Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2013
Monday 21 January - Thursday 31 January 2013
Press Release 13 January 2013
Hurricane Chucky is on the way...
The 11th edition of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival is only nine days
away and it promises to be as prestigious and exciting as the previous ten.
Incidentally, if you are still hoping to play in the Masters... you’re
too late! It’s reached maximum capacity. (But there is still room in the
Challengers Under 2250 or Amateur Under 1900 tournaments if you are eligible).
With ten tournaments now played, the Gibraltar Festival already has a bit of
history behind it and maybe it’s time to consider a few stats and records.
For example, let’s look at the most impressive victory in terms of score
and rating performance: that goes to Ukrainian super-GM Vasily Ivanchuk in 2011,
when he ran up an amazing 9/10 score and was only 32 rating points shy of 3000.
That’s right – a TPR of 2968! As for the player with the most Gibraltar
victories: that honour goes to England’s Nigel Short, who shared first
with Vassilios Kotronias at the inaugural tournament in 2003, came back to win
outright in 2004, and won last year’s tournament after a play-off with
Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan. That’s three first places in only
five visits to the Rock.
Those seem like the most significant stats – and the good news is that
Ivanchuk and Short (picture above) are back to do battle in 2013. Nigel Short
could consider himself more than a little unlucky not to have won a fourth Gibraltar
title in 2011 when he scored 8½/10 for a rating performance of 2883:
good enough in almost any other year but not when Hurricane Chucky is blowing
through the Straits of Gibraltar! The sight of Chucky and Nigel cutting a swathe
through the rest of the field that year is not one that those of us who witnessed
it will forget. Nigel’s consolation came in 2012 when he managed to finish
level with Hou Yifan after the Chinese women’s world champion had recorded
one of the finest performances (if not the best ever performance) by a female
player in chess history, and then used his vast experience to overcome her in
Nigel enjoys playing in Gibraltar and he remains one of the most formidable
Swiss System specialists in the world, but in rating terms he is only eighth
in the pecking order at the 2013 Tradewise Gibraltar Masters. Between number
one Ivanchuk and number eight Short are some more big-name players. Like Nigel,
Gata Kamsky is a former world championship finalist and he has played in Gibraltar
before though he has still to win the title.
25-year-old Polish GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek is third in rating order on 2723.
Radoslaw is perhaps not as well known as he might be but this might almost be
deliberate: he is one of Vishy Anand’s regular helpers at world championship
matches. He is making his first appearance at Gibraltar.
Mickey Adams is the fourth highest rated player playing in Gibraltar. He is
a former winner, having tied with eight(!) others on 7½/10 in 2010 and
then won the play-off. Mickey comes to Gibraltar on the crest of a wave (well,
not literally – I expect he is flying in like everyone else). At the recent
London Classic he finished an excellent third equal after Carlsen and Kramnik,
and with a win against world champion Vishy Anand to his credit. In the process
he wrested back his status as England’s highest rated player from Luke
McShane. At 2725 he is the only English player currently above the elite 2700
threshold. This will be his fifth Gibraltar tournament. Mickey almost personifies
the Rock: he has only lost one game of the 39 classical games he has played
22-year-old French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is making his third visit to Gibraltar.
In 2009 he scored what was for him a slightly below par 6½/10 and then
6/10 last year, so he will be looking to make it third time lucky. At 2713 he
is France’s top rated player.
Some last-minute recruitment on the part of our tournament director secured
the services of another very strong and interesting 2700+ player – Czech
GM David Navara (picture above). 27-year-old David is a universally popular
player who is definitely going to be a big hit with the Gibraltar audience.
David has played several sponsored matches in Prague against strong opposition
and has match wins against Nigel Short and Sergei Movsesian to his credit.
Alexei Shirov needs no little introduction. He could and should have had a
match for the world title with Garry Kasparov in the late 1990s when he was
one of the best four or five players in the world but lack of financial backing
meant the match was never held and later he had to stand by and watch Vladimir
Kramnik – the player whom he had beaten to earn the shot at Kasparov –
not only get an invitation to a title match but win it. Since then Shirov has
become one of the world’s most prolific players, playing and winning a
whole host of events. He has been to Gibraltar three times, in 2005, 2006 and
2012, with scores of 7½/10 (five-way tie for first), 7/10 and 6½/10.
Alexei represented Spain for many years but has recently re-registered for his
Le Quang Liem is the last of the Gibraltar line-up’s eight players rated
in excess of 2700 on the January 2013 FIDE List. The 21-year-old Vietnamese
GM burst onto the elite scene in the space of a few months in 2009/2010 when
he first won the annual Kolkata Tournament in India, and then two prestigious
tournaments in Russia, the Aeroflot and the Moscow Open. The Aeroflot success
secured him an invitation to the 2010 Dortmund tournament where he proved his
earlier victories were not flukes by securing second place behind Ponomariov
but ahead of Kramnik. This is his second Gibraltar tournament: he scored 7/10
Here are the top players with their latest (Jan. 1st 2013) FIDE ratings:
As well as the seven 2700+ players, there are 14 players rated between 2600
and 2699. Two names to look out for: we are very pleased to welcome back Artur
Yusupov (or Jussupow, to give the German version of his name), who was a world
championship contender of the 1980s, three times reaching the semi-final stage
of the Candidates’ competition. Artur was coached and mentored by the
legendary Mark Dvoretsky and he later became his regular writing collaborator,
helping to produce a number of influential titles. Artur is a giant of the game,
but very much a gentle giant, with a ready smile. The other name to look out
for is Gawain Jones, the reigning British Champion, who recently added another
success to his record when he won the traditional Hastings Masters tournament.
The first prize in the Masters is an impressive £20,000 but one of the
distinctive features of the Gibraltar tournament is the long list of special
women’s prizes which can be won in addition to the main Masters prizes.
First prize for female competitors is set at £12,000 and there are more
than £24,000 in subsidiary women’s prizes, so there is also an impressive
field of top women players in competition.
To give you an idea, the 2004 Women’s World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova,
who reached the final of the 2012 Women’s World Championship and was close
to regaining her title, is at number 39 in the competitors and in sixth place
amongst the women’s competitors.
In rating order the top women competitors in 2013 are Anna Muzychuk (above),
Nana Dzagnidze, Zhao Xue, Marie Sebag, Pia Cramling, Antoaneta Stefanova, Viktorija
Cmilyte, Dronavalli Harika and Ju Wenjun. All of these are rated in excess of
2500, and all but Marie Sebag and Ju Wenjun have competed at Gibraltar before
(in most cases, regularly).
Here are the top players with their latest (Jan. 1st 2013) FIDE ratings:
GM Zhao Xue of China
GM Marie Sebag of France
GM Harika Dronavalli of India
WGM Ju Wenjun of China
Of course, there are lots of other prizes for different rating categories,
juniors, seniors, etc. One of them we will mention specifically is the special
prize awarded by the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) to the best score
made by one of their members. In the citation for this the ACP said “by
establishing this prize, the ACP is proud to support its members' choice: earlier
this year the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival won the “2012 Best Open
Tournament of the Year" vote, run by the ACP.” To which we can only
respond – thanks very much, ACP!
Live coverage: the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival has always been at the
forefront of webcasting technology, housed at the specially-built suite at the
Caleta Hotel, and this year we have added to our commentary team. English GM
Simon Williams will be with us again and he will be joined at the commentator’s
desk by reigning US Women’s Champion Irina Krush.
Irina (above, trying her hand at cricket) scarcely needs any introduction as
she has been prominent in chess and ‘chess-casting’ since her significant
participation in the ‘Kasparov versus the World’ internet match
in 1999 when her innovative suggestions gave the world’s greatest player
something to think about. Both of our commentators are chess video stars, as
you can see in the following Youtube videos:
Text by John Saunders, photos: John Saunders, ChessBase