Where the weather is mild and the chess is great

7/20/2006 – With Europe suffering under one of the most severe heat waves in recent memory, our thoughts turn naturally to balmier places, where, we are told, "cooling trade winds blow constantly from the east," and it rains mostly at night. If you are quick you just have enough time to catch the Curaçao Chess Festival 2006, which begins on Saturday.

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Europe feeling the heat


Temperatures in Europe have been swealtering all week [source Wonderground]


Satellite picture of an almost cloudless Europe


The Curaçao Chess Festival 2006

By Rob Vlaardingerbroek


The weather today in Curaçao

Curaçao is an island located in the tropics, just 12° north of the Equator. It has a warm, sunny climate all year, with average temperatures hovering around 27°C (mid 80s F). Cooling trade winds blow constantly from the east, picking up in the spring months. The rainy season, which is between October and February, is usually marked by short, occasional showers, mostly at night, and continued sunny weather by day. Total annual rainfall averages only 570 mm (22 inches). Additionally, Curaçao is located on the outer fringes of the hurricane belt. Consequently, the frequency of hits by tropical storms is much lower than for other parts of the Caribbean. Add to this the Breezes Resort, with it's own 1500 feet of private white sandy beach and crystal clear waters and the Casino Curaçao and one has the ideal place to play chess.

And that is what will happen from the 22nd till the 30th of July at the Curaçao Chess Festival 2006. The expectations for this tournament are high since there are many known international players participating. The participating players:

GM J. Ehlvest (EST)   Andre Duyvenstein ((NED)   O. Cuellar (Curaçao)
GM A.Shabalov (USA)   U. Lopez (Aruba)   Q. Richardson (Curaçao)
WGM R. Goletiani (USA)   J. Lopez (Aruba)   N. Zalm (Curaçao)
WGM A. Zatonskih (USA)   R. Tromp (Aruba)   V. Martis (Curaçao)
WGM J.  Shahade (USA)   O. Croes (Aruba)   F. Mensing (Curaçao)
GM J. Werle (NED)   C. Soto (Aruba)   E. Tjong A Hung (Curaçao)
FM R. Ris (NED)   A. Dujvensteijn (NED)   Sh. Paricharak (Curaçao)
WFM H. Itkis (USA)   M. v Woerden (NED)   M. Amori (USA)
GM G. Sagalchik (USA)   B. de Jong (NED)   R. Holder  (BAR)
FM Michael Shahade (USA)   A. Hernandez (VEN)   H. Schut  (NED)
WFM Olga Sagalchik (USA)   Henry Olynik (USA)   D. Schut  (NED)
G.Meijer  (Curaçao)   Erik Moskow (USA)   HL. Schut (NED)
A. Roose (Curaçao)   Bernhard Bannink (NED)   F. Vreugdenhil (NED)
Sherman Maduro (Curaçao)   Martin Chang (CUB)   J. van Gorp (NED)
D. Jones (TRI)   B. Ten Kuile (NED)   F. Wagenaar (NED)
Rafael Vasquez (VEN)   Bryan Billiosa (Curaçao)   S. Pop (Bonaire)

The schedule: (times in local time which is UTC minus 04:00):

Round 1  July 22 15.00
Round 2  July 23 10.00
Round 3  July 23 18.00
Round 4  July 24 15.00
Free day  July 25
Round 5  July 26 15.00
Round 6  July 27 15.00
Round 7  July 28 15.00
Round 8  July 29 15.00
Round 9  July 30 11.00

And maybe sitting at the bar in the evening with a cold drink, some players will think back to that other event that took place 44 years ago in Curaçao, the 1962 Candidates’ Tournament. One of the fiercest chess battles of all time. At the height of the Cold War, eight players contested the right to challenge World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik. The format of the tournament was a gruelling quadruple round-robin.


Bobby Fischer playing Viktor Kortchnoi in the 1962 Candidates Tournament

Twenty-eight games were to be played on the tropical island, in a contest that lasted two months. One of the favourites, the brilliant Mikhail Tal, was taken to hospital after 21 rounds and had to withdraw. Three other players from the Soviet Union, Keres, Petrosian, and Geller, were making suspiciously short draws when playing each other. And one of the favourites was a lanky 19-year-old boy from Brooklyn, Bobby Fischer, who openly accused the Soviets of collusion and was later proven right.


Fischer vs Keres in round 7 of the Candidates Tournament 1962 in Curacao.

In the end, Tigran Petrosian was the winner and went on to become the new World Champion the following year. But such was the impact of Fischer’s accusations that this was the last time such a battle was organised. Henceforth the challenger to the highest crown was determined in a series of matches. Curaçao 1962 was the last Candidates’ Tournament. (Source: Curaçao 1962, The Battle of Minds that Shook the Chess World by Jan Timman. A book published 06-2005, Bijleveld Press).

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