he 50th Groningen Chess Festival is now in full swing. Having begun on December 21st, this event is set to end on December 30th, and is a perfect way to round off the chess year. The players will be taking a break on Christmas day, and then resuming play up until the 30th. Live coverage of this event is available via the event’s website, so if you are looking for some exciting chess news over the Christmas period, make sure that you tune in to these updates to find out what’s going on in Groningen!
The main part of the event will take the form of a Swiss Tournament in nine rounds, meaning that, as far as is possible, each player will be matched against an opponent of similar ability at each stage of the tournament, with no two players playing each other more than once. The top seeds viiting Groningen this year include Armenian Grandmaster Zaven Andriasian (who comes fresh from his achievement of second place in the Armenian Chess Championship this year) and Italian Grandmaster Sabino Brunello, who tends to favour the Ruy Lopez and Sicilian openings depending on whether he is playing black or white respectively. Brunello also sometimes plays the relatively rare Scotch Game formation, indeed he used this to great effect a number of times in the World Junior Championships in 2006.
One of the great things about annual the Gronigen Chess Festival is the way in which it attracts new top seeds each year. This year, the main players to look out for are Andriasian and Brunello, as well as other chess stars such as Robin van Kampen. Last year, however, the tournament was won by Ukranian Alexander Kovchan and American Robert Hess. Though Kovchan has entered the Groningen tournament again this year, the competition has changed, with new top seeds presnting him with new and different challenges.