Borna Derakhshani from Iran and Alex Garrido Outon from Spain were the top winners at this year’s Gibraltar Junior International Chess Festival. In both the Under 16 and Under 14 sections the tournament in its seventh edition proved to be a record breaking year with the highest number of players – 123 in total from 14 federations.
Stuart Conquest tournament organiser said this had been the strongest tournament ever having attracted a good number of very strong young players.
Borna Derakhshani [above] from Iran won the Under 16 prize of £1,500. This was his second time in Gibraltar this year having also participated in both the Challengers and The Masters of the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. Young Borna said he was keen to return to Gibraltar again next year. Rated 2283 he won the Under 16 tournament with 5½/6 points. He is currently sixth in the U 16 ranking in Iran.
Alex Garrido Outon from Spain, no stranger to the Rock and rated 2055 won the Under 12 tournament of £1,250 with 5½/6 points. He is the current No.1 player in Spain for U-12 and his present European ranking is 35.
Festival Director Peter Purland told everyone at the festival gala night at the Caleta Hotel that this was the tournament that “everyone was talking about” confident that having seen a 25% increase this year it would continue to grow.
“Keenly looked forward to around Europe and beyond,” he emphasised.
Gibraltar saw its highest number of players ever too in this tournament with 17 chess juniors.
The Gibraltar Under 12 Champion was Anushree Jain and the Under 16 Champion was Joseph Greco.
Another familiar name is that of Anna Cramling Bellon who is well known in the festival for having been coming to the Tradewise tournament since she was a baby. Earlier this year she entered The Masters for the first time but she has played in both the Amateurs and Challengers since she was a child. Having entered the Junior Festival since it first started seven years ago this year she won the Best Girl Under 16 award.
The event is greatly supported by the Gibraltar Government through the GSLA and Sports Minister Steven Linares gave the government’s commitment in future years.
Mr Linares was convinced this festival would continue to grow as part of the events-led tourism market.
“It brings families to the Rock, children make lifetime friends, they really enjoy it, and the standards continue to rise. Therefore this festival is not only good for the international scene but also for Gibraltarians participating.”
The young local players was one of the reasons why he felt it was important to continue to support this event.
“We therefore also get all the benefits that chess brings to children generally. We are getting chess into the schools and this benefits us.”
Just as important he says is the fact that this is an events led tourism event.
“For the economy of Gibraltar this is good too because it fills up all the hotels as well. Families are coming to see Gibraltar on the back of chess and see us as we really are and that is great benefit. This is an example to all the rest of what events led tourism is all about,” he added.
At the event James Humphreys from Tradewise, the main sponsor of the adult tournament in January/February was presented with a special award for his support over the years.
Next year the eighth edition of the Junior International Chess Festival will be held from 16 to 20 August.