July 29, 2009 2:16

Three-way tie at Ikaros Chess Festival

From July 11th to 18th the Ikaros Chess Festival was organized for the 32nd time and as always it attracted a lot of foreign players who intended to combine vacation with their hobby. IM Robert Ris reports on Greek sun, chess and hospitality.

By IM Robert Ris

The 32nd Ikaros Chess Festival was organized by the Ikaria Chess Club, the Municipality of Aghios Kirykos and the Prefecture of Samos. Since the last few years, the strength of the festival has increased very much while the number of participants was almost similar as in previous editions. This is a positive trend, as one has to take into account that around the same dates two other big events (Leros and Rethymnon) were being held in Greece.

Though there is not such a big prize fund (the 1st prize was 1000 Euros), many titleholders decided to pay a visit to the island with a partner, as the Greek island has an excellent reputation for a relaxing holiday. Moreover, the organisation provides them with accommodation, while GMs even get some travel expenses covered, according to their rating.

A total of 175 players from 22 different countries participated, of whom 37 possessed a title. Apart from these top players many young kids and women attended the festival as well, which means an interesting challenge for players from various categories.

The island is named after the famous legend about Ikaros, son of Daedalus, who fell in the sea, after attempting to escape from Crete by flight. Ikaria is doesn’t have many big cities, like the ones you will find on the continental Greece. Instead, as we already noticed upon our arrival with the boat from Athens, Ikaria has a very rocky appearance. Like many other Greek islands, the villages are featured by white buildings (protecting against the sun), nice terraces with a boulevard and nice cafeterias, while the villages are connected to each other with sharp, curving roads.

Only approximately 2400 inhabitants are living on a relatively big territory of 255 square kilometer. Most players were accommodated either in the small villages Agios Kirikos or Therma, on respectively 15 and 30 minutes walking distance from the playing hall. The organisation provided a daily bus transport from both towns to the playing venue and back, but most people understandably preferred to make a walk after the game, when the sun was already down.


Arrival in the port of Agios Kirykos

Luckily for many players, there was only one day with a double round, while the other days games started at 7 PM. As games sometimes finished late, people had to be prepared to have a dinner late at night, which is not a part of everyone’s rhythm. Though, soon many got used to this different lifestyle and enjoyed the fine climate way into the early hours of the next day.

From the very beginning the tournament was dominated by GM Robert Kempinski, who just came straight from the Greek team championship. After six rounds he was the only unbeaten player, while his main contenders were already a full point behind. The Polish GM consolidated his ranking with three solid draws, securing a shared first place together with his compatriot GM Aleksander Mista (with whom he made a quick draw in the final round) and Russian GM Evgeny Vorobiov, who managed to grind down his friend GM Andrey Rychagov. But thanks to his better tiebreak (decided by Buchholtz), Kempinski was declared deservedly as official tournament winner.

Also in the women section there was a tough competition for the highest places (1st prize 400 Euros) and it was finally won by Inga Khurtsilava from Georgia. During the tournament she could always be found around the top tables and so she convincingly earned a WGM-norm.


An overview of the playing hall

Remarkable was the participation of Ukrainian GM Vladimir Tukmakov. This time the 63-year old legend couldn’t impress as much as he was capable of doing in the seventies, but it is a pleasure to see chess players from his generation to be in such good physical shape and giving everything possible in every game. Ironically enough, with 6.5/9 he managed to win the 1st Veteran prize, while the day after the tournament, when most of the players already left the island, he also showed his skills by winning the blitz tournament. Last, but not least many children went back home with a nice trophy as well, which made it an unforgettable experience for them. And so it was for everybody. Dimitrios Skyrianoglou and his team did everything possible to make their guests feel home as much as possible and in my opinion they absolutely succeeded to do so. A perfect tournament for everyone’s wishes, and I would really recommend Ikaria to everyone who wants to play a summer tournament in a relaxing atmosphere. See you next year!

Ikaros Chess Festival | 2009 Final Standings



A great view over Therma


The port of Aghios Kirykos | Photo courtesy of Panagiotis Tamvakos & Nikos Tsounis


WGM Nelly Aginian


GM Vladimir Tukmakov


GM Robert Kempinski, who just came straight from the Greek Team championship in Kallithea


The winners (l. to r.): GM Evgenij Vorobiov (3), GM Alexander Mista (2), NN, GM Robert Kempinski (1)


Women prizes: WGM Elena Levushkina (3), WIM Inga Khurtsilava (1), WGM Maria Manakova (2)


Veteran prizes: Nikolaos Ornithopoulos (3), Boris Maryasin (2) and GM Vladimir Tukmakov (1)


A very nice person and a great organizer: Dimitris Skyrianoglou


Doesn't this look like a very good idea for next summer...? | Photo courtesy of Panagiotis Tamvakos & Nikos Tsounis


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