The traditional opens have started

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0 | Chess Event Coverage
The big opens have startedExcept for snow, Christmas trees and fireworks, the period just before and after New Year is also known for the many big open chess tournaments. Some of them have a very rich tradition, like Reggio Emilia, the Rilton Cup and, of course, the Hastings Chess Congress, the oldest tournament in the world still running.

Photo © Rilton Cup


Reggio Emilia

The 52nd edition of the “Torneo di Capodanno” takes place December 28th - January 6th at the Astoria-Mercure hotel in Reggio Emilia. It's a 10-player round-robin with GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Michele Godena, GM Daniele Vocaturo, IM Sabino Brunello (all from Italy), GM Gata Kamsky (USA), GM Eltaj Safarli (Azerbajan), GM Baadur Jobava (Georgia), GM Konstantin Landa (Russia), GM Viktor Bologan (Moldavia) and GM Zoltan Almasi (Hungary).

The rounds start at 14:30 CET and GM Miso Cebalo annotates the games for the public at the venue every day; admission is free. The rest day, missing since the 40th edition (1997-98), has been reintroduced: no games will be played on January 1st. A nice preview on the tournament can be found here. Results round 1: Brunello-Safarli 0-1, Landa-Jobava 1/2, Bologan-Caruana 0-1, Almasi-Godena 1/2, Vocaturo-Kamsky 0-1.

At first Vladimir Malakhov was going to play in Reggio, but because of his success at the World Cup the Russian Chess Federation wanted him on the team for the upcoming World Team Championship in Bursa, Turkey. The Italian organizers were then helped by Gata Kamsky, who was happy to step in.

Rilton Cup

The 39th edition of the Rilton Cup takes place December 27th - January 5th in the beautiful Mälarsalen, Münchenbryggeriet in Stockholm, Sweden. The stars at this big, 9-round Swiss are Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland), Luke McShane (England), Eduardas Rozentalis (Lithuania), Igor Lysyj (Russia) and Jon Ludvig Hammer (Norway), who won the open in London earlier this month.

Ever since I played in the 2004/2005 edition I'm planning to return to Stockholm and the Rilton Cup. It's a wonderful tournament with a fantastic tradition and history which they keep reminding you of. For instance, on the tournament website you can find a nice picture gallery of participants from the early years onwards. In this year's event two rounds have been played so far; in the first Lysyj and Hammer were held to a draw by FMs Mads Andersen and Osmo Kauppila and already in the second round Wojtaszek played an IM (his name was Arnd Lauber and he manageg to draw) and McShane even a GM (Aleksandr Shimanov, who also held the draw). A tough event for the top seeds.

Hastings Chess Congress

Hastings, like Wijk aan Zee, is a coastal town of minor importance. However, it plays a major role in British history and the reason is of course the Battle of Hastings: on October 14, 1066 the Norman army led by Duke William of Normandy defeated the English army led by King Harold II. It is said that the Normans introduced chess to Hastings: this William the Conqueror was a chess player and once broke a chess board over the head of his nephew, Louis the Fat, having accused him of cheating…

One of the strongest chess tournaments ever held was Hastings 1895, but it wasn't won by one of the favourites, amongst them Lasker, Steinitz, Chigorin or Tarrasch. No, it was Harry Nelson Pillsbury from the USA.

Which tournament can say that over the years all world champions except Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov have played? Here’s an impressive list of the winners. This year to favourites are Yuri Drozdovskij (Ukraine), Zbynek Hracek (Czech Republic), Andrei Istratescu (Romania), Romain Edouard (France) and David Howell (England). The games of the top boards of round 1 can still be replayed at the live section.

And more...

Naturally more tournaments are being played these days. I'll mention one, the Groningen Chess Festival, which I visited yesterday to make a video report. This will be published later this week. In the open Ukrainian super-talent Ilya Nyzhnyk is leading with two rounds to go, while the 4-game match between Jan Timman and Robin van Kampen is 1.5-1.5 after three games. Later more on this event.

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