Ni Hua wins Reggio Emilia 2008/2009 with 1½ points

1/7/2009 – Last year Zoltan Almasi or Hungary took first place in the traditional Italian tournament, scoring half a point more than Ni Hua. This year the Chinese grandmaster came to the event with a 69-point higher rating, while Almasi had dropped by 28 points. The result: Ni Hua took first place with 7.5/9 and a 2840 performance, while Almasi came a distant second with 6.0/9. Illustrated report.

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    51st Torneo di Capodanno in Reggio Emilia, Italy

The 51st Reggio Emilia Tournament took place from December 27th 2008 to January 4th 2009. Our Italian Playchess Sysop Andrea Natoli tells us about the history of the tournament:

One cannot help wondering if a tournament’s longevity has anything at all to do with New Year’s Day, since the only yearly tournament that can boast a longer tradition is Hastings, which is played exactly in the same period. The Reggio Emilia Tournament was first conceived by GM Enrico Paoli, who at the end of the Fifties decided to create an event that could evoke the glories of tournaments past like San Remo 1930 or Venice 1949.


Enrico Paoli in the early days of Reggio Emilia

While the tournament rapidly established itself as a stronghold of Italian chess, it was only during the Seventies that it really came to the attention of the International chess community. It started to grow at a faster pace and by end of the Eighties, under the auspices of main sponsor Banco di San Geminiano e Prospero, it was already one of the leading events in the world. No wonder that in only few years it was to stage one of the strongest events ever: the famous “Six-World Champions event” that saw Anand’s fabulous win ahead of Kasparov and Karpov (with Botvinnik, Spasskij, Smyslov and Tal as guests of honour). In retrospect, one could well say that Reggio Emilia 1991/92 was a convention of Seven World Champions...

After this peak, the tournament suffered somewhat of an implosion and was able to survive only by virtue of Enrico Paoli’s strong will and charisma. When Paoli prematurely passed away, aged just 97, members of the local club led by Giuseppe Ferraroni carried on the tradition. After years of stagnation, the occasion of the Jubilee edition gave new impulse to the Reggio Emilia club, that doubled its fundraising and organisation efforts. Mr. Yuri Garrett was introduced as a new member of the team and asked to become the Technical Director of the 50th Torneo di Capodanno.

The event designed by Garrett was a hard fought Cat. XVI that ended in a clear win by Hungarian GM Zoltan Almasi, half a point ahead of three excellent young players, Gashimov, Ni Hua and Harikrishna. In view of the exceptionally high level of the chess played, GM Mihail Marin and Yuri Garrett decided to co-author a tournament book that also collects annotations from all other players (Landa, Godena, Korchnoj, Navara, Tivjakov and the selfsame Marin). The book, already quite a success in the Italian language, is due to be translated in English by Quality Chess in 2009, a rare event for Italian chess books.


Reggio a year ago: the winner is Zoltan Almasi

On the wings of this success, the Reggio Emilia people doubled the effort for this 51st edition and, for the first time in years and with the contribution of many volunteers, put up two round robin events, a Cat. XIV and a cat. V. Both tournaments were played in the Hotel Astoria, just footsteps away from the city centre. this time the winner was Ni Hua, who scored 7.5/9, a point and a half more than the second-placed Zoltan Almasi.


This year: same sofa, different player, different notebook: Ni Hua

The final standings of this year's event (a link to the games is at the end of this report)

For your information: the final standing of last year's edition


Zoltan Almasi, 2663 vs Alexey Dreev, 2670 in round five (Dreev won in 96 moves)


Alexei Dreev, 2670, vs Mihail Marin, 2556 in round six (Marin won in 62 moves)


Luca Shytaj, 2472, vs Ni Hua, 2710 in round seven. Ni Hua won in 33 moves


Manuel Leon Hoyos, Mexico, vs Miso Cebalo, Coratia in round eight (draw)


Mihail Marin, Romania vs Jan Gustafsson in round eight: 1-0 in 40 moves


Decisive game Ni Hua vs Almasi in round eight: Black won in 41 moves

All photos provided by Giorgio Gozzi

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