2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival
Previous Winners of the Gibraltar Chess Congress
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 Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexei Shirov, Emil Sutovsky and Hikaru Nakamura to the subtlety of Peter Svidler, 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. Former world champions Antoaneta Stefanova and Zhu Chen are regulars as are such members of the elite as Pia Cramling, Nana Dzagnidze, Tatiana and Nadezhda Kosintseva, Victoria Cmilyte and Kateryna Lahno.
2011: Vassily Ivanchuk reigns supreme
The Gibraltar Festival was sponsored for the first time by Tradewise Insurance and the prize money enhanced yet again. With increased prize money come more and more super-GMs and in this, the ninth instalment, came the mercurial Ukrainian, Vassily Ivanchuk. He came, he saw, he conquered!
Nigel Short got away to the best start, with 5/5 but he then came up against the formidable Ukrainian star and lost. Ivanchuk drew his next game but won the last three on the bounce for an amazing score of 9/10 and a TPR of 2968 - he pocketed £17,500. To his great credit (and his own surprise!) Nigel Short also finished with 3½/4 to finish half a point behind Ivanchuk and a whole point clear of a field which was left gasping in awe at the pace set by the two runaway GMs. Short scored 8½/10 for a TPR of 2883 - good enough to win any other year but not when Vassily Ivanchuk is on a roll.
The top women's prize of £10,000 went to Nana Dzagnidze for the second time in three years, just pipping her Georgian compatriot Salome Melia on performance rating. Salome had a wonderful tournament, achieving a GM norm.
The elder of the Kosintseva sisters, Nadezhda, also scored a GM norm, her final one, so that she becomes a colleague of her younger sister Tatiana who already has the title. Other people who achieved norms were Toomas Valgmae (Estonia), Espen Forsaa (Norway) and Tom Weber (Luxembourg) - IM norms in all three cases.
The best game prize went to Victor Mikhalevski of Israel for his splendid sixth round win against Varuzhan Akobian of USA.
Best Game Prize: Victor Mikhalevski (Israel)
2010: Mickey Adams Wins the 8th Gibtelecom Masters
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.
Natalia Zhukova (women's winner) Tim Bristow (Gibtelecom), Mickey Adams (winner)
The best game prize was shared by Victor Havik of Norway and Ivan Cheparinov of Bulgaria for a remarkable (albeit imperfect!) game with an unusual ending, played in the third round.
2009: Peter Svidler wins after a tie-break
Peter Svidler beat Vadim Milov 2-0 in the tie-break for first place and the £15,000 winner's cheque after they finished tied on 8/10. Nana Dzagnidze drew with Golod to secure the £6,000 women's prize. Leading scores: 1-2 P Svidler (RUS, won play-off), V Milov (SUI) 8/10, 3-6 V Gashimov (AZE), H Nakamura (USA), E Berg (SWE), V Akobian (USA) 7½, 7-11 P Harikrishna (IND), N Dzagnidze (GEO), I Sokolov (NED), A Stefanova (BUL), P Cramling (SWE) 7, etc.
Peter Svidler gave an excellent speech at the gala prizegiving which followed the end of the tournament on Thursday 5 February. He revealed the secret behind his appearance in Gibraltar (other tournament organisers who want to book him, please take note): "I only came for the cricket!... I was promised net sessions - and I got net sessions... and that was excellent... that was excellent, ladies and gentlemen!". Initially he thought his dalliance with the traditional summer game might have affected his play: "after three days enjoying myself, I thought it would all end in tears - but surprisingly it didn't." He paid warm tribute to the tournament as a "home or family event" - and expressed the hope that he would be back soon.
2008: Hikaru Nakamura - winner after blitz tie-break
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.
Leader Board after Round 9 (one round to go)...
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.
2007: Vladimir Akopian outright winner
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.
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!
2006: Kiril Georgiev outright winner
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.
2005: Five tie for first in Gibraltar
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.
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.
2004: Nigel Short wins the Gibtelecom Masters and brilliancy prize!
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.
2003: Nigel Short and Vasilios Kotronias Share The Title
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.