Gibraltar Chess Festival 2017 starts tomorrow

by Frederic Friedel
1/22/2017 – The Financial Times has called the Tradewise Gibraltar Open is the strongest and best-organised event of its kind in the world, said. Anyone who knows the moves (and pays the entry fee) can take part, and perhaps face top participants like Caruana, Vachier-Lagrave or Nakamura. The event lasts from January 23 (opening) to February 4, the location is very balmy: ten hours of daylight, average day temperature 16° C, warm sea temperatures, beautiful scenery. Paradise!

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Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2017

Monday 23 January - Thursday 2 February 2017

Top participants in the Masters

Sd Player Ti. Nat. Rtng
1 Caruana, Fabiano g USA 2827
2 Vachier-Lagrave, Max. g FRA 2796
3 Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2785
4 Ivanchuk, Vassily g UKR 2752
5 Adams, Michael g ENG 2751
6 Svidler, Peter g RUS 2748
7 Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2739
8 Yu, Yangyi g CHN 2738
9 Vitiugov, Nikita g RUS 2724
10 Gelfand, Boris g ISR 2721
11 Naiditsch, Arkadij g AZE 2702
12 Matlakov, Maxim g RUS 2701
13 Cheparinov, Ivan g BUL 2689
14 Kovalenko, Igor g LAT 2684
15 Zvjaginsev, Vadim g RUS 2679
16 Short, Nigel D g ENG 2675
17 Shankland, Samuel L g USA 2674
18 Fressinet, Laurent g FRA 2660
19 Ganguly, Surya g IND 2657
20 Howell, David W L g ENG 2655
21 Iturrizaga, Eduardo g VEN 2652
22 Piorun, Kacper g POL 2651
23 Hou, Yifan g CHN 2651
24 Anton, David g ESP 2650
25 Gupta, Abhijeet g IND 2645
26 Sethuraman, S.P. g IND 2637
27 Akobian, Varuzhan g USA 2633
28 Sutovsky, Emil g ISR 2628
29 Oparin, Grigoriy g RUS 2625
30 Edouard, Romain g FRA 2613
31 Maze, Sebastien g FRA 2613
32 Vocaturo, Daniele g ITA 2606
33 Fridman, Daniel g GER 2594
34 Lagarde, Maxime g FRA 2594
35 Istratescu, Andrei g FRA 2593
Sd Player Ti. Nat. Rtng
36 Gledura, Benjamin g HUN 2589
37 Lalith Babu M R g IND 2587
38 Ju, Wenjun g CHN 2583
39 Antipov, Mikhail Al. g RUS 2580
40 Gopal G.N. g IND 2579
41 Blomqvist, Erik g SWE 2574
42 Kaidanov, Gregory S g USA 2572
43 Deac, Bogdan-Daniel g ROU 2572
44 Vazquez Igarza, Renier g ESP 2572
45 Grigoriants, Sergey g RUS 2564
46 Donchenko, Alexander g GER 2559
47 Muzychuk, Anna g UKR 2558
48 Huzman, Alexander g ISR 2557
49 Mastrovasilis, Athanasios g GRE 2551
50 Schroeder, Jan-Christian g GER 2550
51 Pichot, Alan g ARG 2548
52 Muzychuk, Mariya g UKR 2546
53 Libiszewski, Fabien g FRA 2545
54 Spraggett, Kevin g CAN 2542
55 Lagno, Kateryna g RUS 2530
56 Del Rio, Salvador g ESP 2527
57 Gunina, Valentina g RUS 2524
58 Lemos, Damian g ARG 2516
59 Stefanova, Antoaneta g BUL 2512
60 Narciso Dublan, Marc g ESP 2508
61 Mikhalevski, Victor g ISR 2504
62 Aryan Chopra m IND 2503
63 Kollars, Dmitrij m GER 2500
64 Liang, Awonder m USA 2496
65 Bellahcene, Bilel m FRA 2493
66 Cuenca, Jose Fernando g ESP 2492
67 Batsiashvili, Nino m GEO 2492
68 Dragnev, Valentin m AUT 2492
69 Krysa, Leandro m ARG 2491
70 Meskovs, Nikita m LAT 2490

Top Masters participants

Fabiano Caruana - 2827 [USA]

2016 US champion, Fabiano's peak live rating of 2851 is the 3rd highest in history. 1st= at the 2016 Isle of Man Open. Led the USA to gold in the Baku Olympiad. Fabiano's only previous visit to Gibraltar came in 2011 - we welcome him back.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - 2796 [FRA]

Now firmly established as one of the very best players in the world, Maxime clearly relishes the special atmosphere and challenge of playing on the Rock. In 2016 he lost the Masters play-off to Hikaru by the narrowest margin. Will 2017 be his year?

Hikaru Nakamura - 2785 [USA]

Three times (2008/2015/2016) Gibraltar winner, Hikaru has impressed greatly here, forcing his way to the top with drive and determination. For 2017 the field is tougher than ever - will he achieve a record-breaking 4th victory?

Vassily Ivanchuk - 2752 [Ukraine]

Winner of Gibraltar 2011 with record score of 9/10. This will be Vasil's 3rd visit to the Rock. World Blitz Champion in 2007 and 2008, and World Rapid Champion in 2016 among all his other achievements Vasil has won four Olympiad team gold medals.

Michael Adams - 2751 [England]

Five-times British Champion, scoring a spectacular 10/11 in 2016, and undefeated on top board for England in the Baku Olympiad, Mickey has been established amongst the world's super-elite for over 20 years. He has competed six times in Gibraltar, winning the tournament in 2010.

Peter Svidler - 2748 [Russia]

This will be Peter's fourth time on the Rock. His most successful visit was in 2009, when he tied 1st= with 8/10, then beat Vadim Milov in the play-off. Peter is 7 times Russian Champion. He won the 2011 World Cup, and was losing finalist (to Karjakin) in 2015. As is well-known, Peter loves cricket!

Veselin Topalov - 2739 [Bulgaria]

FIDE World Champion (2005), and former world no.1, Veselin returns to the Rock, having played in the Tradewise Masters once before, in 2015. In a career of many highs, one to point out is that Veselin was the third player in history to pass the 2800 barrier.

Boris Gelfand - 2721 [Israel]

World Championship finalist in 2012, Boris was only edged out by Vishy Anand in the rapid play-off, the score in the classical part of the match tied at 6-6. We are delighted that this legend of the game will be making his first visit to Gibraltar.

Hou Yifan - 2651 [China]

Women's World Champion. Two previous visits to Gibraltar, both times performing brilliantly. Her win against Judit Polgar here in 2012 made world-wide headlines, and she nearly won the whole event that year, only losing to Nigel Short in the final play-off.



Masters: The first prize may not be shared. In the event of a tie for first place, there shall be a speed play-off. All other prizes shall be shared where players have the same score (except the Women’s First Prize). If there are two or four players tied for first place, there will be a speed knock-out play-off for the first prize of £23,000. If three players tie for first place, the player with the highest performance rating will be seeded directly into the Final of the Play-Off; the other two players will contest the Semi-Final. If more than four players tie for first place, the four players with the highest performance ratings shall qualify for the play-off to decide the first prize.

Women's Awards: If there is a tie for the top women’s prize, the tie is resolved in favour of the woman with the highest performance rating, who will receive the prize of £15,000. All other prizes will not be subject to a tie-break and prize money other than the first prize will be divided equally amongst the players.

Amateurs: Players with neither a FIDE rating nor a published national rating or grade are only eligible for the Unrated prize or Gibraltar prize. No player may win more than one prize in any Challenger or Amateur Tournament.

Additional Prizes: Best Game Prize £1000; Seniors (60 or over on 1st Jan 2017) £1000 - £500; Juniors (Under 18 on 1st Jan 2017) £1000 - £500; Blitz tournaments: total prizes £1,000.


Room accommodation ranges from Mediterranean Sea view rooms and Gibraltar Rock view rooms to suites and self-catering apartments. All rooms at the hotel are decorated to a high standard and provide tea and coffee making facilities, a mini bar, interactive TV, direct dial telephone, hair dryer, safe and air-conditioning. Also, slippers and bathrobes are provided in all bedrooms. The hotel has free WiFi available in all rooms.


Gibraltar, according to GM Nigel Short, is a place which you either love or hate. It’s a rock, a British naval base which was very important for controlling the entrance to the Mediterranean. From here you can see Africa, even with the naked eye, and so you could see any ships entering the Mediterranean. Historically it was just a garrison town, now the military presence has been wound down quite significantly. It has a population that numbers in the tens of thousands.

Incidentally – and this has absolutely nothing to do with chess or the Tradewise event – if you look at a map of the Mediterranean Sea and the extremely narrow western entrance, a bizarre thought might occur to you: what would happen if we closed it down, built a dam between Spain and Africa? Well, that's exactly what a German architect named Herman Sörgel came up with in the 1920s. He proposed building a hydroelectric dam across the Strait of Gibraltar, which would provide enormous amounts of electrical energy and at the same time lower the surface of the Mediterranean Sea by 200 metres or 660 ft due to evaporation. It would produce large new dry areas for settlement and also irrigate large areas of the Sahara, while creating shipping lanes to the interior of Africa. You may have heard that the project, which was called "Atlantropa", was never realized, and here is an explanation of why. Pity, it would have been nice for African players to walk across to take part in the Tradewise Chess Festival.

The Caleta Hotel is on the east side of the rock, the main town is on the other side, so that the players are a bit isolated. But everything is in walking distance. The runway of the airport is actually longer than the width of the peninsular, so it extends out into the sea.

Prime accomodation and tournament venue: Caleta Hotel Health, Beauty & Conference Centre


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

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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