Topalov, Nakamura, Svidler Top Seeds At 13th Gibraltar Chess Festival

Topalov, Nakamura, Svidler Top Seeds At 13th Gibraltar Chess Festival

| 10 | Chess Event Coverage

The Gibraltar Chess Festival is under way with GM Veselin Topalov, GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Peter Svidler as the top seeds. Not a bad lineup at all.

It's the 13th edition of the annual chess festival at “The Rock.” It happens to be growing every year. More than 250 players are in the masters this time, with over 370 playing in all tournaments.

While players were still dropping in from about 60 countries, the first event was held on Sunday night. Alongside the dinner tables in the restaurant area of the Caleta Hotel, a simul was arranged. IM Jovanka Houska (England) and IM Salome Melia (Georgia) welcomed the first arrivals with their strong moves.

The welcoming simul. | Photo John Saunders.

Players of the amateur groups made their first moves on Monday morning, and in the evening the festival was officially opened by the Hon. Steven Linares, Gibraltar's minister of sports, culture, heritage, and youth.

Top seed GM Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) was asked to come on stage for the drawing of colors. He chose a white king, and so he would play with the white pieces in the first round.

Miss Gibraltar Shyanne Azzopardi, Veselin Topalov and Steven Linares.Photo John Saunders.

The list of top players in the masters section is impressive. There's a 2800 and seven 2700 players, and no fewer than 74 grandmasters. This includes several former winners such as GM Ivan Cheparinov (Bulgaria, winner in 2014), Nikita Vitiugov (Russia, winner in 2013) and GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA, winner in 2008).

GM Nigel Short, who won the tournament more than once, unfortunately had to withdraw at the last minute. The English GM is suffering from a nasty tooth infection.

Top seed GM Veselin Topalov might well be the first 2800 to ever play an open tournament of classical chess.

Hikaru Nakamura, Veselin Topalov, Hou Yifan, Miss Gibraltar Shyanne
Azzopardi, organizer Brian Callaghan, and Steven Linares. | Photo John Saunders.

Other interesting names are  GM Yu Yangyi (Olympiad gold medalist and winner of the 2014 Qatar Masters Open), GM Wei Yi (winner of the 2015 Wijk aan Zee challengers), GM Alexander Motylev (European champion), GM Hou Yifan (women's world champion). 

And what about two distinguished U.S. veteran players, GM James Tarjan and IM John Watson? And what about the huge number of top women's players fighting for the impressive ladies prizes?

It's all adding up to another exciting tournament in Gibraltar.

2015 Gibraltar Masters | Top 10

No. Title Name FED Rtg
1 GM Topalov, Veselin BUL 2800
2 GM Nakamura, Hikaru USA 2776
3 GM Svidler, Peter RUS 2739
4 GM Vitiugov, Nikita RUS 2735
5 GM Jakovenko, Dmitry RUS 2733
6 GM Yu, Yangyi CHN 2724
7 GM Harikrishna, Pentala IND 2723
8 GM Rapport, Richard HUN 2716
9 GM Matlakov, Maxim RUS 2695
10 GM Cheparinov, Ivan BUL 2681

In the first round there were hardly any upsets. What we did see was lots of games where one remark was repeated several times: “don't show this to kids!” Because aren't you supposed to avoid lots of queen moves in the opening?

GM Hikaru Nakamura went his own way. Besides pawn moves, he touched his queen six times before choosing another piece! It was as if her majesty had a sip of his trademark Red Bull can.

And also on board three, GM Peter Svidler won his game without worrying about his king's safety or his queenside development!

Who needs development anyway? | Photo John Saunders.

But not all grandmasters were successful. None other than European Champion GM Alexander Motylev of Russia started with a loss. And how! His opponent, 2240 rated Badrakh Galmandakh of Mongolia, started the game with 1.d3 d5 2.e4 — speaking of don't show this to kids!

Galmandakh upsets Motylev! | Photo John Saunders.

Other players did manage to win their games in smooth, position style, such as Veselin Topalov, Dmitry Jakovenko and Maxim Matlakov.

Already in the second round the top guns will face rather strong opposition. Topalov has Black against GM Debashis (2503), Nakamura has White against GM Harika Dronavalli (2496) and Svidler plays IM Dennis Wagner (2501) as Black.

After one “rest day,” the diehard chess fans who enjoyed two weeks of Tata Steel chess can enjoy another 10 days of live commentary.

IM Elisabeth Paehtz and Simon Williams are the hosts of the live video commentary, to be found on the official website and on (daily from 3 pm local time, 9am New York, 6am Pacific).

Don't miss the show with Simon, Liz and guests!


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