Over 1000 chess lovers in Katowice Chess Festival! Print
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 11:34

Over 1000 chess lovers, 500 kids, different tournaments, 20 grandmasters, players from all over Europe, live commentary, perfect organisation and a wonderful atmosphere, that is what Katowice Chess Festival was all about!

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One of the most memorable moments of the Festival and probably one of the best chess pictures ever! :) / Photo: M. Walusza

Festival started with round robins for GM and IM norms and afterwards, during the weekend, Individual and Team Polish Championship in Blitz were played together with the biggest event that gathered 1000 participants - Polish-Hungarian Friendship Tournament.

Weekend was a time of great fights and high emotions as not only the titles were decided, but also the 70.000 pln (around 16.000 eur) prize fund was at stake! Almost all the best polish grandmasters decided to compete for the trophies, including super-star Radosław Wojtaszek.

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Everyone was thrilled to see Radosław Wojtaszek in action! / Photo: M. Walusza

Tournament director was one of the best organizers and FIDE vice President - Łukasz Turlej.

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The media from all over Poland showed interest in the tournament. / Photo: M. Walusza

Happy moments came very quickly as two norms were scored in the IM round robin - Alicja Śliwicka got her 2nd WGM norm and Dawid Czerw scored his 1st IM norm!

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Alicja Śliwicka is a number 1 polish youth player. / Photo: M. Walusza

With such an impressive starting list this year’s Polish Individual Championship in blitz was one of the biggest in history - 245 players participated in men’s section and 64 in ladies’ tournament! As usually in blitz there were many surprises and even though the favourites in both sections won their titles, the other medalists were quite unexpected!

After 15 rounds and many hours of tense battle Wojtaszek won the Championship, and other medals were taken by Klekowski and Janik, both ‘only’ IMs! Klekowski is known to surprise the fans, as he has even won a medal in Classical Polish Championship few years back, as a last seed in the field! In fact, had Klekowski managed to win his last round - there would have been a tie-break between him and Wojtaszek. And he was close! Unfortunately for the spectators, that did not happen!

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Happy winners! / Photo: M. Walusza

In women’s section Klaudia Kulon stunned the Championship with a perfect 15/15! Silver medal was won by Śliwicka, who continued her great performance after the round robin. Honorata Kucharska, who is also a World vice Champion under 16, took home a bronze.

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Polish Women Champions in blitz. / Photo: M. Walusza

Team competition was even more emotional as favourites were losing, none of the matches were really clear and even if something seemed certain... it was changing really fast. It was very exciting for fans and commentators to follow those events, but probably quite exhausting for the players!

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Live commentary from the blitz attracted hundreds of spectators on-line. / Photo: M. Walusza

Finally the champions were: Akademia Szachowa Gliwice in Open and Czarny Koń Olkusz in ladies section. Interestingly, GM Paweł Czarnota was part of winner’s team in Open and his sister WIM Dorota Kika was a first board of winner’s team in women’s tournament!

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Team winners. / Photo: M. Walusza

The main event of the Festival was Polish-Hungarian Friendship tournament. It is already 7th time the tournament is organized and it has grown into one of the biggest rapid events in Europe. It is not only about competing for top prizes, it is more about celebrating the game we all love, chess. Around 1000 chess-players participated and 70 of them were from Hungary!

The winner was Radek Wojtaszek, who showed once again, that playing from a position of a leader is not at all a problem for him! Second place took Wojciech Moranda and a third Yuriy Vovk from Ukraine.

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Wojtaszek won both tournaments he participated in! / Photo: M. Walusza

What is really remarkable is that every time you are in Katowice, especially at the event organized by Silesian Chess Federation and Łukasz Turlej, you can feel that the organizers really try to bring chess to the highest level.

One of the new ideas this year was to show the connection between chess and business. And how to better prove it, than to use experience of strong chess-players who are also (or mainly actually!) successful businessmen?

Grandmaster Jacek Gdański and International Master Grzegorz Masternak are well-known chess-players, who are winners of national and world championship medals. They have been using the skills they have gathered while playing chess in business with outstanding results. Jacek Gdański was a member of the Poland National Health Fund and has been working in the Ministry of Finance, he is a vice president of the Polish Gas TUV. Grzegorz Masternak is a vice president of COIG SA.

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IM Grzegorz Masternak and GM Jacek Gdański enjoyed the simul a lot! :) / Photo: M. Walusza

They both often mention the impact of chess in their professional career in interviews. Now, during Katowice Chess Festival, they spoke about it during a simul where they faced representatives of partners of the event and other VIPs. The event gathered many spectators who were impressed not only with their play, but even more with the stories they have shared about chess and business.

“In chess, as in business, the brave decisions often bring great success. It is vital, however, that the action is well prepared and thought through, even if we do not have much time or we are stressed.” This and many other relations between chess and business were brought up. Abilities learnt while playing chess can successfully be used in many other fields. It was one of the first events organized to prove how chess and business are linked.

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Everyone could follow the action on the big screen in the hall. / Photo: M. Walusza

Another innovative idea was to make on-stage interviews between the games. Everyone could hear and see the guests on the big screen as well. Among guests was Radek Wojtaszek, who shared a little bit about his career and who was his first chess inspiration. Yes, you guessed it - it was Anand! The same player, who, many years later, asked Wojtaszek to be his second during fights for the World Championship title! Radek saw him on a chess magazine cover when he was only 3. What a lovely story!

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Radek is a great role model, always ready to share his experience to motivate his young fans. / Photo: M. Walusza

Another guest was Katarzyna Herok, who is a chess-player, arbiter and journalist, but her main profession is a sport psychologist. She shared her experience about working with kids, how to help them when the success does not come as fast as they hope and how to motivate them, without creating too big of a pressure.

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Katarzyna Herok has plenty of valuable tips to share! / Photo: M. Walusza

It was a lot of great advices for many parents who were at the tournament with their kids and who struggle with many of these problems everyday.

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Being there for the kids, no matter what the circumstances are, is the key! / Photo: M. Walusza

Future of chess are the kids, so the organizers really took care of the youngests adepts of the game. There were many animations, games for the kids, to have fun also between the games.

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Kids had lots of fun! / Photo: M. Walusza

Speaking of kids...the youngest ones got super-big teddy soft toys, which was one of the cutest moments of the event. Just look:

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When you get a gift bigger than yourself :) / Photo: M. Walusza

The youngest participant was not even 4, he seems really ready to rock the world though!

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I wouldn’t want to be across the board from this dangerous look! / Photo: M. Walusza

All of the participants and visitors seemed to be really enjoying their time in Katowice and hope to come back next year. They will have a chance to participate not only in the next Polish-Hungarian Friendship Tournament, but also in European Blitz and Rapid Championship that are planned to take place in Katowice in 2020.

Press release prepared by WIM Anna Kantane  

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