Imperia is a small Italian coastal town located 60 km from the French border. We discovered it on the occasion of its chess festival.
After a few weeks in France we headed to Italy to participate in the 64th Imperia Chess Festival which took place from 4 to 11 September 2022.
The tournament took place in the sports hall, on the port of Imperia. The spacious gymnasium easily accommodated the 121 participants in the chess festival and an analysis room was also available for the players.
For accommodation, we found a small flat in a holiday village on the heights of the city, in the middle of the olive fields. The accommodation was cheap and gave us the opportunity to do some physical exercise on the way back, with a 100-metre difference in altitude between the playing hall and our flat. As our tournaments progress, we really become aware of the impact of the accommodation on our results. Indeed, in Imperia, we were both well rested and this was reflected in our quality of play.
This year the festival consisted of three tournaments:
- the A tournament (32 players), in which Clément participated, open to players over 1900 Elo,
- the B tournament (57 players), in which Zoe participated, open to players under 2000 Elo,
- and finally the C tournament (32 players) open to players with less than 1600 Elo.
The time control was 1h30+30s/move (30 min added at the 40th) with one game per day. Tournament B and C played 8 games, but tournament A had a double round day in order to reach 9 rounds and become eligible for the achievement of norms.
Two legendary players were participating in the A tournament: Igor Glek who was at his highest level in the late 90’s and reached the 12th place in the world, and Oleg Romanishin whose numerous achievements include a second place in the 1975 USSR Championship behind Tigran Petrossian and tied with Boris Gulko, Rafael Vaganian and Mikhail Tal. Oleg Romanashin, although no longer at his former level, is now very active and participates in many tournaments. We had the opportunity to see him at the Menorca Chess Open and the Prague International Chess Festival.
The main tournament was won by Igor Glek (BEL) with 7 points out of 9, followed by Harutyun Barseghyan (FRA) and Daniele Genocchio (ITA) with 6,5.
26th/57 – 4 points/8
I am quite happy with my tournament. I played exclusively stronger opponents and suffered only 2 defeats out of 8 games. I was 44th on the starting grid and finished 26th with a performance of 1776 which is the level I would like to stabilise in the near future.
4th/32 – 6 points/9
It was the best tournament of my career so far, as I achieved a score of 5.5/8 against players with an average ranking over 2300! I think I played well overall but I was also a little helped by opponents who underestimated me with my ranking at 2176… As for my personal records, we can note that my round 2 victory is my first victory against a Grand Master and above all I obtain my first International Master norm!
To Clement’s great surprise, at the beginning of the 9th and last round the referee comes to him and asks to talk to him about the possibility of achieving an International Master norm. Despite a “bye” taken in round 5 Clément is eligible to achieve an IM norm over 8 games (FIDE rules). After checking his performance, he offered a draw to his opponent, who accepted, and he thus achieved his first International Master norm!
This norm concludes a very good run in this tournament, even if Clement’s opponents made it easy for him by playing moves that they probably wouldn’t have played against a higher ranked player. For example in the game against Grandmaster Roland Salvador in the following position, Clement’s opponent plays 28…. Ka5??
After 29.Rb1 the black king is stuck on the edge of the board, and becomes exposed to mate attacks with the king, knight and white rook, while no longer being able to participate in the actions of the black camp.
Clement’s opponent realising his terrible mistake tried to react but each attempt by black to play actively only weakens his position giving an “easy” victory to Clement 14 moves later.
We really enjoyed this chess festival in Imperia. Apart from our good results, the Italian Riviera in September is a very good compromise between cost and quality of life. The tournament had very good playing conditions and despite some communication problems due to the language barrier, we were able to meet very nice people.
As the tournament takes place at the beginning of September, most of the young Europeans have finished their summer holidays and this is reflected in the average age of the participants, which was higher than at our previous tournaments. For example, Clement’s opponents were on average 45 years old compared to 27 years old at the Prague International Chess Festival.
What we liked
What we liked less
Imperia is a town on the Riviera dei Fiori (Riviera of Flowers), a portion of the Italian Riviera in Liguria. This small region bordering France is wedged between the Alps and the sea and has a Mediterranean climate. The name Imperia is quite recent since this city was born from the administrative merge of Porto Maurizio and Oneglia between which flows the river Impero. Today the town lives mainly from tourism linked to the Mediterranean Sea and even in September there are more foreigners than locals in the restaurants.
We mainly walked around Porto Maurizio which overlooks the sea from its hill. The town centre, partially pedestrian, is very pleasant and allows you to discover beautiful panoramas, especially from the square in front of the Basilica di San Maurizio. However, you need good legs to go up and down all the stairs.
Most of the restaurants are concentrated between the town centre and the marina, the local specialities include pasta (of course !) but also seafood such as squid and all kinds of fish… Moreover, we particularly appreciated being able to buy fresh pasta, ravioli and gnocchi in the small grocery shops in the centre of town!
Finally, here are some pictures to help you appreciate the place:
See you in October, with jumpers and scarves, for the next step: Fagernes chess tounament in Norway.