The Prague International Chess Festival kicked off today in Hotel Don Giovanni in Prague. The 2nd edition of the Festival continues after the successful 1st annual with the same format - Masters, Challengers, Open and rating tournaments, with one addition - the Futures event.
The Festival officially started with the first symbolic move made by the legendary Grandmaster Lubomír Kaválek in the game Navara vs Duda of the Masters group.
The first player to score a victory was Vidit Gujrathi, who defeated Sam Shankland in Nimzo-Indian with White pieces.
“In the opening I was spending a lot of time, and I was not expecting this line so I had to improvise. At some point, he played Nb8 and c6 which was very passive, because I had a tactical trick with Qb1 and after that I took initiative. The only problem was I was in time pressure, and I had to calculate a lot, so I was scared not to miss anything. But I think he could have defended better and he did not take the best practical chances to hold the position”, said Vidit after the game.
The top seed of the Masters group Jan-Krzysztof Duda defeated the Czech #1 David Navara. Sicilian Adams Attack was played, and things quickly got wrong for Navara, as he misevaluated the position. Duda didn’t have a difficult task, he grabbed the initiative, kept putting pressure and soon the game was over.
Duda was obviously satisfied: “I didn't expect to win such a one-sided game, because David is very strong player”, he told in the interview after the game. Especially for one player he will be very careful. “Everyone plays well, but Alireza Firouzja will certainly be a big challenge for me. He's the youngest and probably the most unpleasant opponent for me. I've played with him this year, and to be honest, I was glad for a draw and I had white figures! ”Duda realizes the potential of a 16-year-old chess player from Iran.
Grandelius vs Harikrishna and Firouzja vs Ragger ended in a draw, but both of the games were very interesting and complicated.
“Nils played an interesting idea in 6. g3 Taimanov. He could have got a slightly better position with 24. Rb4, but after 23. Ra6 played in the game the position was around equal”, commented GM Harikrishna after the game.
The last game to finish in Masters was Vitiugov vs Anton. It seemed the Spaniard had the edge in the middle game, but the tables have turned and after the time trouble the game ended in the winning endgame for White.
"It was a very complicated game. I like the way he played, 17...Nh5 & 18...e5 looked very strong, and I think he was better. However, when you are short on time anything can happen. I am happy to win a game, after a long time", said Vitiugov to our press officer.
In the Challengers group we saw only one game with the decisive result. Icelandic Grandmaster Hannes Stefansson defeated Czech IM Tadeas Kriebel in Sicilian Bastrikov Variation. The position was double-edged, and just when it seemed Kriebel had a clear advantage, he blundered nice trick by White - 25. Bf6!, after which Black’s position collapsed.
Other games were finished in fighting draws, although there were some missed chances, especially in the game Bartel vs Esipenko and Nguyen vs Abasov.
In the newest addition to the Prague Chess Festival - the Futures, we saw all the decisive games right at the start. Young chess talents entered the tournament very seriously and definitely fulfilled the expectations. Czech fans can be satisfied as two out of three Czech players started the event with wins. In the women encounter Aydin Gulenay of Turkey defeated Viktoria Nadzamova from Slovakia, after Black blundered a pawn in simple tactics.
Before the 1st round started, the Vernissage of the International Grandmaster Chess Tournament Prague 1990 exhibition was opened. Grandmaster Lubomír Kaválek and Czech Inn Hotels co-owner Mr. Jaroslav Svoboda played a friendly game on the special chess set whose pieces resemble the PICF log. The Exhibition is open during the Festival, and all the guests are welcome to pay a visit.
Vlastimil Jansa is still active chess player and senior world champion, he remembered the tournament at the exhibition: „It was a grandiose event that has not yet been surpassed. Mainly because of the interest of the media at that time, especially television. It was also interesting thanks to the participation of the President Václav Havel. It's so strange to move in this room. I can look at myself what it looked like when I commented the games thirty years ago.” Famous personalities played at the tournament - Nigel Short, Jan Timman and Czech chess players Vlastimil Hort, Jan Smejkal and Lubomir Ftacnik.
Round 1 results:
Grandelius vs Harikrishna 1/2
Firouzja vs Ragger 1/2
Vitiugov vs Anton 1-0
Vidit vs Shankland 1-0
Navara vs Duda 0-1
Nguyen vs Abasov 1/2
Krejci vs Cernousek 1/2
Bartel vs Esipenko 1/2
Stefansson vs Kriebel 1-0
Piorun vs Van Foreest 1/2
Aydin vs Nadzamova 1-0
Gurel vs Klimkowski 1-0
Brozka vs Chinguu 1-0
Vagman vs Kanov 1-0
Nemec vs Finek 0-1
Round 2 pairings:
Harikrishna vs Duda
Shankland vs Navara
Anton vs Vidit
Ragger vs Vitiugov
Grandelius vs Firouzja
Abasov vs Van Foreest
Kriebel vs Piorun
Esipenko vs Stefansson
Cernousek vs Bartel
Nguyen vs Krejci
Nadzamova vs Finek
Kanov vs Nemec
Chinguun vs Vagman
Klimkowski vs Brozka
Aydin vs Gurel
Round 2 is on schedule on Thursday 13th February 2020, at 3 pm (CET).
All the chess fans are welcome to visit the Festival at the Hotel Don Giovanni to watch some of the best world chess players in action. The organizers provided the live commentary by Grandmasters Babula and Šimaček, so make sure to follow the games online on our Twitch channel.