Gibtelecom 2008

Gibraltar chess festival 2008

Gibtelecom chess 2008

The Gibtelecom chess festival 2008 is promising a strong and diverse event. It is divided into a Masters tournament, two Challenger tournaments, amateur events, evening events, and multiple chess activities. The Masters event will see 100+ players, as more than 20 of them will be 2600+ according to the January 2008 FIDE rating list. Here is a preview of the schedule, rules, participants, and history of the Gibraltar Chess festival, thanks to the fantastic work of John Saunders, webmaster of the official website and editor of British Chess Magazine and BCMchess blog

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Gibtelecom 2008 rules

The Masters shall start daily at 15.00hrs for rounds 1-9. The rate of play is 40 moves in 80 minutes plus 20 more minutes for all the remaining moves, with one minute per move added from the start. Draws by mutual agreement in under 30 moves are not allowed. There must be no pre-arranged or tacit agreements to draw games of any length, by repetition or otherwise. Genuine draws by repetition or stalemate are acceptable. The Masters is part of the MONROI GRAND PRIX.

Gibtelecom Chess Festival 2008 Schedule

Gibtelecom Masters (Open to all) – 22-31January 2008 (10 rounds Swiss, FIDE rated)
Challengers A (Under 2250) – 22-26 January 2008 (5 rounds Swiss, FIDE rated)
Challengers B (Under 2250) – 27-31 January 2008 (5 rounds Swiss, FIDE rated)
Amateur A (Under 1850) – 22-26 January 2008 (5 rounds Swiss)
Amateur B (Under 1850) – 27-31 January 2008 (5 rounds Swiss)
Evening events (as announced during the event)
Junior Congress – 2-3 February 2008.

GM Ian Rogers at Gibtelecom

Grandmaster Ian Rogers and FIDE Trainer Sunil Weeramantry shall be available to players each afternoon for free individual or small group coaching sessions. This is a novelty at chess events and a nice gesture by the organizers to the players.

Latest update Hikaru will be giving master classes in Gibraltar together with the above mentioned players. There is a possibility more GMs to join the activity.

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Participants at the Gibraltar Chess festival 2008

WCC Grischuk

Alexander Grischuk

23-year-old Russian super-grandmaster Alexander Grischuk is one of the biggest names in world chess today. He first made his mark in 2000 as a 16-year-old, winning a team gold and individual bronze medals on his debut for Russia at the Olympiad, and then going on to a remarkable performance in the FIDE World Championship where he reached the semi-finals, losing by the odd point to Shirov. He has been a 2700+ rated elite player since 2002 when he was only 18 years old. 2007 has been an eventful year for Alexander: in May/June he beat Malakhov and then Rublevsky to become one of the four Candidates’ match qualifiers for the world championship final in Mexico City. Though he finished last of the eight finalists, he came closer to defeating eventual winner Vishy Anand in a game than most of the other competitors. But the biggest event for Alexander in 2007 occurred in March when his wife, top Ukrainian woman player Natalia Zhukova, gave birth to a daughter Masha. As well as chess, Alexander is also an accomplished poker player.

Acropolis Georgiev

Kiril Georgiev

Kiril Dimitrov Georgiev, 42, has played in the Gibtelecom Masters three times. He won it jointly with four other players in 2005 and then on his own (and very comfortably) in 2006. He is one of the most highly respected players on the professional circuit without ever quite receiving the recognition he deserves for his consistent play over many years. He won the world junior championship in 1983 and became a grandmaster in 1985. He has won three Bulgarian national titles, becoming recognized as Bulgaria’s top player before the advent of Topalov. He has won many tournaments over the past 20 years and has been rated as high as 2680.

Hiraku Nakamura

Hikaru Nakamura

Hikaru will be 20 by the time of the 2008 Gibtelecom Masters. In 2003 he broke Bobby Fischer’s long-standing record for being the youngest American to become a grandmaster, doing so aged only 15 years and 79 days old. Born in Osaka to a Japanese father and American mother, Hikaru has lived in the USA since the age of two, where he is coached by his Sri Lankan step-father FM Sunil Weeramantry. He won the 2004/5 US Championship and in 2006 helped his country to win bronze at the Olympiad, playing board three below Kamsky and Onischuk. He finished second equal in the 2007 Gibtelecom Masters. Hikaru will be giving master classes in Gibraltar.

Alexander Beliavsky square

Alexander Beliavsky

Gave notice of his great promise when he won the World Junior Championship ahead of Tony Miles and Michael Stean at Teesside in 1973 (despite losing to both of them). Thereafter improved rapidly, winning the Soviet Championship jointly with Tal in 1974, and again with Psakhis in 1980/1, and finishing 1st in a stellar field at Tilburg in 1981 and 1st= at Wijk aan Zee in 1981. His forays into the world championship have been less successful but he is one of few grandmasters in recent who has maintained his strength and continued playing frequently well into his fifties. He is also a prolific and successful author, often collaborating with Adrian Mikhalchishin who, like Beliavsky, now lives in and represents Slovenia.

Emanuel Berg square

Emanuel Berg

26-year-old Emanuel Berg tied for first in the 2004 Swedish Championship in Gothenburg gaining quite a number of rating points, and was fourth behind Ivanchuk, Karpov and Kasimdzhanov in the Keres Memorial Rapidplay in 2006. His results in 2006 and 2007 have shown improvement, with a couple of near misses in the Swedish championship and a joint first in the Politiken Cup.

ETCC 2007 Round 4 11

Anna Muzychuk

Anna Muzychuk is only 17 and has just been confirmed as an IM. Originally from Ukraine, Anna made quite an impression as a child prodigy, winning the Ukrainian Women’s Championship in 2003 when she was only 13 ahead of some stiff opposition. She became a Slovenian in 2004 and played on top board for them in the 2006 Women’s Olympiad.

ETCC 2007 Round 4F07

Viktorija Cmilyte

Viktorija, from Lithuania, had some early successes in junior events, winning the European Under-10 Girls in 1993 and the World Under-12 Girls title in 1995. But that was just for starters: in 2000, aged only 16 and rated 2329, she tied first for the full Lithuanian Championship, winning the title on tie-break from three GMs and two IMs. She finished second (to Jovanka Houska) in the European Under-20 Girls Championship. In 2005 she once again finished first equal in the Lithuanian Championship, taking the title on tie-break from Sarunas Sulskis. In August 2007 she won the European Women’s Rapidplay Championship.

antoaneta stefanova etcc

Antoaneta Stefanova

Antoaneta Stefanova is one of the world’s best known and strongest women players, with a peak rating of 2560 which has been bettered only by a handful of women players. She became a full grandmaster in 2003 and won the women’s world championship in Kalmykia in 2004. Like Judit Polgar and Pia Cramling, she has played most of her chess against top male players, representing Bulgarian in the open section of the Olympiad.

Elizabeth Paethz etcc

Elisabeth Pähtz

Elli is almost certainly the best German woman player ever but she had a head start: her father Thomas is a chess grandmaster. She won the German Under-11 Championship when she was only 9. At 14, she won the German women’s championship, in 2002 she became world under-18 girls champion and two years later the world under-20 girls champion. She will be 23 by the time of the 2008 Gibtelecom Masters. Not much is allowed to stand between Elli and her beloved chess. In 2002 she waded through floods caused by the overflowing River Elbe to travel from Dresden to Mainz for a match with world championship finalist Alexandra Kosteniuk. Elli is currently a soldier in the German army but her ambition is to become a schoolteacher.

Sophie Milliet

Sophie, who is 24, burst onto the chess scene by winning the French women’s championship in 2003 with a score of 9/11, 1½ points ahead of the field. In 2004 she finished second in the same event to Almira Skripchenko but gained a large number of rating points in a strong field. In 2007 she faced a tough test at the Baku Women’s International where she fought back from a torrid start to score a creditable 4/9 against a world-class women’s line-up, beating Pia Cramling along the way.

Sarunas Sulskis

The 34-year-old Lithuanian GM is a regular visitor to the Isle of Man (four appearances, scoring 6½/9 for 2nd= in 2002 and the same score for 3rd= in 2003) and Gibraltar (three appearances: 6½/10 in 2003 and 6 on the other two). First won the Lithuanian Championship as long ago as 1994 and has won it several times since, as recently as 2007. Has played three times in the FIDE knock-out world championship: in 1997 he lost in the first round to Johann Hjartarson but in 2001 he started by beating Alexander Graf and then won the first game of the second round against Peter Svidler. But the Russian super-GM levelled the match and won the play-off. In 2004 he beat Bartlomiej Macieja in the first round but lost to Sakaev in the second. Spent some time working on his game with Ivanchuk in 2007. He always appears serious, wearing a worried frown at the board, but is unfailingly polite and charming away from it.

Wang Yue

On the October FIDE rating list, 20-year-old Wang Yue broke through the 2700 barrier. His ascent to the elite, along with Bu Xiangzhi and Ni Hua, is a sure sign that China’s male players are starting to emulate their female players in terms of achievement. It will be great to have a large squad of China’s best players in Gibraltar because they play a wonderfully aggressive style of chess. Wang Yue was a member of the Chinese team which beat Russia and then overpowered the United Kingdom in matches in 2007. In Liverpool he beat Jonathan Rowson and David Howell and drew his other games. He also made a plus score against Russia. At the 2006 Turin Olympiad, he scored an impressive 10/12. There is no telling how far he could go.

Bu Xiangzhi

Bu Xiangzhi seems to have been around forever, but is still only 22. His principal claim to fame was being the first player to qualify as a grandmaster under the age of 14. He did this, aged 13 years, 10 months and 13 days, back in 1999 (though Sergey Karyakin has since broken the record, and Magnus Carlsen and Parimarjan Negi have also qualified as GMs at a younger age). Like many young Chinese players, his inspiration was Xie Jun’s winning of the women’s world championship. He played top board for China in the 2006 Turin Olympiad, scoring +4, =8, and had a victory in the Canadian Open in Ottawa in July 2007. He showed a talent for blindfold chess in October 2007, winning a big tournament ahead of Topalov, Polgar, Carlsen and others.

Viktor Bologan

Born in Moldova in 1971, Viorel Bologan (or Viktor as he is shown officially by FIDE) is a formidable player with some superb results in individual competitions. In 1993 he won the Las Palmas tournament with 8½/9, but this and a number of other excellent results did not secure his entry to super-tournaments until 2003. He took the chance well, finishing a comfortable first ahead of world champion Kramnik, Anand, Radjabov and Leko in Dortmund. Still does not receive as many invitations to the leading tournaments as he should, but he remains a most formidable adversary who always strives for maximum points.

Bartosz Socko

Born 10 xi 1978 in Piaseczno in central Poland. Won the Polish under 16 championship in 1994 and the under 18 in 1995. Awarded his GM title in 1999, since when he has improved steadily to July 2007 when he became the highest ranking player in Poland for the first time, overtaking Michal Krasenkow. One of his best results to date was winning the 2006 Biel Open.

Zhang Pengxiang

Here’s a quiz question you can use to baffle your friends – who was the player who finally brought the great Anatoly Karpov’s world championship title aspirations to an end? Was it Garry Kasparov? No. Nigel Short? No. When your victims get tired of suggesting names, you tell them: Zhang Pengxiang. It’s true. Karpov last played for the FIDE world title in 2001 in Moscow and he was eliminated in the very first round of the knock-out event by the (then) unknown 21-year-old Chinese player. Zhang Pengxiang has gone on to become one of the remarkably strong and aggressive players who have made Chinese chess such a formidable force, particularly in team play. In the GB vs China match in Liverpool, he was the only member of the Chinese team who managed to beat English number one Mickey Adams.

Wang Hao

The top Chinese players are all so young: Wang Hao was born in 1989 so he is still only a teenager. In the China versus UK match in Liverpool in September 2007, Wang Hao did as well as his better-known colleagues, scoring 4/6 with wins against Nigel Short and David Howell. He exploded onto the chess scene when he won the 2005 Dubai Open. At that time he was untitled, but he scored 7/9 ahead of a whole host of GMs. Tied first equal with Zhang Pengxiang in the 2007 Asian Championship and took the bronze medal in the World Junior Championship the following October.

Ni Hua

The 24-year-old star from China has made a strong impression in the past few years. He first drew attention when scoring heavily against Dmitry Schneider and Hikaru Nakamura in the 2001 China-USA match. In the 2004 FIDE World championship he beat Evgeny Vladimirov in round one but was put out by his fellow countryman Ye Jiangchuan in the next round. 2005 was a little traumatic: China were on the point of snatching an improbable victory in the World Team Championship but Ni Hua’s two endgame losses in the final two rounds was arguably the difference between the gold and silver medals. He won the 2006 Chinese national championship ahead of four other 2600+ players. At Liverpool in September he made a creditable 4/6 in the China-UK Summit match.

Alexander Areshchenko

It is hard to believe that Ukrainian GM Alexander Areshchenko is still only 21 because he has been on the circuit hoovering up major prizes in opens for some years now. He made his first trip to Gibraltar as an 18-year-old in 2005 and scored 7/10. He proceeded to Coventry the following, winning first prize with 7½/9 and then tied for first in the Isle of Man with Alexander Shabalov. Since then he has scored 7/10 and 7/9 at the last two Gibraltar tournaments and once again tied for first at the 2006 Isle of Man tournament. He is a quiet young man who lets his chess pieces do the talking.

Zahar Efimenko

Zahar is 22 years old and is one of a group of Ukrainian stars who travel the world winning large numbers of prizes in open competitions. He has played in Gibraltar in the last three tournaments, scoring 7½/10 (one of the five who finished first equal), 7 and 6½, so he is a highly consistent performer. He won the Hastings Challenger tournament in 2003/4 and was one of six players to tie for first in the 2007 Monarch Assurance Isle of Man tournament.

Daniel Fridman

Daniel, 31, is originally from Latvia, but since 2007 has been registered for Germany. He became a grandmaster in 2001. Becoming a father (Anna Zatonskih is the mother of his child) seems to have improved his form as he has recently jumped up to 2600+ status after a long time in the 2500s. He is a newcomer to the Gibtelecom Masters but has been a frequent visitor to Monarch Assurance Isle of Man tournaments, and he won the inaugural Liverpool Open in September 2007.

Yannick Pelletier

Yannick became a grandmaster in 2000 when aged 24. He has won the championship of Switzerland three times. He has played at the annual Biel tournament many times: conveniently, it is his home town. His best performance was probably in 2007 when, despite being the only sub-2600 player in the field, he finished in a group of 2700+ rated players. He has represented Switzerland in six Olympiads between 1996 and 2006 and at five European Team Championships. He has played once before in Gibraltar, scoring 6½/10 in 2006.

Vadim Malakhatko

Originally from Ukraine, Vadim now plays under the Belgian flag. He is 30 years old and married to Anna Zozulia who, like him, was from Ukraine but is now Belgian-registered. They play at a great many international opens and, between rounds, are often to be seen playing cards with Mikhail Golubev, Masha Klinova and others. Vadim has played at the last three Monarch Assurance events, scoring 5½, 6 and 5½ out of 9.

Chanda Sandipan

Chanda Sandipan is 24 and I recall being the first person to step up to congratulate him when he chalked up his final GM norm in the Isle of Man in 2003. He has played three times at Gibraltar scoring 6½ every time (out of 10 in 2004 and 2006 and out of 9 in 2007). In 2004 he was joint leader for six rounds until beaten by Pentala Harikrishna. In 2003 he finished first equal with Surya Ganguly in the mammoth (24-player all-play-all!) Indian Championship and repeated the feat (also tied with Ganguly) in 2004 and 2006 – but in each case he lost out to Ganguly on tie-break. Probably his most notable achievement of 2007 was a remarkable win against Sergey Tiviakov in the Canadian Open.

Simen Agdestein

The next time someone tries to tell you that chessplayers are ‘geeks’ or ‘nerds’, tell them about Simen Agdestein, chess grandmaster – and international footballer. Simen, aged 40, has won the Norwegian chess championship no fewer than seven times, becoming an IM at 16 and a grandmaster at 18. He finished second at the 1986 World Junior Championship (ahead of the current world champion Vishy Anand) and has been rated above 2600. He won an Olympiad individual gold in 1982, aged 15. He played soccer for Lyn Oslo and made several appearances for Norway at a time when they getting good. These days he coaches chess and soccer at an academy in Norway and takes large groups of young chessplayers to various events – as at the 2008 Gibraltar Masters. His rivals should be warned that his coaching/organising responsibilities do not seem to affect his play. When he took a large party of young Norwegians to the very strong 2003 Monarch Assurance event, he went on to win the competition. You may have heard of one of Simen’s most promising pupils – Magnus Carlsen.

Surya Shekhar Ganguly

Surya Ganguly was born in 1983 and qualified as a grandmaster in 2003. His most notable achievement so far in his career has been to win the Indian national championship four times in a row between 2004 and 2007. In the FIDE World Cup of 2005, he despatched Hikaru Nakamura in the first round. He has played in Gibraltar, finishing second on his own in 2004 after being in joint first place going into the final round.

Pia Cramling

As at July 2007, Pia Cramling is ranked at number three woman player in the world after Judit Polgar and Humpy Koneru and has rarely been out of the top ten women players in the past 20 years. She was a frequent competitor at the Lloyds Bank Masters tournament in London and qualified for the full IM title in 1983 aged 20. Shortly after, at Biel 1984, she beat Viktor Korchnoi, then almost at the height of his powers. She went on to qualify for the full GM title in 1992. Born in Stockholm, she married Juan Manuel Bellón some years ago and now lives in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol with him and their daughter Ana. She was European Women’s Champion in 2003 and won the 2007 MonRoi Women’s Grand Prix in Montreal.

Zhu Chen

Women’s world champion in 2001, Zhu Chen struck a blow for women when she eliminated her opposite number, the FIDE (open) world champion, Ruslan Ponomariov, in the first round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Dubai in 2002. World Girls Under-20 Champion in 1994 and 1996. Now plays under the Qatari flag alongside her husband Mohamad Al Modiahki. Joint winner of the North Urals Cup in Krasnoturinsk ahead of a very strong women’s field in the summer of 2007.

Zhao Xue

22-year-old Zhao Xue is one of the conspicuous high achievers of Chinese women’s chess (though, remarkably, she seems to have missed gaining the full IM title as yet). She is a team player par excellence. As an unknown, she played as first reserve on the 2002 Chinese women’s Olympiad team and made a breathtaking 11/12 (performance rating of 2723). She lost just one game (to Ketevan Arakhamia) on that occasion and that remains the only Olympiad game she has lost in her three Olympiad appearances (10/12, TPR 2603, in 2004 and 10/13, TPR 2615, in 2006). Just for good measure, she led China to victory in the 2007 Women’s World Team Championship with 6½/8 (TPR 2693) – how all those achievements don’t add up to an full IM title I’m not quite sure! (later: Zhao is an IM elect. She has been awarded the title and is awaiting 60 days for comments) In the 2007 Russia v China match, she started by beating all three of the leading Russian women players in succession. Although she fell back later, the psychological damage inflicted on the opposition at an early stage of the event carried her team through. Perhaps her greatest success in individual events was tying for first in the 2002 Women’s Under-20 Championship with Humpy Koneru, but being adjudged second on tie-break.

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Gibtelecom winners

2007: Vladimir Akopian outright winner

Armenian grandmaster Vladimir Akopian defeated young Ukrainian star Yury Kuzubov in the last round to claim the outright first prize of £8,000 ahead of such names as England’s number one GM Michael Adams, Mikhail Gurevich, Ivan Sokolov, Hikaru Nakamura, Kiril Georgiev, Emil Sutovsky and the ageless Victor Korchnoi. With the number of GMs and record numbers of players who participated, it proved to be one of the strongest opens in the world in 2007.
Akopian finished on the score of 7½/9, half a point ahead of GMs Sutovsky, Nakamura and Areschenko.

2006: Kiril Georgiev wins Gibtelecom

With the threat of a massive tie for first place looming it was Bulgarian GM Kiril Georgiev who won the critical last round game to claim outright first place ahead of such players as Alexei Shirov, Nigel Short, Victor Bologan and Emil Sutovsky. Sometimes it is not enough just to look at the winners, as the class needed to win such an event is immense but looking at the players who were trailing just behind, it shows just how strong the tournament really was!

There was a tie for the female prize between former Women’s world champions Antoaneta Stefanova, Zhu Chen and Natalia Zhukova. Pictured below are the three winners plus Swedish GM Pia Cramling and twice Olympiad gold medalist Lithuanian IM Viktorija Cmilyte.

2005: Five tie for first in Gibraltar

Alexei Shirov, Lev Aronian, Emil Sutovsky, Kiril Georgiev and Zahar Efimenko were the co-winners of the 2005 Gibtelcom Gibraltar chess festival. This was a tournament to savour the games. Shirov was always trying to win in a creative way while Sutovsky was showing his usual attacking flair in a number of attacking games. This was one of Levon Aronian’s breakthrough tournaments as he joined the world’s elite. We wish the amiable Armenian all the best in the upcoming world championship tournament in Mexico. The quietly-spoken Ukrainian Zahar Efinmenko has always appeared just underneath the radar in the pecking order for the world’s elite. So many good young players come from the Ukraine that it seems unfair that they are not noticed more. Efimenko has been in the high 2600s for a number of years now and is still a young man. A regular participant at Gibraltar and always a danger for the top prizes.
The women’s prize was also a five-way tie for first place between Ketevan Arakhamia, Pia Cramling, Viktorija Cmilyte, Almira Skripchenko and Iweta Radziewicz.

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