The 8th Gibtelecom Chess Festival takes place from Tuesday 26 January 2010 to Thursday 4 February 2010.
John Saunders reports: The photo below shows the winner of the 8th Gibtelecom Masters, Michael Adams of England, being congratulated by master of ceremonies and tournament commentator GM Stuart Conquest. Also in the photo are the women's prize-winner Natalia Zhukova (who also achieved a GM norm, surpassing the required TPR by a huge margin) and CEO of Gibtelecom, Tim Bristow.
Two other major announcements were made at the closing ceremony. Stuart Conquest has been appointed the new tournament director, and Tradewise is to be the primary sponsor with effect from 2011, with three years sponsorship secured. A fuller report will follow when the webmaster recovers from a heavy cold and fatigue.
John Saunders reports: English grandmaster Mickey Adams has won the 8th Gibtelecom Masters after a four-player play-off. He did it the hard way, losing the first game of his semi-final against German GM Jan Gustafsson and having much the worst of the second game before Gustafsson blundered a piece. There followed an Armageddon game, with Adams obliged to win, which he did in some style. In the other semi-final Paco Vallejo Pons of Spain won his first game quite comfortably against Chand Sandipan of India. He was comfortable in the second game but Sandipan fought back to the point where he should have won, only the make a terrible blunder which cost him the win. The final saw Adams in his best form, soon securing a strong advantage which he carried through to victory. In the return, Vallejo Pons got a bad position but his attempt to mix the game up cost him a piece and he could only draw. The two-game mini-matches were played at a time control of 10 minutes with 10 second increments and the Armageddon game at 5 minutes to 4.
Challengers 2 - 1st Jon Kristian Haarr (NOR). Amateurs 2 - 1st Johan Salomon (NOR). Full results will be posted when available.
Gustafsson won the first game, Adams the second - 1-1 - now - ARMAGEDDON!!
Paco Vallejo is through to the play-off final after defeating Chand Sandipan 1½-½
John Saunders reports: Sergei Movsesian (SVK), Paco Vallejo Pons (ESP), Michael Adams (ENG) and Jan Gustafsson (GER) are tied on 7/9 going into the tenth and final round of the Gibtelecom Masters. At this point the 'Gibraltar rules' kick in: boards where one or both of the players can finish in a tie for first are required to start their games at 10:00 (GMT+1) on 4 February in order to allow time for a rapidplay play-off at 15:00 should it be necessary. This means that boards 1-5 and 7 will start at 10:00, namely Gustafsson v Movsesian, Vallejo Pons v Adams, Bacrot v Cramling, Bindrich v Kamsky, Zhukova v Fressinet and Javakhishvili v Sandipan start at 10:00 (GMT+1). All other Masters games start at 15:00 (GMT+1) as normal. Stuart Conquest's commentary also starts at 10:00 (GMT+1, 09:00 UK time).
As regards round nine, Gustafsson and Bacrot agreed a very quick and boring draw, but the next three boards saw some real action, with Movsesian beating Halkias, Vallejo Pons beating Naumann and Adams defeating Lemos. More soon.
3 February 2010
John Saunders reports: The tournament webmaster reports on some close encounters of the Spassky kind, reflects on Jan Gustafsson's sole leadership, and annotates a fascinating encounter from the 8th round between Argentinian GM Damian Lemos and French IM Clovis Vernay. Round 8 Report. Leaders after Round 8: 1st Jan Gustafsson (Germany) 6½ points out of 8; 2nd= Etienne Bacrot (France), Sergei Movsesian (Slovakia), Paco Vallejo Pons (Spain), Michael Adams (England), Gata Kamsky (USA), Laurent Fressinet (France), Chand Sandipan (India), Humpy Koneru (India), Stelios Halkias (Greece), Damian Lemos (Argentina), Alexander Naumann (Germany), Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia), Drasko Boskovic (Serbia) 6 points.
John Saunders reports: Some of the tournament's top players met the most famous Rock Stars... click here.
John Saunders reports: The concept of a 'first eleven' makes most of us think of football or cricket but that is what we have after seven rounds of the Gibtelecom Masters. No fewer than eleven players share the lead with three rounds left. Here is the 'dream team': Sergei Movsesian (SVK), Paco Vallejo Pons (ESP), Michael Adams (ENG), Gata Kamsky (USA), Laurent Fressinet (FRA), Jan Gustafsson (GER), Chanda Sandipan (IND), Humpy Koneru (IND), Stelios Halkias (GRE), Alex Lenderman (USA), Natalia Zhukova (UKR) all have 5½/7.
The 'First XI' - all have 5½/7
The player who was closest to breaking clear of the pack was Michael Adams, who played some very enterprising chess against Natalia Zhukova and seemed likely to win. However, some active defence by the Ukrainian woman grandmaster saved the day for her and kept her amongst the leaders. More soon.
John Saunders reports: There is a four-way tie for the lead after six rounds of the Gibtelecom Masters at the Caleta Hotel, Gibraltar. The top six pairings all ended in draws but two players who had been on 4/5 too the opportunity to catch up with the round five leaders, Mickey Adams and Jan Gustafsson, by winning games. Indian grandmaster Chanda Sandipan defeated Nana Dzagnidze, and Ukrainian woman grandmaster Natalia Zhukova beat French GM Romain Edouard. This means that we have an A to Z of leaders: Adams, Gustafsson, Sandipan and Zhukova.
Top left: Adams, top right: Natalia Zhukova
Bottom left: Chanda Sandipan, bottom right: Jan Gustafsson
Full report to follow
John Saunders reports: The leadership was whittled down from ten to two players as the top five boards fought for supremacy. After another hard-fought round, the front-runners are now Mickey Adams of England and Jan Gustafsson. Both profited from early slips by their Indian opponents (Humpy Koneru and GN Gopal respectively) to win in some comfort.
Leaders with 4½/5: Michael Adams (ENG) and Jan Gustafsson (GER)
The new women's leaders are last year's top women's prize winner Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia and Natalia Zhukova of Ukraine. Read the Round 5 Report.
Nana Dzagnidze (left) and Natalia Zhukova lead the women competitors on 4/5
John Saunders reports: There was some great round four action here at the 2010 Gibtelecom Chess Festival - and we'll come to that presently - but the show was stolen by a legend of chess, Boris Spassky. Around 1½ hours into the round, Boris strolled into the commentary room to watch the play with GM Stuart Conquest and his audience (both physical and virtual, of course). Stuart invited him to sit beside him and chat "for a few minutes". This turned into nearly three hours! Within a few minutes we had the camera on Boris and it didn't leave him for the full duration of his stay in the commentary room. And the really, really good news, readers, is that you can enjoy every minute of this video as, thanks to some great new facilities provided by Gibtelecom, it has been stored for posterity and can be watched online right here.
Boris Spassky on video at the Gibraltar Chess Festival.
Click on the button on the window below to watch his commentary.
Boris arrives at around 1:25 into the video, and appears onscreen from 1:42. All you need to do is click on the button in the middle of the screen and then sit back and enjoy - use the slider in the window to move to the requisite part of the show. Fabulous stuff!
Now back to yesterday's action... all the leaders drew so we have ten players in the top score group: Bacrot, Adams, Fressinet, Fridman, Gustafsson, Sandipan, Koneru, Edouard, Felgaer, Gopal 3½/4. Full report here.
By the way, we now have a Facebook group for the tournament.
John Saunders reports: There are three leaders after round three of the Gibtelecom Masters: Michael Adams (England), Laurent Fressinet (France) and Jan Gustafsson (Germany). It was another exciting round with plenty of decisive games.
Ivan Cheparinov was held to a draw by a 2093-rated player
The most eye-catching game was Ivan Cheparinov of Bulgaria versus Victor Havik of Norway. The rating difference was nearly 600 points but the 31-year-old Norwegian was not intimidated. At the end of the game he played a beautiful queen sacrifice to secure the draw. Read the Round Three Report...
John Saunders reports: Most of the top players came through to win in Round Two of the Gibtelecom Masters. We'll have full reports on the web very soon. In the meantime, why not check out the photographic albums which we have prepared for your enjoyment.
John Saunders reports: Chess legend Boris Spassky is a special guest at the Caleta Hotel during the Gibtelecom Chess Festival and he made the ceremonial opening move in the game played by Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk.
Boris Spassky with Alexandra Kosteniuk
The genial ex-world champion sat down opposite Alexandra Kosteniuk and for a few moments it looked like he was going to play a game! He put the moves 1 a3 e5 2 e4 f5 on the board. Reversed King's Gambit? We're just preparing the press reports to go up on the website. More soon...
John Saunders reports: The opening ceremony of the 8th Gibraltar Chess Festival took place in the Caleta Hotel on 25 January 2010. GM Stuart Conquest was master of ceremonies and introduced the special guests, The Honourable Edwin Joseph Reyes - Minister for Culture, and Maxine de la Rosa - "First Princess of Gibraltar for 2009".
The Honourable Edwin Joseph Reyes - Minister for Culture, with Maxine de la Rosa
The two guests were invited to help make the draw for the top three rated players, plus the top three rated women players. After the ceremony, the players and guests - who, like last year, included former world champion Boris Spassky, could enjoy their buffet dinner.
Boris Spassky at the opening ceremony, Caleta Hotel, 25 January 2010
You too can enjoy the flavour of the opening ceremony via some fantastic photos taken by Zeljka Malobabic of Monroi (Zeljka has very kindly allowed these to be downloaded and used by the press). Later in the evening, the round one pairings became available. The action starts on 26 January 2010, with the Challengers and Amateurs events beginning at 10:00hrs (09:00 UK time) and the Masters at 15:00hrs (14:00 UK time). Follow the live action here at the official site: http://www.gibraltarchesscongress.com/gib2010/live/index.html
Brian Callaghan, proprietor of the Caleta Hotel and organizer of the Gibtelecom Chess Festival, is becoming a familiar face in the chess world these days, but those two other faces below may be even more familiar...
Read about the day that Brian met Magnus and Garry, courtesy of Alice Mascarenhas of the Gibraltar Chronicle.
John Saunders reports: I've just posted a list of the most recent entrants to the tournament (among them the Greek GM Stelios Halkias). Unfortunately, we have also lost a few prospective participants. Sadly, ex-women's world champion Zhu Chen and her husband Mohamad Al-Modiahki won't be coming after all due to a family illness. Three Russian GMs, Vitiugov, Romanov and Andreikin, have run into off-board time trouble - their visa applications have not been processed in time for them to appear. But the most intriguing withdrawal is Simen Agdestein's . He had a most original reason for not being in Gibraltar. We can reveal here for the first time that he's going to be taking part in an opera! Is there no end to the talents of the Norwegian grandmaster? It is well known that he was a soccer international and that he took part in Dancing with the Stars (see photo, right) on Norwegian TV.
But is he now an all-singing, all-dancing grandmaster? Well, very nearly. Here is Simen himself on his off-board career after Dancing with the Stars: "I must admit it was enormous fun taking part in that program and very inspirational. Afterwards I started on amateur theatricals and also became interested in singing and such things. But I’m not going to sing [in the opera], just play a very minor role in the background." The opera is Richard Wagner's Tannhauser and it is being performed at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo. As usual, Simen believes in starting at the top. Next stop Bayreuth?
John Saunders reports: More big names have joined the field for the 2010 Gibtelecom Masters, which starts on 26 January and runs until 4 February. The January 2010 ratings have now been published and we know that our number one rated player 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), we have the current Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS 2523g). Alexandra isn't the only world champion - we have the sensational brother and sister duo from Peru, Jorge and Deysi Cori Tello - 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. Read all about these players and the rest of the phenomenal field here.