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Leaders remain in Masters & Challengers, no upsets in Open

16 Feb 2020

Day 4 of the Prague Chess Festival was opened by the lecture entitled “ How Václav Havel played chess”, conducted by the legendary Lubomír Kaválek. The Czech Grandmaster, who has lived in the United States for a long time, remembered the famous opening of the Prague tournament in 1990, which was opened by the then Czechoslovak President Václav Havel.

Lecture How Václav Havel played chess by Lubomír Kaválek

Thirty years ago, Havel confronted Mr. Bessel Kok, who still appreciates Mr. Havel's courage. “It was a very good idea for the President to start the tournament, it showed his character. The entire event went live on the TV. It was the first time I saw Havel in person,” said Mr. Kok.

How did the idea of ​​organizing the tournament come up? “When I arrived to Prague 30 years ago, I saw a new country with a new face. Prague had a new costume. Mr. Jiří Křižan who at that time worked as an advisor to Václav Havel also played chess. We got an idea we could organize a chess festival”, Mr. Kaválek explained.

The interesting subject of the lecture attracted many people and the hall was fully packed. The audience learned that Václav Havel himself expressed an interest not only to start the game but to continue it as well. "The TV people were a bit uneasy, they don't want five minutes to become an hour, but Havel said it was their problem", said Bessel Kok.

Lubomír Kaválek described the unique chess moments: “They both played very well and we stopped talking to them towards the end. At one point it seemed that the President would capture a piece, and Bessel Kok said it didn't look good. Well, I confirmed it to him, so he extended his hand and resigned. The whole game, it was exactly as they say - 15 minutes of fame. President Havel set a record, that no one could ever repeat. No statesman has ever played the whole game, let alone won.”

Lecture How Václav Havel played chess

After four rounds of the 2nd annual of Prague International Chess Festival, the leaders in both Masters and Challengers maintain their lead. In the Futures Roy Vagman emerged as a clear leader, after his 3rd win in the event. Vagman was also awarded the “Game of the Day” prize for his victory against Ja Klimkowski in the 3rd round.


Vagman was also awarded the “Game of the Day”

All games in the Masters section were drawn, although we did witness lot of excitement and some fire on the board.

Definitely the game of the day was the one between Firouzja and Vitiugov. In the complex position from Ruy Lopez, the young star tried to make a breakthrough with the Knight sacrifice, which apparently worked as it confused the Russian and gained a clear advantage for White. Sadly, in the time trouble, Firouzja missed the opportunity to finish the game and practically gifted his opponent a draw.


GM Nikita Vitiugov

In the game Harikrishna vs Shankland Black quickly equalized. The material was reduced and the players ended up in the Knight vs Bishop endgame, and soon agreed to a draw.

Duda could have been in serious trouble against Anton, had White played correctly. Instead, he Spaniard allowed the young Polish GM to consolidate and slowly equalize.

Ragger vs Navara was a very interesting game where Czech #1 sacrificed the exchange for the attack, but even though he was pressing, White defended correctly and eventually the game was drawn.


GM David Navara

Grandelius vs Vidit was a solid Berlin, where Black eliminated all the threats and comfortably held White for a draw.


GM Grandelius vs GM Vidit

The first winner of the Challengers group was the top seed GM Nijat Abasov from Azerbaijan. He defeated Czech IM Tadeas Kriebel in a pretty straight-forward game. The players were following the game Nepomniatschi vs Harikrishna from Tata Steel Chess India last year in Kolkata, were Abasov played 14.Rxb6 which deviated from the Nepo vs Hari game. White kept putting pressure, and Black was certainly not happy with the development on the Queen’s side, especially with the passive Knight on d7. Eventually, White made a breakthrough in the center, reduced the material and materialized the advantage of a passed a-pawn.


IM Tadeáš Kriebel

Esipenko vs Van Foreest was a quick draw. White had no way to materialize the strength of c6 pawn, and a draw was a fair result.

Nguyen had a very comfortable position against Stefansson, after the trade of the dark square Bishops. However, White failed to find a way to improve his position and the draw was agreed in the Rook endgame.

Cernousek vs Piorun was the longest game of the day. It seems the Czech IM missed some chances in the middle game and had to settle for a draw.

Polish GM Mateusz Bartel finally shined in his full splendor as he managed to score his first victory at this year’s Prague Chess Festival. He defeated Czech Grandmaster Jan Krejci in a double-edged position which came from QGD. Bartel joins Esipenko and Abasov on the tie for the 2nd place with 2.5 points, half a point behind the leader Stefansson.

Round 4 results:




Harikrishna vs Shankland 1/2

Abasov vs Kriebel 1-0

Nadzamova vs Kanov 1/2

Anton vs Duda 1/2

Esipenko vs Van Foreest 1/2

Chinguun vs Finek 1-0

Ragger vs Navara 1/2

Cernousek vs Piorun 1/2

Klimkowski vs Nemec 1/2

Grandelius vs Vidit 1/2

Nguyen vs Stefansson 1/2

Aydin vs Vagman 0-1

Firouzja vs Vutiugov 1/2

Krejci vs Bartel 0-1

Gurel vs Brozka 1-0


Round 5 pairings:




Vitiugov vs Harikrishna

Bartel vs Abasov

Brozka vs Nadzamova

Vidit vs Firouzja

Stefansson vs Krejci

Vagman vs Gurel

Navara vs Grandelius

Piorun vs Nguyen

Nemec vs Aydin

Duda vs Ragger

Van Foreest vs Cernousek

Finek vs Klimkowski

Shankland vs Anton

Kriebel vs Esipenko

Kanov vs Chinguun


Round 5 of Masters, Challengers, and Futures is on schedule on Sunday 16th February, at 3 pm (CET). Monday 17th February is a rest day. There is no rest day for the Open and rating tournaments, they continue with round 3 on Sunday, February 16.