Mikhail Tal rapid chess memorial, organized by the Latvian Chess Federation, opened on July 16. International children’s tournament Riga Holidays will also run alongside the adult competition.
Two major fast chess tournaments named after Mikhail Tal will take place in the Omega hall of Radisson Blu Latvija hotel for several days. A press conference before the event was held at noon of July 16, while the opening ceremony, featuring cello trio Melo-M, started at 1 p.m.
Chess players from all over the world will participate in the eighth Mikhail Tal chess memorial. “Approximately 300 players from 26 countries will take part in each of the two tournaments (rapid and blitz), including more than 50 grandmasters. It is the first time so many grandmasters participate in a competition in Latvia. I believe we are the world’s chess center for these several days,” said the Latvian Chess Federation’s President Āris Ozoliņš.
Ozoliņš also reveals that a joint decision on organization of the memorial in Riga was taken in Tallinn when the city hosted Paul Keres chess tournament in January, which is when FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich was approached. Before that, large tournaments in memory in Tal were organized in Moscow.
Rapid chess matches started right after the opening ceremony and will continue for two days. Each player has 15 minutes, plus 5 seconds additional time per each move. The winner will be determined based on the Swiss system. The blitz tournament will get under way on July 18, also in the Omega hall of Radisson Blu Latvija hotel. Players participating in the tournament will each have 3 minutes and 2 seconds additional time per move.
More than 100 players will represent Latvia at both tournaments, led by Igors Kovaļenko who is currently ranked approximately 20th in the global fast chess rankings.
In addition to the chess events for adults, the Latvian National Library will host international tournament Riga Holidays 2019 from July 19 to 24, where the best players among children will be determined.
“Historically, Riga has played an important role in the global chess community, first of all thanks to the outstanding grandmaster Mikhail Tal who lived and worked here. The capital city of Latvia has hosted important chess tournaments in the past, and we are very happy that this excellent tradition is continuing and Riga has become one of the chess capitals of the world. Figuratively speaking, Mikhail Tal’s work is continued, inspiring the current players to ever strive for new achievements. We, on the other hand, are pleased to support such intellectual and prestigious events as international chess tournaments,” says Rietumu Charity Fund CEO Inga Šīna.
The total prize fund of the tournaments is EUR 35,000: EUR 25,000 for the rapid chess tournament and EUR 10,000 for the blitz tournament. The Mikhail Tal chess memorial is supported by Rietumu Banka, Coca-Cola, Latvijas Balzams and Tolmets.