The 21st Voronezh International Chess Festival is going on! Taking place yearly in June since 1997, now it is one of the oldest and the most valuable chess festivals in Russia. Several last years the festival is supported by the Voronezh region governor Alexey Gordeev. The festival is always held by the same organizers team leading by GM+IA+IO+FT Alexander Raetsky.
The festival program has not been changed for the last six years. There are three classical chess tournaments: Master Open is the main event, Russia Cup Stage and ACP tour stage; FIDE Open is a rating tournament for players with Elo < 2200 or without Elo; Sail of Hope is a special tournament for handicapped people. There are also Chess960, Rapid and Blitz one day tournaments.
The main arbiter of the Master Open 2017 is IM+IA+IO Vladimir Staratorzhsky, the head of the arbiter's and qualification commissee of the Russian Chess Federation. Working under the supervision of such a strong and experienced referee will be very useful for Voronezh arbiters. There is a big group of chessplayers from India in Voronezh this year (mostly from Chennai but several other cities too) including several young champions (IM Praggnanandhaa, FM Nihal Sarin, Gukesh and others), their games attract a lot of spectators.
Chess960 tournament is not as popular as other tournaments, some players want to play only classical chess, some prefer to arrive later. 53 players participate this year including 5 GM, 7 IM, 10 FM. The winner GM Swapnil Dhopade (IND) scored 6.5 points of 7, GM Boris Savchenko (RUS) is the second with 6 points, IM David Paravyan (RUS) is the third with 5.5 points.
Rapid tournament is usually much more popular and this year too: 135 participants, 10 GM, 1 WGM, 15 IM, 3 WIM, 23 FM, 3 WFM. GM Alexey Pridorozhni (RUS) scored 7 points in the first 7 rounds and after two draws he is the winner with 8 points of 9. GM Daniil Linthcevski (RUS) and Rafael Bakunts (ARM) are half a point back.
Two classical chess tournaments started June 12. There are 137 participants in Master Open including 28 GM, 1 WGM, 21 IM, 6 WIM, 33 FM and 11 WFM. There are players from 7 countries (Russia, India - 18 players!, Ukraine, Belarus, Vietnam, Armenia, Sweden) and more than 40 regions of Russia. After 4 rounds there are two leaders, GM Maxim Chigaev (RUS) and GM Alexey Pridorozhny (RUS) scored 4 points of 4. Four players have 3.5 of 4: GM Mikhail Mozharov (RUS), GM Nikita Maiorov (BLR), IM Tran Tuan Minh (VIE), Rafael Bakunts (ARM). 119 chessplayers participate in FIDE Open, there are players from Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Turkmenistan and Afganistan. Nobody managed to score 4 points of 4 but nine players have 3.5 (including Timur Ponomarev and Mikhail Paschansky who already won this tournament several years ago). The fight in both tournaments is very interesting.
Tournament for handicapped people Sail of Hope started June 13. It is held in a special place convenient for its participants. 24 players from several Russia regions take place.
For the event devoted to the memory of the first Russian world chess champion Alexander Alekhine it is very important that 2017 is the year of the 125th Alekihine's anniversary. The festival program includes showing a movie about Alexander Alekhine and a special quiz about the great champion.