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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mainz Chess Classic 2009

Today I will tell you about the recent
Mainz Chess Classic Festival that took place from July 27 to August 2, 2009 in Mainz, Germany.

This festival which is run by the great organizer Hans-Walter Schmitt has a long history and every year is getting bigger. Two world championships - Chess960 and Rapid, two opens - Chess 960 and Rapid which are qualifyers for the world championships and many interesting side events including the computer world chess championship, children tournaments, simuls and many more are in the program of the Mainz Chess Classic.

Chess960 (also known as Fischer Random Chess) is a variant of chess that was invented by Robert (Bobby) Fischer. You can listen to Fischer, speaking about his variant of chess. Chess960 is played using traditional chess rules, the only difference is that at the beginning of the game the players shuffle the pieces and place them randomly on the first rank. Only two rules have to be followed: 1 - the king should be in between two rooks and 2- each player should have a dark-squared and a light-squared bishop.

I played in Mainz 4 times and always enjoy these tournaments. The first time I came to Mainz was in 2002. I gave a simul which was one of the toughest and longest simuls in my career

and played a rapid match with Elizabeth Paehtz.

It was a very tense and interesting match, I won it 6-5 by winning the final tie-break game. The photo album of the 2002 event can be found

I came back to Mainz only in 2005 in order to play in the qualification tournament for the Chess960 Women's World Championship 2006. I won the qualification tournament by showing the best result among women in the Chess960 Open.

In 2006 I met with Elizabeth Paehtz in a match in Mainz again. But this time we were playing the Chess960 match for the Women's Chess960 World Title.

This time I won 5.5 to 2.5 and became the first Women's World Chess960 Champion. The photos of the 2006 event can be found

In 2008 I came to Mainz in order to defend my title. This time I first had to play a round-robin tournament with 3 contenders: Kateryna Lahno, Victoria Cmilyte and Natalia Zhukova. The players who took the first two places, me and Kateryna Lahno, had to play a match for the first place and for the World Champion title.

In a very exciting and breath-taking match, I won it 2.5 to 1.5 and became two-times women's world Chess960 champion.

With the organizer of the Chess Classic Hans-Walter Schmitt after the very spectacular match with Kateryna Lahno.

All the photos of the 2008 event can be found
here. You can also listen to my Chess is Cool podcast where I'm telling in details what is chess960 and how I won the 2008 championship here.

Below is a 10-min movie about Mainz and the tournament which will make you feel the atmosphere of this festival:

This year there wasn't the Women's World Chess960 Tournament since it's being held once every two years. But nevertheless we had a few exciting tournaments to follow. First, we found out the name of the new Chess960 Men's World title holder which was Hikaru Nakamura. Hikaru won against against the defending Chess960 World Champion in the final match with the score 3,5 to 0,5 and became the new Chess960 World Champion. An article about this match can be found

After the World Chess960 Championship, the FiNet Chess960 Open was played which determined the names of the contenders for the next Chess960 World Championships. The main event was won by Alexander Grischuk, who gets a chance to play in the next Chess960 World Championship in Mainz and the best female player of the Open was Kateryna Lahno, who should be invited to play next year in the Chess960 Women's World Championship. The full article about the FiNet Chess960 Open can be read

After Chess960 events there was time for Rapid tournaments in Mainz. After the World Champion Vishy Anand failed to qualify for the final of the GRENKELEASING Rapid World Championship, Levon Aronian was the clear favorite to win the title against the Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi. The full article can be found on the web-site of the organizers of Mainz

The rapid Ordix Open was won by Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who took the clear first place with the fantastic score of 10 out 11 points! The top female player this time was again Kateryna Lahno who finished the tournament with 8 points out of 11. The article about the Ordix Open can be found

As usual the Chess Classic 2009 in Mainz went very well and with a great success and I'm already looking forward very much to coming back to Mainz next year in order to defend my Women's World Chess960 Champion title.

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women's World Chess Champion
Women's World Chess960 Champion

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