Gibraltar chess festival stronger than ever
The Gibraltar chess festivel Gibtelecom 2010 Tuesday 26th January 2010 to Thursday 4th February 2010.
According to the January 2010 ratings, the number one rated player in Gibtelecom 2010 is Etienne Bacrot (FRA 2713g), closely followed by Sergei Movsesian (SVK 2708g) and Francisco Vallejo Pons (ESP 2705g). Other star names are Michael Adams (ENG 2694g) and Gata Kamsky (USA 2693g).
The women’s field has suddenly become stronger than ever. As well as world number two woman player Humpy Koneru (IND 2614g), the world number three – Hou Yifan (CHN 2590g), and the current Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS 2523g).
Alexandra isn’t the only world champion at the event – the sensational brother and sister duo from Peru, Jorge and Deysi Cori Tello are also present – Jorge is the world under-14 champion and on the brink of becoming a GM aged 14 – and Deysi is the world girls under-16 champion.
Official website: Gibraltar chess congress
Gibtelecom Masters (Open to all) – 26 January – 4 February 2010 (10 rounds Swiss, FIDE rated)
Challengers A (Under 2250) – 26-30 January 2010 (5 rounds Swiss, FIDE rated)
Challengers B (Under 2250) – 31 January – 4 February 2010 (5 rounds Swiss, FIDE rated)
Amateur A (Under 1800) – 26-30 January 2010 (5 rounds Swiss)
Amateur B (Under 1800) – 31 January – 4 February 2010 (5 rounds Swiss)
The venue for all tournaments is the Caleta Hotel where you will be able to enjoy playing chess with the comforts of a four-star hotel and relax alongside the Mediterranean Sea whilst playing your game.
Here are previews for some of the top players of the 2010 Gibtelecom masters.
Born on 22 January 1983 in Picardie, France, Etienne is one of the most remarkable chess prodigies in history. He won a match 5-1 against legendary ex-world champion Vasily Smyslov aged only 13 and qualified as a GM in March 1997 at the age of 14 years 2 months – which was then a record for the youngest player ever to do so. He has been French champion six times and has scored some notable match results against Gelfand, Huebner and Ivan Sokolov. His best tournament results include firsts at the 2005 Karpov Poikovsky tournament (ahead of Svidler and Grischuk) and in the 2009 Aeroflot Open, which is generally considered the strongest annual open in the world. This will be his first visit to Gibraltar.
Born in 1978 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Sergei lived in Armenia (his father’s homeland) in his teens before moving to the Czech Republic and then Slovakia (he holds Slovak citizenship but lives in Pardubice in the Czech Republic). He is married to Czech WGM Petra Krupkova (now Movsesjanova). He represented the Czech Republic in the Olympiads of 1998 and 2000 before switching to Slovakia, whom he has played for since then. At the 2008 Dresden Olympiad he made the 4th best TPR (2794) of all the players in the competition, playing on board one for his country. Sergei first hit the headlines when he reached the quarter-finals of the 1999 FIDE Knock-Out World Championship in Las Vegas before being eliminated by Vladimir Akopian. Garry Kasparov famously (and cruelly) branded Akopian, Movsesian and Nisipeanu “chess tourists” at the time but that hardly does any of them justice. Sergei crossed the threshold of 2700 in July 2008 and reached 2751 on the January 2009 list when he was the 10th highest rated player in the world. This is his first visit to Gibraltar.
Francisco Vallejo Pons
Born in 1982 in Minorca, Paco (as he is often known) may have a claim to being the best native-born Spanish player of all time. He became a GM aged 16 years 9 months and scored two impressive victories in the Capablanca Memorial tournament in Havana in 1999 and 2001. In between these two successes, he became the World Under 18 Champion in 2000. Being a Spaniard, he has enjoyed enviable opportunities to play in super-torneos but he was exploited these chances excellently. His super-tournament debut was at Linares 2002, aged only 19, starting with a game against Garry Kasparov (which he drew). he went through the first cycle unbeaten and beat Shirov in the final round – good enough to improve his rating. He made exactly the same score at Linares 2003 and 2004, beating Leko in one game. He went above 2700 on the January 2009 rating list and will surely reach this level again soon. Paco relishes meeting top opposition and has even scores in all forms of the game against both Topalov and Kramnik. This will be his first visit to Gibraltar.
Born in 1971 in Truro, Cornwall, Michael Adams, known to his friends as Mickey, has a strong claim to being Britain’s best chessplayer of all time. It was already obvious that he was going to become one of the country’s greatest players when he started winning tournament after tournament in his teens and he broke all significant national age records to become a grandmaster and win the British Championship at the age of 17. In the mid-1990s he advanced quickly up the rating list to join the absolute elite group of players at the top, remaining at 4th spot behind Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand for a number of years around the turn of the century. He also proved highly successful in FIDE’s (and PCA’s) world knock-out championship events, reaching three semi-finals and winning short matches against the likes of Topalov, Kramnik, Short, Svidler, Tiviakov and others. His best knock-out world championship performance was in 2004 when he came within a hair’s breadth of becoming the first Briton to win an adult world championship title, losing out narrowly to Rustam Kasimjanov in a tie-break in the final. His list of tournament successes is simply too long to attempt to list them all here. Perhaps his best was clear first at Dos Hermanas in 1999, ahead of Kramnik, Anand, Topalov, Karpov, Korchnoi, Svidler, Judit Polgar and others. In recent years Mickey has twice won the Staunton Memorial tournament at London’s Simpsons in the Strand venue. He has long been an automatic choice for the England Olympiad team, playing ten times altogether and on board one in the last six. His performance for his country has been consistently high and he has won ten team/individual medals in major team events including team gold at the 1997 European Team Championship and an individual gold in the same competition in 2001. Mickey is a mild-mannered, unassuming man who prefers to let his pieces demonstrate his undoubted star quality, though he also has a way with words when he wants to – his Saturday column He is hugely respected by fellow professionals and chess fans for his impeccable courtesy as well as his supreme skills on the board. He will be making his second appearance in Gibraltar in 2010, having scored 6½/9 in 2007.
Gata Kamsky seems to have been one of the biggest names in chess for ever – but he is still only 35 (born in 1974). He was the last of the legendary Soviet stars whose surnames began with “K” – or he would have been had he and his father not left the USSR in 1989 to move to the USA. Originally from a coal-mining town to the south-west of Siberia, Gata won the Soviet Junior Championship in 1989. He was a genuine child prodigy – arguably one of the greatest ever in terms of ranking achieved. He became a GM in 1990 and rocketed to number 8 on the July 1990 rating list, aged just 16 years and 1 month – by a similar age Magnus Carlsen “only” made it to number 24, by the way. Following Gata’s move to the USA, he became US Champion in 1991 and by 1993 his sights were firmly set on the world title. At that time there were two different versions, the PCA title held by Kasparov and the FIDE title held by Karpov. Gata performed brilliantly in both. He reached the final of the 1994/5 PCA Candidates series, beating future world champion Vladimir Kramnik and Nigel Short (in a controversial semi-final) before losing in the final eliminator to Vishy Anand. In the FIDE World Championship he beat Anand (this match pre-dated their PCA encounter) and Salov to qualify for a world title match with Karpov in 1996. He lost that match by 7½-10½. After losing to Karpov, he retired from chess for three years to attend medical school before returning briefly to take part in the 1999 FIDE World Knock-Out Championship in Las Vegas. He lost in the first round but to the eventual winner, Alexander Khalifman and again quit chess to study law. Most people expected this to be the end of his chess career but he played some domestic US tournaments in 2004. Evidently the chess bug bit again and he started taking part in more prestigious events, scoring a notable second to Veselin Topalov in the 2006 MTel Masters. In 2007 he achieved his best result of his resumed career, winning the FIDE World Cup, beating Alexei Shirov in the final and qualifying for a World Championship final eliminator match with the world’s top-rated player, Veselin Topalov, in 2009 which he lost by 2½-4½. Gata has only ever played in one tournament organised under the auspices of the English (then British) federation – the 1989 Lloyds Bank Masters, where he scored 6½/10 – so it will be good to welcome him to Gibraltar.
Laurent was born in Dax, France, on 30 November 1981 and won the silver medal in the World Under 14 Championship in 1995. He became a GM at the age of 18 and was world silver medallist in the under 18 in 1999. He has been runner-up in the French Championship twice, in 2004 and 2006, and silver medallist in the European Blitz Championship in 2006 and 2007. He is the current French blitz champion (2009) and also French rapidplay champion. He has won the French Team Championship six times (with NAO in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and with Clichy in 2007 and 2008. He won the European Club Cup with NAO in 2003 and 2004 and was a member of Kramnik’s support team for his match against Anand in 2008. Laurent has not played in Gibraltar before but his wife Almira Skripchenko will be making her second appearance. Laurent is also a very keen poker.
Born in 1986, Ivan is one of the young stars of Bulgarian chess. He won the national championship in 2006 but was perhaps more famous for being Veselin Topalov’s second in his FIDE world championship tournament success in 2005 and his match defeat by Kramnik the following year. Ivan’s rating moved into the 2700s in January 2008 but he was at the centre of controversy in the same year when he refused Nigel Short’s handshake at Wijk aan Zee and was defaulted. The appeal committee overturned the original decision but Ivan lost the replay to the English grandmaster. Since then his rating has dipped slightly but he remains a formidable player and an expert theoretician.
Born in Russia in 1983, Michael emigrated to Israel with his family when he was 11, becoming an IM in 1999 and a GM in 2003. He made a lot of progress between 2006 and 2008. In late 2007 he finished in a six-way tie for first place at the last Monarch Assurance tournament in the Isle of Man. In the same year he scored 6½/9 at the Gibtelecom Festival. At the 2007 Valjevo tournament he finished first, taking the scalp of Anatoly Karpov along the way. He has represented his country on a number of occasions and was in the silver-medal-winning Israeli team at the 2003 European Team Championships in Plovdiv. In the same event in 2007 he made a 2855 TPR on board three to take an individual silver medal. At the 2008 Dresden Olympiad he played a big part in winning the silver medal for his country, scoring 5½/9 on board two for a TPR of 2701. At the 2009 Gibtelecom Masters, he started with 3½/4 but drew the rest of his games to finish on 6½/10.
Daniel was born in Mikhail Tal’s home town – Riga in Latvia – in 1976. Since 2007 he has been registered for Germany, where he lives with his wife IM/WGM Anna Zatonskih. He became a grandmaster in 2001 but becoming a father a year or two ago seems to have improved his form as he then jumped up to 2600+ status after a long time in the 2500s. He is a newcomer to the Gibtelecom Masters in 2010, having had to miss the 2009 event, but has been a frequent visitor to Britain, playing in three Monarch Assurance Isle of Man tournaments, and the 2007 Liverpool Open which he won. He made 7/10 in the 2008 EU Championship, also played in Liverpool. He won the German Championship in 2008, having previously won the Latvian title in 1996. He went on to score 7/10 on board four for Germany in the 2008 Dresden Olympiad, which earned him the bronze medal for that board. He had previously represented Latvia in the 1996, 2004 and 2006 Olympiads.
Born in 1983, Chanda Sandipan recorded his final GM norm in the Isle of Man in 2003 – and I recall being the first person to step up to congratulate him. He has played five times at Gibraltar scoring 6½ the first three times (out of 10 in 2004 and 2006 and out of 9 in 2007), 7/10 in 2008 and 6/10 in 2009. 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…
Sandipan – Tiviakov: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 b6 4 g3 Bb7 5 Bg2 Be7 6 0-0 0-0 7 d5 exd5 8 Nh4 c6 9 cxd5 Nxd5 10 Nf5 Nc7 11 e4 d5 12 Nc3 Bf6 13 exd5 cxd5 14 Bf4 Nba6 15 Re1 Qd7 16 Bh3 Ne6 17 Ne4 Bxb2 18 Rb1 Bc8 19 Ng5 Bf6 20 Qh5 Bxg5 21 Bxg5 Re8 22 Bf6 gxf6 23 Qh6 Nac5 24 Rbd1 Qb7 25 Rd4 Ne4 26 Rexe4 dxe4 27 Qxf6 Qc7 28 Nh6+ Kf8 29 Qh8+ Ke7 30 Nf5 mate.
Born in 1987 in Gudivada, Andhra Pradesh, India, Humpy Koneru became the second woman ever to have reached the rating threshold of 2600 in 2007, at the age of 20. This makes her by most reckonings the second strongest woman player in chess history, and with a good chance of ultimately overtaking the women’s chess legend Judit Polgar. Humpy became a grandmaster when she was only 15, three months younger than Judit Polgar. She won the World Girls Championship in 2001 but has yet to win the women’s world championship – it is surely only a matter of time. Humpy played regularly in British events in her teens, winning the British Women’s Championship in 2000 and 2002 (when it was still open to Commonwealth citizens). One of her best results in 2009 was first prize in the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix tournament in Istanbul in May, when she headed a formidable field which included two former women’s world champions, Maia Chiburdanidze and Antoaneta Stefanova, plus Pia Cramling and Chinese stars Hou Yifan and Zhao Xue. 2010 will be her first visit to the Gibtelecom Masters and she will start as the hot favourite to win the women’s prize, as well as being a leading contender for the overall first prize.
Born in 1990, Romain is one of the new crop of excellent young French chessplayers. His first notable success was winning the 2006 European Under-16 Championship. He has started zooming up the rating list in the last couple of years, passing 2500 in January 2008 and 2600 on the September 2009 list. His big recent success was in July 2009 when he won the Andorran Open ahead of a good number of GMs. He scored 6/10 in the 2008 European Union Championship in Liverpool. 2010 will be his first Gibtelecom Masters. Before then, he will be representing France in the European Team Championship in Novi Sad in October 2009.
Born in 1980 and making his debut in Gibraltar. In 1992 he won the bronze medalist at the European U12 Championship. In 2002 he was awarded the GM title and In 2003 he shared first place in the Greek Championship. In 2008, he won the Greek Open Championship on tiebreak from Alexander Graf. He scored 6/9 at the 2003 Monarch Assurance Isle of Man International.
Antoaneta Stefanova (known to her friends as ‘Eti’) 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. Born in 1979, she won 1989 World Girls’ Under-10 Championship in 1989. In 2002 she won the European Women’s Championship, 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. In 2008 she won the North Urals Cup ahead of women’s world champion Xu Yuhua, 2622-rated Humpy Koneru and other leading women players. Later in 2008 she reached the quarter-final of the women’s world championship where she lost to Pia Cramling. Eti has played four times at the Gibtelecom Masters. In 2004 she scored 5½/10. In 2006 she scored 6½/10, sharing the main women’s prize with Zhu Chen and Natalia Zhukova. In 2007 she scored 6/9, sharing the main women’s prize with Jovanka Houska. In 2008 she started the tournament with 4/4, including wins against Mikhail Gurevich, Tigran Petrosian and Varuzhan Akobian. She finished with 6½/10, once again sharing the main women’s prize (this time with Dronavalli Harika, Viktorija Cmilyte and Ketevan Arakhamia).
Anna was born in Mariupol, Ukraine, in 1978 and learnt chess from two keen chessplaying parents but she has been registered as a USA player since 2003. She holds both WGM and IM titles. She has played in the last five Women’s Olympiads, twice for Ukraine and three times for the USA, winning the team silver medal at the 2004 Calvia Olympiad. She won the 2001 and 2002 Ukrainian Women’s Championships and the 2006, 2008 and 2009 US Women’s Championships. Anna has played three times in the Isle of Man, which she obviously enjoys as she has defeated four strong male GMs on her visits to the island. Anna played in the 2009 Gibtelecom Masters, scoring 6½/10 (losing only to 2600+ rated GMs and just missing out on the top female prize). She and her husband Daniel Fridman live in Germany. They are playing together in the Gibtelecom Masters for the first time in 2010. Daniel and Anna’s daughter is now 2½ and they are planning for her to make her debut in the 2012 Gibtelecom Masters!
Jorge Cori Tello
Born in 1995(!), Jorge is an exceptionally gifted 14-year-boy from Peru. He and his sister Deysi Estela (also playing in Gibraltar) are both world champions, having won junior titles at the 2009 World Youth Championships in Turkey. Jorge won the Under-14 world title. Their twin victories caused a sensation in Peru, His rating doesn’t appear on the January 2010 list as yet, presumably because his national federation hasn’t stumped up their FIDE affiliation fee yet – particularly frustrating for Jorge as he has all three GM norms and just needs a 2500 rating to get his title.
Almira is both a WGM and IM and was born in Moldova (then part of the Soviet Union) on 17 February 1976. Her parents were both chess teachers and she became World Under 16 Girls’ Champion in 1992. She was world bronze medalist in the under 18 category in 1993 and won the European Women’s Championship in 2001. Twice a quarter-finalist in the Women’s World championship (2000 and 2001), she has won the French women’s national title three times (2004, 2005 and 2006). She won the strong women’s tournament in Krasnoturinsk in 2004 and another women’s tournament in Biel in 2005. She has won the French Team Championship with NAO in 2002 and 2003, and with Clichy in 2007 and 2008. She won the Women’s European Club Cup with “Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo” in 2007 and 2008, acting as captain as well as player. She has played at Gibraltar once before, in 2005, when she made 6/10 to tie with four others for the main women’s prize. Since 2008 she has represented the “Winamax” team at major poker tournaments; her handle as a poker player is Chessbaby. She is married to Laurent Fressinet and they have a daughter who is two years four months old (as at June 2009); Almira says that her daughter ‘already knows all the chess pieces’.
Born in 1983 in Odessa, Irina emigrated to New York with her parents when she was five, the same age at which she learnt to play chess. Aged only 14, she won her first US Women’s Championship, and she achieved world fame in 1999 when she played a big part in the ‘Kasparov versus The World’ match, suggesting a novelty that Kasparov later admitted caused him to lose control of the game. She has played in several British events from 1999 onwards, including the Hastings Premier (twice), Hampstead, York, Hastings, Oakham, Lichfield. Irina has also turned out for Guildford-ADC in the 4NCL. Irina is a very formidable player who has proved repeatedly that she is afraid of no-one. At the 2007 Gibtelecom Masters, she started with a win against 2700-rated reigning Gibtelecom champion Vladimir Akopian and later in the same event she defeated Viktor Korchnoi in 27 moves with Black. She has one GM norm to her name. In 2007 she repeated her early success in the US Women’s Championship but was edged out by Anna Zatonskih in a controversial Armageddon game at the 2008 US event. In 2009 she scored 6½/10 in the Gibtelecom Masters, defeating the strong Indian GM Chanda Sandipan along the way. In the very strong 2009 US Championship she defeated two top notch GMs, Boris Gulko and Julio Becerra.
Born in Delhi in 1986, Sachdev Tania is one of the leading women players in India at a time when chess goes from strength to strength in that country. She was the 2007 Asian Women’s Champion and in November 2007 she won the Indian Women’s National A Championship title for the second year running, qualifying her for a place in the Indian women’s Olympiad team for 2008 (she played on board two). She became a woman grandmaster in 2003 at one of the Budapest First Saturday events. Tania played in Gibraltar in 2007 scoring 5/9; she started with a draw against Ukrainian prodigy Yuri Kuzubov and finished with another against the redoubtable Viktor Korchnoi. In Gibraltar in 2009 she finished on 6/10. In 1994 she collected five trophies at the British Championship, having won the British Under 9, British Under 9 Girls, British Under 10, British Under 10 Girls and British Under 11 Girls titles. As a seven-year-old, her hands could not grasp all five trophies simultaneously!
Deysi Cori Tello
Born in 1993, Deysi is the elder sister of Jorge (b. 1995), who is on the verge of his grandmaster title and the current world under-14 champion. But Deysi is also a world champion, having won the Girls Under-16 title in Turkey while her brother was winning the Under-14 championship. The two children have caused a sensation in Peru, where the government and local sponsors have bought a house for them and their family.
Lasse is from Stavanger and was born in 1992. He scored 5/10 in the 2008 Gibtelecom Masters but the bare score doesn’t tell the story of his highly memorable tournament: he beat US IM Joe Bradford (2419), Kruttika Nadig (2208) and IM (now GM) Nana Dzagnidze (2429). He also scored 3/5 in Challengers 1 and 2½/5 in Challengers 2.When he played here in 2009 he was still only rated 2183. He scored 5½/10 in the Masters (including a win against Irina Krush), and 3½/5 and 2½/5 in the two Challengers events. He has made rapid progress since then. He has two IM norms.
Born in 1991. Played in the 2008 Gibtelecom Festival, scoring 4½/10 in the Masters, 3/5 in Challengers 1 and 2½/5 in Challengers 2. In 2009 he scored 4½/10 in the Masters, but an amazing 5/5 in Challengers 1 (including a much-acclaimed victory over a Russian in the last round) and then 4½/5 to share first place with Johannes Kvisla in Challengers 2, earning himself a big pile of cash. Nicolai has one IM norm.
Kruttika Nadig very kindly wrote her own biog for the website: “Born in 1988, I live in Pune, India and have been playing chess since 1995. I am the reigning Asian Zonal Champion and a candidate for the 2010 Women’s World Championship. In 2009 I won the Indian Women’s Championship by a full point ahead of runner-up IM Tania Sachdev and other WGMs. I have won a total of 11 medals in junior and sub-junior Asian and Commonwealth championships, including the gold medal in Commonwealth Under-20 in 2007 and silver medal in Asian Junior Girls 2008. I also won the Indian sub-junior and junior national championships in 2003 and 2004 respectively. I have played in Gibraltar in 2004, 2006 and 2008 and I won the junior prize in 2006. I achieved my WIM title in the Czech Republic in 2005. The WGM title came to me in the Sort and Balaguer open tournaments in Spain in 2008, along with two IM norms and performances above 2500. I recently represented India as a part of the women’s team in the 2009 Women’s World Team Championship in China.”
Born in 1993, Katrine plays for Bergen Chess Club. In 2007 Katrine won the Norwegian Girls U16 Championship at the age of 14. She was on board four for Norway’s women’s team at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad, scoring 6/9. She has made three WIM norms and could have the title by the time of the 2010 Gibtelecom Masters.
More at the official website.