Elo average of the top ten at Gibraltar Masters is 2758!

by Sagar Shah
1/24/2017 – One of the most exciting open events in the world of chess is back: The Gibraltar Masters 2017. With 248 players from 53 countries in the Masters section, 71 of them being grandmasters, this is an extremely strong tournament. Eight players are the favourites to win the tournament. They include Caruana, MVL, Nakamura, Ivanchuk, Adams, Topalov, Svidler and Gelfand. Here, you can find all the action from the opening ceremony, as well as the live commentary and games embed to follow when the round begins at 15.00h Gibraltar time.

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Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival 2017

The Tradewise Gibraltar Open is one of the strongest and best-organised events of its kind in the world. Anyone who knows the moves (and pays the entry fee) can take part, and perhaps face top participants like Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave or Hikaru Nakamura. The tournament lasts from January 23 (opening) to February 4. The location is very balmy: ten hours of daylight, average day temperature 16° C, warm sea temperatures, beautiful scenery. Paradise!

Live video commentary of round one (15.00h onwards)


Top participants in the Masters

Fabiano Caruana - 2827 [USA], Maxime Vachier-Lagrave - 2796 [FRA], Hikaru Nakamura - 2785 [USA], Vassily Ivanchuk - 2752 [Ukraine], Michael Adams - 2751 [England], Peter Svidler - 2748 [Russia], Veselin Topalov - 2739 [Bulgaria], Boris Gelfand - 2721 [Israel], Hou Yifan - 2651 [China].

Starting rank

No. Name Rtg
1 Caruana Fabiano 2827
2 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2796
3 Nakamura Hikaru 2785
4 Ivanchuk Vassily 2752
5 Adams Michael 2751
6 Svidler Peter 2748
7 Topalov Veselin 2739
8 Yu Yangyi 2738
9 Vitiugov Nikita 2724
10 Gelfand Boris 2721

The complete starting list

A super-tournament in the form of Tata Steel Chess is currently in progress at Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands. An open Swiss tournament can hardly be called as a super tournament. However, if you were to take the top ten seeds of the Gibraltar Masters 2017, it would be as strong as an elite round-robin event! The average rating of the top ten seeds is a whopping 2758! 

The most interesting part here is that just about any player has a chance of winning the tournament. Out of the top ten eight players have played in the Candidates at some point in their life. The top group can clearly be broken up into two sections: Youth vs Experience. Fabiano Caruana, MVL and Hikaru Nakamura are the favourites thanks to their youth and higher energy levels. When it comes to experience we have Vassily Ivanchuk, Michael Adams, Peter Svidler, Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand. We only need to remember the Qatar Masters Open to know what Yu Yangyi is capable of. The Chinese player finished first in 2014 and joint first with Magnus Carlsen ins 2015. Few more players who will add glamour to this event are the Latvian Igor Kovalenko, the evergreen Nigel Short, the strongest female player in the world Hou Yifan and the aggressive and imaginative Emil Sutovsky.

There all in all 248 participants from 53 different countries. 172 players are titled! A massive 71 grandmasters with 32 being above 2600. Interspersed with high quality chess would be different events like team blitz of four, team blitz of two, master classes with top players and the most awaited "Battle of Sexes."

Pictorial impressions before the start of the event

Photos by John Saunders

The Rock of Gibraltar. Most of the Rock's upper area is covered by a nature reserve, which is home to around 300 Barbary macaques. These macaques attract a large number of tourists each year.

Boris Gelfand having a nice time on his first visit to Gibraltar!

Boris and Ju Wenjun gave a tandem simul of 20 boards on 22nd of January. The score was 18 wins and two draws out of the twenty. One particularly interesting game was the following:

[Event "Tradewise Gibraltar Simul"] [Site "Gibraltar"] [Date "2017.01.22"] [Round "?"] [White "Gelfand + Ju Wenjun"] [Black "NN"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E97"] [Annotator "Sagar,Shah"] [PlyCount "37"] [EventDate "2017.01.22"] [EventType "simul"] [EventCountry "GGB"] [SourceDate "2017.01.22"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. Be3 Nc6 8. O-O Nh5 9. d5 Ne7 10. c5 a6 11. Nd2 Nf4 12. Nc4 dxc5 13. Bxc5 b6 14. Ba3 b5 15. Na5 Re8 16. Bf3 Bd7 17. Bc5 Kh8 18. b4 Rc8 19. Nb7 {Smothering the queen! That's pretty special!} 1-0

GM Raymond Keene spoke about the 1978 Baguio Match between Karpov and Korchnoi. He was the perfect person to speak on this subject as he had been Korchnoi's second at the event!

The opening ceremony was hosted by Stuart Conquest with Miss Gibraltar Kayley Mifsud

The Scottish Pipers livened up the atmosphere!

The top seed Fabiano Caruana has the white pieces in round one


Maxime has been having some rough results lately. He would be looking to flex his Najdorf muscles in this open tournament!

Hikaru Nakamura was in good spirits at the opening ceremony

After what he did at the World Rapid and Blitz (beating Carlsen 2-0), I would definitely say Ivanchuk is a favourite to win at the Gibraltar Masters

Michael Adams playing style is so solid that he is always one of the favourites to finish at the top

Chess fans nowadays prefer Peter Svidler to explain to them the nuances of the Berlin through his excellent commentary, but I guess watching him in action wouldn't be any less exciting!

Tania Sachdev is in Gibraltar and she will be the host for the "Play of the day". Here's an example of the Play of the day from round ten:

Pairings of Round 1 on 2017/01/24 at 15.00

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Caruana Fabiano 0   0 Rakesh Kumar Jena
Sodoma Jan 0   0 Vachier-Lagrave Maxime
Nakamura Hikaru 0   0 Gulamali Kazim
Papp Petra 0   0 Ivanchuk Vassily
Adams Michael 0   0 Vuilleumier Alexandre
Bellon Lopez Juan Manuel 0   0 Svidler Peter
Topalov Veselin 0   0 Paehtz Thomas
Sahl Bjarke 0   0 Yu Yangyi
Vitiugov Nikita 0   0 Siva Mahadevan
Bellin Robert 0   0 Gelfand Boris


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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