Babula wins Czech Open, 3rd GM norm for Smerdon

0 | Chess Event Coverage
As promised we're now returning once more to the Czech Republic to do a final report on the 18th Czech Open Festival held in the CEZ Arena in the town of Pardubice. The chess part of this huge festival is probably the biggest annual event in the world, with besides several open groups a lot of side tournaments (e.g. in blitz and 'active chess' or rapid). The big open was won on tiebreak by Czech GM Vlastimil Babula, who finished together with his compatriot Viktor Laznicka on 7,5 out of 9. 26 norms were scored in Pardubice, of which 4 were GM norms, one won by David Smerdon. It was his third, and he now needs some 20 more rating points to become the third Australian grandmaster in history.

The Czech Open is officially called the International Festival of Chess, Bridge and Games Czech Open 2007 and lasted from Thursday the 12th of July till Sunday the 28th of July. It was held in the town of Pardubice, which has almost 90,000 inhabitants and is located 104 km east of Prague.


Google Map: Pardubice

The festival obtained the status of Open European Chess Championship of Amateurs, European Chess Solving Championship and World School Chess Teams Championship. Some statistics: 98 different tournaments in total were played with a record number of entries of 5908! 1704 players from 48 countries and all 5 continents were registered in the chess tournaments. More than 210 players had GM, IM, WGM or WIM titles. (More stats here.)

Besides chess also tournaments in draughts, go, marriage, backgammon, scrabble, renju, zatre, shogi, merels, othello, Texas hold?Ǭ¥em poker, rummikub and Magic the Gathering were held, and besides that there were Rubik's cube competitions and crosswords puzzles. Even a special postmark for the occasion was made for collectors.

The open tournament was held 20-28 July. Since the Czech Open attracts so many people from different countries and continents, it's a rare thing to have a Czech winner. But in the 2007 edition the Czech participants were very succesful; Viktor Laznicka dominated the first part of the event and eventually his compatriot Vlastimil Babula shared first place, winning the event on tiebreak.

GM norms were scored by Kivanc Haznedaroglu (TUR), Alexander Shimaov (RUS), Ilya Khmelniker (ISR) and David Smerdon (AUS). You'll find all norms scored in Pardubice here.

For Smerdon, by the way the winner of the ChessVibes blitz tournament in February, it was his third and final norm and after he has won some more rating points, he will be the third grandmaster ever of Australia, after Ian Rogers and Darryl Johansen. (It's a bit ironic that David scored his third norm only a few weeks after Rogers sadly had to announce his retirement from competitive chess due to health reasons. He actually didn't want to retire yet at all and is in reasonable health but doctors told him that playing chess has too much of a negative affect on his blood pressure. ChessVibes will most probably pay more attention to Ian's chess career on a later stage.)

On a personal note, I can say that I quite enjoyed the Czech Open, despite the fact that I lost about 16 rating points myself. The town of Pardubice is very nice, with lots of good bars and restaurants, but the fact that I shared the hotel room with Australia's next GM and his ever-optimistic and cheerful friend (and part-time manager ;-) ) Manuel Weeks cleary helped as well to stay in a good mood all the time. During dinner after the 8th round I was called by my friend and ChessVibes editor forest, who told us about David's pairing of the last round. 6 out of 8 meant that David only needed an opponent higher-rated than 2498 and since he had to play a 2548, one round before the end of the tournament it was already time to celebrate!

Naturally during the tournament the three of us did many "show-and-tell's" on a pocket chess set while enjoying some fine Czech food and beer, so I can give a bit of an insider's look at how one actually becomes a grandmaster.

Final standings:

  1. Babula, Vlastimil    g  CZE 2577  7,5  7,5 2487 56,0
  2. Laznicka, Viktor     g  CZE 2594  7,5  7,5 2484 56,0
  3. Schlosser, Philipp   g  GER 2562  7,0  7,0 2484 53,0
  4. Potkin, Vladimir     g  RUS 2591  7,0  7,0 2477 55,5
  5. Ibrayev, Nurlan      g  KAZ 2468  7,0  7,0 2444 50,0
  6. Oleksienko, Mikhailo g  UKR 2567  7,0  7,0 2440 52,0
  7. Korobov, Anton       g  UKR 2530  7,0  7,0 2437 49,5
  8. Gajewski, Grzegorz   g  POL 2556  7,0  7,0 2430 51,5
  9. Bobras, Piotr        g  POL 2558  7,0  7,0 2418 51,0
 10. Haznedaroglu, Kivanc m  TUR 2440  7,0  7,0 2390 44,0
 11. Maslak, Konstantin   m  RUS 2548  7,0  7,0 2377 45,5
 12. Heberla, Bartlomiej  g  POL 2484  7,0  7,0 2373 50,0
 13. Kalod, Radek         g  CZE 2486  7,0  7,0 2357 46,0
 14. Dvoirys, Semen I     g  RUS 2577  6,5  6,5 2453 50,5
 15. Meduna, Eduard       g  CZE 2392  6,5  6,5 2444 51,0
 16. Grachev, Boris       g  RUS 2601  6,5  6,5 2442 50,5
 17. Shimanov, Aleksandr  f  RUS 2428  6,5  6,5 2440 47,0
 18. Khmelniker, Ilya     m  ISR 2427  6,5  6,5 2430 48,0
 19. Totsky, Leonid       g  RUS 2484  6,5  6,5 2425 48,5
 20. Schneider, Dmitry    m  USA 2488  6,5  6,5 2420 47,5
 21. ... (429 players)

The main square

The venue: CEZ Arena

Inside the CEZ Arena

1st: GM Vlastimil Babula (CZE, 2577)

2nd: GM Viktor Laznicka (CZE, 2594)

3rd: GM Philipp Schlosser (GER, 2562)

4th: GM Vladimir Potkin (RUS, 2591, second of Levon Aronian)

5th: GM Nurlan Ibrayev (KAZ, 2468)

6th: GM Mikhailo Oleksienko (UKR, 2567)

7th: GM Anton Korobov (UKR, 2530)

8th: GM Grzegorz Gajewski (POL, 2556)

9th: GM Piotr Bobras (POL, 2558)

14th: GM Semen Dvoirys (RUS, 2577)

17th: IM Alexander Shimanov (RUS, 2428), scoring a GM norm in Pardubice

29th: GM Magesh Panchanathan (IND, 2486)

30th: IM David Smerdon (AUS, 2461), Australia's third GM-to-be

The third norm!

89th: GM Gerhard Schebler (GER, 2496)

Finishing on a disappointing 5 / 9, 125th place: GM Vasilios Kotronias (GRE, 2602)

138th: GM Evgeny Sveshnikov (LAT, 2504)

Is it really him...?

Yes, it is. Special guest at the Chech Open: GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2757). He's wearing his shirt from the soccer match on the rest day of the Mtel Masters in Sofia. In an interview he said: "I like soccer so let me use a soccer parable. Pardubice is a little Brasil. People know about chess a lot here, they are talking about the festival at the streets all the time. It is definetely the chess city. And I really enjoyed the atmosphere here. I was able to meet a lot of new people and also to talk with my old friends. It was a great time."

I can only agree with Da Shakh.

Postscript: The trip back to Amsterdam was one of the most thrilling I've ever experienced. In the car with Manuel Weeks we dropped off Dave in Prague, from where he would travel to Budapest and later to Paks. We left Prague, heading towards Frankfurt (about 525 km), around 09.30 in the morning. My flight to Amsterdam was at 18.15 so we had more than enough time, especially since the larger part of the driving would be on the famous Autobahn. But the rain and the heavy holiday traffic put us in at least twelve different traffic jams in a row, so that we were still 80 kilometers away from Frankfurt airport at 17.30! Now that's what you call time-trouble. But we kept on trying, we phoned Manuel's girlfriend in Mainz to check me in online, and I decided to leave my suitcase in Germany (where I will return in two weeks for the Chess Classic in Mainz) so that I didn't have to loose more time on that. At 18.01 I ran into Terminal 2 of Frankfurt Airport, just 14 minutes before scheduled take-off. After a ground stewardess printed my boarding pass, I ran a personal record on my 800 meters to gate D42 where I was welcomed at 18.11 with a "please, take it easy, we have a 25 minute delay, boarding starts in ten minutes." I had made the second time control as well!
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