Zalakaros Chess Festival 2010

by ChessBase
6/23/2010 – IM Tamas Horvath is the organiser of this impeccably run event, which takes place in a pretty little spa town in the Balaton lake region of Hungary, an oasis of peace and tranquility. The 2000 Euro first prize drew a large number of titled players: nine GMs, 22 IMs and 19 FMs, WGMs and WIMs. Young talents abound. You will see many new faces and this big pictorial report.

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Zalakaros Chess Festival 2010

The 29th edition of the Zalakaros Chess Festival took place from 26 May to 1 June 2010. An Open tournament that for years has been quietly gathering a few faithful followers, but has been little known to the larger chess audiences. Unjustly so, because Zalakaros, a pretty little spa town in the Balaton lake region of Hungary, is an oasis of peace and tranquillity, and the tournament itself is impeccably organised.

A charming little video of Zalakaros, with Hungarian commentary. Part two is here.

In the last couple of years, more and more foreign players got a whiff of the tournament, although it still remains mainly a Hungarian affair. However, the crop of Hungarian top players usually participate. This year the tournament offered them an additional incentive: the two highest placed, who would not be otherwise eligible, would gain an all-expenses-paid participation at the Hungarian Championship, which is taking place a month later, in Szeged, southern Hungary.

The 2000 Euro first prize is quite attractive and has drawn a large number of titled players. Of the 101 players in the A group there 50 were titled, with nine GMs, 22 IMs and 19 FMs, WGMs and WIMs.

XXIX Open A Zalakaros HUN 2010 – final standings

1 Fodor,T jr 2420 7.0
2 Berczes,D 2519 7.0
3 Erdos,V 2589 6.5
4 Gonda,L 2512 6.5
5 Groszpeter,A 2530 6.5
6 Sergeev,Vl 2473 6.5
7 Vajda,Le 2519 6.5
8 Banusz,T 2524 6.5
9 Medvegy,Z 2518 6.0
10 Prohaszka,P2 2510 6.0
11 Horvath,Ad1 2494 6.0
12 Szabo,Zso2 2418 6.0
13 Ovsejevitsch,S 2600 6.0
14 Csonka,A1 2385 6.0
15 Gergacz,A 2417 6.0
16 Csiszar,C 2417 6.0
17 Feher,Ad 2247 6.0
18 Meszaros,T 2434 6.0
19 Nemeth,Mi1 2468 5.5
20 Ianov,V 2375 5.5
21 Kernazhitsky,L 2354 5.5
22 Nagy,Ga1 2338 5.5
23 Kilgus,G 2365 5.5
24 Szabo,Ben 2316 5.5
25 Jamrich,G 2322 5.5
26 Tompa,J 2387 5.5
27 Berczes,C 2397 5.0
28 Csonka,B 2197 5.0
29 Vukovic,Ivo 2229 5.0
30 Szalanczy,E 2277 5.0
31 Zakharchenko,A 2209 5.0
32 Schneider,Ve 2339 5.0
33 Makk,R 2222 5.0
34 Racz,Z 2316 5.0
35 Radnai,A 2198 5.0
36 Borsos,B 2334 5.0
37 Takacs,B 2346 5.0
38 Vas,P SWE 2312 5.0
39 Pergel,L 2285 5.0
40 Vegh,E 2266 5.0
41 Horvath,Gy1 2367 5.0
42 Kincs,I 2259 5.0
43 Kovacs,Laj2 2197 5.0
44 Kozak,Mi 2184 5.0
45 Juhasz,Kr 2278 5.0


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Pictorial report from Zalakaros

By Diana Mihajlova

South African WGM Melissa Greeff (2047), on the bus from Budapest heading for Zalakaros to play at the traditional Chess Festival. It was a pleasant three-hour drive through the green, lake district of the Hungarian western plane.

Melissa Greeff, a talented 16-year-old, left this summer her native Cape Town in South Africa for a chess tour in Hungary. She is not new to Hungary, having played at the famous First Saturday tournaments in Budapest on several occasions. But this time she wanted to take on the Hungarian Open. She is determined to cross swords with as many GMs and IMs as possible, to ‘try them on’ and measure and improve her own skills. Playing at the higher A group of the Zalakaros Open tournament she could do exactly that. Obviously, it was not an easy ride, but Melissa managed a hefty 4/9 and the third women’s prize. After a week of training in Budapest with GM Jozsef Horvath, she will be off to the Heviz Open, which will conclude her Hungarian tour to serve her as a valuable preparation for the forthcoming Chess Olympiad, where she will be representing her country on the first board (women). Good luck Melissa!

GM Berczes David (HUN, 2519) narrowly missed the first place. With a 7/9 and 2623 performance he was placed second and will be heading to the Hungarian Championship as a beneficiary of the Hungarian Federation.

GM Viktor Erdos (HUN, 2589) was steadily keeping his position on the first table until the last round when he lost the lead and, with 6.5/9, had to contend with a third place.

With the 9th round draw GM Viktor Erdos (HUN) conceded the victory to FM Tamas Fodor (HUN)

A young, emerging Hungarian player, FM Tamas Fodor (2420), claimed victory in the tournament, with 7/9 and 2659 performance. He was a surprise winner, having climbed to the top from the middle of the starting list. Tamas is enjoying a fast advance in his career – in March of this year he won the Hungarian Championship under 20.

GM Laszlo Gonda (HUN, 2512) trailed closely behind, on the fourth place, with 6.5/9.

GM Levente Vajda (2519), hopped over from the neighbouring Romania and made 6.5/9.

IM Tamas Banusz (HUN, 2524), 6.5/9

GM Zoltan Medvegy (HUN, 2518), 6/9

GM Peter Prohaska (HUN, 2510), 6/9

GM Sergei Ovsejevitsch (UKR, 2600)

In a brief chat over breakfast in the hotel where we both stayed, Sergei told me that he comes from a small town on the Hungarian/Ukrainian border. In his youth he was a multiple winner of the Ukrainian National Youth Championships – today he manages to maintain chess as his profession. He plays more often at tournaments in Germany, and this was his first Zalakaros experience. At 2600 he was the highest seed. The 6/9 placed him among several others sharing the third place.

IM Gyozo Pataki (HUN, 2310), 5/9

IM Csaba Berczes (HUN, 2397) who is GM David Berczes’ brother, and Adam Radnai (HUN, 2198) at the start of the tournament, still in their cycling gear. By the end, they both emerged with 5/9, which for Adam means an increased Elo after a 2343 performance.

WIM Veronika Schneider (HUN, 2339), 5/9 and the first women’s prize

The Juhasz brothers: the older brother, Kristof (2278), 5/9 in the A group, at 16 years of age has made chess his active occupation and shows solid progress. 12-year-old Armin (1865) also made 5/9 albeit in the B group, but with a performance of 1995 as well as about 30 Elo points increase from other tournaments he is steadily catching up with his big brother.

WIM Melinda Goczo (HUN 2234), 4.5/9 and winner of the second women’s prize. Melinda came to the Zalakaros Open straight from the Hungarian Women’s Championship that finished just days before in the neighbouring town Nagykanizsa, where she took the third place, behind Anna Rudolf (first) and Lili Toth (second).

Chess couple IM Andras Lazar (HUN, 2132) and WIM Szidonia Vajda (HUN, 2363). Szidonia’s 4/9 result did not make Zalakros her best tournament, but she is still among the highest rated women in Hungary and will be in this year’s women’s Olympic team. Andras is the president of the Budapest Chess Federation and a member of the Hungarian Federation’s Presidential Board.

IM Janos Rigo (HUN, 2340), 4/9. A highly regarded tournament organiser himself, with long established, high level tournaments throughout Hungary under his able direction, it was nice to see Janos giving his support as a player to a colleague’s tournament. He is also an appointed Tournaments Director within the Hungarian Chess Federation.

Eszter Bali (HUN, 1970), and David Toronyi (HUN, 2064), are local chess players and – sweethearts. They played in the B group scoring 4/9 and 5/9 respectively. With their excellent English they were also the organiser’s assistants.

Over from Kiev, Gennardii Shikide was among a group of several Ukrainian players, both titled and amateurs, that made it to Zalakaros for the first time. They have , but pledge to return. He came as unrated but hit on the first place in the B group with 7.5/9. His newly achieved 2256 Elo rating will serve as a good encouragement for him to continue with active chess.

Barbara Juhasz (HUN, 1907) was among seven players sharing the third place with 6/9 in the B group. She had a 2146 performance and she won a prize; not a women’s prize, but for the overall 11th place.

The Germans: Leonard Brinckmann, Tobias Pfadenhauer, Stefan Huber, Johannes Pfadenhauer and Korbinian Liebl are recipients of a sponsorship from the Bavarian Youth Sport Organisation that have reserved funds to help young chess players to train and participate at international tournaments.

GM Zoltan Almasi, the second strongest Hungarian player, after Peter Leko, who is in the middle of rigorous training sessions with Judit Polgar before the forthcoming Olympiad, visited the tournament as a guest, to relax for few days and give his support.

IM Tamas Horvath, the organiser of the Zalakaros Festival, has full responsibilities within the Hungarian Chess Federation. He is its Vice-President and an overall Technical Director, overseeing many aspects on the Hungarian chess scene. Thanks to the Federation’s enriched activity the Hungarian chess calendar year is packed with tournaments that range from Youth, Men’s and Women’s championships and various Open, Rapid and closed tournaments spread throughout the country. Tamas is captain of the men’s Olympic team and has been arranging residential training sessions for the team members; he is also captain of one of the top Hungarian teams, Csutisk, many times a former champion. On the top of it all, his pet project, the Zalakaros Chess Festival, leaves its participants with beautiful impressions about a wonderfully well organised tournament.

The Hungarian chess kids have a special place at the Zalakaros tournament. All 30 pupils of the Maroczy Chess School land to Zalakaros, accompanied by their trainers and the school’s director, where they enjoy free participation, training and subsidized accommodation by the Hungarian Chess Federation under whose auspices the School operates.

IM Janos Szabolcsi, the Director of the Maroczy Chess School could be seen treading the playing hall, stopping over the boards of his charges and kibitzing anxiously their games. ‘I have been suggesting a chess school for youngsters for 20 years, but due to lack of money nothing happened until five years ago, when the Government created a funding scheme ‘Sport 21st century’ under which the Chess Federation was granted sufficient funds to mount and maintain the School. We have now 30 students up to 16 years of age.’

The Maroczy School students with their trainers GM Jozsef Pinter (far left) and GM Jozsef Horvat (reclining).
For a moment I despaired that they were too much spread out and I could not fit them all in the frame and see clearly all their faces. No problem! Young, agile bodies quickly climbed up the railings that were conveniently found in the playing hall, which is otherwise the Primary School’s gymnasium. Some of these today happy-go-luckies will be our future grandmasters. Among them, there is already a world champion:

Benjamin Gledura, world champion under ten

Benjamin Gledura (2102) won Gold in Fermo, Italy in 2009, at the World Youth Championship, in the under-10 section. According to a study curried out in the USA, he is considered among the 50 most talented in the world. This sporty young lad is also a champion in swimming. He comes from Eger, a small town in the north of Hungary, which is famous for its swimming sports complex. All Benjamin’s family are amateurs swimmers, but he is the only champion in 50 metres – he won gold and twice bronze medals in his age group. In this tournament Benjamin played among the masters in the A group. 4/9 has boosted his performance to 2207.

12-year-old Hungarian player Peter Zsirai shared second and third with 7/9 and 2254 performance. Peter also plays for the second division of the Hungarian team champion Aquaprofit.

Boglarka Bea (2055), Margit Kabai and Zsuzsanna Kabai (2130)

Another promising student, Szuszana Kabai (on the right), was third in the Hungarian women’s championship, and at the same time, with all her 15 years, the youngest. She was 9th in the World Youth Championship in Antalya, Turkey, in 2009. Her mother Margit makes her own contribution to the Maroczy School: she sits quietly in a corner during their training sessions and records the pupils’ faces in pencil drawings. Boglarka Bea is holding a stunningly faithful portrait of her, drawn by Margit Kabai.

The kids are indefatigable. Between training sessions, before and after the official games, they are always at the chessboards for just one more blitz game.

Girl power: Blanka Borbala Valyi (seated), Kamilla Sara Haszon, Debora Laszlo,
Judit Egyed and Emese Szarasics

The pretty town of Zalakaros is about medicinal spa waters and quiet natural beauty, and the Spa complex ‘Granit’, the pride of Zalakaros.

Balasz, Kristof, Armin, Jozsef, Benjamin and Zsuzsa soaking in the warm medicinal spa, naturally, with the unavoidable chessboard.

‘Szekely Capu’ – the Gate of the Szekely people, the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. At the entrance of the beautifully maintained park, there is a wooden, handcrafted gate with typical Transylvanian woodcarved ornaments and an epitaph: ‘Bekesseg a Bemenoknek’ (‘Peace and calm awaits the one who passes this gate’).

The Zalakaros Chess Festival is an event that deserves to be pencilled in a chess calendar. To the solid and dignified fight that is awaiting the players at this strong tournament an added incentive are the very reasonable prices in both private and hotel accommodation.

My delightful roommate, Suze, has a good reason to feel so proud and relaxed. She has enjoyed a bed on her own and a VIP status in the Thermal Hotel Liget, where bed, breakfast AND dinner cost 16 Euro per person!!

About the author

Diana Mihajlova is a chess player and artist who has been exhibiting internationally (under the name Yana Mitra) since 1988. She was born in Macedonia (former Yugoslavia). A linguist by profession, she has started her working career as a university lecturer, which took her to extensive studying and working sojourns in various countries around the world.

In 1989 after finishing a three-year lecturing contract in Perth, Australia, Diana decided to abandon her academic career and to dedicate herself to a full-time painting while still free-lancing in the languages field. She first started exhibiting while still in Australia where after winning some important national art prizes her work received a quick recognition and was included in important exhibitions and collections. After her return to Europe she continued her painting career by exhibiting in galleries in Paris, where she lived the following two years. Since 1993 she settled in London where she currently lives and works. Over the last couple of years she has temporarily relocated to Budapest, hence the frequent reports about chess in Hungary on our pages. You can see her paintings at the Yana Mitra web site.

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