2009 Gibraltar Chess Festival - Who's Who

 

This page features a list of the entrants to the 2009 Gibtelecom Masters tournament.

 

Click here for a list of the Challengers entrants and here for a list of the Amateur entrants.

 

Click here for a list of the officials and administrative staff who will be at the 2009 Gibtelecom Festival.

 

Short biographies (and most of the photos) are by - please let me know if I have made any mistakes! Many thanks to others who have supplied photos (Cathy Rogers, Simen Agdestein, etc). We would like to have photos and details of all the participants, not just the big stars. If you are playing at Gibraltar 2009 and we don't currently display your photo, do please send one in to and I'll be delighted to put it up here. Also feel free to write your own mini-biography!

 

Players rated 2350 and abovePlayers Rated Below 2350

A simple list of entrants to ALL 2009 Gibtelecom Festival tournaments, showing full FIDE registration details may be found here.

 

This page last edited: Monday August 3, 2009 0:39 AM

 

2009 Gibtelecom Masters (ratings from January 2009 List)
 

Vugar Gashimov
Vugar Gashimov
 
AZE 2723g Born in 1986 in Baku (birthplace of an ever-growing list of star chessplayers), Vugar is now number 19 in the world, just ahead of the tournament's number two rated player by virtue of having played one more game in the rating period. He has represented Azerbaijan in four Olympiads, scoring a 2765 TPR in the 2008 Dresden Olympiad with five wins against GMs including England's David Howell and Norway's Simen Agdestein. After three events of the 2008/9 FIDE Grand Prix, he stands at number three in the table behind fellow countryman Teimour Radjabov and Wang Yue of China. Click here for a video interview with Vugar Gashimov. In the FIDE Grand Prix he has already had two titanic battles with Peter Svidler (he won the first in Baku but lost the second in Sochi) so the tournament will be another chance to show-case their rivalry.
 
Peter Svidler
Peter Svidler
 
RUS 2723g

The 32-year-old super-grandmaster from St Petersburg is one of the best known and best liked players on the circuit. He became a grandmaster in 1994 and went on to win no fewer than four Russian championships between 1994 and 2003. Just recently he made it a record five national titles when he won the Russian Super-Final (after a play-off) in October 2008. He has scaled the heights of chess without quite making it to world champion - he finished 2nd= in the 2005 FIDE World Championship tournament in Argentina, level with current champion Vishy Anand and behind only Veselin Topalov. He spent a term at Oakham School in England when he was a teenager and came away a confirmed anglophile.

 

Peter Svidler (right, aged 14) playing Mickey Adams at Oakham School in 1990

 

Peter has a perfect command of written and spoken English and is extremely knowledgeable about cricket. Look out for the name 'Tendulkar' on the Internet Chess Club (his handle). He is also a big Bob Dylan fan. He will be making his Gibraltar debut in 2009.
 

Hikaru Nakamura
Hikaru Nakamura
 

USA

2699g

Hikaru will be 21 by the time of the 2009 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. Visit his website. 2008 result: TOURNAMENT WINNER. 8/10, 1st= and won play-off match vs Bu Xiangzhi. Prize money won: £12,000. Hikaru then treated us to a wonderful speech at the prizegiving, proving that he is a gracious and humorous young man.
    Since his 2008 Gibraltar success, Hikaru has had another notable victory - first place at the Cap D'Agde Rapidplay knock-out tournament in France where he beat Karpov in the semi-final and Ivanchuk in the final. With Hikaru's prodigious tie-break/rapidplay talents, and Peter Svidler (who won the Russian in a rapidplay tie-break), Gibraltar fans might actually be looking forward to a tie for first place - it could mean the ultimate face-off between the tie-break kings of Russia and the USA!
 

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

 
FRA 2696g Born in October 1990 in Nogent-sur-Marne, Maxime rose to a 2700+ rating before his 18th birthday - a meteoric feat achieved only by a tiny elite of players. It also made him the 3rd highest rated player in the world aged under 20 (behind Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karyakin). He is about 40 days older than Carlsen and it could be that we will see a major rivalry develop between these two in due course (perhaps the greatest chess rivalry that Western Europe has ever seen). Maxime has already been a GM for more than three years, achieving his final norm at the age of 14 years 4 months (the ninth youngest in history). Maxime started winning French junior championships when he was only six in 1997. He won the adult national title in 2007 aged 16, beating Vladislav Tkachiev in a tie-break, and tied f first place again in 2008, losing out to his rival Etienne Bacrot in another tie-break. One of his best tournaments of 2008 was in July when he won the very strong Gyorgy Marx Memorial (in Paks, Hungary) with 7/10 well clear of a field of 2600+ GMs. Maxime sees himself as a "pure calculator" and doesn't study chess for many hours a day as he is also studying mathematics at a very high level. In many ways this makes his rise beyond 2700+ even more impressive. He trains with Arnaud Hauchard who is also playing in the Gibtelecom Masters. Maxime played in the European Union Championship in Liverpool in September 2008, scoring an unbeaten 7/10 to finish 5th equal.
 
Pentala Harikrishna
Pentala Harikrishna
 
IND 2673g Born in 1986 in Andrha Pradesh, Pentala is now India's third highest rated GM behind world champion Vishy Anand and Krishnan Sasikiran. He won the world U10 championship in 1996 and became a GM in 2001 when aged only 15 (the youngest Indian to do so). He played in the Gibtelecom Masters as a teenager in 2004, losing his first game but winning the next six in a row before succumbing to eventual winner Nigel Short (with whom he has had some master classes). Later that year he won the World Junior Championship. Pentala has played in the UK quite a few times. In 2001 he shared first place in the Ron Banwell MSO Masters in London. In 2001/2 he shared first place in the Hastings Premier. In 2002 he scored 7/11 in the British Championship in Torquay. In 2002/3 he returned to Hastings and this time finished second equal. In 2003 he played once again in the British Championship, finishing 2nd= behind Abhijeet Kunte. His success in the World Junior Championship but failure to win the British Championship has a curious parallel at the highest level of the game - Vishy Anand!
 
Vadim Milov
Vadim Milov
 
SUI 2669g Born in 1972 in Russia, Vadim left the USSR in the 1990s, first moving to Israel and then to Switzerland. His tournament successes include joint first places at Santo Domingo 2003, Geneva 2004, the 2005 US Open and the 2007 Chicago Open. He beat Vishy Anand on the way to winning the Corsica Masters Rapidplya in 2005. He played for Israel in the 1994 Olympiad and on board two for Switzerland in the 2000 Istanbul Olympiad. He has also represented Switzerland in the 1999 and 2001 European Team Championships, on board two and one respectively. He has been the highest rated Swiss player for some years. His peak rating was 2705 on the July 2008 list. Vadim played in the 2007 Gibtelecom Masters, scoring 6½/9 to finish in a tie for fifth place.
 
Ivan Sokolov
Ivan Sokolov
 
NED 2657g Born in 1968, Ivan Sokolov was born in Jajce (now part of Bosnia) and grew up in Sarajevo but for some years now he has resided in (and played for) the Netherlands. He won the 1988 Yugoslav Championship, shortly after becoming a GM. In 1996 he won the Dutch Championship. Played in every Olympiad from 1988 to 2006 (for four different teams - Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia 2, Bosnia and Netherlands) but missed the 2008 Dresden Olympiad. He was board one for the Yugoslav team which took silver at the 1989 European Team Championship but went one better and won the gold medals with the Netherlands team at the 2005 competition (on board two). He played in the 2007 Gibtelecom Masters, leading the tournament for much of the way, but tripped up against Akopian and finished on 6½/9. He has won many tournaments (including the 2006 Staunton Memorial with a huge 9/11 ahead of Mickey Adams and Jan Timman) but perhaps one of his best performances was finishing 4th= at Wijk aan Zee in 1999 - beating the winner Garry Kasparov along the way.
 
Ferenc Berkes
Ferenc Berkes
 
HUN 2651g Born in 1985. Played board five (reserve) for Hungary in the Dresden Olympiad and (with one round still to play) has made a 2719 TPR. In 2002 he won the world under-18 Championship.
 
Michael Roiz
Michael Roiz
   
ISR 2647g Born in Russia, this 25-year-old grandmaster emigrated to Israel with his family when he was 11. He has made a lot of progress in the past two years or so. 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, so this will be his second visit to the Rock. 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, including the 2004 Olympiad, and he 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.
 

Alexander Beliavsky
Alexander Beliavsky
 

SLO

2646g

Born in 1953, he 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. Scored 7/10 at the 2008 Gibtelecom Masters.
 

Boris Avrukh
Boris Avrukh
 
ISR 2645g Born in 1978 in Kazakhstan, Boris emigrated to Israel and became one of the country's finest players, currently 4th behind Gelfand, Roiz and Postny and with his best ever rating in October 2008. His recent appearances have included the Biel Open and the Spanish Club Championship in September where his results included a win against Kasimdzhanov. Earlier in 2008 he won games against Sargissian, Navara and Moiseenko. In 1990 he won the world U12 championship and he has played in five Olympiads, winning an individual gold medal on board six at Elista in 1998. Boris played in the Gibtelecom Masters in 2005, getting away to a 3/3 start but later losing from a highly advantageous position against Sutovsky and also losing to Erenburg. He finished on 6½/10.
 

Bartosz Socko
Bartosz Socko
 

POL

2631g

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. Gave a master class at 2008 Gibtelecom Masters which was very well received. 2008 result: 6½/10.
 

Mikhail Gurevich
Mikhail Gurevich
 
TUR 2624g As with Jonathan Speelman, it is almost impossible to say everything about "Micky G" (as some English GMs have nicknamed him) in a short biog. He has more than once been a candidate for the world championship, most recently in 2007 when he played in the matchplay qualifiers in Elista which were designed to provide four of the eight contenders at the Mexico world championship of that year. His other stellar achievement was winning the Soviet Championship in 1985. Born in Kharkov in Ukraine in 1959, he later played under the Belgian flag, and now the Turkish one - he has also won the national titles of both those countries. These days he travels the world with his girlfriend IM Masha Klinova playing chess (and cards). Played in Gibraltar in 2006, 2007 and 2008, scoring 7/10, 6½/9 and 7½/10 respectively.
 

Varuzhan Akobian
Varuzhan Akobian
 

USA

2619g

Not to be confused with 2007 Gibtelecom Masters winner Vladimir Akopian, though they are both Armenians by birth. ‘Var’, born in Yerevan, will be 25 by the time of the 2009 Gibtelecom Masters, and he has been registered as a US player since 2002. He arrived in the USA in 2001 as a 17-year-old IM and became a GM in 2003. He shared first in the 2002 World Open and won it outright in 2004 and again in 2007. As of June 2007 he is the top-rated player in the state of California. He has been over 2600 a couple of times with some steady results in 2005. In July 2007 he played in the 4th (biennial) Pan-American Continental Championship in Santiago de Cali in Colombia and finished in a five-way tie for first. Though he did not take the title on tie-break, it was good enough to qualify him for the December 2007 FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. The Siberian cold didn’t worry him because in childhood he once lived in Mongolia. He has his own website – http://www.akobian.com/. 2008 result: 7/10, 10th=.
 

Surya Shekhar Ganguly
Surya Shekhar Ganguly
 
IND 2614g Surya Shekhar Ganguly was born in 1983 and comes from Kolkata. He qualified as a grandmaster in 2003. His most notable achievement so far has been to win the Indian national championship five times in a row between 2003 and 2008. In the FIDE World Cup of 2005, he despatched Hikaru Nakamura in the first round. He has played in Gibraltar twice, finishing second on his own in 2004 with 7½/10 (behind Nigel Short) after being in joint first place going into the final round. In 2006 he scored 6/10. In the September 2008 Commonwealth Championship he finished second (once again behind Nigel Short); in 2007 he missed out on winning the Commonwealth Championship on tie-break, finishing second to RB Ramesh. He has a growing reputation as a coach. He has acted as Alexei Shirov's second on a few occasions. In October 2008 he was part of 'Team Anand' - the world champion's support team which helped him beat Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn. After Bonn he played in the Dresden Olympiad on board three for India and made a 2704 TPR.
 
Emanuel Berg
Emanuel Berg
 
SWE 2606g Born in late 1981, 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 and 2008 have shown further improvement, with a couple of near misses in the Swedish championship and a joint first in the Politiken Cup. In 2008 he scored 7/10 to finish 10th= at the Gibtelecom Masters. He recently made the same score in the 2008 EU Championships in Liverpool.
 
Vassilios Kotronias
Vassilios Kotronias
 
GRE 2603g Born in 1964, Vassilios has long since been Greece's strongest grandmaster. He has played twice before in Gibraltar, in 2003 when he shared first place with Nigel Short and 2005, when he was half a point behind the five joint winners. He became an IM in 1986 and a GM in 1990. He has played in 12 Olympiads, including two for Cyprus when he switched allegiance between 1998 and 2005, playing on top board eight times. At Dresden 2008 he won a bronze medal playing on board two, with an undefeated score of 8½/11 and a TPR of 2781. He has also played in the European Team Championship seven times, every one on board one and winning an individual silver medal playing for Cyprus in 2001. He is an accomplished author; his undeniably excellent Beating the Caro-Kann (1994) resulted in some disastrous results for me against 1 e4 for some months after its publication - but I don't hold it against him (well, not too much). Reading my comment about his book, Vassilios added: "As for the Caro with Nge2 and g4, it is indeed very hard to play, and despite several successes I decided to quit it myself as impractical."
 
Ulf Andersson
Ulf Andersson
 
SWE 2571g With Alexander Belyavsky and Jan Timman, Ulf Andersson (born in 1951) makes an impressive triumvirate of great players of the 1970s and 1980s at the 2009 Gibtelecom Festival. He became an IM in 1970 and a GM in 1972 and eventually peaked at number four on the FIDE Rating List. He is famous for his ultra-solid style, eschewing complications and relishing endgame grinds. He was once referred to as the "patron saint of lost positions" for his legendary ability to hold out for a draw when all seemed lost. A few years ago he took up correspondence chess and very soon became a grandmaster and reached the top of the correspondence rating list in 2002. He has had a particularly successful career in British tournaments, winning the Phillips and Drew in 1980 and 1982 and Hastings in 1978/79. He has continued to play tournaments up to the present but now tends to draw the great majority of his games. He played at Gibraltar in 2007 but withdrew after two rounds.
 
Vitali Golod
Vitali Golod
 
ISR 2575g Born in 1971 in Ukraine, Vitali won the Ukrainian Championship in 1991 just before he emigrated to Israel. He reached his peak FIDE rating of 2606 on the January 2008 list. In 2007 he was one of six players who finished first at the final Monarch Assurance Isle of Man tournament, defeating the two highest rated players in the field (Krasenkow and Areshchenko).
 
Chanda Sandipan
Chanda Sandipan
 
IND 2568g Chanda Sandipan was born in 1983 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 four times at Gibraltar scoring 6½ the first three times time (out of 10 in 2004 and 2006 and out of 9 in 2007), and 7/10 in 2008. 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. Is board four for India in the 2008 Dresden Olympiad.
 

Antoaneta Stefanova
Antoaneta Stefanova
 

BUL

2557g

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).
 

Pia Cramling
Pia Cramling
 

SWE

2548g

As at October 2008, Pia Cramling is ranked at number five woman player in the world and she 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. in late 2008 she reached the semi-finals of the women's world championship only to be eliminated by the eventual winner Alexandra Kosteniuk. 2008 Gibtelecom result: 6/10, 37th=.
 

Josep Manuel Lopez Martinez
Josep Manuel Lopez Martinez
 
ESP 2540g Josep was born in Barcelona in 1980. In 2006/7 he increased his rating by 100 points and qualified for the GM title in 2007. he represented Spain on board three in the 2005 European Team Championship. He has a positional style and favours the Queen's Gambit, the Sicilian and the Ruy Lopez. He won the Spanish Junior Championship in 1999 and 2000 and finished second in the Spanish Championship proper in 2005 and 2007, losing to Miguel Illescas on both occasions.
 
Jon Speelman
Jon Speelman
 
ENG 2536g It is almost impossible to summarise Jon's distinguished career in 200 words or so, but I'll have a go... London-born, Oxford-educated, IM title in 1978, GM in 1980, British Champion three times, twice winner of the Hastings Premier, winner of the Lloyds Bank Masters 1993, world championship candidate 1988 (beat Seirawan, Short, lost to Timman in the semi-finals), again in 1991 (only lost to eventual title challenger Short on a rapidplay tie-break), 14 successive Olympiads between 1980 and 2006 (winning three team silvers, one team bronze and one individual silver on board five in 1986), nine European Team Championships (including one team gold in 1997 and two team bronzes), 'plus'-scores against most of his English rivals, one of only three British players ever to have reached the top five in the world rating list... and I've probably not mentioned a stack of other achievements. As well as a player, Jon is a prolific chess writer and broadcaster, with a daily column in The Independent and a weekly one in The Observer (and - I cannot resist the opportunity for a plug - a column on the endgame in British Chess Magazine). One of the friendliest and most approachable of men, Jon wears his distinction very lightly. Described himself as a 'grizzled old hacker' in his chess autobiography but of course that doesn't do him anything like justice.
 
Jon Ludvig Hammer
Jon Ludvig Hammer
   
NOR 2532m Born in 1990 - one of Simen Agdestein's most impressive young proteges and improving rapidly. He is shooting up the rating list, having gone up about 110 points in the last year so. Scored 6/10 on his first Gibtelecom Festival appearance in 2008. Since then he has tied for first at Gausdal, finished 2nd in a big open in Oslo, tied for first in the Norwegian Championship and then again at Borup. Played board five for Norway in the 2008 Dresden Olympiad and made a very respectable 6/10 (TPR 2576). His 2009 got off to a great start when he won the Gjovik tournament in Norway head of six strong GMs, thereby completing his requirement for the GM title. The perfect curtain-raise for Gib '09.
 
Gabriel Del Río De Angelis
Gabriel Del Rio de Angelis
 
ESP 2532g

Born in 1976, Gabriel is one of a strong generation of Spanish grandmasters. Such is the strength in depth of Spanish chess that Gabriel has not yet broken through to the national team, but he made a good score for the Spanish 'B' team at the 2001 European Team Championship. He scored 6/9 at the 2003 Monarch Assurance Isle of Man International without drawing any games. He played in the 2004 and 2005 Gibtelecom Masters tournaments, scoring 6½/10 and 6/10.

 

Stephen Gordon
Stephen Gordon
 
ENG 2524m Born in 1986, Stephen, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, is widely tipped as the next great hope for English chess, alongside David Howell and Gawain Jones. He needs one more norm for his grandmaster title and he has impressed in a number of tournaments in the past few years. Between 2005 and 2008 he won the British under-21 title four times in a row. He has an open (and rather cheeky!) personality away from the board but is a really tough and dedicated competitor when in play. He was the top finishing English player at the 2007 British Championship, scoring 8/11 to finish 2nd= with Jonathan Rowson (whom he beat along the way), so was crowned 'English champion' for that year. He also challenged for the 2008 British title, scoring 7½/11 to finish half a point behind Conquest and Arkell.
 
Milos Pavlovic
Milos Pavlovic
 
SRB 2520g Born in 1964, Milos is a globe-trotting GM who will be making his fourth visit to Gibraltar. I remember missing the annual Isle of Man coach trip one year at the Monarch Assurance tournament, but was lucky enough to find Milos in the hotel. We sat down and had a long chat about chess. He looks quite fierce at the board but away from it he is relaxed and humorous and a pleasure to talk to. Milos is a very consistent player who has played quite a few times in British tournaments, including Hastings and the South Wales Masters, which he won in 2006. Incidentally, be very careful when looking Milos up on ChessBase because there are now TWO Serbian players called Milos Pavlovic - and, on the October 2008 rating list, they both have exactly the same rating (2524)!. Milos the Second is exactly 20 years younger than Milos the First. Milos the Second isn't a GM yet but he very soon will be. In Gibraltar, Milos's scores have been 6/10 (in 2003), 6½/10 (in 2006) and 6½/9 (in 2007).
 
Nana Dzagnidze
Nana Dzagnidze
 
GEO 2518g Born in 1987, Nana won the World Girls Under-10 Championship in 1997, and the World Girls Under 20 Championship in 2003, no fewer than 2 points clear of the field. She has been board two for Georgia in the last three Olympiads. She won the team silver medal in the 2005 European Women's Team Championship and an individual board four gold medal in the 2007 event. 2008 has been a wonderful year for Nana: she qualified as a full grandmaster and was board two for Georgia when they reclaimed the Women's Olympiad team gold medal in Dresden. She scored an excellent 7/10.
   
Gabor Papp
Gabor Papp
 
HUN 2517m Born in 1987.
David Berczes

 
HUN 2513g Born in 1990. His GM title was ratified at the FIDE Congress in Dresden. Made his first GM norm as long ago as 2005 when he was only 15. 2008 Gibtelecom Masters result: 5½/10, 56th=.
 
Pontus Carlsson
Pontus Carlsson
 
SWE 2509g Born in Cali, Colombia, in 1982, Pontus was orphaned at a very young age when his entire family died in tragic circumstances and he was subsequently adopted by a Swedish family. His stepfather Ingvar was a former president of the Swedish Chess Federation and taught him the game when he was 4. He holds dual Colombian/Swedish nationality but plays his chess for Sweden. His chess has improved steadily over the past few years and he broke through the 2500 rating barrier in 2007 to become a grandmaster (the 16th Swede to do so), after gaining his final norm at a tournament in Spain. In 2007 he also debuted for the Swedish national team, scoring 6/9 in the European Team Championship.
 
Krisztian Szabo
Krisztian Szabo
 
HUN 2508m Born in 1989. Had a great start to the 2007 European Championship in Dresden, defeating the former champion Zurab Azmaraiparashvili in the first round. 2008 result: 7/10, 10th=.
 
Ketevan Arakhamia
Ketevan Arakhamia
 
SCO 2500m Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (to give her her full name) has enjoyed a glittering string of successes in her chess career, starting with the world girls championship which she won in 1986. In team chess she represented USSR and Georgia until 2008 and won medals with them on many occasions. In 1990 she scored a remarkable 12/12 for the USSR at the Novi Sad Olympiad (although it only brought her a team silver to go with her individual gold). She has gone on to win one team gold in the European Championship and two team golds in later Olympiads. Since marrying Scottish FM Jonathan Grant and moving to Edinburgh, she has won the full Scottish Championship and four British Women's Championship titles. In 2006 she came close to becoming the first woman player to win the full British title, finishing in clear second place ahead of a posse of English GMs and only half a point behind the winner Jonathan Rowson. In the UK versus China match in September 2007, she made the British team's best score of 4/6. Shortly after that, she went to Calvia, Mallorca, with husband Jonathan and daughter Elena for what was intended as a tournament-cum-holiday. It was only when tipped off by a tournament official after round eight that she realised she had a chance of her second GM norm. She went on to clinch the norm with a last-round win against GM Mamedov (2582). Keti has played at the last four Gibtelecom Masters tournaments. In 2007 she beat GM Hikaru Nakamura (then reigning US Champion) in round one in a game which went to 100 moves. Keti is a role model for all chessplayers: her charming and dignified manner belies a tough, determined fighter at the board. The 2008 Gibtelecom Masters tournament was Ketevan's first as a Scottish-registered player and she scored 6½/10 to share the main women's prize. She scored 6/10 in the 2008 EU Championship in Liverpool, narrowly missing another GM norm. She then represented Scotland for the first time at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad where she scored her third and final GM norm. Her January 2009 rating of 2500 should give her the title (subject to official confirmation).
 
Viktorija Cmilyte
Viktorija Cmilyte
 
LTU 2497m 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. 2008 result: 6½/10, 21st=. TPR of 2578 and a GM norm achieved. Prize money won: £2,250, share of the women's awards.
 
Arnaud Hauchard
Arnaud Hauchard
   
FRA 2497g Born in 1971, Arnaud qualified for the GM title in 2000 when he also finished 3rd= in a very strong French Championship. He tied for first place in the 1992 French Championship, losing on tie-break to Manuel Apicella. He represented France in the 1998 and 2000 Olympiads, scoring comfortably above his rating on both occasions. Arnaud is now the trainer of young French star Maxime Vachier-Lagrave who also plays at the 2009 Gibtelecom Masters.
 

Mohamad Al Sayed
Mohamad Naser Al Sayed
 

QAT

2488gc

Mohamad Naser Al Sayed is one of a trio of Qatari players – Mohamad Al Modiahki and Zhu Chen are the others – who clearly love playing in Gibraltar. Mohamad Naser made a GM norm here in 2007 as he did in 2006, and he is making his fifth consecutive appearance in 2009. However, he’s not interested in norms as he already had enough before achieving the 2006 one – he just needs the tantalising 2500 rating to get the title. That's what the code 'gc' stands for.
 

Lawrence Trent
Lawrence Trent
 
ENG 2487m Born in 1986, Lawrence, from Ilford, Essex, is one of England's most talented young players. Aged 14, he beat Pentala Harikrishna in the 2000 World Under-14 Championship. He has shown his strength at the Jack Speigel Memorial tournaments held every Easter at Southend where he gets to play some strong GM opposition. Perhaps his most remarkable achievement in these tournaments has been to record three straight wins against Mark Hebden, in 2006, 2007 and 2008 (Mark will be hoping for a turn with the white pieces in 2009). Probably his best tournament victory so far was the 2006 Porto San Giorgio Open in Italy ahead of some formidable GMs. His previous best tournament win was in the 2005 Porto San Giorgio Open tournament! His 2006 TPR (2607) compared with 2562 in 2005. He took two GM scalps (Nick Pert and Stewart Haslinger) in the 2008 British Championships and two more (Kotronias and Godene) in the EU Championship which followed in Liverpool.
 
Miklos Nemeth
Miklos Nemeth
 
HUN 2472m Born in 1986.
 
Kalle Kiik
Kalle Kiik
 
EST 2466m Born in 1963. Kalle was Estonian champion in 1988 and was a member of the Estonian team from 1983-2000. In recent years he has been active primarily as a trainer. His latest success was his student Qiyu Zhou's silver medal at under-8 level in the World Youth Championship in 2008.
Anna Zatonskih

 
USA 2462m Anna is originally from Ukraine where she 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 four Women's Olympiads, twice for Ukraine and twice 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 US Women's Championship. She regained her US title in a controversial Armageddon play-off against Irina Krush (who is also playing in Gibraltar). 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 is playing in the Gibtelecom Masters for the first time this year. Unfortunately her partner GM Daniel Fridman has another chess commitment elsewhere so he won't be playing in Gib this year.
 
Fabio Bruno
Fabio Bruno
 
ITA 2461m Born in 1960. Fabio took a break from chess for 15 years in the 1990s and early 2000s but then returned with a bang, winning the Italian Championship in Montecatini (actually played in 2005 but it counted as the 2004 championship) and then the 2005 Frascati GM Tournament ahead of two 2600+ players, Miladinovic and Khenkin.
 
Irina Krush
Irina Krush
   
USA 2457m 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.
 

Monika Socko
Monika Socko
 

POL

2449g

Monika has twice won the Polish women’s championship, once under her maiden name of Bobrowska in 1995 and again in 2004. Like her husband, she has steadily improved over the past few years and she has advanced up the ranks of the world's top women players. Then, in September 2007, she had probably her best tournament result to date, winning the 2nd Women's International in Baku, Azerbaijan, ahead of Antoaneta Stefanova, Leia Javakhishvili, Pia Cramling, Katerina Lahno, Viktorija Cmilyte and others. In doing so she recorded a full GM norm. She has since gone on to clinch the title. Bartosz and Monika Socko have three children. 2008 result: 6/10, 37th=.
 

Lorin D'Costa
Lorin D'Costa
 
ENG 2445m Born in 1984. Lorin graduated from University College London in June 2007 in BA Dutch and Management Studies, and he is on a chess gap year at the moment. He asked me to plug his website, www.lorinsworld.com and I'm glad to oblige. This will be Lorin's first visit to the Gibtelecom Festival but he has been a very active and successful player for a number of years now both in the UK and on the continent. He scored 6½/10 in the 2008 EU Championship in Liverpool.
 

Juan Manuel Bellón Lopez
Juan-Manuel Bellón López
 

ESP

2440g

The Valencia-born grandmaster won the Spanish championship when he was only 19 in 1969 (and has won it again four more times). He was awarded the grandmaster title in 1979. He has long been known for his original and creative play. One of the more remarkable things about Juan Manuel is that he is said not to have offered a draw since 1978! Read more on the subject here. 57 years old, he is married to Pia Cramling. 2008 result: 6½/10, 21st=.
 

Max Devereaux
Max Devereaux
 
ENG 2437m Oxford-educated Max Devereaux has acquired his IM title since his 2008 appearance in Gibraltar when he scored a very creditable 6½/10 and was the joint best British scorer. At the 2006 EU Championship in Liverpool, he started with a tremendous burst of 4½/6 against GMs and a further 0/3(!) was enough to secure him a norm - a virtual IM norm from six games must be highly unusual, if not unique. The same summer he himself organised a FIDE-rated international tournament with title norms in Hereford - and played in it, and ran the website - quite a feat! Max was the star of the TV programme Faking It, in which he had to pretend to be a football coach. He was very successful in that the team he managed played way above their usual form to win the competition. However, he did not fool the experts into thinking he was a real football coach (one of the give-aways was that he was too well-spoken and didn't use bad language), A case of "the operation was successful but the patient died"? He has since put his sports management experience to good use by taking over as the Barbican club's team manager in the 4NCL (British Team League).
 
Tania Sachdev
Tania Sachdev
 
IND 2435m Born in 1986, Tania Sachdev 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. A student of literature from Delhi, 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 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!
 
Theo Hommeles
Theo Hommeles
 
NED 2410f A 47-year-old player from the Netherlands. He has taken a few good scalps in his career - the best may have been the 2630-rated Jan Timman in the 1997 Dutch Team Championship.
 
Ismael Karim
Ismael Karim
 
MAR 2407m Born in 1985. Ismael represented Morocco in the 2004 and 2006 Olympiads (they did not play in 2008). He scored 5½/10 in the 2008 Gibtelecom Masters, beating Zhu Chen and Tiger Hillarp Persson along the way.
 
Husein Aziz Nezad

 
QAT 2403m Born in 1985. Scored 5½/10 in the 2005 Gibtelecom Masters.
 
Ernest Kharous
Ernest Kharous
 
RUS 2400m Born in 1960. Has played a few tournaments in Ekaterinburg in the last few years and had his IM title confirmed at the FIDE Congress in Dresden in 2008.
 

Jovanka Houska
Jovanka Houska
 

ENG

2392m

Jovanka is the most active woman player in Britain these days and she has been making steady improvement as a player. Her elder brother is also an IM and her drive and determination to succeed owe a lot to sibling rivalry. She made her first WGM norm at the 1999 British Championship when she was still a teenager, and then scored a big success in 2000, winning the European Girls Under-20 title with 9/11 to secure the WGM title. She did a law degree but still found time for chess appearing in the 1998 and 2000 Olympiads and winning the 2001 Commonwealth Women’s Championship. In 2005 she became only the third British woman player to gain the full IM title. She likes playing in Gibraltar and shared the women’s first prize in 2007 against some very strong opposition including two world champions. In 2008 she won the British Women's Championship for the first time and returned to Liverpool a few weeks later to share the leading women's prize in the European Union Championship. Check her website at http://www.jovanka.co.uk/mambo/
 

Federico Perez Ponsa
Federico Perez Ponsa
 
ARG 2390f Born in 1993. From Zárate, a suburb of Buenos Aires in Argentina. Federico chalked up two IM norms in 2008, aged 15. Watch out for 'Federicov' on the Internet Chess Club, where he has a blitz rating of 3283 and 2707 at 'bullet'. These young chessplayers are positively frightening...
 
Peter Dittmar
Peter Dittmar
 
GER 2382f Peter was born in 1960 and played in the 2007 Gibtelecom Masters, scoring 4½/9. Peter has some good notches on his belt, with tournament wins against Mihail Marin, Aleksandar Wohl and Artur Kogan.
 
Gerard Welling
Gerard Welling
 
NED 2371m Born in 1959, Gerard is not to be confused with Dutch chess journalist and writer Jules Welling. He is a regular at big open events around Europe and has travelled as far afield as Australia. He has been a regular visitor to the Isle of Man and played in Gibraltar in 2005 and 2006, scoring a win against 2629-rated GM Tregubov in 2005. 2008 result: 5½/10, 56th=.
 
Victor Nithander
Victor Nithander
 
SWE 2369f Born in 1987.
 
Arkadiusz Leniart
Arkadiusz Leniart
 
POL 2360 Born in 1991.
 
Gary Quillan
Gary Quillan
 
ENG 2357 Born in 1970, Gary is a very experienced and popular member of the English chess scene. He has been the strongest untitled player in the country for some time now (he could become an FM any time he likes, of course, having a rating well in excess of 2300); he has a couple of IM norms to his name. He plays for the Waterloo club in Liverpool and has an ECF grade of 212. At the 2007 UK vs China match in Liverpool, there was an entertaining photo-shoot set up with Gary and England no.1 Mickey Adams, which mimicked a similar photo of the two of them which had been published in a UK newspaper 25 years earlier when the two of them had been playing in the National Primary Schools Championship - click here to see the 1982 and 2007 photos (navigate to the bottom of the page). Neither of them has changed a bit!
 
Sander Van Eijk
Sander Van Eijk
 
NED 2355f Born in 1986, Sander's full name is Johannes Hendrik Alexander Van Eijk. He played in the 2005 Gibtelecom Masters, scoring 4½/10. He has made a big improvement in his game since mid-2007, moving from 2257 to his present level. He gained a large number of rating points at the 12th Hogeschool Zeeland tournament in August 2008.
 
Magnus Carlhammar
Magnus Carlhammar
 
SWE 2350 Born in 1963.
 

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