An International Chess Tournament on Malta

by ChessBase
1/27/2021 – On the Mediterranean island of Malta, the number of Corona infections is comparatively low. This gave Clarence Psaila the courage to organise the XY Winter Chess Festival, a small live-event with a limited number of players and a strict adherence to safety. However, with players from three continents and 13 countries, the XY Winter Festival might currently still be the most international over-the-board chess tournament.

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The XYChess Winter Festival: This year's most international chess event?

By Clarence Psaila

The Covid-19 pandemic has limited international chess tournaments. Gathering 300+ players from 40 to 50 countries in one venue to let them enjoy chess for 10 days is simply not possible under the current circumstances. 

Live chess events and pandemics do not exactly go hand in hand. A chess event usually generates a certain amount of tourism (often 1500+ nights for the host hotel), is a cosy indoor activity, and a celebration of intercultural and intellectual exchange.  

But Covid-19 has led to a wave of tournament cancellations. Luckily, Malta is blessed with a vibrant intercultural community, fine hotels such as the Kennedy Nova, and the will and energy to persevere and thrive under any circumstances. 

This allowed Clarence Psaila to organise the XYChess Winter Festival in the Kennedy Nova hotel. The festival consists of an Open and a U1700 tournament. Both tournaments were limited to 20 participants, and the two groups play on different days.

50% of the players in each group come from abroad – from three continents and 13 countries. The participants hail from Malta, Italy, Poland, France, England, Germany, Serbia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Tunisia. Currently, the event could well be the world’s most international chess tournament!

The tournaments will last for more than five weeks, and in each section one game per week is played. The highest rated player in the Open is Jovan Rasic (2145) from Serbia. Favourite in the U1700 tournament is local veteran Joseph Baldacchino (1683).

But safety is top priority, and everything has been done to ensure it. The Kennedy Nova provided a large, well ventilated playing hall where the tables are spaced two metres apart. Temperature checks, mandatory mask wearing, plenty of sanitisers, a courtyard, and a no-spectator policy let all participants feel safe.

If you are interested in joining such a tournament or other chess events in Malta, please contact Clarence Psaila on or +356 79050843. Web:

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