Monastir – the chess hub of Tunisia (Part 2)

by Diana Mihajlova
9/23/2014 – It is one of the most active chess nations on the African continent, and the game has an important place in the cultural and sport activities of the country. In the recent GM and IM tournaments in Monastir we encounter players who are not so well known on the European circuit, but who play a leading role in the Magreb chess scene. Diana Mihajlova reports on a beautiful chess festival in Tunisia.

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Monastir – the chess hub of Tunisia (Part 2)

By Diana Mihajlova

In our first report we told you about the GM and IM Mohamed Slama round robin tournaments. The closing of this very successful festival was marked with yet another party with folk music and generous offerings of drinks and food for all participants and guests.

Folk music with a variety of typical drums and tambourines

Show time – on the stage

Girly joy and claps during the relaxed closing celebrations

The prize fund of $10,000, provided by the official tournament sponsor Slama Brothers Group, was distributed to winners from six competitions: four Opens, a Youth U-12 and a Blitz tournament.

The Belarus GM Kirill Stupak, rated 2524, won the main event with 6.5/9 points, edging out GM Mohamed Haddouche (ALG) on a superior tie-break. Above we see the President of the Tunisian Chess Federation Yousri Dali; Ridha Slama, Mohamed Slama’s son and main sponsor of the Festival; GM Kiril Stupak; IA Mohamed Ali Baktache, guest of honour; Chahereddine Miladi, the tournament’s co-director.

Top final standings (after nine rounds)

Rg. Sd Title Name FED ELO Pts.  TB
1 3 GM Stupak Kirill BLR 2524 6.5 38.0
2 4 GM Haddouche Mohamed ALG 2515 6.5 37.5
3 1 GM Kuljasevic Davorin CRO 2550 6.0 35.0
4 2 GM Rizouk Aimen ALG 2527 6.0 38.0
5 6 GM Czebe Attila HUN 2434 5.5 36.0
6 17 FM Lauridsen Jesper DEN 2261 5.5 34.5
7 8 IM Ibrahim Hatim EGY 2348 5.5 32.5
8 11 WGM Videnova Iva BUL 2337 5.5 38.5
9 5 IM Ezat Mohamed EGY 2469 5.5 35.5
10 15 FM Zaibi Amir TUN 2287 5.0 34.0
11 7 IM Kohlweyer Bernd GER 2409 5.0 40.5
12 21 FM El Jawich Amro LIB 2212 5.0 33.5
13 13 IM Sarwat Walaa EGY 2313 4.5 35.0
14 20   Bouzidi Ahmed TUN 2225 4.5 33.0
15 18 WIM Varga Klara HUN 2234 4.5 30.0
16 28   Hergli Amir TUN 2114 4.5 28.5
17 12 FM Amdouni Zoubaier TUN 2317 4.5 27.5
18 9 IM Pavlov Mircea ROU 2346 4.5 28.5
19 23 CM Abbes Ali TUN 2193 4.0 33.0
20 16 IM Ameir Moheb EGY 2275 4.0 28.5
21 30 WIM Mezioud Amina ALG 2061 4.0 27.5
22 27   Meddeb Anis TUN 2126 4.0 25.0

GM Mohamed Haddouche, second place in the A group;
and GM Aimen Rizouk, shared third, together with young compatriots

Top seed GM Davorin Kuljasevic of Croatia, rated 2550, equal third with 6.0/9

Algerian WIM Sabrina Latreche took Silver in the Open B

Youth Champion Jihed Majdoub from Tunisia

The Mohamed Slama tournament gives a special place to senior players. Initially, a separate senior tournament was planned, but eventually the many senior players were integrated among the Opens and allocated special prizes.

IM Mircea Pavlov, 65, from Romania, Champion of the Veteran Open A with 4.5/9

Tunisian Malki Mounir participates to all tournaments in his country

Old friends and colleagues: Tunisian IA Mohamed Ali Baktache (middle), flanked by his
colleagues Mounir Cherrad (left) and IA Adnane Nesla from the neighbouring Algeria

Najla Krifa and Matoussi Amani from Tunisia

Nisrine Baktach of Tunesia

Nassila Oussedik, Sabrina Latreche and Asma Yahiaoui from Algeria

Local boy, CM Ali Abbes

FM Amir Zaibi of Tunesia

WGM Iva Videnova of Bulgaria won the best woman prize and achieved her final IM norm

WIM Klara Varga of Hungary

IM Arnaud Payen of France

FM Zoubaier Amdouni (left) and Houcem Meftahi, the Tunisian Junior Champion

GM Kiril Stupak’s open-air simultaneous exhibition pulled large crowds

The organiser included a free day in the program to allow participants to visit important historic sites in the vicinity of Monastir, like Kairouan, the Islamic Cultural Capital, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and El Jem, the ancient Roman city, home to the world famous Roman Amphitheatre of Thysdrus. Built between 230 and 238, the amphitheatre is only slightly smaller than the Coliseum in Rome, but much better preserved.

The Roman Amphitheatre in El Jem (photo: Iva Videnova)

Kairouan, founded in 670, was the most important city before Tunis took over as a political capital, but it remained the Maghreb’s principal holy city. Its most important architectural sites are the Great Mosque, with marble and porphyry columns and the Mosque of the Three Gates (9th-century).

The Great Mosque of Kairouan (photo: Iva Videnova)

The Mosque of the Three Gates (photo: Iva Videnova)

Camels and driver strolling along the sea

WGM Iva Videnova and GM Davorin Kuljasevic in a typical Tunisian interior with a tobacco
instrument known under different names like shisha, hookah, narghile or waterpipe

After this successful tournament, the city of Monastir is already busy with work again – from 20-28th December, 2014 it will host the African Youth Chess Championship.

A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.


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