Donostia Chess Festival in San Sebastián

by ChessBase
7/9/2009 – The Basque seaside town of San Sebastián, famous for its intense cultural life and international festivals of film and jazz, is paying host to a category 18 event, with ten GMs averaging 2682 – amongst them the legendary 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov and two former FIDE world champions. After two rounds US GM Hikaru Nakamura leads. Pictorial report by WGM Anastasiya Karlovich.

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Donostia Chess Festival in San Sebastian

Report by WGM Anastasiya Karlovich

The Donostia Chess Festival is taking place from 7th-16th July 2009. The main event is a round robin tournament with ten GMs, all but local Pablo San Segundo rated over 2600, five over 2700. The average rating in 2682, the category is 18. Play starts at 17:00h CEST = 16:00h London, 11 a.m. New York.

In the first round American GM Hikaru Nakamura defeated legendary World Champion Anatoly Karpov, and in the second round French number two Maxime Vachier Lagrave. Nakamura leads with 2.0/2. Here are the standings after two rounds:

Picture Gallery

Donostia-San Sebastián is the capital city of the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country, Spain. The population is around 180,000.

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San Sebastian is famous for its intense cultural life and international festivals such as the International Film Festival and Jazzaldia – the longest, continuously running Jazz Festival in Europe. It takes place during the last week of July and features the top musicians from around the world.

A design house in San Sebastian

San Sebastián's picturesque coastline makes it a popular beach resort

The waves of Zurriola Beach attract courageous surfers

The figure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which looks out over the city from the Urgull Mountain. The mountain is about 120 meters above sea level and up to 1863 it was a military stronghold that survived several sieges.

The Town Hall became the playing hall for the chess tournament. It is renowned as being one of the most beautiful buildings in Spain. The Town Hall was originally intended as casino and hosted many important events including the famous chess tournament in 1911, where Capablanca, Bernstein and others played.

The opening ceremony

Rustam Kasimdzhanov and his wife Firuza chatting with Peter Svidler (left)

Russian WGMs Irina Zakurdjaeva and Yana Melnikova

Souvenirs for the ballot

Peter Svidler (right) at the opening ceremony

Anatoly Karpov with his second Alexander Riazantsev

Fascination: Ruslan Ponomariov listening to some girly conversation

Slicing the local ham

The welcome dinner in a sea food restaurant

Fresh fish grilled over charcoal – one can almost smell it from this picture

The organizer of the tournament, Felix Izeta, pours the local wine in a very special way

The playing hall full of players and spectators

Rating favourite of the woman tournament: IM Tania Sachdev from India

IM Sophie Millet from France

WGM Iulia Ionica from Romania

WIM Vesna Rozic from Slovenia

FM Christian Michna from Germany


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse the PGN games.

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