The Tata Steel tournament is over, and the Candidates are more than a month away. But the chess fans don't need to wait long for more exciting games: on Tuesday the Gibraltar Chess Festival starts, and on Wednesday the Zurich Chess Challenge! The following text is largely based on the press releases from the organizers.
The 2014 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Congress is the 12th edition of the annual tournament in Gibraltar, held in the Caleta Hotel. This edition will be the biggest tournament yet with some 70 grandmasters from all over the world. The number of entries in the Amateur and Challenger events has also risen with a record high of around 130. This year the number of different federations represented is 60.
The playing hall in the Caleta Hotel | Photo © Sophie Triay
The oldest competitor is George Ellison from England who is attending the festival for the first time. He is 81. The youngest, Viviana Galván Cipriani, from Spain, is only 9. There are players from Mongolia who have made the journey: the first ever participants from this nation. Six Chinese are taking part, including 14-year old Wei Yi, already ranked number ten in his country, as well as last year's top female, Zhao Xue.
The 2013 champion, Nikita Vitiugov, whose exceptionally cool nerves under pressure led grandmaster commentator Simon Williams to dub him the 'Iceman', also returns to the Rock, as does Nigel Short, who so nearly won again last year.
Michael Adams, UK number one and world number 13, will have his own ideas about the destination of the £20,000 top prize, as will Vassily Ivanchuk, from the Ukraine, who holds the Gibraltar record score of 9/10, set in 2011.
Former Russian women's champion Natalia Pogonina, who has over 100,000 Twitter followers, makes her second visit.
GM Simen Agdestein of Norway gave a clock simul on Sunday night
All games will be commented live by GMs Simon Williams and Irina Krush and broadcast world wide live via Internet on www.gibraltarchesscongress.com. There you'll also find more information, as well as Masterclasses and interviews. The festival runs until Thursday, February 6th.
IM Tania Sachdev of India also gave a simul
On Wednesday the Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 starts. The venue is the ballroom of the Hotel Savoy. It is the first tournament in the history of chess to reach category 23 with an amazing average rating of 2801.
The star of the tournament will be the newly crowned World Champion Magnus Carlsen. During his first tournament appearance since winning the world title last November, the 23-year-old Norwegian will compete against his predecessor and former World Champion, Viswanathan Anand of India (number 9 in the world rankings), the Armenian Levon Aronian (2) who just won the Tata Steel tournament for the 4th time, the American Hikura Nakamura (3), the US-Italian Fabiano Caruana (6), as well as the Israeli Boris Gelfand (8).
There will be many famous guests at the tournament as well, including Peter Leko, Jan Timman and Gennadi Sosonko. Further, the Chinese Women's World Champion Hou Yifan will attend and will be playing a clock simulagainst 6 top Swiss juniors on 1 February at 1 p.m. at the Zurich “Zunfthaus zur Saffran”.
For the Zurich Chess Challenge, a blitz tournament will determine the color distribution on the first day. Five rounds of classical chess will then be played from Thursday to Monday (30 January to 3 February), followed by a rapid tournament with reversed colors on the last day (4 February). A won game in the classical tournament counts two points, draws one point. Wins in the rapid tournament count one point and draws half a point. All games will be commented live by GM Yannick Pelletier and IM Werner Hug and broadcast world wide live via Internet on www.zurich-cc.com.
The Zurich Chess Club was founded in 1809 and is the oldest active chess club of the world. With the Zurich Chess Challenge 2014 it will continue its long-standing tradition of hosting top-level tournaments, which have included such memorable events as the Candidates’ Tournament in 1953, the simul and rapid tournament of all living world champions at the Zurich main train station in 2009, the Zurich Chess Challenge 2012 with Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik as well as the Zurich Chess Challenge 2013 with the four grandmasters Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Fabiano Caruana and Boris Gelfand.
The main tournament sponsor is chess enthusiast Oleg Skvortsov from the International Gemological Laboratories of Moscow, Russia.