Spassky and living chess in Frascati

5/21/2005 – A beautiful historical town south-east of Rome is hosting a Chess Week, which includes a GM tournament beginning on Sunday. To kick things off ex world champion Boris Spassky attended the inaugural ceremony and reconstructed a game he had played against Italian GM Sergio Mariotti in 1976 on a live chess board.

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Chess Week in Frascati

Frascati is one of several attractive historic hilltowns to the south-east of Rome known collectively as the Castelli Romani. Every weekend these towns, and Frascati in particular, fill up with Romans looking for a change of pace, clean air, good food and wine. Often groups of Romans will drive here just for the evening, dining at one of the many informal restaurants which serve rich regional specialities and the local white wine.

The "Chess Week" in Frascati lasts from May 20 to 29 and features an inauguration visit by the former world champion Boris Spassky. On Friday there was the press conference with Spassky, in the afternoon a Living Game. On Saturday afternoon there is a simultaneous exhibition by Spassky against VIPs (journalists, politicians, managers etc).

On Sunday a GM tournament (cat IX) starts. Participants are Igor Khenkin GER GM 2610, Igor Miladinovic GRE GM 2604, Namig Gouliev AZE IM 2526 , Carlo Garcia Palermo ARG/ITA GM 2459, GM Lexy Ortega CUB, Fabio Bruno MF 2374, Niccolò Ronchetti MF 2364, Denis Rombaldoni MF 2336, Marco Corvi MF 2325, Daniele Vocaturo MF 2304.

On Sunday the 29th the week will be closed with the final round of the GM tournament and a simultaneous exhibition by Alexandra Kosteniuk, who is arriving directly from the Russian Championship.

The event is particularly important for the Italian chess community, because it is a "pre-olimpic" event: the Chess Week in Frascati starts exactly one year before the start of the Chess Olympiad in Turin, which begins on May 20, 2006.

Full details can be found at the Official web site (en Italiano).

Picture gallery

By Roberto Balzan


2006 Chess Olympiad Director Michele Cordara and Adolivio Capece, the Italia Scacchistica review director.


Waiting for Spassky in the beautiful Frascati Municipal Hall


The former world champion arrives


The press conference with Italian GM Sergio Mariotti, Michele Cordara, Alessandro Vacca (the main tournament organizer), the Chess Regional President of Lazio, and Frascati's Mayor. Spassky is listening to the translation of a nice lady interpreter.


During the press conference


Wife Marina Spassky in the audience


Picking up some presents after the conference


Posing with local chess enthusiasts

Living chess

After the press conference GM Sergio Mariotti and Boris Spassky proceeded to Villa Torlonia, a beautiful park in Frascati, to watch the live representation of a game they played against each other in 1976, at the Manila Interzonal, Round 8. Sergio Mariotti, who was a brilliant and original player at the time, missed the qualification for the Candidate Matches due to an unfortunate last round loss. Here is the game with the players responding to some questions of the Adolivio Capece, who commenting on the game.

Spassky,Boris V - Mariotti,Sergio [B33]
Manila Interzonal Manila (8), 06.1976
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Qc7 6.0-0 Nf6 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.Nb3 h5 Capece: "Why did you play this strange move, Sergio?" Mariotti: "Just to get out of theory!" 9.h3 b5 10.f4 b4 11.Na4 d5 12.e5 Nd7 13.c3 Nb6 Capece: "What do you think of the position Boris?" Spassky: "I prefer White" Mariotti: "I prefer White too!" 14.Nxb6 Qxb6+ 15.Kh1 a5 16.Rf3 a4 17.Be3 Qc7 18.Nd4 Nxd4 19.cxd4 g6 20.Rc1 Qb7 21.Rf2 Be7 22.Rfc2 Bd7 23.Qd2 Qb6 24.f5 gxf5 25.Bg5 Rg8 26.Bxe7 Kxe7 27.Rc5 b3 28.a3 Rg6 29.Bb5 Qa5 30.Qe2 Bxb5 31.Rxb5 Qa6 32.Rc7+ Kf8 33.Rb8+ Kg7 34.Qxa6 Rxa6 35.Rbb7 Kh6 36.h4 Rg4 ½-½. [Click to replay]


The living game in the park is about to begin


The world champion moves some of the pieces in a very different manner


The white king and queen. The king is 11-year-old Adriano Testa, a great talent from Rome


An imaginative living chess knight


The audience in the historical Villa Torlonia park


Spassky and Mariotti still doing a post-mortem analysis of their 1976 Manila game!


Spassky plays some moves against young talent Adriano Testa

Roberto Balzan was born in Ivrea (the city of the typewriters), north Italy, in 1962. He learned to play chess quite late, when he was already 16, when he discovered a book in the city library about the Fischer-Spassky 'Century Match'. The passion for chess soon had to leave space to the engineering studies (as somebody said, you cannot study chess and play engineery...). In 1987 he got married, started playing chess once again and reached the Candidate Master (1900) level by winning two tournaments. Then work and family stopped chess once again. He established himself in Rome, were he actually lives and works as a software developer and IT freelance consultant.

In 1994 Roberto obtained the Italian title of Master (2175 FIDE Elo) by playing in four international tournaments. He is inspired by Jonathan Tisdall, who once said to Dr. John Nunn that he wanted to become a GM by serious preparation and hard study. Nunn was skeptical, but Tisdall succeeded. Roberto, much more humbly, is aiming for a FM title by serious preparation and by studying – Tisdall's methods!


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