2010 Gibraltar Chess Festival - Who's Who

This page features a list of entrants and organisers at the 2010 Gibtelecom Masters tournament.


Masters (2350+) • Masters (below 2350)ChallengersAmateursTournament Officials


Masters - Rated 2350 and Above (ratings from January 2010 List)

This page last edited: Thursday February 4, 2010 12:25 PM

 

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). If you are playing in the tournament 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!


You can click on one of the three headers (name, fed, rating) to sort the names into alphabetical, federation or rating order. Click again on the same header to reverse the order.


 

Name Fed Rating
Bacrot, Etienne
Bacrot, Etienne
 
FRA 2713g 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.
 
Movsesian, Sergei
Movsesian, Sergei
SVK 2708g 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.
 
Vallejo Pons, Francisco
Vallejo Pons, Francisco
 
ESP 2705g 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.
 
Adams, Michael
Adams, Michael
 
ENG 2694g Born in 1971 in Cornwall, Michael Adams first lived in Perranporth on the North Cornish coast before moving to Falmouth, where he joined his first chess club. He was educated at Truro School. Known to his friends as Mickey, he 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.
 
Kamsky, Gata
Kamsky, Gata
 
USA 2693g 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.
 
Fressinet, Laurent
Laurent Fressinet
 
FRA 2670g 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.
 
Cheparinov, Ivan
Cheparinov, Ivan
 
BUL 2660g 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.
 
Fridman, Daniel
Daniel Fridman
 
GER 2654g 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.
 
Gustafsson, Jan
Gustafsson, Jan
 
GER 2627g Born in Hamburg in 1979, Jan is a leading German grandmaster. He has been a member of the Hamburg SK club all his life to date. He became an IM in 1999 and a GM in 2003, and first played for Germany in an Olympiad in 2004. He is a very good blitz player. He is a very good poker and has even written a book on the game.
 
 
Sandipan, Chanda
Sandipan, Chanda
 
IND 2622g 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.
 

Koneru, Humpy
Humpy Koneru
 
IND 2614g 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.
 
Edouard, Romain
Edouard, Romain
 
FRA 2608g 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.
 
Istratescu, Andrei
Istratescu, Andrei
 
ROU 2607g Born in 1975, Andrei Istratescu first reached the 2600 level in 2002, lost it in the following couple of years but has since reasserted himself above that threshold. He has played in six Olympiads and three European Team Championships for Romania; he was Romanian Champion in 1992. Andrei has his own website - http://www.andreiistratescu.ro/. In 2005 he played a match against Anatoly Karpov, losing the four-game standardplay component by 1½-2½ and the rapidplay component by ½-3½ - but it included one win at standardplay. He has coached the French national team and written for many chess magazines and websites. He is head teacher at the online International Chess School (ICS - http://www.chessmasterschool.com/
 
Lopez Martinez, Josep Manuel
Lopez Martinez, Josep Manuel
 
ESP 2593g Josep Manuel 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. He made his Gibraltar debut in 2009, scoring 6½/10. He drew with eventual winner Peter Svidler and Alexander Beliavsky, and beat 2651-rated Ferenc Berkes of Hungary. On the January 2010 rating list, Josep Manuel is the Spanish no.4, behind Alexei Shirov, Paco Vallejo Pons and Miguel Illescas.
 
Gopal, Geetha Narayanan
Gopal, Geetha Narayanan
 
IND 2584g Born in 1989, GN Gopal (as he is usually known) made his mark as a teenager. He was not even an IM in 2006 when he became the champion of Kerala, but in the summer of 2007 he chalked up his second GM norm and then completed his third at the Asian Zonal at Dhaka in August. His grandmaster title was ratified in November 2007. In the FIDE World Cup in Siberia in November, he had a tremendous tussle with former FIDE champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov and only lost a blitz playoff after four games had been drawn. So 2007 was an eventful year for Gopal. He has played just once at Gibraltar but did extremely well, just a whisker away from tying for first with Bu Xiangzhi and Hikaru Nakamura in 2008 when he just failed to beat Viorel Bologan in the final round and finished on 7½/10.
 
Halkias, Stelios
Halkias, Stelios
 
GRE 2566g 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.
 
Lenderman, Alex

 
USA 2560(g) Born in 1989, Alex achieved all three required GM norms in little more than a month in the summer of 2009 though his title has not yet been ratified. He was the 2006 World Under-16 Champion. He is clearly one of the brightest talents in US chess.
 
Lemos Sarro, Damian
Lemos Sarro, Damian
 
ARG 2556g Born in 1990 in Buenos Aires, Damian qualified for the IM title in 2006 aged 15 - the youngest Argentinian to do so - and in October 2008 completed his qualification for the GM title - again, he was the youngest native-born Argentinian to reach that level. He is currently ranked number five in Argentina. In a recent interview he said that his favourite language was English and his favourite book Alexei Shirov's Fire on Board. He is a friend of Magnus Carlsen and was born in the same year (which was a particularly fruitful one for brilliant young players - Karyakin, Vachier-Lagrave and Howell were all products of the vintage 1990 harvest). His Internet Chess Club handle is 'Blitz-King', which is no exaggeration: his blitz rating is somewhere in excess of 3200. He is a fan of San Lorenzo de Almagro Football Club in Buenos Aires - and sent me a photo of him wearing their colours. He recently moved to Spain to further his chess career. He finished a very good second equal at the 2009 Porto Mannu Open, half a point behind the Gibtelecom Festival's very own favourite chessplayer and ace commentator GM Stuart Conquest!
 
Mazé, Sébastien
Mazé, Sébastien
 
FRA 2554g Born in 1984. Became a GM in 2007 and made his debut for the French Olympiad team in 2008.
 
Malakhatko, Vadim
Vadim Malakhatko
 
BEL 2549g Originally from Ukraine, Vadim now plays under the Belgian flag. He was born in 1977 and is 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 played at the last three Monarch Assurance events, scoring 5½, 6 and 5½ out of 9.

Stefanova, Antoaneta
Antoaneta Stefanova
 

BUL

2545g

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).
 

Bhat, Vinay S
Vinay S Bhat
 
USA 2540g Born in 1984 in Santa Clara, California, Vinay Subramanya Bhat became a US National Master aged only ten and went on to qualify as an IM at 16 and a GM at 24. Vinay can tell you more about himself at his blog, called 'An Unemployed Fellow'.

Cramling, Pia
Pia Cramling
 

SWE

2528g

As at April 2009, Pia Cramling is ranked at number eight 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. 2009 Gibtelecom result: 7/10, 7th=. This was the top women's score (though Nana Dzagnidze took the main prize on tie-break)
 

Speelman, Jon
Jon Speelman
 
ENG 2525g It is almost impossible to summarise Jon's distinguished career in 200 words or so, but I'll have a go... London-born in 1956, 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. He has played in all seven Gibtelecom Masters tournaments to date. His 'victims on the Rock' include Viktor Bologan, Emil Sutovsky, Mikhail Gurevich, Viktor Mikhalevski, Jim Plaskett and Juan Bellón (twice).
 
Naumann, Alexander
Naumann, Alexander
 
GER 2525g Born in 1979, Alexander is from Magdeburg and plays for Solingen. He played board for Germany in the 2008 Olympiad. He is a professional pharmacist.
 
Kosteniuk, Alexandra
Kosteniuk, Alexandra
 
RUS 2523g Born in 1984 in Perm, Alexandra is the reigning Women's World Champion. Alexandra has had a very high profile career for a number of years, combining professional chess with modelling, appearing in movies and becoming the 'face' for a number of luxury products in advertising campaigns. She has often been compared to the tennis star Anna Kournikova, but the big difference is that Alexandra has been vastly more successful in her chosen sport, particularly in knock-out matchplay competitions at which she excels. The first such event was the 2001 Women's World Championship where she was narrowly defeated by China's Zhu Chen in a pulsating final match which reflected great credit on both players and women's chess in general. In 2004 Alexandra won the European Women's Championship, in 2005 she won the Russian Women's Championship, in 2006 and 2007 the Women's Chess960 ("Fischer random") World Championship and then in 2008 she won the Women's World Championship in Nalchik, beating Chinese prodigy Hou Yifan in the final. She has played several times in Britain - twice in the Isle of Man and once at Hastings, plus appearances in the 4NCL and charity/promotional events. She lives in South Florida, USA, with her husband (and manager) Diego Garcia and their two-year-old daughter Francesca. She has a very high-profile website, http://www.kosteniuk.com/, which is run by her husband. Read what Alexandra says about the Gibtelecom Festival.
 
Guliyev, Namig
Guliyev, Namig
 
AZE 2516g Born in 1974. Has a peak rating of 2590. Played for Azerbaijan on board three in the 2006 Olympiad.
 
Bindrich, Falko
Bindrich, Falko
 
GER 2512g Born in 1990. He became a GM in 2007, aged only 17. I took this snap of him in Hastings in December 2008. His father Oswald is also a strong player and will be accompanying him to Gibraltar and playing himself.
 
Kapnisis, Spyridon
Kapnisis, Spyridon
 
GRE 2510m Born in 1981.
 
Hoffmann, Michael
Michael Hoffman
 
GER 2508g Born in 1970 in Bochum, so Michael comes from the same region of Germany (North Rhine/Westfalia) as Sebastian Siebrecht (who is also playing in Gibraltar). Michael became an IM in 1991 and a GM in 2006, though it was not until 2009 that he acquired the necessary 2500 rating to get the title. In his youth he won the German U15 and U17 championship titles. He plays for Solingen SG in the Bundesliga. Michael is a lawyer by profession.
 
Dzagnidze, Nana
Nana Dzagnidze
 
GEO 2506g 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 was 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 on board two. 2009 started very well, too. She started it by scoring an excellent 7/10 to take the Gibtelecom Masters women's prize of £6,000 with a TPR of 2675. Along the way she took the scalp of 2696-rated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and 2651-rated Ferenc Berkes. On the April 2009 FIDE list she advanced to fifth highest rated woman player in the world.
   
Javakhishvili, Lela
Javakhishvili, Lela
 
GEO 2493m Born in 1984 - in fact, on the very same day as women's world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk who also plays in Gibraltar. Lela (and Alexandra) also share a birthday with Pia Cramling, Tony Miles and William Shakespeare. If you're English, you'll probably have worked out by now that I'm talking about 23 April - St George's Day - which seems rather apt for a Georgian. St George is the patron saint of Georgia as well as England; however, the Georgians celebrate their national day on 26 May. Lela has played on board three for her country at the last three Olympiads. At the 2008 Olympiad in Dresden, they won the gold medals. At the 2006 Olympiad she won the bronze medal for the best performance on board three. At the 2009 European Team Championship, she won team silver, but team gold on board two with a GM-level performance (TPR 2599). She is clearly in excellent form.
 
Shankland, Samuel L
Shankland, Samuel L
 
USA 2491m Born in 1991, Samuel finished on the top score in the 2008 World Under 18 Championship but finished with the bronze medal on tie-break. This gained him his IM title. In San Francisco his training partners are David Pruess, Josh Friedel and Vinay Bhat. Shortly after graduating from high school in June 2009, Sam tied for first in the New York International with GMs Georgi Kacheishvili, Alexander Stripunsky, Zybneil Hracek and IM Oliver Barbosa. In November he gained some rating points at the First Saturday GM tournament in Budapest. He is clearly making rapid progress.
 
Cmilyte, Viktorija
Viktorija Cmilyte
 
LTU 2489m Viktorija, born in Lithuania in 1983, 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. She has an enviable record against reigning Women's World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk, having eliminated her in the early stages of the 2004 and 2006 world championships - they may renew their rivalry at the 2010 Gibtelecom Masters! In 2009 she scored 6½/10 and in 2008 6½/10 for a TPR of 2578 and a GM norm.
 
Cori Tello, Jorge Moises
Cori Tello, Jorge Moises
 
PER 2483gc 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. Later: FIDE have given the January 2010 rating as shown (with Stewart Reuben advising that his title should be "GMc").
 
Harika, Dronavalli
Harika Dronavalli
 
IND 2471m Harika was born in January 1991, so will be 19 by the time of the 2010 Gibtelecom Chess Festival, but she has almost come to be regarded as a veteran, with a string of World, Asian and Indian titles to her name. She became a woman grandmaster when only 14. She comes from Gntur (Anhdra Pradesh). She won the 2004 world under-14 girls championship in Greece and the 2006 world girls youth championship. On the July 2009 world top 20 girls rating list she was placed sixth and has been as high as third. She has represented India at three Women's Olympiads and was on board one at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad.
 
Arakhamia, Ketevan
Ketevan Arakhamia
 
SCO 2470g Born in 1968, Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (to give her her full name - she is known familiarly as 'Keti') 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 clinched her second GM norm at a tournament in Calvia, Mallorca. 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. She was awarded the GM title when her rating went over 2500 on the January 2009 list and she is the first woman registered for a UK chess federation to have been awarded this title. Keti has played at all Gibtelecom Festivals bar the first one. In 2007 she beat GM Hikaru Nakamura (then reigning US Champion) in round one in a game which went to 100 moves. The 2008 Gibtelecom Masters tournament was Keti's first as a Scottish-registered player and she scored 6½/10 to share the main women's prize. In 2009 she scored 6/10. Keti is a role model for all chessplayers: her charming and dignified manner belies a tough, determined fighter at the board.
 
Siebrecht, Sebastian
Siebrecht, Sebastian
 
GER 2468g Born in 1973 in Herdecke, Sebastian became an IM in 1996 and a grandmaster in 2008. Amongst his best achievements are four North Rhine/Westphalia Championship titles and a 9/9 clean score in an open in Naujac sur Mer in 2001; amongst his worst, only drawing with your humble webmaster in a tournament in Cardiff in 1997 (sorry, Sebastian, I could not resist). At 6ft 7½in (2.02 metres) tall, he is one of the tallest grandmasters in the world and played basketball for the North Rhine/Westphalia region. This will be Sebastian's first tournament in Gibraltar. He played in the old Monarch Assurance tournament in the Isle of Man in 2006 and in Cardiff in 1997. Sebastian runs an event agency and is into all kinds of sport - the last time I contacted him, he told me he was about to take part in his first triathlon. He is a very nice guy and I look forward to seeing his big smile in Gibraltar in 2010.
 
Zatonskih, Anna
Anna Zatonskih
 
USA 2466m 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!
 
Zhukova, Natalia
Natalia Zhukova
 
UKR 2462wg Born in 1979, Natalia has been the top Ukrainian women's player for a number of years, capping her achievement with both team and individual (board one) gold at the 2006 Turin Olympiad. It was her fifth appearance on board one in an Olympiad and her score of 7½/10 was good enough to earn her a full grandmaster norm. Natalia scored a highly creditable 6½/10 at her one appearance in Gibraltar in 2006, starting with a draw against Alexei Shirov. 2007 was a significant year for her as she gave birth to her daughter Masha in March (she is married to super-GM Alexander Grischuk).
 
Krush, Irina
Irina Krush
   
USA 2455m 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.
 
Boskovic, Drasko
Boskovic, Drasko
 
SRB 2454m Born in 1982.
 
Vernay, Clovis
Vernay, Clovis
 
FRA 2442m Born in 1989.
 

Bellón Lopez, Juan Manuel
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 and they come to the tournament with their little daughter Ana Cramling-Bellon - who has been to the Gibraltar tournament every year of her life so far!. 2009 result: 6½/10, 12th=.
 

Hirneise, Tobias
Hirneise, Tobias
 
GER 2421m Born in 1989 (or 1990 - FIDE lists both!). Was awarded his IM title in June 2009 based on performances in Pardubice 2008, the Austrian League 2008/9 and the 2009 Neckar Open.
 
Cori Tello, Deysi Estela
Cori Tello, Deysi Estela
 
PER 2412wm 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.
 
Battaglini, Gabriel
Battaglini, Gabriel
 
FRA 2411 Born in 1986.
 
Karavade, Eesha
Karavade, Eesha
 
IND 2405wg Eesha was born in 1987 and first came to attention in Europe when she won the British Girls' Under 14 Championship in 2000. From Pune, she became India's eighth WGM aged 17 in 2005. She finished third in the World Girls Championship in 2004. She hasn't played in Gibraltar before. At the Asian Women's Championship held in the Phillippines in May 2009 she finished 5th= ahead of such strong players as Tania Sachdev and former world champion Zhu Chen.
Tania, Sachdev
Sachdev Tania
 
IND 2398m 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!
 
Benitah, Yohan
Benitah, Yohan
 
FRA 2390m Born in 1979.
 
Cabrera Trujillo, Jorge ESP 2384m Born in 1991.
 
Estremera Panos, Sergio
Estremera Panos, Sergio
   
ESP 2380 Born in 1962. Played in the Gibtelecom Masters in 2005, scoring 5½/10, including a win against Mark Hebden and draws against Ian Rogers and Pavel Tregubov.
 
Sarkar, Justin
Sarkar, Justin
 
USA 2378m Born in New York in 1981, Justin went to Columbia University. He won the US Under 16 Championship in 1997. He has at least one GM norm to his name (from the 2006 Marshall Chess Club Championship). Scored 5/9 at the 2007 Gibtelecom Masters, scoring a creditable win against Argentinian GM Ruben Felgaer.
 
Degtiarev, Evgeny GER 2374f Born in 1987.
 
Solomon, Kenny
Kenny Solomon
 
RSA 2368m Kenny shared the 2003 South African Chess Championship title with Watu Kobese. He has represented South Africa at six Olympiads since 1998. He played in the 2007 Gibtelecom Masters, scoring 5/9 and made the same score (out of 10) in 2009.
 
Calzetta Ruiz, Mónica
Calzetta Ruiz, Mónica
 
ESP 2359wg Mónica Calzetta Ruiz was born in 1972. She is a seven-times winner of the Spanish Women's Championship and is the current (2009) holder of the title. She has represented her country eight times at Olympiads in total (on board one at the last five Olympiads) and in five European Team Championships. She has played in the Gibtelecom Masters twice before, scoring 5½/10 in both 2005 and 2009, including draws versus Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant and Jon Speelman.
 
Saravanan, Venkat
Saravanan, Venkatachalam
 
IND 2356m Born in 1971. The photo shows Venkat playing in the 2002 British Championship in Torquay where he started with a win against GM John Emms and finished on 5½/11. Was originally down to be playing at the 2008 Gibtelecom Festival but in the end didn't play.

Note: this page features Masters entrants with ratings of 2350 and above only. For players rated below that level, click here.

 

Gibtele.com
Caleta Hotel

Sponsors

 

PartyPoker graphic