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Director of PICF Petr Boleslav: We would like to see Caruana or Carlsen in Prague

05 Apr 2023

This June, chess players from many countries will once again fill the premises of the four-star Don Giovanni hotel, thanks to the manager of Czech Inn hotels Jaroslav Svoboda who is a big supporter of chess in Prague. We believe that you know the Prague Chess Festival. But do you know who is behind the organization? It's the festival director, Petr Boleslav, for whom chess is everything. He manages to big chess stars to the festival every year. Read more in the interview.

What inspired you to organize the Prague International Chess Festival?
The first inspiration was probably my first attendance at the phenomenal tournament in Wijk aan Zee. At that time, we regularly organized a chess event called Corrida in Novy Bor, a match between two players, and so we thought we could try something bigger. 

When you think back to the first year of the festival, how will the fifth year be different? 
The first year was somewhat spontaneous, and I have fond memories of it. Everything was new. Over the following years, we learned a lot about organizing, and I believe we managed to improve many things. We also added a lot of additional content, so the 5th year will be much more packed than the first, both in terms of the chess tournaments themselves and the accompanying program. 

With Genna Sosonko (left) in 2020

What are you most proud of during the past four years of the festival, what has been a real success? And what still needs improvement?
It's still too early to be proud of something specific 😊 I am certainly satisfied that we were able to launch a project with this wide scope. From a sports perspective, it's great that Czech representatives, strong grandmasters and promising juniors, have the opportunity to compete with the absolute world top in their home environment. Equally important is that every chess player or chess fan can participate, whether it's by participating in various tournaments, attending accompanying events, or simply as a spectator.

I'm very happy that we managed to enrich the festival with cultural events such as film screenings at the Aero cinema. People who may not even play chess can get closer to our festival and the royal game thanks to these screenings.
World chess media began reporting on us regularly. I see it as a great recognition of our work and efforts.It's a great feeling when the players we invite to the closed tournaments say they would like to come back next year. Of course, this is possible thanks to our entire organizational team. The whole atmosphere is not created by one individual.

What is the most demanding aspect of organizing such a large chess event? How many people are involved in it approximately? 
Personally, the most demanding aspect for me is the period before the festival when everything is planned, arranged, then changed and rearranged again. I always look forward to the start. Our organizational team consistsnof eight to ten people. It's not a big number, so we have a lot to do.

PICF 2022 team, hotel Don Giovanni

Every year, big chess names appear at the festival, but who would you really like to see in Prague? Is there a player that you personally would like to see at the PICF? 
I'm fortunate enough to be able to influence the selection of players for a given year. With the president of our club, Roman Mužík, we always discuss who we would like to see in the starting lineup or who we would like to meet. Of course, from the top of the world rankings, I would love to see Magnus Carlsen or Fabiano Caruana playing at the Don Giovanni Hotel.

What role do chess play in your life?
Chess plays a completely essential role in my life. Everything revolves around chess from morning to night 😊 I work at the 1st Novoborsky Chess Club, which involves all the administration related to the operation of the club. I also organize things related to our main team or the Prague Chess Festival. I don't even put aside chess in my free time. I try to play competitive games as regularly as possible, and once a year I manage to play in a whole tournament during my vacation. Usually, in the evening, I fall asleep with a chess book in my hands 😊

What would you invite chess fans and even newcomers who are just discovering the magic of chess to? 
Definitely all chess fans are invited to Hotel Don Giovanni directly to the hall on the 2nd floor, where they can see closed tournaments with world grandmasters. As a spectator, you can settle nicely in the stands and watch every move of the games on a large LCD screen. At the same time, you have a great opportunity to observe how players behave during the game. Watching their grimaces, estimating the state of their mind based on the expression on their faces, or enjoying Boris Gelfand's finger acrobatics with chess pieces. Of course, the best thing is to practice on your own. This year, newcomers or players who cannot spend the whole twelve days at the festival have a unique opportunity. We have expanded the number of accompanying tournaments, so there will be a chance to test your skills every morning.