Bringing chess to the Rock and bringing the Rock to the attention of the world is hugely important locally, Sir Joe Bossano, Minister for Economic Development, said yesterday at the start of the 17th edition of the Gibraltar International Chess Festival.
With 250 players registered for the Gibraltar Masters over the 2019 10-day event, it was Sir Joe who made the First Move on the top board yesterday with top seeded player Maxime Vachier-Lagarve from France. Currently No.6 in the world he played his first round game against IM Kiik Kalle from Estonia.
Chess is more than a sport, Sir Joe told the full playing hall at the Caleta Hotel, it was a challenge to the human intellect and his ministry was delighted to support the event financially.
“We believe in our ministry that the most important investment you make is the investment in people,” Sir Joe said.
Shown around the event by Festival Director Stuart Conquest and founder Brian Callaghan, he later addressed a world-wide audience on the tournament’s website describing the festival as the “most fantastic thing in Gibraltar”.
In terms of a small place such as Gibraltar, he explained, the festival was reaching out to the whole of the planet.
Sir Joe said it was very important that this event was happening because its value to Gibraltar was explosive and it had in its short history become a global event.
“You may be reaching a selective audience but it is a very important activity and it engages the human mind which goes to the very core of what we are as human beings and sets us apart,” he said.
On Monday night it was Miss Gibraltar 2018 Star Farrugia who drew the pairings for the opening games in the annual Opening Ceremony.
Gibraltar’s Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Steven Linares, officially opening the event said he was proud to be celebrating 17 years of chess on the Rock.
“This is the best open tournament in the world,” Mr Linares said.
“For little Gibraltar where we only have 32, 0000 people we are very, very proud of this tournament.”
The Government, he emphasised, thought very highly of this tournament.
“This is why we invest in this tournament and we are now its biggest sponsor and will continue for many years to come. The value of this tournament to us is immense.”
The 10-day festival continues daily at the Caleta Hotel with local participation in the Gibraltar Masters with Stephen Whatley and Alan Gravitt with play starting at 3pm.
There is also local participation in the Amateur and Challenges tournaments played every day at 10am.
Pic by Johnny Bugeja