2015 Hawaii Chess Festival Kicks Off; Shankland Leads GM Challenge

2015 Hawaii Chess Festival Kicks Off; Shankland Leads GM Challenge

One of the most interesting events of the year is currently taking place in beautiful Hawaii, where organizers have launched the 2015 Hawaii Chess Festival.

The festival includes a strong open tournament, many chess related activities and side events, and a slew of chess superstars.

Held at the Hilton Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu, the main purpose of the festival is to raise interest and funds for Hawaii's emerging Scholastic Chess Programs, and specifically to eventually build the Hawaii Chess Center and Scholastic Academy

Among the invited guests to the event is none other than Women's World Champion Hou Yifan, as well as U.S. superstars GM Sam Shankland and GM Timur Gareev. In addition to holding lectures and simuls the three stars are also participating in the Hawaii Grandmaster Challenge, along with IM Shinya Kojima, who earned a spot by winning a fundraising raffle.

The Hawaii GM Challenge is a quadruple round-robin, and consists of 6 rounds of rapid chess, which was played on Friday, as well as 6 rounds of blitz, to be played on Sunday. With a prize fund of $10,000, including $5,000 for first, the players are taking the event quite seriously!

Shankland came roaring out of the gate, defeating both Gareev and Hou in the first two rounds:


In their second game, Timur was surely out for revenge against Sam as he opened with 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4?!, giving up a pawn in order to immediately reach uncharted waters:

Gareev continued his radical aggression with the piece sacrifice 19.Rb5?!, which turned the game into a complete mess. Shankland accepted the piece and was winning for many moves but eventually slipped up, giving Gareev a winning attack. Gareev in turn squandered the win and the players ended up in a long opposite colored bishop endgame, which Sam held with good defense.

After 6 rounds Shankland leads with 4.5 points, trailed by Hou and Gareev with 3.5/6 each, followed by Kojima with just 0.5/6 (draw with Sam in round 3). The blitz portion of the event will take place Sunday, March 22, with everything still on the line!

phpLdLNOe.jpeg        One of the many side events was a tandem blitz game. Next to Hou is the Mayor of Maui, Alan Arakawa, and next to Sam is Paul Iinuma, who won the auction for his seat. Photo: Victoria Jung-Doknjas


In addition to the GM Challenge, the International Open is also underway, with several strong GMs in attendance. After three rounds GM Alejandro Ramirez, GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan, and GM Robert Aghasaryan have perfect scores, with GM Niclas Huschenbeth and IM Anthony Saidy trailing behind with 2.5/3.

phpntOubt.jpeg          GM Samy Shoker vs. GM Alejandro Ramirez, 0-1. Photo: Victoria Jung-Doknjas

phpMzJIlW.jpeg          GM Robert Aghasaryan vs. Timur Gareev, 1-0. Photo: Victoria Jung-Doknjas

phpZtdUdP.jpeg          GM Robert Gabuzyan, who defeated GM Alexander Shabalov in Round 3. Photo: Victoria Jung-Doknjas



The event will conclude on Sunday, as there is still the International Blitz Tournament, as well as the final rounds of the Open and of course the blitz segment of the GM Challenge. For full information and details about the Hawaii Chess Festival, visit their main site here, and for more photos/updates, check out their Facebook.

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