Hévíz Tournament in Hungary

by ChessBase
9/4/2010 – Hungary has long been a berth of chess events, from the Budapest Spring Festival to the famous First Saturday tournaments a cornerstone of aspiring masters and grandmasters. Diana Mihajlova brings an intimate perspective on the Hévíz tournament, held at Lake Hévíz, famed as a spa area with waters that never drop below 25° C., even in winter. Detailed colorful report.

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Hévíz Tournament – Hungary

by Diana Mihajlova

Hungary certainly does not lack in chess tournaments, whether in Budapest or elsewhere in the country, and ranging from the Zalakaros Festival, the Budapest Spring Festival or the First Saturday tournaments. Many of them take place around Lake Balaton or at the picturesque hot spa resorts that Hungary abounds with.

On the way towards Lake Balaton, northwest of Budapest, we can make out the some of the rare hills perching on the Hungarian plains. They are the result of volcanic formations as indeed their shape reminds one of an extinct volcano. There is no danger of any open eruptions, but it seems that volcanic activity is still at work deep down, which explains the many natural, hot spas.

A volcanic hill in the Hungarian plains.

IM and International Organiser Janos Rigo has been organising tournaments for decades – international opens, but furthermore several high level events such as the Gotth' Art Cup 2010, where Richard Rapport, 13 years old at the time, became the youngest Hungarian grandmaster.

The Lake Balaton shores have long been the home for many of his tournaments, but in recent years, Janos Rigo has concentrated on another picturesque Hungarian spot – Hévíz, where he organizes tournaments a few times a year. The next one is scheduled for 14 – 22 October. To give you a taste, here is a report on an earlier Hévíz tournament. The XXVIII Balaton International Chess Festival took place in Hévíz, June 19th-27th, 2010.   

Organizer IM Janos Rigo announcing the prizes at the closing ceremony.

The Hévíz tournament might not be about hefty prizes but it offers a variety of tournaments, which coupled with the beautiful settings of the beautiful spa town, attracts many Hungarian and foreign players. The tournament was composed of five parts: two Open tournaments (A and B), and two round-robins, an IM and a GM event, designed to provide norm chances, and a separate invitational GM tournament.

Fourteen-year-old GM Richard Rapport

The fourteen-year-old Richard Rapport, the youngest Hungarian GM (2509), was meant to play in a round robin with invited GMs Oleg Romanishin (UKR, 2519), Kamil Miton (POL, 2608) and Pablo Lafuente (ARG, 2587). The organizer went so far as to dedicate this tournament to the bright young star, but unfortunately, Richie became ill as a result of an infection after only three rounds (a draw and a loss to Romanishin and a loss to Miton). At first his games were merely postponed a day but as his health failed to improve, he was forced to drop out altogether to be recover at home. We are happy to hear that he has since made a full recovery.

The remaining players, as agreed between themselves and the organizer rearranged the tournament as a rapid round robin, with Miton emerging as the winner, followed by Romanishin and Lafuente.  

Kamil Miton

Polish GM Kamil Miton, comes from a village near Krakow. He has been a member of the Polish Olympiad team for many years. His professional chess life takes him away more often than he would like and he misses his young family. Having left home a three-year-old boy and another one on its way very shortly - he was looking forward to joining them, all the better with his first prize. 

Oleg Romanishin

The stalwart Ukrainian, during his successful chess career in the Soviet era, included most of the elite players, such as Tal, Stein, Smyslov, Petrosian, Spassky, Karpov and Beliavsky, as both his opponents and friends. With his deep chess experience and knowledge, it was interesting to hear his opinions about the FIDE presidential race. He believes that the change within the FIDE organisation has long been overdue and supports Karpov as president to make the difference. Still actively globetrotting at tournaments, he came straight to Hévíz from the 1st International Roseto tournament in Italy where he had just taken first place. 

Argentinean GM Pablo Lafuente

The cheerful young Argentinean GM Pablo Lafuente made it to Hévíz after a tour of tournaments in India: the Parsvnath Commonwealth Chess Championship in New Delhi and the 2nd International SCS Grandmaster Chess tournament in Bhubaneswar, scoring 8/11 in each. He won the Pan-American under-20 in Equador in 2004 and acquired his GM title the same year. Since 2008 Pablo has been living in Barcelona, Spain where he was appointed coach at the Spanish Youth Championship, took place in Linares throughout July. 

In the GM tournament no one scored the required 8.0/10, necessary for a GM norm.  

IM Albert Bokros

IM Albert Bokros (HUN, 2486), won the GM tournament with 6.0/9. Other participants in the GM group include:

GM Zoltan Varga (HUN, 2479), 5.0/9

GM Attila Czebe (HUN, 2480), 5.0/9

IM Imre Balog (HUN, 2494), 4.0/9

IM William Paschal (USA, 2397), 3.5/9

WGM Kruttika Nadig and mother 

WGM Kruttika Nadig (IND, 2236), 3.5/9 and her mother Devika, have filled their summer with European tournaments. From all over India, Kruttika’s Hévíz tournament came between a First Saturday in Budapest and the Paris Championship. 

Bence Szabo

Fifteen-year-old Bence Szabo (HUN, 2316) won the IM tournament. Bence is marching towards his final IM norm, however he came up short in Hévíz, as his winning 6.5/9 was still just half a point shy. In the IM section there were also:

FM Heimo Titz (AUT, 2243), 4.5/9, IM Viktor Ianov (UKR, 2375), 3.5/9
and IM Satea Husari (SYR, 2334), 4.5/9.


Tamasz Banusz

IM Tamas Banusz (HUN, 2524), chose to play in the Open A tournament because he believed there would be enough foreign GMs to allow him to secure his potentially final GM norm should he make the required 7 points. Unfortunately, while he did make the number of points and won 1st place and the prize money, his GM norm eluded him because due to the lack of just one more foreign player among his opponents. Closely behind followed:

IM Laszlo Gonda (HUN, 2512), second, 6.5/9, with his girlfriend, WFM Sarolta Toth (2195)
on 3.5/9. Laszlo’s GM title is due to be confirmed officially at the next FIDE congress. 

GM Peter Prohaszka (2510), a young promising talent of
Hungarian chess shared second with 6.5/9.

GM Vladimir Sergeev

GM Vladimir Sergeev (UKR, 2473), was also in the group of three sharing second place with 6.5/9, and was also the recipient of a special prize for best foreign player: a full board weekend at the 4-star Palace Hotel in Hévíz.

WIM Ellen Hagesaether (NOR, 2269), 5.0/9 and her boyfriend Alf Andersen (NOR, 2173), 6.0/9.

Ellen, a softly spoken, intelligent person, is head over heels for Alf, and is prepared to forgo her participation at the Chess Olympiad representing the Norwegian women’s team, because she is determined to participate only at tournaments where her beloved is eligible to play. However, Alf’s rapid progress – he came in shared third with 6.0/9, immediately behind the titled players – he is likely to catch up with his more chess-experienced girlfriend. They both come from Norway, but recently Ellen relocated to Denmark where he took up a lecturing position in pharmaceutical studies. They frequently spend weekends or longer periods together when they reserve time for rigorous chess training.

Christof Jansen (LUX, 2264), 4.5/9

Maya Porat (2182), 4.5/9 (A) and younger sister, Hen (1785), 5.0/9 (B).

The Porat sisters from Israel and other members of their famous chess family have been regular guests at the Balaton tournaments. Before coming to Hévíz they had already played at the Roseto tournament in Italy, and after Hévíz were off to the Czech Republic to complete their summer European chess tour.

IM Endre Vegh

IM Endre Vegh (HUN, 2266), who ended on 4.5/9, started what was considered a promising chess career in his youth but slowed down his chess activity over a long period of time. He is now seriously attempting to make a steady comeback. In his heyday, he enjoyed a spell as Topalov’s second, which included two Dortmund super tournaments – in 2001, when Topalov shared first with Kramnik, and in 2002 when he seconded Topalov along with Van Wely.

He has applied his ability for chess analysis in making his own DVD’s of important games and tournaments as well as specific openings, which players find very helpful. Even Rybka’s author, Vasik Rajlich, has made use of Vegh’s work and consulted his analysed version of the Sicilian Dragon.

Unpublished book by Bobby Fischer

In a recent meeting, Endre revealed a secret that he now wants to make known. He is in possession of an unpublished book by Bobby Fischer. What Endre hopes to be a ‘gold pot’ is a 60-page booklet in CD format. During his years spent in Budapest, one evening Fischer invited Endre to dinner. Fischer happened to be in a particularly good mood and presented his surprised diner with a CD containing unpublished material intended for a book. The ‘book’ had the supposed working title: ‘A Tale of Two Separate Forgeries and Certain Related Matters’ – by Bobby Fischer, World Chess Champion, April 7, 1997. In it, Fischer accuses various publishers of his books for deliberately changing his words and statements and provides numerous examples. In most cases, these are innocent editorial interventions but he insists on the precise use of his original words. This was also a period when Fischer was heavily incensed by the ‘Jewish cause’ and the book is lacerated throughout with illogical mutterings on this theme. However, it also contains heartbreaking confessions about the publishers and the media at large having banked on his name and writings without ever properly rewarding him. (Ex: he questions the legality of his name being used in the movie ‘Searching for Bobby Fischer’ for which he had ‘not received a penny’.) This is just a brief summary that I could collect after a furtive glance in the content of the CD. Endre Vegh can vouch for the originality of this material. Endre would like to make this CD available, for a fee, to collectors and other parties interested in Fischer’s archives.  

An Englishman and a Welshman.

Terry Chapman (ENG, 2219), 5.5/9 and Tim Kett (WLS, 2223), 4.5/9 combined the chess playing with a family holiday and cycling.

12-year-old Andras Dankhazi 

12 -year-old Andras Dankhazi (HUN, 2049) was the youngest in the Open A group. From the end of the starting list, he fought bravely and left behind him much higher rated opponents, ending on 3.5/9.

Kalman Horvath

Csaba Novaky

The first two places in the B tournament were won by Hungarian players, Kalman Horvath (2000), 7.5/9 and Csaba Novaky (2069), 6.5/9, followed by the Swede Ulf Wallgren (2063), 6.5/9.

Gusztav Lang

Gusztav Lang (SWE, 1778) is a Swedish player of Hungarian origin whose family comes from the surroundings of Hévíz. Apart from enjoying a trip ‘back to his roots’,  he did also well at the tournament scoring 5.5/9. Gusztav incited a number of his Swedish chess club co-members to join him at the Hévíz tournament. 

Swedish players (from left) Klas Berggren, 3.0/9 (B), Petter Lindborg (2126), 4.5/9 (A),
Gunnar Johansson (2225), 5.0/9 (A) and Ulf Wallgren (2063), 6.5/9 (B).

The Swedes above are members of the Stockholm chess club ‘Solna’ that made it to the Swedish First Division. This was their first visit to a tournament in Hungary and they found their experience highly enjoyable and successful, particularly Ulf who came in third place in the B group.

Mate Egresi (HUN, 1808), at 11 years of age was the youngest
participant in the B group. He made a solid result, scoring 5.0/9.

14 year old Kristof Egresi (HUN, 1651) beaming after receiving
his prize for best result under 1700 Elo, 4.5/9.

The Hévíz templum (church)

Nestled in the lake district in central Hungary, 20 km from Lake Balaton, Hévíz is a small town with about 4500 inhabitants, but its population multiplies exponentially thanks to visitors, since the middle ages, attracted by the medicinal thermal waters. This ‘tourist season’ lasts the entire year. The word Hévíz means "flowing, warm spring" in archaic Hungarian. (‘viz’ = water in modern Hungarian). The town abounds with parks, green belts and forests, but its main accolade are the thermal baths that are found in especially designed hotel complexes that make Hévíz ‘a town of health’, where many physiotherapeutic treatments were applied for the first time, like the so-called weight-bath, which is now used all over the world. 

Lake Hévíz, 32° C. average in the Summer, and never below 25° C. in the Winter.

The main attraction is  the lake – a world geologic phenomena: it is the largest, biologically active thermal lake (47,500 sq metres) with a peat-bed, unlike other warm-water lakes in the world that are formed with either a clay soil or a rocky bed. The lake is fed by a spring rushing up at a depth of 38 m that delivers an average of 26,000 litres of water a minute, meaning that the entire lake is replenished every 72 hours. The average temperature of the lake is 32C in the Summer and never drops below 25C in the Winter. The naturally carbonated medicinal water is enriched with sulphur, calcium, magnesium, hydrogen-carbonate, radium and minerals. The bottom of the lake is covered in a highly curative mud, about 1 meter deep, which has a high concentration of “oestrogenous” substances, especially suited for mud packs. The Hévíz mud, which is unique of its kind, contains both organic and inorganic substances and the radium-salts and reduced sulphuric solutions in it contain special medicinal properties.

Bathers swim amidst the lake’s other natural botanical inhabitants.

The most beautiful among them, the water lily, has become Hévíz’s symbol, and has been incorporated into the coat of arms and the town’s flag. The water lilies’ large leaves slow down the lake’s evaporation, while the creepers at the lake’s bottom protect the medicinal mud containing radium. The swinging water lilies and the green leaves of the trees on the edges soothe the nervous system and contribute to the psychic recovery. 

Most players stayed in either the three-star Aquamarine hotel and the four-star Palace hotel, as well as in well-appointed private accommodations.  

On occasion, guests in the Palace Hotel’s lobby were greeted with impromptu
performances like this lovely trio of local schoolchildren rendering Hungarian folk
music on traditional instruments: the koboz (lute), an ancient Hungarian minstrel
instrument of Central Asian origin, the sípok (shepherd’s pipe) and the gitár.

…and colourful dancers and singers with their teacher.

Both hotels offered reasonably priced half-board arrangements and excellent facilities including swimming pools and warm, mineral spas for their guests’ free use. If only chess players could always take advantage of such perks in the usually picturesque chess venues!

Diana Mihajlova & GM Pablo Lafuente (Photo: IM Gabor Pirisi)

I was often in the company of GMs Pablo Lafuente and Kamil Miton during meals at the Aquamarine Hotel. One morning when I came straight from an early swim in the hotel’s swimming pool and a good soak in the thermal baths, my chesswise companions were astounded to discover, well into the second half of the tournament, that our hotel offered its guests a large, open swimming pool and thermal spas. How could they know, with all their 2600+ Elo and all their time consumed with chess play and analysis? Not to mention that the World Football Cup was full on. Concerned about my charming friends’ well-being I advised they at least take a dip in the famous thermal lake, to which Pablo enquired: ‘But is it not somewhere far away?’ Kamil equally wondered. To think, everyday they passed by the lake’s main entrance, which was just across a bed of flowers opposite the playing venue’s entrance! Ah, the tribulations of chess players!


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