XXII Voronezh International Chess Festival

XXII international Chess Festival traditionally took place from June 10 to June 21 in Voronezh

XXII international chess festival traditionally took place from June 10 to June 21 in Voronezh city, and now we can say that it continues to be one of the most significant chess events in Russia. The festival is supported by Voronezh region government and governor Alexander Gusev, as well as it was supported before by the previous governor Alexey Gordeev.

There are few chess events with automatic international title norms in Russia, and such events occur very rarely in other cities than Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Voronezh festival is a pleasant exception, but there were serious troubles this year with continuing this tradition. Big simultaneous chess competitions in Kazakhstan and Belarus distracted chess players of these countries usually visiting Voronezh. Indian participants were not so numerous here as in year 2017 because of problems with visas. Festival organizers were forced to invite foreign participants personally to fulfill the FIDE requirement (at least 20 chess players from foreign federations, at least 10 of them with international titles), and at last managed to satisfy this requirement. Looking ahead, we can say that their efforts were not in vain.

Players did not hurry to send their applications for participation, so at first there were some doubts about the current festival popularity. But really people does not quit playing chess in Russia. 164 players in rapid tournament, 156 players in blitz, 148 players in FIDE Open tournament, 131 players in Master Open tournament – the figures are maximal or near to maximal for the whole Voronezh festival history. Voronezh city has very good chess club, but all who wanted to play or watch games could barely fit into its rooms. I express my regret for impossibility to mention everyone of the hundreds of players or the dozens of festival organizers here, so I’ll try only to say a few words about the people who were remarkable in some respect.

Voronezh Chess club outside and inside

Chess players from Iran have never visited Voronezh chess festival before, and GM Parkham Maghsoodloo was the first, he was the rating favorite of the main festival event with Elo 2638 in classical chess. Parkham successfully played in Chess960 tournament (6.5 points of 7, the 2nd place) and Blitz tournament (7.5 points of 9, the 3rd place) and fought for the 1st place in classical chess until losing a game in the 8th round against GM Dmitry Kokarev. After the chess festival finish Parkham went to support the Iranian football team in their world championship match with Portugal.

Parkham plays Master Open game vs the best Azerbaijan woman player IM Mammadzada

Participation of chess prodigies from Russia and other countries is another traditional feature of Voronezh festival. Praggnanandhaa, the second youngest GM in history, and Nihal Sarin from India played in Voronezh in year 2017 and then both finished half a point below the GM norm, but this time 13-year-old Javokhir Sindarov (Tashkent, UZB) scored exactly 6.5 points the needed for this norm after the impressive victory over GM Aleksei Pridorozhni in the last round. Another guest from Uzbekistan, GM Marat Dhzumaev, played simultaneous games with young Voronezh players and gave them a grandmaster lesson.

Javohir Sindarov and the president of Voronezh regional Chess federation Sergey Zhuravlev

GM Marat Dzhumaev and the festival director GM Alexander Raetsky with young Voronezh chess players Egor Yaurov and Alexander Polukhin

Young Indians Gukesh and Mendonca went to Voronezh from Sochi where their team masterfully won the international school team tournament “White rook”. In Voronezh they won special prizes in the Blitz tournament, but the Master Open tournament is still slightly too tough for them. Another Indian IM Akash got the best game prize for his win against GM Boris Savchenko.

Waiting for the next pairing of the Blitz tournament

Akash is awarded with the best game prize

GM Dmitry Kokarev (Penza, RUS) has participated in Voronezh chess festival for the 13th time (more than any other GM except Viacheslav Zakhartsov who also played here 13 times)! Russians, as some other nations, do not like the number 13, but now it was lucky for Kokarev – he managed to win the Master Open tournament again (previously in year 2011). There are 20 winners of 22 main Voronezh festival tournaments, only Dmitry Kokarev and GM Aleksandr Rakhmanov (Cherepovets, RUS) won it twice.

Master Open start was not easy for Dmitry Kokarev

The festival closing ceremony, the hymn of Russia is playing.

GM Sergei Tiviakov (Groningen, NED) was the most famous of all festival-2018 chessplayers, he is Olympic champion-1994 and European champion-2008. GM Sergey Volkov (Saransk, RUS) is Russia champion-2000 and Master Open-2017 winner. Tiviakov won the 2nd prize in Rapid tournament in Voronezh, Volkov won the 2nd prize in Blitz tournament.

Grandmasters from Rostov region (RUS) Vladimir Belous (right) and Andrey Stukopin (left) live in USA now and play mostly in American tournaments. They were successful in Voronezh, Vladimir won the Chess960 tournament, Andrey took the 2nd prize in Master Open. Vladimir’s girlfriend (between them) is from Mexico, she cheered for both.

GM Maxim Chigaev (Kemerovo, RUS - right) won the Rapid tournament. He is playing vs. GM Nikolay Kabanov. Maxim played for Voronezh team in Russian team first league championship in May with an excellent result.

GM Artem Timofeev (Kazan, RUS) won the Blitz tournament.

GM Dmitry Kryakvin (Pyatigorsk, RUS) not only played in Master Open (and took the 10th prize) but also published very interesting article about the festival on the Russian chess federation site.

IA Vladimir Makhnev (Kimry, RUS) replaced his friend IA Vladimir Staratorzhsky on the position of the main festival arbiter. Working under his direction gave a valuable experience to other festival arbiters.

The festival was organized by the big organizers team led by GM+IA+IO+FT Alexander Raetsky.

Accommodation manager Pavel Sirotin and festival director Alexander Raetsky

Sergey Fomin and Maxim Chetverik are checking the prize winners list

You can look at the festival site http://vrnchessfestival.org/en and Voronezh chess forum (http://vrnchess.ru, in Russian) for more festival photos, as well as videos, statistics, games and other information.

We invite all chess professionals and amateurs to the XXIII Voronezh international chess festival in the year 2019! The dates are the same, from June 10 to June 21.

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