Vladimir Sveshnikov wins Chess Festival in Bratto

by Jan Werle
9/4/2018 – Presolana is a mountain located in northern Italy, about 35 kilometres north of Bergamo. Bratto, a small village in this region, has been hosting the "Conca della Presolana" Chess Festival the last 38 years. GM JAN WERLE reports on the latest edition of the tournament, where IM Vladimir Sveshnikov — son of the legendary Evgeny Sveshnikov — finished first on tiebreaks in the main section. In the A-group, 11-year-old Brando Pavesi surprised all-comers with his clear win. | Photo: Ms. Pakleza

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Kings and princes are welcome

In 2008, the well-known Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador crossed the small village of Bratto on the way to winning the Giro d'Italia. A decade later, chess players found their way to the same location to participate in the Bratto International Chess Festival. Located in Lombardy, 50 km east of Bergamo and 100 km away from Milan, in a picturesque valley of the Bergamasque Alps, Bratto is a hotspot for recreational activities.

Given its majestic high location in the Presolana area, it is an ordeal for the ascending cyclers and the hikers to get there. The busiest season, however, is the winter, when skiing draws the attention of tourists all throughout Europe.


The Bergamesque Alpes | Photo: Jan Werle

The tournament

From August 18th to 26th, however, the village was 'overrun' by approximately 150 chess players, who were divided into five categories: the 'Magistrale' (≥2000), Group A (1750-2000), Group B (≤ 1800), Group C (≤ 1500) and U16. The tournament was organised for the 38th time by Scacchistica Milanese and was promoted as a family event. Plenty of side activities were organised: rapid, blitz, Chess960 and bughouse tournaments, lectures from GMs, etc.

E. Sveshnikov, Werle, Zamengo, V. Sveshnikov, Mirzoev, Pakleza

On board 4: E. Sveshnikov–Werle; on board 3: Zamengo; on board 2: V. Sveshnikov; on board 1: Mirzoev-Pakleza | Photo: Volfgano Rizzi

A young chess player in deep calculation | Photo: Jan Werle

The playing venue of the Magistrale group was the luxurious Milano Alpen Spa Hotel. Many nationalities were represented in the event — India, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, Spain, France, Monaco, the Netherlands, Croatia, Latvia, Poland and, of course, a big group representing Italy. Many talented youngsters, like Aghayev or Favaloro, were in pursuit of GM and IM norms.

A strict policy was applied by the organizers and referees to prevent any sort of cheating. This has become a necessary measure on account of the many cases that the chess community has had to face lately. Before each round, the players were asked not to carry a cell phone, and they were subject to a forfeit if they did. When one player refused to empty his pockets when under suspicion of having a cell phone, the referee had no other choice but to comply with the regulations.

100 km northeast of Milan in the Bergamo Province

The kings

The organisation honours the chess legends that arrive in Bratto. None other than Viktor Korchnoi played this event during his lifetime. This year, four "kings" participated: GMs Mišo Cebalo (Croatia), Nenad Sulava (Monaco), Igor Efimov (Monaco) and Evgeny Sveshnikov (Russia). The special guest was Sveshnikov, who stood his ground by finishing in sixth place (see the final standings below). Besides the Italian hospitality, nature and the quiet majestic town of Bratto, many celebrated players probably return each year due to the Italian cuisine. All the contracted players were daily spoilt with the primi and secondi piatti (first and second course) — the feast was rounded up with a dessert, like a tiramisu, and an espresso.

Prince Vladimir takes first place

The winner of the tournament, however, was a "prince" — the 13th ranked IM Vladimir Sveshnikov, the son of Evgeny Sveshnikov. He obtained a 2589 TPR and scored his first GM norm. On the one hand, his triumph was surprising, as he was merely the 13th highest-rated player. However, we cannot be so surprised, as he had already won the 2016 edition. Very modestly and honestly, he claimed his victory owed a lot to luck. Nonetheless, it seems like he possesses his father's tactical talent — including the ability to turn hopeless positions into something serious. In the following fragment, we can see a fine illustration of this trait:



Like father, like son | Photo: Jan Werle

Vladimir's father, Evgeny — the famous inventor of the Sveshnikov Defence in the Sicilian and author of many renowned chess books — is also a gifted tactician. During his last round game against Sulava, a Semi-Slav turned quickly into an unprecedented battlefield:


Vladimir Sveshnikov got as many points as GMs Azer Mirzoev (Azerbaijan) and Eldar Gasanov (Ukraine). They all finished on 6½/9, but Sveshnikov had the better Buchholz tiebreak score. We conclude with some remarkable games by the grandmasters that shared first place on points:


In the A-Group, 11-year-old Brando Pavesi drew everyone's attention by scoring 7 out of 9, leaving the rest of the field a full point behind. On top of that, he became a Candidate Master in Bratto. 

Alberto Mortola, Brando Pavesi, Ranfagni Stefano

The winners of Group-A — Alberto Mortola (2nd), 11-year-old Brando Pavesi (1st) and Ranfagni Stefano (3rd) | Photo: Volfango Rizzi

Final standings (top 20)

Pos T Name Rtg Pts Buc1
1 IM Sveshnikov Vladimir 2391 6.5 46.5
2 GM Mirzoev Azer 2510 6.5 45.5
3 GM Gasanov Eldar 2481 6.5 45.0
4 GM Maiorov Nikita 2504 6.0 47.5
5 GM Pakleza Zbigniew 2503 6.0 45.5
6 GM Sveshnikov Evgeny 2477 6.0 44.0
7 GM Werle Jan 2529 6.0 44.0
8 GM Genov Petar 2431 5.5 45.5
9 IM Akshat Khamparia 2396 5.5 43.5
10 FM Zamengo Fulvio 2353 5.5 42.0
11   Favaloro Andrea 2223 5.5 38.5
12   Shome Shiv 2161 5.5 37.5
13   Palozza Christian 2217 5.5 35.0
14 IM Aghayev Miragha 2424 5.0 43.5
15 GM Sulava Nenad 2447 5.0 43.0
16 GM Efimov Igor 2430 5.0 41.5
17 FM Bifulco Michel 2297 5.0 39.5
18   Montilli Vincenzo 2262 5.0 38.0
19   Franciosi Fausto 2277 5.0 37.0
20   Piantoni Roberto 2161 5.0 30.5


Jan is a professional chess Grandmaster, trainer, coach and author. In 2008 he became EU-champion in Liverpool and reached his peak rating of 2607. Hereafter finished his law studies obtaining two master law degrees (civil and commercial law) before he commenced with his job as a lawyer. But now he's back in chess.


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