When 237 players came for the jubilee 30th edition of the Bulgarian open championship in Plovdiv the last year, very few people believed that the tournament could grow further. Moreover, rumors came that the “warm connection” with the Novotel Plovdiv might be cancelled appeared in the Bulgarian chess society. Fortunately, the rumors were wrong, and this wonderful hotel hosted the 31st edition again, from 1–7 February 2009. The venue was also the same – the spacious and comfortable Moscow Hall. What can be more convenient than to take the lift, and soon after to reach the place of play without going out in the winter? Not that Plovdiv is a chilly town, but still…
Chess School of Young Talents in Plovdiv
On the other hand the organizers simply needed more space, since this year they had to welcome a little over 300 participants! This is a record not only for the “Georgi Tringov Memorial” tournament, but for the events in Bulgaria as a whole. Quite delightful was that the biggest part of the participants were children.
Some nice traditions remain the same – there were no special conditions for anyone. However, the prize fund remained 8000 Euro, with a quarter of it addressed for special prizes (veterans, women, various rating prices, and many, many children prizes). The hospitality also remained very acceptable – eight Euros per bed in a double room, and twelve in a single. Unfortunately, “tradition” also kept the tournament without an official web site.
Milen Vasilev vs Plamen Gocev in round two
Symbolic was the number of the foreign participants: 64. While in the previous year the main body of foreigners came from Romania, this time most players came from Greece – exactly half of the foreign contingent. They could have been even more, if there was not the massive farmers strike in Greece that closed the boarders for a week and discouraged some of the competitors. Except for the usual suspects – the countries from the Balkan region – there were also participants from Italy and France.
Dimitar Marholev vs George Ketzetzis
The event was organized right after the Bulgarian men and women semi-finals that were played at the same place, and managed to keep almost all the players who took part in them. Another “trick” that attracted young participants was the Chess School of Young Talents that had to take place simultaneously with the open. The general idea was that the young talents of Bulgaria prepare before the games, and use the know-how immediately, and learn how to act in a real tournament situation all by themselves. The lecturers were the GMs P. Velikov, Kr. Georgiev, M. Voiska and national master Zh. Zhekov.
Arbiter Veneta Petkova with her students
With so many participants no one from the favourites could be sure about the tournament success. Some of the twelve GMs who came with high ambitions suffered painful defeats, and two of them even did not appear for the final games. On the other hand it was no surprise that a GM would win the tournament. In the previous year 7.5 points were enough for a clear first, while at this one six players achieved the same results and tied for the first.
The final standings (without the tiebreaks applied in Plovdiv)
Click to download all games in zipped PGN
Two of them – GM Dejan Antic from Serbia and Vasil Spasov from Bulgaria – had exactly the same Bucholz, but the first one grabbed victory thanks to the second tie-break (it is good to know that the prizes were not shared). The podium was completed with the GMs Zvonko Stanojoski (MKD) and Boris Chatalbashev (BUL), and IMs Milan Mrdja (CRO) and Nikola Vasovski (MKD). From all these players only Chatalbashev tasted from the bitter cup of loss – he rejected a threefold repetition against Mrdja just to resign after a couple of moves.
The winner: GM Dejan Antic of Serbia
GM Vasil Spasov from Bulgaria
The winner from Serbia, GM Antic, is a remarkable person. Half of his time he spends in Australia, where he works as a chess trainer, and the other half he stays in Europe, where he is specialized in winning the open championships of Balkan countries. At the end of November he shared the overall win at the Serbian open championship in Obrenovac.
Training for his record attempt: GM Kiril Georgiev
While speaking about records, we cannot pass by GM Kiril Georgiev’s attempt to break the world record in a simultaneous play. He will have to play at least against 322 players*. The interest in this Guinness event is enormous, and the number of the volunteers wishing to take part in it has reached 600. The event will take place in Sofia, on 21 February 2009 – when another important event, the semi-final match for the WCC between Veselin Topalov and Gata Kamsky, will have reached its most interesting part.
* Actually: more than 350, Kiril. In August 2005 GM Susan Polgar broke IM Andrew Martin's previous Guinness Book record of 321 opponents by playing against 350 players simultaneously at the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. – Addendum: we have been informed that the 321-player record by Andrew Martin still stands since Guinness did not accept the record by Susan Polgar.