Jonathan Cartu Announces: Prague Masters and Challengers move to February

Prague Masters and Challengers move to February

Nikita Vitiugov defending champion

The second annual Prague International Chess Festival will take place from February 11th to 22nd 2020 at the four-star hotel Don Giovanni. The participants will be able to take part in the Masters tournament, the Challengers tournament; the Open tournament and rating class tournaments, competing for sets of medals.

The preparations for the second annual of the Prague International Chess Festival are in their final stages. Last year’s inagural tournament was held from March 5th-16th, but moving the tournament from March to February prevents an overlap with the Czech Youth Championship. Current plans are to keep this calendar slot in the future.

Petr Boleslav, the festival director, expains:

We definitely want our best junior and youth players to have the opportunity to participate in the festival…March is often filled with international events, too. February presents a less eventful month, certainly. I believe that after the Tata Steel Chess in January and Gibraltar in late January, our own chess festival will have a permanent spot on the world calendar, in the second week of February.

The traditional format of the festival remains the same. The Masters tournament will be for ten players from the World’s top 50 will take part in the fight for the main trophy of the chess festival. In the closed Challengers tournament, there will be ten further players who will be competing not only for first place but also for an advanced position in the tournament in the upcoming year.

Masters 2019

Petr Boleslav makes the first move in the last round of 2019 | Photo: Vladimír Jagr

Jan-Krzysztof Duda is the top seed

The round-robin Masters tournament will definitely take centre stage of the 2020 Prague International Chess Festival. Russian grandmaster Nikita Vitiugov will attempt to reclaim his victory in the Masters tournament from 2019 but Jan-Krzysztof Duda, the runner-up of the Hamburg FIDE Grand Prix, will be the top seed by rating.

NavaraFive more players are returning for the 2020 edition: the American national team member Sam Shankland, two Indian stars Harikrishna Pentala and Vidit Santosh Gujarathi and the Spanish grandmaster David Antón Guijarro, who qualified from the Challengers tournament. The Czech Republic will be represented by the undisputed Czech number one David Navara [Photo: Macauley Peterson] who is already looking forward to improving on both his tournament preparation and on the final standings from the previous year.

“I’m certainly looking forward to the tournament and I’ll prepare myself better than last year,” claims the Czech no. 1, also recalling his rather unsuccessful performance in the Masters in March, where ended up sharing 7th – 9th place. “I liked the first annual very much. It was great in terms of both organization and atmosphere. It was only my result that was weaker.”

In 2019, the last minute changes in the World Team Chess Championship schedule forced the Chinese grandmaster Wei Yi to postpone his appearance in the Masters, but he will be participating in the second edition. 

Two more new faces join as well: the Swedish number one, Nils Grandelius, and number one of Austria, Markus Ragger.

Masters players by starting rank

# Name FED Year of Birth

 

Rating

1

Jan-Krzysztof Duda

POL

1998

2758

2

Nikita Vitiugov

RUS

1987

2747

3

Wei Yi

CHN

1999

2725

4

Harikrishna Pentala

IND

1986

2724

5

Vidit Santosh Gujarathi

IND

1994

2721

6

David Navara

CZE

1985

2707

7

David Antón Guijarro

ESP

1995

2685

8

Nils Grandelius

SWE

1993

2683

9

Samuel Shankland

USA

1991

2683

10

Markus Ragger

AUT

1988

2670

Kacper Piorun: Leading Challenger

Icelander Hannes Stefansson, winner of the Open tournament, will move up to the Challengers, as well as Czech player Lukáš Černoušek, who qualified thanks to his second place finish in the Czech National Chess Championship in Ostrava.

PiorunThe number one position, often perceived as an ungrateful one, will be taken up by Polish GM Kacper Piorun, who has a wealth of experience in dealing with unforeseen obstacles thanks to his five world champion titles in chess solving.

Four more players have ratings over 2600. The youngest of the ten players will be the Russian GM Evgeny Esipenko, still wearing fresh laurels from various youth championships. He received the title of European Youth Champion in the under 10 category in 2012 and five years later in the under 16 category he achieved something unprecedented, winning back-to-back gold medals from European Youth Championship in Romania and the World Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Jorden van Foreest, no. 5 in Holland, is only three years older than Esipenko and comes from a large chess family, with all of his five siblings participating in the sport. Last year, his younger sister Machteld van Foreest shared 3rd place in the World Youth Chess Championship in the under 12 category and his brother Lucas, younger by two years, is the current Dutch Champion.

As Jorden states on his website: “I hope that one day, I will be as strong as my great-great-grandfather, who was a three-time chess champion of Holland.” Jorden himself received his first such title in 2016.

While the young hope of Holland has his career ahead of him, the veteran Loek Van Wely is a chess playing legend. At forty-seven years old, he has a great deal of achievements. In the years 2000-2005, he managed to win the Dutch Championship six times in a row, becoming one of the top 10 players in the world in 2001. In 2005, he brought the Dutch team to victory in the European Team Championship in Gothenburg. He took part in the Masters tournament at the prestigious Wijk aan Zee tournament twenty-five times which will certainly gain him respect with his opponents.

The final player over 2600 is Nijat Abasov from Azerbaijan, who received his grandmaster title in 2011. At the 42nd Chess Olympiad, he was member of the second national team of Azerbaijan. In late 2016, he won the highly competitive Zürich Christmas Open and reached his highest rating of 2641 over the course of this year.

Czech Nominees

Four slots in the closed Challengers tournament will once again be taken up predominantly by Czech players. GM Dai Van Nguyen appear in the Challengers tournament for the second time, as will current Czech no. 8 player, grandmaster Jan Krejčí, as well as IM Tadeáš Kriebel, who will be playing in this particular tournament for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by the nomination.

Challengers players by starting rank

# Name FED Year of Birth

 

Rating
     

Year of birth

Rating

1

Nijat Abasov

AZE

1995

2655

2

Andrey Esipenko

RUS

2002

2636

3

Mateusz Bartel

POL

1985

2636

4

Jorden Van Foreest

NED

1999

2632

5

Kacper Piorun

POL

1991

2623

6

Jan Krejčí

CZE

1992

2578

7

Van Nguyen

CZE

2001

2548

8

Hannes Stefanson

ISL

1972

2546

9

Tadeáš Kriebel

CZE

1995

2516

10

Lukáš Černoušek

CZE

1983

2461

 

Chess will be played literally in every tempo 

Two tournaments, a rapid and a blitz tournament, have been added to the program. Last year, about two hundred chess players have taken part in more than half a dozen classic tournaments. The organizers expect even more players and are currently experiencing higher demand for day tournaments. The newly added rapid tournament, taking place on Thursday the 13th of February, a day before the Open tournament, could serve as a warm-up pre-round.

“We would also like to include the players that, for whatever reason, don’t have the entire week to play but come to the festival as visitors and only have time to sit one faster tournament,” explains Boleslav. Those who prefer an even faster tempo will be indulged in the morning of Wednesday February 19th when the blitz tournament will kick off.

A small change is being implemented by the organizers of the Open tournament which will begin on Friday, February 14th, thus avoiding the necessity of double rounds.

“I believe that the players will be pleased with leaving out the double rounds. After all, they will be competing for fine prizes and the winners will also be granted a pass for the Challengers tournament in the upcoming year. Therefore, I see that having one round per day as a more appropriate format,” Petr Boleslav, festival director, adds.

Film festival banner

The Royal Game in Movies

Almost all arts have at some point of their development captured the royal game in their own original way — on painter’s canvas, through sculptor’s clay or on the silver screen. And the connection between chess and the movie reel will be one of the topics of the upcoming edition of Prague International Chess Festival.

'Magnus' the movieA three-day event “The Royal Game in Movies” will kick off on Monday the 17th of February. The first movie screened will be the Album 61 documentary by the Israeli director Halil Efrat who will personally introduce the visitors of the Festival to the life of the World Chess Championship pretender Boris Gelfand. It is our pleasure to announce that the Israeli grandmaster has accepted the invitation to visit the Festival as well.

The evening screening time will be reserved for a documentary with a simple yet concise title “Magnus”. The period from the current world champion’s childhood all the way to his firm rule over the chess world in the present has been captured by the Norwegian director Benjamin Ree. The current World Champion, aptly nicknamed “the chess Mozart” by grandmaster Lubomír Kaválek, has also clashed with the late Czech director Miloš Forman in an exhibition game. The renowned Oscar director was a big fan of chess and a skilled practical player — in case of any doubts you will be most welcomed to visit a lecture by the legend of the world chess, grandmaster Lubomír Kaválek and the Czech-American writer, documentarist Jan Novák.

The Movie festival will continue on Tuesday the 18th of February and on Wednesday the 19th by evening screening of feature films. Tickets for particular films will be available at the ticket office of the Aero Cinema.

Text: Prague Chess Festival press staff

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