Global Chess Festival with the Polgars (2/2)

by Manuel Weeks
10/16/2016 – The chess highlight of the Global Chess festival was the Highlander Cup which was an eight player knockout rapid event. The participants consisted of many of the top Hungarian players versus last year’s winner Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Boris Gelfand. There was the theme “There can only be one”, which was also reflected in the event’s single prize, US$15 thousand at stake so there was plenty of motivation among the players. Illustrated report with games.

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The ceremonial first move was done by Dr Tunde Szabo, Hungarian Secretary of State for Sport for last year's champion, Uzbekistani GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov. His opponent is GM Hoang Thanh Trang who was board one for the Hungarian ladies team at the Baku Olympiad and has dual citizenship in Hungary and Vietnam. This talented lady is also an economics graduate as well as a full-fledged grandmaster! In the end Kasimdhanov came out the winner in a tight match.

According to Boris Gelfand, his first round encounter with young 17-year-old Hungarian GM Benjamin Gledura was his hardest match

Boris Gelfand had come straight from the Tal Memorial, an event he would probably rather forget. After a slightly longer walk from his hotel to the playing venue he turned up just a half hour before the first round. After a loss with white to the very dangerous youngster Benjamin Gledura it looked like an early exit for the affable super grandmaster from Israel was on the cards. Gelfand then showed his fighting spirit and managed to win a long game as black where he was on the edge of being knocked out for most of the game.

After the next two games the pattern continued as Black won both games culminating in a bliz Armageddon where Gelfand had White and five minutes to Black’s four but with Black having draw odds. Here Gelfand showed his class to win a one-sided game but the young 17 year old Gledura showed that Hungarian chess has another talented young player coming through the ranks to join Richard Rapport in the world’s upper chess echelons.

The move 14.Nd5! can see above on the electronic demonstration board. With this move he gained the decisive advantage in his toughest match!

Benjamin Gledura may have lost to Boris Gelfand but showed that he will be a man to contend with in future years

In the game Gelfand–Berkes, White had had a small edge for most of the game due to Blacks bad bishop but had been finding it hard to breakthrough until the following moment.

Gelfand – Berkes

White played the excellent 70. Bd7! which he then positions on b5 cutting off the protection to the Black b-pawn followed by Be1 forming a battery that wins the aforementioned pawn and the game soon afterwards. Little effective moves like this allowed Gelfand to win the event with an extra slice of luck needed in some critical moments. Maybe it is true that the good players just play the big moments better. There were a large number of tactical mistakes made in many games and while that is due to the rapid play time control maybe Boris made fewer errors then his fellow competitors.

Mention should be made of the other finalist Zoltan Almasi who beat two very dangerous opponents: Gergely Antal and last year’s winner, Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Coming off a fantastic Baku Olympiad this recently turned 40-year-old has crept above 2700+ to show that age is no barrier! In fact the two oldest participants were also the finalists!

While the Highlander Cup was being played, Judit had her own chess struggles although she was victorious in nearly all of the simul games

There were a number of young female players who were keen to match wits with the only woman ever to break the top ten

All ages were represented, as chess is a truly inclusive game. Some players had come from other countries to see the festival and play in the simul as well as take part in the many other activities.

There was an excellent artist who painted a chess related painting completely during the simul. Very Impressive!

The youngest competitor was a young lady from England!

Age is no barrier to playing a game of chess!

The winner of the Highlander Cup Boris Gelfand with four of the Hungarian participants

The winner of the event Boris Gelfand with the main organiser!

Two Hungarian chess legends in one photo, Pal Benko visited the festival and was an interested spectator for the Highlander Cup!

After a long day the two sisters should be allowed some cake? In fact after the photo above was taken the cake quickly disappeared as the many children present were each allowed a square or two of the chessboard!

In the evening there was a formal gala dinner with Hungarian President Janos Ader as guest of honour. There were various chess related paintings and sculptures auctioned off as everyone relaxed after a long but very satisfying day. One man who should be mentioned was Loek Van Wely who came to the Global Chess Festival and helped make the day the success it was, and then came with his lovely wife, Lorena, to the evening dinner.

An event like this cannot be run without the help of numerous people, such as Judit’s husband Gustav and her sister Sofia who worked tirelessly throughout the day. Anna Rudolf not only helped to organise but did interviews as well as some online commentary. Special guests who came to Budapest to help out were Loek Van Wely and Jeroen Van den Berg from the Netherlands, Daniel Yarur and his lovely daughter, Juga from Chile, as well as all the participants of the Highlander Cup. Add in the huge production team, the arbiters and you can see that chess can truly bring people together and connect them!


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 a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Manuel has been an international arbiter, a national coach at various world Juniors, a press officer, the Director of various tournaments and has been to eleven Olympiads as captain of the Australian Open team. Straight after the last Olympiad a small group went immediately from Tromso to Mainz to see Manuel get married to his lovely wife Brigitta. They live in London.


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