The 13th edition of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival got off to a good start yesterday as both the top ranking player, World No. 4, Veselin Topalov and the reigning Women’s World Chess Champion Hou Yifan, praised the tournament. Mr Topalov who is in Gibraltar for the first time, is the highest rated player ever to play in the Gibraltar Masters. He said he was very glad to be in Gibraltar and to be participating in this “very strong” tournament.
He admitted that it felt quite strange for him to be here in an Open event.
“I don’t even remember the last time I played in an Open tournament. It must be more than 20 years ago,” he commented.
Mr Topalov who lives in Spain said being in Gibraltar was going to prove to be a very good start to the year for him.
“This is a very strong event and at the same time I will face new players. In the top events it is always the same guys and it becomes boring after some time but now I want to meet new faces and get more experience,” he added.
As for the reigning Women’s World Chess Champion Hou Yifan from China she said she was very happy to be back on the Rock. This is her second visit.
“I am lucky to be back here to such a lucky place for me. With the lovely weather and lovely people,” she commented as she got ready to make her first opening move in the tournament yesterday.
Hou Yifan, who turns 21 next month, hopes to show her best performance on the Rock.
“In my last visit I had a fantastic result and I am not forcing myself to do even better this year but of course I want to do my best and look for some good performances. In my last tournament my performance was not that good but maybe here I can get back on form and produce some interesting games,” she said.
The First Move of the 2015 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival at The Gibraltar Masters tournament took place this afternoon at the Caleta Hotel.
At precisely 3pm yesterday James Humphreys, Chairman of Tradewise Gibraltar Insurance Ltd, the main sponsor of this event made the first move on the top board next to him was Topalov who in his first round played against one of the many Spanish players in this festival Fide Master Emilio Miguel Sanchez Jerez with a rating of 2282. Mr Topalov’s rating stands at 2800.
James Humphreys, whose company has been sponsoring the game for 10 years, was pleased to be back again at the start of the tournament and that his company was giving it its full support yet again.
Moments later the 252 chess players in The Masters from some 60 countries made their opening moves in the tournament which is being held over the next 10 days over 10 rounds.
The Opening Ceremony of the international event was held on Monday night. In a busy opening, bursting with anticipation, it was Miss Gibraltar 2014 Shyanne Azzopardi, in the presence of Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Steven Linares, who drew the pairings for the top boards in the first round.
“Yes, you are playing white,” a smiling Miss Gibraltar Shyanne Azzopardi told Mr Topalov as he held his white piece in his hand and she drew the name of his first opponent in the festival.
Minister Steven Linares was thrilled to be back to welcome all the players to Gibraltar “those who have annually been coming to this tournament and to those who are here for the first time.”
“Again chess comes to Gibraltar. No.13. I am proud to say that this is one of the best organised tournaments in the world,” he said.
“I am privileged to see so many high ranking chess players playing on the Rock which goes to show the importance of the ‘strong open’ event that has been created in Gibraltar.”