Within a city overflowing with history and at the crossroads of chess influences from western, central and eastern Europe, is held the Prague international chess festival. This festival of closed tournaments, open and round robin tournaments originated some four years ago and now brings together more than 400 chess players from club player level to top GM.
We played in this tournament from 9th to 17th June, the Prague festival being one of the most important chess events in Europe of the late Spring period. The fine venue of Hotel Don Giovanni hosts for ten days various tournaments and associated chess events.
Playing conditions and tournaments
Closed tournaments : Masters, Challengers et Futures
More than 400 players took part in this chess festival, the most important competitions being the closed round robin events for Masters and Challengers to which were invited top Grand Masters from the Czech Republic and the rest of the world. A third closed round robin “Futures” tournament is destined for young players.
After ten days of fascinating and hard-fought matches, the GM Pentala Harikrishna (IND) won the Masters ahead of Liem Le Quang (VIE) and Thai Dai Van Nguyen (CZE). In the Challengers an unusual event occurred as the first two players were level on all three tie-breaks. Two blitz games were arranged and saw the victory of Vincent Keymer (GER) against Hans Moke Niemann (USA). The young prodigy and world rapid play champion for 2021 Nodirbek Abdusattorov (UZB) completed the podium.
|2||GM||Le Quang Liem||2709||VIE||½||X||½||1||1||½||½||½||1||½||6|
|3||GM||Nguyen Thai Dai Van||2610||CZE||½||½||X||½||½||½||½||½||½||1||5|
|6||GM||Vallejo Pons Francisco||2703||ESP||½||½||½||½||½||X||½||0||½||1||4,5|
|7||GM||Vidit Santosh Gujrathi||2723||IND||0||½||½||½||½||½||X||½||½||½||4|
|9||GM||Salem A.R. Saleh||2679||UAE||0||0||½||0||0||½||½||½||X||1||3|
|10||GM||Anton Guijarro David||2692||ESP||0||½||0||½||0||0||½||½||0||X||2|
|GM||Niemann Hans Moke||2678||USA||½||X||½||1||½||1||1||0||1||1||6,5|
Open and rating tournaments
In addition to these round robin tournaments there was a high-level open tournament with 306 players. The mean ELO was in excess of 2000 and the median 2097!! Over and above these simple ELO statistics was the sentiment that the tournament contained many young players for whom the ELO was underestimated as they often produced performances several hundred points above their initial level. The tournament was won by Alexander Motylev (FID) within an impressive 8/9 followed by Titas Stremavicius (LTU) and Antoni Kozak (POL).
In addition, there are three “rating tournaments” on a round robin basis each with ten players. This permits players without a FIDE rating to obtain one by the end of the festival.
See below a rapid video visit of the hotel which hosts the festival
We were pleased to note a number of other events during this festival.
- Open air cinema
- Conference given by Ivan Sokolov
- Conference given by Vlastimil Hort
- Blitz tournament
- Rapid play tournament
The round robin tournament E2, 4,5/9 – placed 4/10
I had a very mixed level of play during this tournament with a number of games where I played very well and others where my play was very poor. I felt less motivated towards the end of the tournament which appeared long to me. I noted that my opponents were playing particularly well in spite of their relatively low ratings.
Open tournament 4,5/9, placed 137/306
A somewhat disappointing tournament. I often obtained good positions which I did not continue in the best fashion and as a result missed out on a number of points. Moreover, I formed the opinion that Central and East European players were stronger and more resilient than players with similar ELO ratings from Western Europe.
As a conclusion
Over the past few years, the Prague International Chess Festival has become a major event in European chess calendar attracting top Grand Masters (GM), rising stars and more than a hundred titled players. It is interesting to play in this tournament in order to assess the strength of Central European players and for stronger players it presents an opportunity to obtain an MI or GMI norm. However, the playing conditions in the rooms used for the open are not at the level which we found in previous tournaments on our chess journey.
Before leaving on our Chess journey, we boxed up our personal possessions not required for the journey and rather than numbering the boxes we gave them the names of chess players. We were thus delighted to be present when our box of “ski clothes and equipment” won a brilliant victory in the Challengers Tournament.
What we liked
What we liked less
Prague is a very old town with a rich history from the Middle Ages stretching from the kingdom of Bohemia to the present with the Soviet period still very much in evidence. The city is known in particular for its extraordinary architecture, multiple styles of buildings over several centuries with bridges, churches, temples, synagogues, palaces, etc ..). The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
All these riches result in Prague being a very popular tourist destination and we recommend that the centre be visited on week days early mornings or evenings to avoid crowds.
Apart from the Centre we particularly appreciated the numerous parks offering various atmospheres with open air concerts, views over the city, lakes, caves and many more delights.