This year’s Riga Technical University Chess Festival recently took place from the 6th – 12th August. A total of 588 competitors from over 40 different countries travelled to the Kipsala exhibition centre (pictured below) in Latvia’s capital to take part in one of five tournaments (A, B, C, D and E).
Latvia has produced some of the world’s finest players, including former world chess champion, Mikhail Tal, and more recently former world number 2, Alexei Shirov – both players renowned for their attacking flair. Latvia’s current number 1, Igor Kovalenko (GM) – FIDE 2644, was top seed in Tournament A, which consisted of 260 players including 13 year old Indian prodigy, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa (GM), who is breaking all sorts of records:
- Youngest International Master of all time (breaking Judit Polgár’s 25 year old record).
- Second youngest Grandmaster of all time (behind Sergey Karjakin).
This year two Suffolk players took part in the open Tournament A:
- Alan Merry (IM)
- Edmund Player (myself!)
By his own standards these days, Alan didn’t have one of his best tournaments, but he still managed to put in a very solid performance scoring 6 points from 9 rounds, which earned him a share of 21st place and a grand total of 16 euros! Alan played a nice game in round 7, where he ended up in the position below. Can you spot how he finished the game?
From a personal point of view my own tournament went pretty well, especially at the beginning where in the first two rounds I managed back-to-back draws against Kaido Külaots (GM and Estonian number 1) and Iila Smirin (GM) – see game below. During the latter part of the tournament things faded away a little for me – my 7th round opponent unfortunately couldn’t play and I only managed to score ½/2 in my final two games – however, overall I was pleased with my play and final result.
For those considering a summer tournament next year, Riga is an excellent option for players of all ages and standards. This year the organisers also held two FIDE rated blitz tournaments as well as a cultural programme, offering chess players a visit to the local chocolate factory and a chance to play in a table tennis tournament.