It’s been a busy Christmas period in the chess world. Alexey Dreev took his second rapid title within a week, after finishing first in the Rapid Grand Prix of Russia 2012, immediately following his success at the European Rapid Championship. He beat Vladislav Artemiev 1.5-0.5 in the final, and is sure to be welcoming the chance to make it a triple now that the Aeroflot Open 2012 has been changed to a rapid tournament too.
The 50th Groningen Chess Festival is well underway in Holland. Favourites taking part include Alexander Kovchan, Robin Van Kampen, Zaven Andriasian and Sabino Brunello. Although Van Kampen took an early lead, Zaven Andriasian and Benjamin Bok have overtaken him as the tournament goes into its final days. Anything can happen, Michalik, Kovchan, Sipke and Pancevski all have a score of 5.0 by the 28th December, and Benjamin Bok of the Netherlands is the current leader.
World Cities Team Championship 2012
Al Ain, United Arab Emirates was the venue for the 2012 World Cities Team Championship. There were some surprises in the opening rounds with London being knocked out by the Swedish city of Lund, which saw the British GM Simon Williams’ French defence beaten by the Swede, Carlsson Pontus in 54 moves, and IM Axel Smith beating Zhou Yang Fan of Britain with a Sicilian defence game in 53 moves. Top seed Paris was also a shock early exit. In the quarter final stages, Baku was the first team to go through after defeating Wu Xi 3:1. Play commenced and Novi Sad beat Lund, Sweden to take their place in the semi finals, followed by Tashkent after their respective victory over Athens. Hoogveen beat Saratov to take the final semi final place. The day of the final arrived and, by the 28th it was down to two cities. Hoogveen and Baku played for the top two places, while Novi Sad and Tashkent played for the third place. Top place eventually went to Hoogveen who beat Baku 2.5-1.5 in the final, which saw a good win from Sergei Tiviakov. The results of the final were Giri 1/2 Safarli, then Rauf Mamedov 1/2 Sokolov and Sergei Tiviakof’s 1-0 win over Nidjat Mamedov, plus Durarbayli 1/2 Smeets. Novi Sad took a win on top board which earned them third place on tie break over Tashkent.
88th Hastings International Congress
The Sussex seaside town of Hasting is once more the setting for the Hastings International Congress which will take place from 28th December till the 6th January 2013. A favourite fixture, there will be a ten round Masters tournament, as well as a three day, five round Christmas Tournament, and other tournaments are scheduled, including a New Year Morning tournament, over five days and a New Year Afternoon tournament,. The event has attracted some top names, including British GM Simon Williams who will be looking for a good showing following London’s early departure from the World Cities. The Masters Tournament kicks off on the 28th, and is a chance to not only win titles but to qualify for FIDE ratings. The ratings go down to 1000, therefore anyone with an ECF 75 grade or over would be advised to participate, with the possibility of achieving a partial FIDE rating. Entry is free for masters and those players who are over 60 or under 21. With cash prizes to be won, as well as the Hornteye Brilliancy Prize, for which there is a trophy as well which the winner holds for a year.
The leading players in the 88th Hastings Masters on 28th December are Gawain Jones, Kaido Kulaots, Andrey Sumets, Sarunas Sulskis, Nick Pert and Mark Hebden.