The Chess Cruise Tournament

9/7/2006 – What is the best venue for an international chess tournament, with the likes of Ivanchuk, Vaganian and Tukmakov participating? And former women's world champion Nona Gaprindashvili? The correct answer is the ferry ship from Odessa to Istanbul. The 15-minute rapid chess was won by the top seed Ivanchuk. Big pictorial report by GM Mikhail Golubev.

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The Chess Cruise Tournament

Report by Mikhail Golubev

An international rapid chess tournament took part on the ship (or, formally speaking, ferry) "Yuzhnaya Palmyra" during the cruise Odessa-Istanbul-Odessa on 28th August to 2nd September 2006. In the all-play-all event with a time control 15 minutes per game competed three superstars of the world chess: Nona Gaprindashvili (for whom it was her first visit to Odessa), Vassily Ivanchuk, Rafael Vaganian and also nine Odessa or ex-Odessa grandmasters. One of them, Sam Palatnik, came from the USA; Masha Klinova represents Israel.


The Yuzhnaya Palmyra ferry ship

Being an indisputable rating favourite, Vassily Ivanchuk of Lviv, Ukraine, ensured the victory only in the very last, 11th round, beating his main rival Viacheslav Eingorn. In the case of an Eingorn win in that game, the Odessite would have taken the first place due to the better tiebreak. However, Ivanchuk played this game with confidence. Essentially, the fight there was only for two results: Ivanchuk's win or a draw. Eingorn lost the game in the time trouble: it was hard for him to defend precisely in the objectively drawish but not simple rook endgame with an extra pawn for Ivanchuk.

Third place was occupied by the youngest grandmaster of Odessa, Yuri Drozdovskij. A special prize for the best result among women was taken by the leader of the Ukrainian women's team Natalia Zhukova, who now (since 2003) also lives in Odessa. IM Anatoly Bykhovsky of Russia acted as a chief arbiter and GM Genna Sosonko of the Netherlands headed the Appealing Committee. Genna Sosonko was the only participant of cruise who already had experience if playing in the chess tournament on the ship.

One of participants, Vladimir Tukmakov, at the same acted as a tournament director. Together with the originator of the Odessa chess cruise idea, Mikhail Freidlin of Odessa development agency, Tukmakov was one of the main organisers of the event.

Players had (and used!) the possibility to invite to cruise accompanying persons. For example, Nona Gaprindashvili travelled together with her grandson.

"The First International Odessa Chess Cruise" was a part of celebration of the annual town's day in Odessa (September 2nd) and was supported partly by the town and partly by the corporate sponsors: Bank Pivdenny, Optima Telecom, Suncoin Invest and Farlep.

Besides the cruise and tournament themselves, the chess program included also the blitz championship of "Soborka" (Sobornaya Square) on 26th August, which was open for everyone (more than 100 players competed) and, after the return of the ship to Odessa, there was an official ceremony at Primorsky Boulevard. In presence of the "living chess pieces" the Odessa Mayor, Eduard Gurvits, awarded each of the participants and arbiters diplomas and prizes. Gurvits congratulated also the Soborka Championship winner, a young and talented Odessa player Stanislav Bogdanovich.

Detailed information in Russian language about the event can be found at the new Odessa chess website Shahmatnyi Kruiz. It is certainly hoped in Odessa that in the future similar competitions will be organised again.

Picture Gallery


A farewell ceremony before the departure from Odessa on August 28


"Living pieces" at the ceremony in Odessa, September 2. (Alas, due to the rain the program was shortened, the full Living Chess game will be played in Odessa on September 10)


Some "Living Pieces" were not easy to identify.
Perhaps from some of chess variants?


The Mayor of Odessa, Eduard Gurvits, with Grandmaster Rafael Vaganian


Vassily (known in Ukraine as Vasyl) Ivanchuk, giving a TV interview


Nona Gaprindashvili, speaking with the Ukrainian media in the Odessa seaport (August 28). Incredibly, the legendary women's world champion 1962-1978 had never visited Odessa before!


GM Stanislav Savchenko, giving a simul in Odessa before the ship's departure


Leaving Odessa


Chief arbiter IM Anatoly Bykhovsky (Moscow, Russia) and his wife Galina


Ivanchuk and author Mikhail Golubev on the ship


Rafael Vaganian (right) vs Konstantin Lerner


Vladimir Tukmakov (left) vs Sam Palatnik (USA)


Nataila Zhukova (Ukraine) vs Yuri Drozdovskij (22, Ukraine)


Masha Klinova of Israel meets the world famous Nona Gaprindashvili of Georgia. Gaprindashvili performed not too well in the tournament (three wins, eight losses, no draws), but she won both games against her female opponents, Klinova and Zhukova.


Women's Olympic Chess Champion Natalia Zhukova and the Dutch chess writer (in the past, world's top 20 player) Genna Sosonko


Natalia Zhukova (right) and her friend Alevtina from the town of Kherson


Tournament's closing ceremony on the Yuzhnaya Palmyra


10 out of 11! Ivanchuk in a good mood


Main organiser Mikhail Freidlin, Ivanchuk, and tournament director Vladimir Tukmakov


Participants of the Chess Cruise tournament pose for a group photo

Pictures by Mikhail Golubev and Maria Golubeva

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