We have been lucky enough to have some of the world's most famous players play in Gibraltar over the years. From the excitement of Alexei Shirov and Emil Sutovsky to the subtlety of Michael Adams and Lev Aronian, the attacking prowess of Nigel Short to Kiril Georgiev grinding away in an endgame, every year many grandmasters come to Gibraltar and try to claim the coveted first prize.
We should never forget that every year in Gibraltar we have the strongest women players in the world come to Gibraltar. Fomer world champions Antoaneta Stefanova and Zhu Chen are regulars as are such members of the elite as Pia Cramling and Kateryna Lahno.
US grandmaster Hikaru Nakmura was the winner after an exciting blitz tie-break against Chinese grandmaster Bu Xiangzhi who had been front runner for most of the tournament.
7½: Bu Xiangzhi, Zahar Efimenko
7: Viktor Bologan, GN Gopal, Hikaru Nakamura, Ni Hua
LAST ROUND... Bu Xiangzhi and Ni Hua drew in 27 moves, played in 22 minutes but then Hikaru Nakamura beat Efimenko and thus brought about a two-way tie-break.
In 2008, the line-up included four top Chinese players: Wang Yue, rated 2698 and Bu Xiangzhi, rated 2691, Ni Hua, rated 2680, and Wang Hao, rated 2665. In fact, practically the full Chinese squad (which beat Russia and the UK in 2007) played in Gibraltar! The challenge to the top Chinese players was headed by the USA's Hikaru Nakamura, rated 2670 and Viktor Bologan, from Moldova, rated 2663. The list of entrants for 2008 makes interesting reading.
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.
|Top seed Michael Adams had one defeat to Ukrainian star Zahar Efimenko and was held to draws in the last two rounds by Mikhail Gurevich and Mohamad Al Modiahki|
|The women's prize was won by English representative Jovanka Houska who managed to reach the finishing post ahead of early favourites Zhu Chen, Pia Cramling and Antoaneta Stefanova.|
|Zhu Chen had an outstanding result in terms of performance but lost the critical last round to GM Jaan Ehlvest. She was the recent (July 2007) winner of the strong women's tournament in the Urals.|
In 2008 with £12,000 as first prize and a general increase of £9,000 in prize money, it promises to be the biggest and strongest Gibraltar ever!
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.
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 Lev 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.
|Almira now lives in Paris although originally from Moldova||Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant has been a member of the Georgian teams for many years but now lives in Scotland with her family.|
|Iweta Radziewicz (or Iweta Rajlich as she is now called) has become well known as one half of the Rybka team.||Viktorija has been champion of Lithuania ahead of her male compatriots!|
|Pia Cramling was one of the first women to earn the grandmaster title. She now lives in Spain while still representing her native Sweden.|
2004 will be remembered as the year that Nigel Short could do litte wrong chess-wise in Gibraltar. He showed his attacking prowess and when he had to defend, he would grind out the extra half points when necessary. He even won the brilliancy prize for his game against GM Ruslan Pogelorov. 2004 saw many young Indian players come to Gibraltar who would become famous names later on, Just mentioning Sasikiran and Harikrishna is a good way to show that Indian chess has come of age
Swedish GM Pia Cramling won the women's prize by herself which is a rare occurrence. Pia has been playing at the highest levels for Sweden for many years now.
The inaugural Gibtelecom Festival kicked off on 28 January 2003 and was played over ten rounds. Some 72 players gathered on the Rock for the first big-time chess tournament to be held in Gibraltar. 24 grandmasters were amongst the 59 entrants for the Masters section, and the highest rated of these was former world championship finalist Nigel Short. He duly proceeded to make the best score but in company with Greek grandmaster Vasilios Kotronias. The best score by a female was made by Woman grandmaster Nora Medvegy of Hungary, finishing a clear point ahead of Pia Cramling.
Nigel Short and Vasilios Kotronias
winners of the first Gibtelecom Masters in 2003