Sunway Sitges: A feel-good atmosphere in Catalonia

by Sebastian Siebrecht
12/19/2020 – If you want to play a chess tournament in December with sunshine, spring-like temperatures and a Mediterranean atmosphere, you will get this — and much more — at the Sunway Open in Sitges. Sebastian Siebrecht is having a good time! | Photos: Lennart Ootes

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Chess, football, tennis and sun

Plenty of over-the-board events are being organized in Spain currently. In addition to the tournaments in the Canary Islands, there have recently been some closed tournaments in Barcelona and within Catalonia.

The number of coronavirus-infected people are currently manageable and the authorities have given the green light for sporting events.

On the sun-filled terrace

A simultaneous exhibition with Antoaneta Stefanova

Now an interesting chess festival is taking place in the well-known seaside resort of Sitges, 36 km southwest of Barcelona. In the past, a summer tournament was organized in July, but for seven years now a festival has been organized just before Christmas.

Starting with 120 players in the first year, the tournament has grown to become a massive event in Spain, as last year it already counted with 450 participants. Due to the corona-related restrictions, it is much smaller this year, of course, but the organizers — headed by hotel owner Oskar Stöber, a Catalan with German roots — is full of ideas and enthusiasm to grant the participants a feel-good ambience that is simply unique and unparalleled in the tournament scene. 

Oskar Stöber

This year, the strong ‘A’ tournament counts with 26 grandmasters and many ambitious norm seekers, reaching a total of 138 players, while 93 participants have registered to play in the ‘B’ tournament. Moreover, numerous side events are taking place — up to three grandmaster conferences daily, workshops, blitz tournaments, simultaneous events, youth tournaments and women’s chess conferences.

Oleg Romanishin at work

In addition, there is a fantastic extra-curricular programme for all interested parties, whether sports-related with aqua gymnastics, football tournament, jogging, tennis and table tennis, or culinary, with cocktail workshops, wine tasting, tortilla workshop, sangria and tapas workshop, and much more.

Cocktails!

Tournament organizer Oskar Stöber wants the participants to feel at home and well taken care of. The VIP tournament room on the fifth floor is also unique, with a magnificent view of the sea and a wonderful atmosphere at sunset.

This is not only reserved for the top boards of the A-tournament, but also for the top boards of the B-tournament. They all sit in large armchairs with drinks served on a separate tea table — all drinks are free. There are also some special live boards reserved for hotel guests. Anyone can become a minor star here.

The tournament hall

The favourites to take home the first prize of EUR 5,000 are last year’s winner Anton Korobov from Ukraine, Bulgarian Ivan Cheparinov, Armenian Karen Grigoryan — who lives in Portugal, where he wins almost all the tournaments — and two young Frenchmen, Maxime Lagarde and Jules Moussard.

After 5 (out of 10) rounds, there is a sole leader in the standings table, Czech grandmaster Vojtech Plat, who has so far collected 4½ points with aplomb.

Vojtech Plat

A pack of 15 players with 4 out of 5 is breathing down his neck. Plat used Friday’s rest day for an excursion with his compatriots to the neighbouring metropolis of Barcelona. In general, the professionals are very fond of the culinary side programme and sporting activities.

The excellent webpage includes high-quality photographs by Lennart Ootes — as usual. The introductory video on the tournament page alone gives an idea of the atmosphere.

Chess-wise, it will be a tough fight. Many of the favourites have already lost ground, and your rapporteur is once again coaching his youth development programme and pushing the children to compete.

Enjoy the games in the replayer and the pictures in the gallery! Have fun.

Sebastian Siebrecht

Sebastian Siebrecht


Standings after Round 5 (top 20)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Plat Vojtech 4,5 13,5
2 Cheparinov Ivan 4,0 14,5
3 Santos Latasa Jaime 4,0 14,5
4 Moussard Jules 4,0 14,5
5 Checa Nicolas 4,0 14,0
6 Cornette Matthieu 4,0 14,0
7 Santos Ruiz Miguel 4,0 14,0
8 Asis Gargatagli Hipolito 4,0 13,5
9 Vasquez Schroeder Rodrigo 4,0 13,5
10 Stefanova Antoaneta 4,0 13,0
11 Niemann Hans Moke 4,0 13,0
12 Fier Alexandr 4,0 13,0
13 Narciso Dublan Marc 4,0 12,5
14 Batsiashvili Nino 4,0 12,5
15 Sochacki Christophe 4,0 12,0
16 Lopez Martinez Josep Manuel 4,0 11,0
17 Maurizzi Marc Andria 3,5 14,0
18 Bellahcene Bilel 3,5 14,0
19 Korobov Anton 3,5 13,5
20 Gines Esteo Pedro Antonio 3,5 13,5

...138 players


 

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Sebastian Siebrecht, born in 1973, has been playing chess since the age of 11 and received the grandmaster title in 2008. Besides his chess career, he founded an events agency and worked as a commentator, presenter, speaker, analyst and journalist. Furthermore, he was involved in primary school chess projects. In 2015 he was recognized as "Trainer of the Year" by the German Chess Federation.

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