Chess Eruption by Mount Etna (2/2)

by Diana Mihajlova
12/20/2014 – Although Sicily is not famous for its chess culture, it does have a spectacular standout exceptions. For example, one of the first manuals on chess, an eight-volume treatise, was written by a Sicilian in 1617, and perhaps more impressively, the 25th World Correspondence Chess championship was won a couple of years ago by the octagenarian Fabio Finocchiaro.

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Members of the ‘Don Pietro Carrera’ chess club from the neighbouring
town Viagrande: (standing) Astorina Davide, Aceto Andrea, Cannella
Carlo, Spina Simone, (kneeling) Barbagallo Andrea and Pisacane Pietro

Don Pietro Carrera (1573 – 1647), a 16th century chess player and writer, comes from this corner of Sicily. Carrera wrote one of the first manuals on chess, ‘The Game of Chess’  (Il gioco degli scacchi, 1617), composed of eight volumes, the most complete treatise on chess of the time, both in Italy and abroad. The name of one of the most played chess defences is due to this illustrious Sicilian who is among the first, together with Greco and Polerio, to have  promoted 2… c5 as a reply to 1. e4, thus creating our beloved ‘Sicilian Defence’.

A manuscript of Carrera’s Il gioco degli scacchi is kept in the Municipal Library of Catania

Dr Santo Daniele Spina, a local archaeologist, professor in Latin, as well as a chess trainer
and chronicler of chess activity on the island of Sicily   

Russians Anastasia Savina and Sergey Tiviakov were the main stars, as well as main contenders
for first place. Indeed, after their meeting at the chess board, which resulted in a draw, Tiviakov
emerged as the overall winner and Savina was second.  

GM Sergey Tiviakov, receives the 1st place plaque from the Mayor of Nicolosi, Antonino Borzì.      

IM Anastasia Savina, is awarded her 2nd place plaque from Antonio Borsi, the Nicolosi’s Vice-Mayor

IM Ljubisavljevic Zivojin from Serbia but now the island’s resident where
he is known as ‘Ljuba’, won the third place

GM Bogdan Lalic from Croatia was fourth

GM Igor Efimov receives the fifth place award from Stefania Laudani, the local government’s councillor for culture

WFM Ksenija Novak from Slovenija, best woman’s prize winner

Riccardo Merendino, a president of the Italian Chess Federation’s Sicily Regional Committee
with the group B winner, Augusto Palermo and the best U-12, Giulio Balsano.

Silvana Giacobbe, president of the chess club ‘Kodokan’ from Messina and Emanuele Vesce
from the Italian mainland town of Ancona, winner of the rating prize for 1801-2000

To mark the end of the glorious chess event, late into the night, with wine, Italian canzoni
and, of course – blitz! Thomas, Ksenija, Diana, Bertrand and Colin

The highlight and the tournament’s symbol was Etna, the highest in Europe (3300m.) and the most active volcano in the world. When I suggested to a chess friend to consider a tournament on the slopes of Etna, he wittingly enquired: ‘Will I get a guarantee that Etna will not erupt at that time?’

No such guarantee was forthcoming, but the biggest volcano has not caused a significant damage since the 16th century and scientists that are constantly monitoring it are confident it has no intention of getting enraged in the foreseeable future. The summit has about five craters that show constant volcanic activity. They may exhale heavy fumes, regurgitate some lava and spurt amazing fireworks high up, however, they only create visual spectacles that add to the development of tourism in the area. Eruptions can be highly explosive and spectacular, visible from the coastal cities Catania and Taormina.

Etna in action: a paroxysm, 16-17 November, 2013 (screenshot/ video: Wikipedia)

Locals from the surrounding villages are used to their neighbour’s caprices; they enjoy the spectacles and go calmly on with their everyday life, indifferent even to the tremors that can be felt at their own homes. They call their fiery mountain ‘Gentle Giant’. The whole area today is composed of volcanic earth which is very fertile and sustains the local agriculture whose main produce are typical wines, pistachios, fruit and honey. The slopes of Etna make a huge Natural Park, 60,000 hectares, divided in four zones, protected by UNESCO.

Mount Etna under snow; dried lava flows in the foreground

At this time of the year, Mount Etna can be covered with heavy snow and no trekking activities are possible close to the pick. We were lucky that only a soft cover of snow had enveloped the mountain and some of us, early arrivals to the tournament, were able to reach the top with funicular cable cars, until 2500 m., then with specialised mountain vehicles, until 2900 m, and from there on by foot.

Gaetano, Sergey, Diana, Ksenija and Giuseppe in front of the ‘Etna jeep’

The volcano Etna has several craters of various sizes that are positioned in a line, and nicknamed ‘Etna buttons’

The top crater is the most active, but the Gentle Giant was quiet at the time of our visit

Diana, Sergey and Ksenija on the Mount Etna, at 3000 m., between clouds and volcano craters

From the top of Etna, the Golf of Catania is clearly visible

From the mountain, a trip to the seaside’s medieval town of Taormina completed the wonderful impressions of this fascinating island. The luxurious town of Taormina has had many famous visitors and admirers including Nicolas I of Russia, Oscar Wilde, Richard Wagner, Wolfgang von Goethe and Fridrich Nietzsche. Goethe dedicated many pages to Taormina in his book ‘Italian Journey’, and Nietzsche here wrote ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’.

Taormina: corners of the 10th century Palazzo Corvaja, 13th century
cathedral and the medieval castle ruins above the hill

‘Isola Bella’, is the Taormina’s coast jewel

Our host and trip driver and guide, FM Giuseppe Fabio, kindly showed us his 16th century house: a typical Sicilian house built with lava stones, which is the main building material for the Etna side of the island.

I would like to end this report, mentioning once again Agata Cimisi Marzaduro, a person of great enthusiasm, energy, generosity, humility and a sense for care and organisation. The 1st International Etna Chess Festival was conceived and brought to a successful realisation thanks to her indefatigable work. Her determination to continue providing the area with future chess events deserves full support from local authorities and international players.

Agata Campisi and Diana Mihajlova

Apart from the general positive atmosphere, hospitality and professional approach, one gets a very pleasant feeling that Sicily harbours great appreciation for chess and local personalities truly dedicated to its promotion. In addition to the island’s picturesque nature and rich culture and history, my prediction (and wish!) would be that, in the near future, all chess paths would lead to Sicily.

Sicily – a fresco on the hotel’s wall depicting various historical events on the island

Photos by Diana Mihajlova, Gaetano Mendola

Final standings

Rk
Pts
Ti.
Name
Rtg
Perf
TB
1 6
GM
Tiviakov Sergei
2677
2485
29.50
2 5.5
WGM
Savina Anastasia
2397
2417
30.50
3 5.5
IM
Ljubisavljevic Zivojin Z
2161
2365
28.50
4 5.5
GM
Lalic Bogdan
2479
2369
28.00
5 5.5
GM
Efimov Igor
2409
2309
27.00
6 5
CM
FAVALORO Andrea
2026
2136
26.50
7 5
CM
GANGEMI Salvatore
2075
2143
26.00
8 5
CM
PISACANE Pietro
2110
2076
25.00
9 5
WFM
Novak Ksenija
2087
2101
25.00
10 4.5
CM
Pace Colin
2095
2181
29.00
11 4.5
 
SARDO Gabriele
2211
2141
28.50
12 4.5
CM
Marzaduri Riccardo
2132
2215
28.50
13 4.5
CM
BIFULCO Michel
2110
2209
28.00
14 4.5
--
Vesce Emanuele
1895
2144
27.50
15 4.5
M
SANTAGATI Alessandro
2212
2169
27.00
16 4.5
 
CANNELLA Carlo
1931
2069
26.50
17 4.5
WGM
Manakova Maria
2352
2067
25.50
18 4.5
 
VALGUARNERA Girolamo
2080
2064
24.50
19 4.5
CM
SEMINARA Antonio
1963
1958
22.00
20 4.5
 
IANNELLO Andrea
1904
1967
22.00

Click for complete standings


Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.


Topics: etna, mount etna, sicily

A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.
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