3. Politiken Cup

Part of the Copenhagen Chess Fesitval, the 10-round Politiken Cup is slated for July 21-29 in Helsingor, Denmark.

Fans of classic literature may wish to use its English name, Elsinore, the setting for William Shakespeare's "Hamlet." In the play, Denmark is on the brink of war with Norway, making the connection even more apropos on the eve of the Olympiad.

Many Olympiad players have come to warm up here, including GMs Richard Rapport (Hungary), Alexander Moiseenko (Ukraine), and another Englishman, second-board Gawain Jones -- among many others.

Although it is the strongest of the three events in this report, the Politiken Cup is being handled easily by former prodigy GM Bu Xiangzhi.

GM Bu Xiangzhi, a grandmaster before his 14th birthday (photo: Wikipedia)

He leads all with 8.5/9, including wins over top-seeded Moiseenko and four other 2650+ GMs.

Here he shows that opposite-colored bishops do not always make draws.

FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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