Start of the Gibraltar Chess Festival 2020

by André Schulz
1/21/2020 – The 18th Gibraltar International Chess Festival starts today at the Caleta Hotel on the east side of the Rock of Gibraltar. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov tops the starting ranking list, joined by fellow "2700 club" members Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wang Hao, Veselin Topalov, David Navara, Le Quang Liem and Kirill Alekseenko. Anatoly Karpov opened the festival with a simultaneous exhibition. Live games and commentary with GM David Howell and Fiona Steil-Antoni from 14:00 UTC (15:00 CET, 9:00 EST). | Pictured: Mayor of Gibraltar John Gonçalves, made the first move on the top board at the start of the 2020 Gibraltar Masters with top seed GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov from Azerbaijan. Currently No.8 in the world he played his first round game against 12-year-old Candidate Master Raahil Mullick from India. Photo: Niki Riga

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Round 1

The Gibraltar International Chess Festival 2020 starts today and runs over nine rounds through January 30th. It is the 18th edition of the tournament, which takes place, as usual, at the Caleta Hotel in Gibraltar and is directed by GM Stuart Conquest.

In the Masters tournament, 240 players are in attendance, including almost 100 grandmasters. The top seeds are Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxim Vachier-Lagrave, but also five other grandmasters rated over 2700. In addition, many other grandmasters with well-known names play along, including Vassily Ivanchuk and Michael Adams. Notably absent this year is the U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura who has been a Gibraltar regular in the past. The top-rated woman in the field is Anna Muzychuk — 59th on the overall list.

Official teaser video

Live games and commentary

Players receive 100 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes for 20 moves, then 15 minutes until the end of the game plus 30 seconds per move starting from move one.


Standings after Round 1 (top 20)


With 17 players each, England and Spain unsurprisingly have strong contingents, but they are surpassed by the Indian delegation, which comprises 29 players, led by Adhiban Baskaran, and featuring future stars Praggnanandhaa and Gukesh.

Starting list (top 20)

No. Name Rtg
1 Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2770
2 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2770
3 Wang Hao 2758
4 Topalov Veselin 2738
5 Navara David 2717
6 Le Quang Liem 2713
7 Alekseenko Kirill 2704
8 Ivanchuk Vassily 2698
9 Matlakov Maxim 2698
10 Adams Michael 2694
11 Cheparinov Ivan 2686
12 Jones Gawain C B 2679
13 Maghsoodloo Parham 2674
14 Saric Ivan 2655
15 Adhiban B. 2654
16 Esipenko Andrey 2654
17 Lagarde Maxime 2651
18 Sasikiran Krishnan 2648
19 Donchenko Alexander 2647
20 Tabatabaei M.Amin 2638

...240 Players

Gibraltar is known in part for its high prize fund specifically for women, with the top scorer taking home GBP £20,000, ensuring once again that many women take part in the Chess Festival. Notable names include Alexandra Kosteniuk, Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, Lei Tingje, Tan Zhongyi and many more.

Continuing a trend, the Tehran Times recently reported that Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, the strongest woman from Iran and eighth best player in the country overall, as well as number 13 in the women's world rankings, had announced her withdrawal from the country's national team on her Instagram account.


در ایران هستم و قصد مهاجرت ندارم چند سالی است که به صورت انفرادی و با هزینه شخصی در مسابقات مختلف بین المللی به عنوان یک ایرانی شرکت میکنم و این روال ادامه خواهد داشت. تعدادی از این مسابقات به صورت ملی است و این اعزام ها زیر نظر فدراسیون و وزارت ورزش صورت میپذیرد که از این پس از حضور در هرگونه مسابقه ملی که تحت نظر فدراسیون، وزارت ورزش یا کمیته المپیک باشد، به عنوان ملی پوش یا نماینده یا هر چیز دیگری که بنامند، انصراف میدهم. این به معنای تغییر ملیتم نیست. شطرنج یک ورزش فکریست و دنیای عجیبی دارد. من میخواهم در فضایی آرام، بدون فشار و استرس و تهدید، فقط و فقط روی کارم تمرکز کنم. نمیگذارند، نمیفهمند و نخواهند فهمید. دلایل تصمیمم برای کسانی که باید ببینند روشن است، شاید نمیخواهند ببینند و این تصمیم آنهاست نه من! من فعلا قصد مهاجرت ندارم و کسی هم حق ندارد من را وادار به ماندن یا رفتن کند.

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For many years, the Gibraltar Open was one of the best attended open tournaments in the world, a successor to the long-running Aeroflot Open. In recent years the Isle of Man has outstripped Gibraltar in this respect, particularly last year when the tournament was upgraded to a qualifying event for the FIDE candidates tournament. But the Gibraltar Chess Festival remains a first-class destination and its Masters group one of the absolute top opens. It is popular among players not only because of the high prize money, but also because of its friendly and fun-filled atmosphere. 

In addition to the Masters, amateur and challenge tournaments are offered, as well as a blitz tournament and a number of other side events. 

The 12th world champion in simultaneous action

Former World Champion Anatoly Karpov opened the festival with a simultaneous performance on 29 boards, which Karpov won with 27-2 (+25, = 4).

Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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