Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival Takes Off Today With Nakamura, MVL, Anand

Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival Takes Off Today With Nakamura, MVL, Anand

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Jan 26, 2016, 2:13 AM |
7 | Chess Event Coverage

The Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival takes off today in the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar. The top seeds are Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Viswanathan Anand.

The Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival was the Association of Chess Professionals’ “best open of the year” several times. A big reason is the social aspect: for 10 days top players and organizers hang out together in one hotel.

And, contrary to many other opens, among those top players there is always a big contingent of female players, which adds to the pleasant atmosphere. The reason is a substantial prize fund for the women.

Some of the strongest chess players have decided to give it a go in recent years, such as Hikaru Nakamura (who defends his title this year), Peter Svidler, Alexei Shirov and Veselin Topalov, to name a few.

This year another big name can be added to that list. None other than five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand is making his debut on the Rock!

Anand is playing his first open tournament in more than 20 years. He won the last one: the PCA Interzonal in Groningen 1993.

Anand at the opening, with Miss Gibraltar Hannah Bado. | Photo John Saunders.

In the first episode of The Day's Play, a daily video recap presented by IM Tania Sachdev, Anand explains:

“I've heard other participants speak of their experience here. All seemed very positive. When the possibility came up I was curious to give it a try.

“It's not like I was opposed to Swiss events. It's just that somehow for many years round robins were the only attractive events around.”

This year will be the 14th edition, and it will be the strongest. Besides Nakamura and Anand, the tournament will see eight (!) more 2700-players. The top 10:

  1. GM Nakamura Hikaru (USA, 2787)
  2. GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime (FRA, 2785)
  3. GM Anand Viswanathan (IND, 2784)
  4. GM Harikrishna Pentala (IND, 2755)
  5. GM Li Chao (CHN, 2751)
  6. GM Yu Yangyi (CHN, 2747)
  7. GM Jakovenko Dmitry (RUS, 2732)
  8. GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw (POL, 2727)
  9. GM Rapport Richard (HUN, 2721)
  10. GM Fressinet Laurent (FRA, 2700)

Other notable participants are David Howell, Nigel Short, Gata Kamsky, and also top women such as Anna and Mariya Muzychuk, Antoaneta Stefanova and Irina Krush.

The social aspect of the tournament started as early as Sunday night, with the traditional welcoming simul. This year it was performed by the (married!) couple GM Radek Wojtaszek and IM Kashlinskaya. 

Kashlinskaya and Wojtaszek started their chess on Sunday night. | Photo John Saunders.

A human error resulted in Wojtaszek getting to play the weaker group of chess fans, and Kashlinskaya facing the tougher opponents. As a result, Radek was ready in no time and was enjoying a fine dinner and a glass of wine while watching his wife do the hard work. Hopefully it's not all that traditional at home!

Kashlinskaya had a tougher evening than expected. | Photo John Saunders.

On Monday the festival started with the first games in the amateur tournaments. In the mornings the players get to play on the same boards as the elite grandmasters.

One notable participant has decided to play in both events: the renowned chess author and teacher Sunil Weeramantry, who is Nakamura's stepfather. He'll be playing two games a day!

On Monday night the well-known Spanish chess journalist Leontxo Garcia gave a lecture on Bobby Fischer. | Photo John Saunders.

On Monday night the opening ceremony took place in the restaurant area of the Caleta Hotel. It was Gibraltar's minister for sport, culture, heritage and youth, Steven Linares, who officially opened the 14th edition.

Traditionally the opponents of the five top seeds were hand-picked by Miss Gibraltar. The first name that came out of the bag was English IM Robert Bellin. Of all random opponents, this is actually one of the tougher opponents for Nakamura in round one.

Nakamura in fact “picked” his opponent himself. Tournament director GM Stuart
Conquest on the left, with Miss Gibraltar. | Photo John Saunders.

The announcement of Vishy Anand as one of the participants resulted in a round of applause. It's not every day that you get to see one of the true legends of chess playing an open. It's a similar experience to Vladimir Kramnik's participation in the Qatar Masters in 2014 (and 2015).

The Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival's Masters is 10-round Swiss held from Tuesday January 26 till Thursday  February 4. The rounds start 3 p.m. CET (9 a.m. New York, 6 a.m. Pacific).

Don't miss Chess.com's daily live broadcast with GM Simon Williams and IM Elisabeth Paehtz both on gibraltarchesscongress.com and Chess.com/TV.

As well as the live transmission, there will be the usual evening master classes starting at 9 p.m. CET. One will be presented by David Howell and Mariya Muzychuk, another by Vishy Anand and another by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and you'll be able to follow these masterclasses live online as well.

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