Gibraltar Chess 2018

Aronian, Vachier-Lagrave, Nakamura and Ivanchuk among the big names doing battle on the rock.

The Gibraltar Chess Festival 2018 takes place January 22nd to February 1st | images © Tradewise Gibraltar Chess, & @GibraltarChess.
Images © Tradewise Gibraltar Chess, & @GibraltarChess.

As if we didn’t know already, Chess rocks! And putting this into practice is the Gibraltar Chess Festival, which brings the game to one of the world’s best known landmarks. Already immortalised in films such as The Living Daylights and the aptly-named, The Rock, Gibraltar’s beloved feature now plays host to some of the top players of our game.

And this proves that we chess fans are truly spoiled sometimes — not only do we have the Tata Steel Chess Tournament reaching a tense climax this week, but there is now Gibraltar to boot. It certainly softens the blow somewhat to Wijk aan Zee almost being done for another year.

Fierce Competition Ahead

The festival’s showcase event is the Masters tournament, which will be played over ten rounds. The time control is 40 moves in 100 minutes, followed by 20 moves in 50 minutes. Thereafter the players receive 15 minutes for the rest of the game. 30 second increments are added from move one. First place may not be shared, so there are also possible play-offs to decide the top prize of £25,000 ($34,753 / €28,379).

The tournament has a very testing schedule, with the ten rounds being played on consecutive days with no rest day.

Top seed in the main event, is Armenian Grandmaster, Levon Aronian. He will not be taking anything for granted, however, even with his 2797 rating. Just behind him are Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2793), Hikaru Nakamura (2781) and David Navara (2749).

If Aronian is to match being the favourite on paper with results and claim the top prize, it is clear that he will have to work hard for it. Not least because there is also the likes of Vassily Ivanchuk (2726), Wang Hao (2711), Harikrishna Pentala (2745), and Richard Rapport (2700), as well as Michael Adams (2709) and Nigel Short (2681). Wenjun Ju (2572) and Anna Muzychuk (2571) are among the female contenders.

Along with the main event, there is plenty else going on for players of all levels. There are two Challengers tournaments and two groups for amateurs. And for spectators, there is also a great deal to enjoy, with commentary being given by Simon Williams and Jovanka Houska.

It will all take place at the Caleta Hotel, which is located on the east side of the Rock.

With Thanks To:

Gibraltar International Chess Festival

Official Website:

About John Lee Shaw 188 Articles
I love all things chess! I only play for fun these days, but I love following and writing about the game. I don't pretend to be an expert, I'm more a knowledgeable enthusiast. Not a big fan of engines and I don't use them much in my analysis -- I prefer to approach the game from the human angle. The battle of minds, power and pitfalls of the ego and the psychology of competition never fails to fascinate and thrill me! :-) I am also a contributor at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.