Thursday, 31 December 2009
Hastings and Gibraltar
I don't know what effect it had on blog readers, but the phenomenal London Chess Classic earlier this month at Olympia seems to have re-energised me. I've been down to Hastings to take some photos (which I'm hoping will appear on a website very soon) and sensed a more positive mood amongst the British chess community. I watched the round one games and was generally impressed by the quality of play. I sat in on a game post-mortem with Keith Arkell and enjoyed his good-natured and informative comments on his first round win. Since then he has had one of those typical Arkell endgame grinds at which he excels - usually a good sign that all's well in Keith's world.
As well as writing and editing the magazine, I've also been involved in the preparations for the next Gibtelecom Chess Festival in Gibraltar. It starts in about three weeks and now boasts a remarkable line-up on players. There are three 2700+ players, Bacrot, Vallejo Pons and Movsesian - plus two players who have been a heartbeat away from the world championship - Mickey Adams and Gata Kamsky. The tournament is famous for its generous women's prizes and this has attracted two of the three highest rated women players in the world, Humpy Koneru of India and Hou Yifan of China (see photo above), as well as the Women's World Champion, Alexandra Kosteniuk. Such is the growing reputation of the tournament that it doesn't necessarily have to go looking for star players any more - some of the big names you see above asked if they could play there.
I've also heard a whisper or two about a couple of legends of the game who just might be visiting the Rock in 2010. No names yet, but watch this space.