A new chess initiative as part of the Gibraltar International Chess Festival got off the ground yesterday at the University of Gibraltar. Some 16 of the Rock’s junior top chess players are participating in the first ever chess seminar to be held locally and led by chess professionals Ukraine Grand Masters and former Women’s World Champions Anna and Mariya Muzychuk.
It is expected that the event will be held annually with chess players from around the world visiting the Rock to further their study of chess as from next January ahead of and as part of the lead up to the long established 10 day festival which remains a world leader in all open tournaments.
Already chess professionals are supporting this initiative with GM Veselin Topolov, former World Champion, together with GM Elizabeth Paehtz, the strongest women player in Germany having already committed to the programme.
This latest initiative by the organisers of the festival was launched yesterday at the university in the presence of the Minister for the University Gilbert Licudi and founder of the chess festival Brian Callaghan. Also present was Acting University Vice-Chancellor Catherine Bachleda, festival organiser Franco Ostuni and tournament director and Gibraltar’s Community Chess Professional Stuart Conquest.
The Muzychuk sisters are excited to be back on the Rock contributing to the development of our young players and are leading the first ever three day chess seminar at the university where the players will receive one to one tuition.
For the ninth year the sisters will also be competing in the Gibraltar Masters tournament of the Gibraltar International Chess Festival which starts next Tuesday at the Caleta Hotel. Once again this year the tournaments including the amateurs and challengers have attracted very high numbers and some the best players in the world are already arriving on the Rock.
Yesterday morning, as the youngsters got down to their chess moves on the board at the unviversity, Mr Licudi paid tribute to the development of chess locally over the past 17 years.
This, he said, is what makes this latest initiative so special “that an event of the calibre of the Gibraltar International Chess Festival should team up with the university to bring together world class players and up and coming players.”
It was he added “quite amazing” because these events happen in very few places “and we are very grateful it has happened in Gibraltar”.
As the first ever chess seminar got underway Brian Callaghan told the Chronicle he was confident of the many more possibilities this new link could open up between chess and the University of Gibraltar in the future.
Delighted with the support it had received he felt it was most appropriate that the very first seminar should be directed at the very best junior chess players locally.
“We feel it is very good training for them because many of them will be taking part in the festival and the amateur tournaments which begin on Monday.”
For Mr Callaghan this is a natural progression to help further develop chess in Gibraltar not only as a leading centre to play and compete in chess but in conjunction with the University to juxtapose Gibraltar as a place of learning for chess students from around the world.
Mr Callaghan has no doubt that in the first instance this will be an enormous success pointing out how much of a privilege this was for these young chess students to have access and to be able to see the chess board through the mind of world champions.
Anna and Mariya Muzychuk consistently rated in the Top 6 of women’s world chess ratings – both former World Champions will conduct the seminars which will last three days and end with e certificate ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
Next week many of these young players will be participating in the amateur tournament of the Gibraltar International Chess Festival which enters its 17th year. The Gibraltar Masters kicks off on Tuesday at 3pm at the Caleta Hotel.