Botvinnik Memorial International Chess Festival

September 2, 2011, 10:00

On September 2-4, the Digital October Center hosted a chess festival in honor of the 100th birthday of six-time World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik. The festival included rapid chess tournaments, a double blitz, a simultaneous exhibition with young chess players, and analysis of the most interesting games.

Top-ranking chess players took part in the double round-robin rapid competition on September 2nd and 3rd. The men’s rapid tournament included current world champion Viswanathan Anand of India (2,817 points); Magnus Carlsen of Norway, currently ranked number one in the world by FIDE (2,821 points); Levon Aronian of Armenia, one of the strongest players in the world (2,805 points, ranked third in the world); and ex-champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia (2,781). The women’s tournament included Russian Olympic champion Tatiana Kosintseva; vice-champion Koneru Humpy of India; Elina Danielian, the six-time Armenian women’s champion; and current European chess champion Victoria Chmil of Lithuania. For the first time in chess history, the grandmasters revealed their strategies to tournament spectators during the game. In the middle of each round, the chess clock stopped and the players took turns commenting on what’s happening on the board: one of the contenders was listening to music on headphones while the other talked about their methods and shared their thoughts on the game’s course.

After the rapid chess events, the grandmasters played a double blitz. Eight players were divided into four pairs: Kramnik and Kosintseva (Russia), Aronian and Danielian (Armenia), Anand and Koneru (India), and Carlsen and Chmil (Europe). The double blitz is a collision of different styles: the players on each team take turns making moves without consulting each other. Grandmasters, who are used to playing by themselves, must rely not only on their own strategy but also on their partner’s, whose ideas might be completely unpredictable.

Each match was broadcast live on the website of the Russian Chess Federation. The commentators on the matches were TV host Vladimir Solovyov and NTV+ commentator and International Grandmaster Sergey Makarychev.

On September 4th, after the tournament part of the festival, the grandmasters participated in a simultaneous exhibition on 80 boards. The title-holders went up against gifted young chess players who were attending the festival from across Russia.

The festival’s primary sponsor was the Summa Group.

Festival Program

September 2

  • 13.00–13.40 Press conference with the festival participants and organizers and the presentation of the 2010 Chess Oscar to Magnus Carlsen
  • 13.40–14.10 Reception for the participants and press
  • 14.15–15.00 Festival opening ceremony
  • 15.00–16.15 1st round
  • 16.30–17.45 2nd round
  • 18.00–19.15 3rd Round
  • 19.25–20.25 Analysis of the most interesting games

September 3

  • 15.00–16.15 4th round
  • 16.30–17.45 5th round
  • 18.00–19.15 6th round
  • 19.25–20.25 Analysis of the most interesting games
  • 20.30–21.00 Doubles blitz

September 4

  • 13.00–13.10 Unveiling of a memorial plaque for Mikhail Botvinnik at the Central House of Chess (14 Gogolevsky Boulevard)
  • 16.30–17.45 Simultaneous exhibition with gifted youth
  • 18.00–19.15 Evening soiree in honor of Mikhail Botvinnik at the Central House of Chess (14 Gogolevsky Boulevard)


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