International Chess Tournament of Forni di Sopra

6/25/2011 – Chess in paradise – well, as close as it gets, in Europe, in a beautiful town located in the magnificent Dolomiti Alps near the Italian border with Austria. The tournament, which carried a prize fund of 10,000 Euros, was attended by 148 players from 21 countries, wqith 17 GMs and 18 IMs. Winner was Ecuadorian GM Franco Matamoros. Big pictorial report.

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International Chess Tournament
of Forni di Sopra

This event took place in Forni di Sopra, in the midst of the magnificent Dolomiti Alps near the Italian border with Austria. It was the first “Dolomiti” tournament, with 148 players from 21 countries. including 17 GMs, 18 IMs and many more National Masters providing a welcome addition to the population of the “Alpine Pearl”, which is part of the Friulian Dolomites Natural Park and one of the jewels of the Italian Alps.

Things at the boards were just as exciting with ten 2500+ and fourteen 2400+ players, with former USSR champion and candidate Mikhail Gurevich (GM 2617) standing out from the pack. The games on the first 24 boards were broadcast live and many hundreds of Internet viewers tuned in daily from all over the world: countries such as the Philippines and Tanzania looked definitely exotic in the peaceful mountain village surrounded by forests and Alpine peaks.

In the end the fight for first place was an all-American affair between current Mexican champion Manuel Leon Hoyos and Ecuadorian GM Franco Matamoros, who comfortably held on to his advantage in their last round clash and became the sole winner at 7/9. The total prize money amounts to 10,000 Euro.

Here are the final standings at the top:

#
 Player
Nat.
Pts
Ti.
Rating
Perf.
TB1
TB2
1 Matamoros Franco
ECU
7.0
GM
2542
2656
46.00
50.50
2 Leon Hoyos Manuel
MEX
6.5
GM
2563
2626
46.50
50.50
3 Antoniewski Rafal
POL
6.0
GM
2598
2559
46.00
49.50
4 Banusz Tamas
HUN
6.0
GM
2555
2588
45.50
50.00
5 Sipos Istvan
HUN
6.0
IM
2423
2517
44.50
48.50
6 Okhotnik Vladimir
FRA
6.0
IM
2486
2502
44.00
47.00
7 Gurevich Mikhail
TUR
6.0
GM
2617
2556
43.50
48.00
8 Petkov Vladimir
BUL
6.0
GM
2517
2534
43.50
48.00
9 Korneev Oleg
RUS
6.0
GM
2573
2533
43.50
48.00
10 Arnaudov Petar
BUL
6.0
IM
2449
2508
43.00
46.50
11 Papp Gabor
HUN
6.0
GM
2553
2516
42.50
46.50
12 Jaracz Pawel
POL
6.0
GM
2575
2535
42.50
46.00


The winner: Franco Matamoros, the only grandmaster in Ecuador


In second place: Manuel Leon Hoyos from Mexico

The arrangements for the event made by Italian IM Roberto Mogranzini and his Accademia Internazionale di Scacchi, which also organized the last Reggio Emila super-tournaments; in addition IM Martha Fierro, while on a break from her Women's Grand Prix exertions, helped recruit many players from the Spanish-speaking world, which was a very welcome novelty. CS Udinese, Apollonia Dental Care and many institutional sponsors helped funding the three Open tournaments and side events, which included a simultaneous exhibition by grandmasters and a Rapid tournament. The first edition went smoothly and at the prize-giving ceremony mayor of Forni Fabio Colombo uttered the words everybody was anticipating: “Next year.”

Here are some moments from the 72-players Open A:

FIDE Master and longtime stalwart of the local chess scene Ivano Ceschia lived a second youth in Forni and uncorked a 2600+ performance in the first rounds, easily clinching an IM norm by the tournament's end. He felt he missed a chance to add a prestigious scalp to his collection in round seven:

Ceschia,Ivano - Gurevich,Mikhail
1st Torneo Internazionale Forni di S. - Forni di Sopra - UD ITA (7), 16.06.2011

1.e4 d6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7. The Pirc defence had already been used by Gurevich in his first round win over WGM Barbara Jaracz (2275). 4.Be3 a6 5.Qd2 b5 6.a4 b4 7.Nd1 Nf6 8.f3 a5 9.Bd3 0-0 10.Ne2 c6 11.Nf2 Nbd7 12.Bh6 e5 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.c3 bxc3 15.bxc3 Ba6 16.Bxa6 Rxa6 17.c4 The Italian Master thought this was a strong and apparently unexpected move, but the computer prefers kingside castling or f4. 17...d5 18.cxd5 cxd5 19.dxe5 Nxe5 20.Rd1 Qb6 21.Qc3 Re8

22.exd5 [Here 22.f4 runs into 22...Qxf2+ 23.Kxf2 Nxe4+-+ "seen at the last moment while rechecking", Ceschia recalled.] 22...Qb4 23.0-0 Qxa4 24.Ng3 Qb4 25.Qa1 Taking possession of the a1-h8 diagonal. 25...a4 26.Rfe1 Qb8

27.d6? [27.Rb1 would have won the knight after 27...Nxf3+ (27...Qd6 28.f4) 28.gxf3 Rxe1+ 29.Rxe1] 27...Ra5 28.Nge4 Nxe4 29.Rxe4 f6 30.f4 Nf7 31.Rxe8 Qxe8 32.Qc3 Ra8 33.Re1 Qd8

34.Qa3? An oversight in time trouble, with both players down to less than two minutes. 34...Qxd6 35.Qf3 Ra7 36.Qe3 Ra6 37.Ne4 Qe7 38.Nc5 Qxe3+ 39.Rxe3 Ra5 40.Ne6+ Kg8 41.Rc3 Nd6 42.Rc6 a3 43.Rxd6 a2 44.Rd1 Rb5 45.Rd8+ Kf7 46.Ra8 Rb1+ 47.Kf2 Rb2+ 48.Kf3 Kxe6 49.h4 Kd5 50.Ra4 Kc5 51.g4 Kb5 52.Ra8 Kc4 53.f5 gxf5 54.gxf5 h5 55.Ke3 Rh2 0-1.

National Candidate Master Ruben Bernardi (2162) perfected the big heist against Latvian GM Viesturs Meijers (2473) in round one:

Bernardi,Ruben - Meijers,Viesturs
1st Torneo Internazionale Forni di S. - Forni di Sopra - UD ITA (1.13), 12.06.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 a6 4.Bg2 b5 5.0-0 Bb7 6.Re1 Be7 7.b3 d5 8.exd5 Bxd5 9.Bb2 Nf6 10.a4 b4 11.d3 0-0 12.Ne5 Bxg2 13.Kxg2 Nd5 14.Qg4 Bf6 15.Nd2 Qc7 16.f4 Nc6 17.Ndc4 Nd4 18.Bxd4 cxd4 19.Qf3 g6 20.Re2 Bg7 21.Rae1 Rad8 22.Rf2 f6 23.Ng4 h5 24.Rxe6 hxg4 25.Qxg4 Qc8 26.f5 gxf5 27.Qxf5 Rf7 28.Kg1 Re7 29.Rd6 Ne3 30.Nxe3 dxe3 31.Qd5+ Kh7 32.Qh5+

32...Bh6?? (32...Kg8=) 33.Rfxf6 Rxd6 34.Qg6+ Kh8 35.Qxh6+ Kg8 36.Rxd6 e2 37.Qg5+ Kf8 38.Qf6+ Rf7 39.Rd8+ Qxd8 40.Qxd8+ Kg7 41.Qd4+ Kh7 42.Qh4+ Kg8 43.Qg4+ 1-0.

2010 Italian Rapid champion Daniyyl Dvirnyy (IM 2448) ended up at 5/9 with a 2526 performance, missing a GM norm in the last round. In round six he had a winning advantage against runner up Manuel Leon Hoyos but let Black catch up somehow and had to share the point:

Leon,Hoyos Manuel - Dvirnyy,Daniyyl
1st Torneo Internazionale Forni di S. - Forni di Sopra - UD ITA (6), 16.06.2011
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 g6 4.b3 Bg7 5.Bb2 c5 6.c4 0-0 7.0-0 d4 8.b4 Nc6 9.b5 Na5 10.d3 Re8 11.e3 e5 12.exd4 e4 13.Nfd2 e3 14.fxe3 Ng4 15.Qf3 Bf5 16.Ne4 cxd4 17.Nbd2? Ne5 18.Qe2 dxe3 19.Nb3 Qxd3 20.Qxd3 Nxd3 21.Bxg7 Bxe4 22.Nxa5 Bxg2 23.Kxg2 Kxg7 24.Rfd1 Rad8 25.Nxb7 Rd7 26.c5 e2 27.Rxd3 Rxd3 28.Re1

28...Ra3 (28...Ra7 or 28...Rd5 were more precise) 29.c6? Re7? 29...Re6 30.c7 Rc3 would have won the game for Black. 30.Nd6 Kf8 31.Nc8 Re8 32.Nd6 Re7 33.Nc8 Re8 34.Nd6 ½-½.

Veteran local Master Giuseppe Laco boasts games against the likes of future world champion Mikhail Tal (1958) and more recently Hikaru Nakamura (2003). In Forni he shocked fellow players with a startling anecdote of past greats: “I played a simultaneous match against Tal and Petrosian at the Munich Chess Olympiad and won 9-1.” After some seconds of incredulity and brow-raising in the audience came the explanation: “Of course it was foosball, I saw them playing table tennis in a bar and challenged them. Tal accused me of being a professional.”

Picture Gallery

The first historical references to the village which today is called Forni di Sopra date from 778 AD, though recent archaeological findings suggest that there was already a Carno-celtic settlement here roughly 2,500 years ago. It is a very popular town, most visited by tourists during the summer and in skiing season.


View Larger Map


A view of the town on the banks of the mirror lake


The river that flows through the town, which is the starting point of the Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti Friulane (a nature reserve), the largest European nature reserve which is neither populated, nor crossed by any roads


Riserva Naturale Forra del Cellina, which has more species of wild flora than people


The region is especially appreciated by mountaineers – author Julius Kugy called
Forni “a heady world of castles, towers and pillars of incredibly daring shapes.”


International arbiter Antonio Sanchirico was in Khanty-Mansiysk and assured the
players that no “French connection” would take place this time

2007 world championship candidate Mikhail Gurevich stares at the “wild bunch” of white pieces crammed near their king, while pondering over his reply to Ceschia's 12.Bh6 in round seven. The final answer was ...e5.

The 2008 Italian Women's champion Marina Brunello turned seventeen during round four. She was recently bestowed by the Italian President the very fitting official title of “Alfiere della Repubblica”, wich translates as “Bishop of the Republic”.

GM Arkadij Rotstein (second from right) quickly won a rook + bishop + 1 pawn vs rook + 4 pawns endgame against czech IM Tomas Vajta in round five. When asked how he assessed his prospects at the start of the endgame, he replied with a sound advice of chess wisdom: “Never underestimate the power of the bishop!”

Hungarian GM Tamas Banusz injured a leg playing soccer at the very beginning of the tournament but that didn't keep him from rushing to the top of the ranking, ending up in fourth place.

Rastaman Giovanni Sorbera (left) had Muscovite GM Igor Naumkin on the ropes in their first round encounter only to let him slip away with a draw; GM Korneev showed him the correct winning manoeuvre in the post mortem. In the above picture the Italian youngster is playing six times Women’s Champion of Greece Marina Makropoulou, who proved to be a tough opponent throughout the tournament, and in round six played for six hours and 137 moves to net a full point.


FIDE Master Ivano Ceschia (right) held Hungarian GM Gabor Papp to a draw with
black in round six. Alongside him is sitting Russian GM Oleg Korneev

A Russia – Ukraine junior derby took place in Open B between Grigory Petrenko and Violeta Gaponenko. A few boards away Olympic Gold medal Inna Gaponenko, Violeta's mom, was playing in Open A where she scored 5.5/9.

Hiking enthusiast Marco “when duty calls” Fantini (in the foreground right) was strolling through Forni's centre, donning his sportswear and already relishing the week of sightseeing trips with friends while relaxing from the moderately demanding tournament B, when his cell rang and he learned he had been summoned to play in the mighty Open A to even out the number of participants. Fantini, the only under-2000 player in it, took one for the team and just minutes later was sitting opposite latecomer yankee IM Bryan Smith (2481), whom he duly lost to after putting up some stiff resistance.

This plaque is dedicated “To our mothers, wonderful women who were the fulcrum of the family and the soul of Forni's society”. The small inscription “To Forni's women” is in the Fornese dialect, a variation of the local Friulian language from the Romance family.


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