PRESS RELEASE 1 Monday 27 January, 2014

From a babe in arms to a first time winner at the 2014 Tradewise Chess Festival. 11 year old Anna Cramling Bellon has grown up into a fine chess player alongside the Gibraltar international chess festival. In week one of this year’s Festival she won the top female prize in the Amateurs A competition. Her rating currently stands at 1514.

Presenting Anna with her prize, tournament organiser Brian Callaghan, could not help the smile on his face knowing how much a part of the festival’s history this young girl has become.

“Her win is just amazing when you think she has been playing in this Festival from the day she was first able to move the pieces on the board. It is truly encouraging to see a young player start and slowly grow. I think she will one day be a very good player,” he said reinforcing the benefits of chess for children and young people.

Anna first came to the tournament with her parents, Pia Cramling and Juan Manuel Bellon Lopez, whilst still in her carry cot. She has been coming every year since then. As a baby she slept right through the tournaments, always next to one of her parents, who have participated every year in the Gibraltar Masters in its 12 year history. Anna will be 12 in April this year, so it is safe to say she was already here even before she was born. She speaks three languages fluently – Spanish, Swedish and English. She enjoys reading in all three languages, playing her guitar, listening to Katie Perry and Rhianna, and drawing.

Gibraltar and the 10 day Festival are a must for her, she says, always enjoying playing here and having fun on the Rock – “everybody knows me in the hotel,” she says.

“They recognise me and tell me how much I have grown from one year to the next. I have many friends and I like being in Gibraltar,” she adds.

For her, Gibraltar feels like home, and she very much looks forward to coming every year.

Gibraltar is a great tournament which also hosts a number of events, says Anna who tries to participate in all – the Blitz, the Simul, etc.

“It is always fun here!”

The family lived in Fuengirola, Malaga, but last year moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where Ana who has ambitions of becoming a Grand Master in the future, now has her own coach.

Obviously influenced by both her parents, she says, she has learnt much from them and enjoys playing with both of them. This does not happen often but she does get to play chess at home two or three times a week but admits sometimes things don’t go the way she would wish it to go.

“If I play my mum she lets me win all the time and that’s not fun. But if I play my dad he never lets me win,” she says.

But playing chess is not just about her parents wanting her to do so but the fact that she also wants to play.

Winning for the first time in the Tradewise Chess Festival, the young player says she feels really good about her win.

“It means I have improved a lot since I began playing at the age of seven and I feel very good,” she smiles.

With ambitions of playing the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, Anna Cramling Bellon would like to one day become a Grand Master. But even at such a young age she understands this may not happen and is looking towards a career in design. An architect, perhaps?

But for now she is hooked on chess.

“It’s really entertaining and very good for you too! Everyone and especially young people should play chess because it is really fun and you can meet a lot of people and you are always making new friends,” she emphasises.

And there is no doubt in her mind, she will be returning to the Rock again next year, and in future years for her favourite chess festival.

PRESS OFFICE – 2014 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival
Alice Mascarenhas, John Saunders and Leontxo Garcia, Tradewise Press Chess Officers

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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