Gibraltar Chess Festival 2016 starts in a week

by ChessBase
1/19/2016 – “The Tradewise Gibraltar Open is the strongest and best-organised event of its kind in the world," says the Financial Times. Anyone who knows the moves (and pays the entry fee) can take part, and perhaps face top participants like Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave or Vishy Anand. The event lasts from January 25 to February 4, the The total prize sum is £185,000. Press release.

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Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2016

Monday 25 January - Thursday 4 February 2016
Press Release 14 January 2016 - by John Saunders (@JohnChess)

There is just a week to go before the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival (#TGCF) begins – and this year, our 14th, promises to be bigger and better than ever. Voted overall best tournament of the year by the Association of Chess Professionals last year, as well as being voted the world’s best Swiss System event for the last three years, the #TGCF has become the blueprint for top tournaments everywhere, with the broadest possible range of standards represented, from world champions down to the humblest beginners. Our main tournament, the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters is open to all-comers. And when we say ‘open’, we mean that literally: if you know how to play chess and pay the entry fee – you can take part!

When we say ‘world champions’, we mean that literally, too. Taking part this year is someone who is more than a world champion, he’s a legend. We’re delighted to welcome Vishy Anand, from India, five times world champion, and the only player in chess history to have won the ultimate title in all three formats, traditional matchplay, knock-out and tournament, and the undisputed world champion from 2007 to 2013. As well as being a brilliant player, Vishy is also a great ambassador for our game and we’re honoured to have him. His participation marks a watershed for chess, with elite players now showing themselves willing to participate in the excitement of open tournaments.

Gibraltar Masters
26 January to 4 February 2016
ten-round Swiss
All events hosted by the Caleta Hotel

  • Open to all
  • Increased prizes
  • Norm opportunities
  • Top female participation
  • Master classes with elite players
  • Two evening blitz events
  • Battle of the Sexes
  • Live game commentaries
  • Gala dinner

Leading entrants

  • Hikaru Nakamura
  • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
  • Vishy Anand
  • Li Chao
  • Radoslaw Wojtaszek
  • Pentala Harikrishna
  • David Howell
  • Nigel Short
  • Mariya Muzychuk
  • Humpy Koneru
  • Nana Dzagnidze
  • Alexandra Kosteniuk

Such is the strength of the line-up that Vishy isn’t even the top seed. He is third in the list of ten players rated over 2700 who are taking part. Top seed is the US number one and 2015 Tradewise Gibraltar Masters winner Hikaru Nakamura, rated 2787. Hikaru’s exciting brand of chess is a great hit with our spectators, and he clearly enjoys the cut and thrust of the tournament, having won the tournament twice. His continuing commitment to the Swiss system format could be one of the factors that has changed the minds of his elite rivals about participating in open tournaments, and made them realise that they’ve everything to gain and little to lose by taking part. Hikaru’s stratospheric 2787 rating tells its own story. We’re always delighted to have Hikaru with us on the Rock.

Second seed is Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France. Now known worldwide simply by his initials, MVL has won legions of fans for his tough, committed style at the board and his easygoing style and deadpan humour. He’s been with us before, in 2009, 2013 and 2014, being just edged out of the big first prize on the last two occasions, but his status has grown significantly in the meantime and he will be a bigger threat than ever this time. Only a few weeks ago he came within an ace of beating Magnus Carlsen to the first place at the London Chess Classic so he can claim to be in slightly better form than his two main rivals in the race for the £20,000 first prize.

Indian chess fans following the #TGCF will be living the dream this year as they will be able to see both their top players in action, plus several more of their leading GMs. As well as Vishy, we have Pentala Harikrishna, rated 2755. Pentala is a regular visitor here: this will be his sixth Gibraltar Masters. It is testament to the strength of the tournament that he hasn’t won it – yet. His time will surely come. Pentala’s delightful, smiling countenance shouldn’t fool anyone, he’s a tremendous attacking player and getting better all the time.

China is now a chess powerhouse, having proved its chess mettle by winning the 2014 Olympiad. But even before that, Gibraltar has been a showcase for Chinese chess talent. In 2008 Bu Xiangzhi tied with Hikaru Nakamura for first, only being edged out in a pulsating tie-breaker. In 2012 Gibraltar hosted what must rank as the highest profile game ever played between two female players: the one and only game between the all-time highest rated women players Hou Yifan and Judit Polgar, won by the Chinese player. Hou Yifan came so close to winning the tournament outright that year. This year there are three big names from China in the mix: Li Chao, Yu Yangyi and Ni Hua, rated 2751, 2747 and 2697 respectively. Chinese players have a knack for performing well in big Swiss events and the ultimate winner could well come from this group of formidable competitors.

The list of stars doesn’t stop there. We have four more 2700+ players: Dmitry Jakovenko of Russia, Radoslaw Wojtaszek of Poland, Richard Rapport of Hungary and Laurent Fressinet of France. Further still down the list there are a couple more household names, of players who have played matches for the world title: Nigel Short and Gata Kamsky. British fans can also look forward to seeing David Howell and Gawain Jones in action. David had his most outstanding tournament performance to date here last year, finishing second behind Nakamura and ahead of some stellar names, while Gawain Jones arrives from the other side of the world, having just won the New Zealand Open Championship in Auckland.

Gibraltar is a mecca for women players, attracted by the generous prizes and congenial social life. This year we are delighted to welcome the 2014 women’s first prizewinner, Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine, back to regain her title – and to show off the other title she won during the following year – the women’s world title! As so often, Gibraltar is a springboard for players to hone their skills and go on to greater things. It’s like a chess university! Mariya had a fantastic year, winning the £15,000 top women’s prize in Gibraltar in 2014 and going on to win the women’s world championship in Sochi, Russia, in 2015. She’s the top women’s seed this year, just a few rating points ahead of former women’s world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk, Mariya’s sister Anna Muzychuk and Nana Dzagnidze, and a host of other leading women’s players, such as former women’s world champion Antoaneta Stefanova.

Play in the Tradewise Gibraltar Masters starts at 15.00 (GMT+1) on Tuesday 26 January 2016, with live commentary from GM Simon Williams and IM Elisabeth Paehtz throughout. There is play every subsequent day at this time until Thursday 4 February 2016, when the tenth final round starts earlier at 11.00 (GMT+1). Live coverage may be found via the official website.

As well as the live transmission there will be the usual evening master classes starting at 21.00 (GMT+1). In the past these master classes have featured big-name players such as Veselin Topalov, Vasily Ivanchuk, Peter Svidler and Hou Yifan, so be sure to keep an eye on our website for further details when they are available.

John Saunders
Press enquiries to
Tournament Twitter coverage @GibraltarChess


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