Odessa City Chess Birthday Celebrations

9/14/2010 – The city was founded 216 years ago, and commemorated this with annually with a colorful birthday spectacular. Since it is Ukraine chess plays a prominent role, and this year again there were simuls, a living chess match and many other activities around the nation's favourite passtime. A lot of prominence was present, as you will see in this beautiful pictorial report by GM Mikhail Golubev.

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Odessa City Chess Birthday Celebrations

By GM Mikhail Golubev

For the fifth straight year chess events were included in the programme of the celebrations of the Odessa City birthday. Its predecessor, a small Tatar settlement, was founded in 1240. After a period of Lithuanian control it passed into the domain of the Ottoman Sultan in 1529 and remained in Ottoman hands until the Empire's defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1792. The city of Odessa was founded by a decree of the Empress Catherine the Great on September 2, 1794.


Odessa is a major seaport located in southern Ukraine, on the northwest shore of the Black Sea.
It is the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of one million [Click to view on larger map]


On September 2nd 2010 celebrations started with the traditional (fifth)
Soborka People's Blitz Cup near Vorontsov Palace.


Players and spectators during qualifier, in which there were 112 participants


No age limit, no constraints on the size or shape of the chess boards and pieces

The tournament won by GM Andrey Sumets who defeated IM Sergey Zavgorodniy in the final with a score 2-1. I myself took fourth place.


Big cakes at the prize-giving ceremony

The blitz was followed by the mega-simul on more than 200 boards, given by Nona Gaprindashvili, Genna Sosonko and the Odessa players Vladimir Tukmakov, Viacheslav Eingorn, Stanislav Savchenko, Andrey Sumets, Natalia Zhukova, Masha Klinova, Volodymyr Eryomenko, IM Stanislav Bogdanovich and myself.


Vladimir Tukmakov in action in the simultaneous action


Dutch GM Gennadi Sosonko, originally hailing from southern Russia


Former Women's World Champion Nona Gaprindashvili from Georgia


GM Andrey Sumets, 30, whom you can visit on his Facebook page


GM Vereslav Eingorn, born in Odessa – his name translates to Unicorn ("Einhorn")


No age restrictions in the simul – and no mercy either. The
amateurs achieved 26 draws and no wins this time.


After the simuls a drum band prepares the spectators for a special display


A living chess game between GMs Nona Gaprindashvili and Natalia Zhukova


Vladimir Tukmakov relays the moves between Gaprindashvili (left) and Zhukova


The game is under way, Tukmakov dictates the moves, the living pieces follow


The game is over, it ended in a draw


Afterwards a little triumph dance with all the pieces on the board


Great work: Mayor Eduard Gurvits congratulates event producer Mikhail Freidlin,
head of the Odessa development agency


Two famous figures in chess: Nona Gaprindashvili and Vladimir Tukmakov

Also present at the Odessa celebrations: Arkady Dvorkovich (middle, dark jacket), the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Russian federation, who spent a few hours in the town and was very impressed with everything.


The next day Mayor Eduard Gurvits opens a new event: "Great Games of Great People"


The even opened with a symbolic game between the Mayor and Nona Gaprindashvili (1.e4 e5 draw)


Movie director Stanislav Govorukhin, who once run for the presidency in Russia, and
the organiser of the film festival Kinotavr, Mark Rudinstein, play an informal game

Other prominent guests: actor Emmanuil Vitorgan, pianist Alexey Botvinov, "What? Where? When?" TV gameshow champion Boris Burda, talk show star Alexander G. Gordon and many others.

GM Andrey Sumets and Stanislav Govorukhin vs Odessa politician Vitaly Litvak and GM Mikhail Golubev play a tandem match: moves are made alternately, and hints are forbidden. I noticed that Stanislav Govorukhin was quite a strong hobby player. As it happened, all four players made serious mistakes in this game.

S. Govorukhin + GM Sumets vs V.Litvak + GM Golubev
Odessa, 3 September, Sicilian Defence B94
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Be2 g6 8. Qd2 Bg7 9. O-O-O h6 10. Bh4 Nc5 11. f3 O-O 12. g4 e5? 13. Nb3 Qc7?! (13... Nfxe4? 14. Bxd8 Nxd2 15. Nxc5 Rxd8 16. Rxd2) 14. Qxd6 Nxb3+ 15. cxb3 Qxd6 16. Rxd6 Be6 17. Rhd1 Rac8 18. Bc4 Bxc4 19. Bxf6? Bxf6 20. Rxf6? Be6 21. Kb1 Kg7 22. Rxe6 fxe6 23. Rd3 Rcd8 24. Re3 Rd2 25. Ne2 Rd1+ 26. Kc2 Rf1 27. f4 exf4 28. Rd3 Rf7 29. Nd4 f3 30. Nxe6+ Kh7 31. g5 f2 32. Rd8 h5? 33. Nf8+ Kg7 34. Ne6+ Kh7 35. Nf8+ Kg7 draw.

All events had a huge coverage in the local and Ukrainian media, with many TV reports, for example, such as this one from GNews:

Photos by Sergey Gevelyuk and Igor Polyakov

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