Alberto Reigns in Kavala
The Open Greek Championship took place traditionally- at the end of July/ beginning of August (31.07-01.08). By that time in Kavala the weather is extremely hot, like everywhere in Greece in fact, at least for my measures. However, the tournament is always respected by many chess players. This year was no exception- 160 players competed only in the A tournament. Among them were 48 GMs and 25 IMs from 23 different federations! Together with approximately the same number of participants in the “B” section, and around 60 players in the children “C” tournament Kavala is the largest chess festival in Greece. The tournament is fashionable for many reasons.
First of all it has the status of an open Greek Championship. This means that the best Greek player in the tournament will qualify directly for the round-robin Greek Individual Championship. Last year the lucky winner was Panos Dagkakis from the local club, with rating around 2250- democracy in its pure form. The best female player also qualifies for the national women championship.
Secondly- the wonderful conditions. Except for the price fund that is not bad at all- 15 000 Euro in total for both the A and B tournaments and 3000 for the winner of the main event, there are strictly fixed starting conditions for the titled participants. On the announcement of the tournament there is a scale by which any player can calculate what conditions he will receive- will he/she receive a double or a single room, how many days shall he/she spend in the hotel, will there be a travelling expenses coverage for him/her or not. This is very a simple and very effective system. When the organizers finish their resource of conditions, they simply close the registration, thus no player can claim that he was misjudged in his expectations, and the organizers can correctly distribute the financial funds they have.
Speaking about the organization-there are two men that have to be mentioned first. Vasilis Theodoris, and Vasilis Liogkas are the personalities mainly responsible for this event to take place, even at the times of financial crisis. The first one is a vice-president of the Greek Chess Federation, president of East Macedonia-Thrace Chess Union, and chief in the club. Architect by occupation, this chess devotee spends his evenings in the chess club, making sure that all the things will go smoothly. Vasilis Liogkas on his turn is a politician with strong connections, the leader of the communist party in the town, and president of the Kavala Chess Club. The efforts and the connections of these two men give the fruits of the financial funds of the tournament. However, this is a long and hard process that starts often immediately after the Kavala open has once finished.
We should not underestimate the efforts of the other helpers from the club. It is one big family, in which everyone gives whatever they can- translations, internet support, tournament site, live transmission of the game, photos, organizations-all of these are done also by other members of the Kavala Chess Club.
Third- this is the wonderful hospitality of the locals, and the excellent touristic sides to be seen. Kavala itself, the fourth largest town in Greece is famous touristic destination. Picturesquely situated on the see shore, the town has a harbour, old part of the town-with taverns, live music, excellent food, and many places to be seen. Among them is the fortress, the ancient aqueduct, the house of Mehmed Ali Pasha (Egyptian, founder of a dynasty later in his native Egypt, who did many good deeds for the town), tobacco museum, etc.
The Thasos Island can be seen from the town’s fortress and is still famous for its great wines. It is a historical fact that Kavala was founded by the Thasos people at around 6 century B. C. The initial name of the town was Neapol (new city).
Fourteen kilometers next to Kavala is Philippi-important town in the ancient times, founded by Philip Second, the father of Alexander the Great. You can still visit there the Ancient Theater, the Temple of St Lidia-the first European that took Christianity by St Paul.
Last, but not least-these are the remarkable beaches. In Kavala there are a few excellent, but my most preferable is the one in Nea Peramos-some 15 km away from the town. It is situated in vineyards, surrounded by green plants- clean sand, warm water, and superb abilities welcome the visitors.
The “A” tournament was rather tense, with the Luxembourg GM Alberto David storming the first five rounds. Later on, he slowed down the speed, and was first caught by the Indian Sandipan Chanda in round six, and furthermore by Vlad Nevednichy (ROM) and Abhijeet Gupta (IND) in the penultimate round. There was also a large group of players half a point behind them. Chanda and Nevednichy quickly signed the peace pact in the final round, while Gupta was torturing David in a rook endgame three versus two on one flank for a while. The defense proved perfect, and the Luxembourg claimed the title due to his better tie-break. Three more players jumped from the back to tie for the first- Hrant Melkhumian (ARM), Sergey Volkov (RUS), and Nidjat Mamedov (AZE). Thus, except for the two Indian players the podium became totally international.
In addition, I would like to show you a game of my ex-student George Ketzetzis, who managed to completely outplay the second-seeded Russian GM Vladimir Belov, but the heavy time-trouble took away the deserved win.
Official site of the tournament with games, and photos- http://www.chesskavala.gr/