Major recurring individual international chess events

Welcome to this compendium: An overall survey of tournament *serials* in classical chess

A wrap-up of past and present major <recurring> individual international chess tournaments (featuring closed invitational round robin all-play-all and open swiss system)

Contents

i) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international invitation tournament series,
still existing about forty years or longer (sometimes with format change from a closed round robin into an open swiss system)

ii) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international invitation tournament series,
established recently

Supertournament *series* (international invitational) - present
derivate from the tournaments listed above in i and ii

iii) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international invitation tournament series,
recently cancelled and major past

iv) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international Open Festivals (swiss system),
present, a selection of the most important series in status and strength

v) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international Open Festivals (swiss system),
past, a selection of the most important series in status and strength

vi) Famous recurring individual (open or closed) rather regional based Chess Festivals,
with international reputation in long annual tradition, a selection of past and present events

vii) Rapid and / or Blitz recurring individual invitation exhibitions events,
a small selection of past and present, by definition not part of classical chess

viii) One-off individual international invitation tournaments,
by definition not part of a series

This is a best-effort attempt to summarize past and present individual international invitation tournament series (recurring with numbered editions) in classical chess, and a selection of Open Festivals in classical chess. The survey is independent of Viktor Korchnoi's career record and includes newly established invitation supertournament serials such as eg. Tal Memorial, Bilbao, London Chess Classic, Norway Chess, Sinquefield Cup, or Gashimov Memorial (data per 2016).

Cool Bonus chapter

http://www.chessdiagonals.ch/431660786 including:

  • ELO fetishism & Category madness (Must read)
  • On Elo system and FIDE Elo chess rating inflation
  • Youth mania

Major serials - present, the traditionals

i) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international invitation tournament series,
still existing about forty years or longer (sometimes with format change from a closed round robin into an open swiss system)

Hastings International Chess Congress since 1920/21 as Winter chess congress, with first Summer chess congress in 1895 (strong invitation round robin tournament, today as a middle strong international Open), Beverwijk / Wijk aan Zee (Hoogovens, Corus, Tata Steel), the "Wimbledon of Chess" since 1938 (starting local, since more than fifty years the benchmark), Sarajevo, Bosna since 1957 with a ten-year break (strong invitation round robin tournament, today as a rather regional based Open), Havana et al. (Capablanca Memorial) since 1962 (strong invitation round robin right at the beinning in the 1960s and growing again in recent years, played in Varadero in 2016), Polonica-Zdrój (Rubinstein Memorial) since 1963 (today as a local event), Biel / Bienne Chess Festival since 1968 starting as an Open going on prominently until today, plus parallel since 1977 a strong GM invitation tournament with the exception of 1978 and 2016 (including three times Interzonal tournaments in 1976, 1985, and 1993), Dortmund since 1973 (with independent Prequels in 1928, 1951, 1961, from 1973 to 1991 a series of moderate calibre, since 1992 as strong Sparkassen Chess-Meeting), and very unregular, the Vidmar Memorial, first organized in 1969, mostly in Ljubljana or / and Portorožoccassionally in other cities (after some purely national tournaments under that label in recent years, the 20th edition of 2016 in Bled showed again a mixed line-up in old-fashioned style, half of the players from the hosting nation, half of the players from abroad)

Major serials - present, established recently

ii) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international invitation tournament series,
established recently

Barcelona GM International (20th edition in 2015), Poikovsky (Karpov Tournament) since 2000, Edmonton since 2006, Moscow (Tal Memorial) since 2006 for eight consecutive years, but in 2014 the brand was used disconnected for a blitz event during the Carlsen vs. Anand wcc match in Sochi, while in 2015 it didn't take place at all. In 2016 the Tal Memorial is back in its initial format. Note: An independent invitational Prequel (as PCA Super Classic, a series in different cities) was given the name Tal Memorial at Riga in 1995, too. Kings Tournament at Bazna, Bucharest et al. since 2007, but switched later to a team match event, Bilbao Masters (at the beginning labelled as Grand Slam Masters Final) since 2008, Lublin Union Memorial since 2009, but switched later to a team match event, London Chess Classic since 2009, Danzhou City (Hainan Province) since 2010 growing in strength and status, going more and more global, Baden-Baden (Grenke Chess Classic) played unregular since 2013, sometimes also pure national, historically there have been prestigious Prequels at Baden-Baden, Stavanger area (Norway Chess) since 2013, St. Louis (Sinquefield Cup) since 2013, Shamkir (Gashimov Memorial) since 2014

Note: In 2015, the three tournaments at London Chess Classic, Norway Chess, and Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis, Missouri were building an additional own cycle, sub-claimed "Grand Chess Tour", meaning actually inviting the same (nine) top players except one wildcard per tournament with a separate point scoring system. However, a year later, Norway Chess which is now sponsored by the telecom and fiber company Altibox, decided to step out. With the remaining London Chess Classic and Sinquefield Cup, the Tour 2016 is expanded by two new Rapid & Blitz tournaments (Leuven, Belgium and Paris): http://grandchesstour.org/.

Supertournament serials - present

Supertournament *series* (international invitational)
derivate from the tournaments listed above in i and ii

Survey in alphabetical order of significant supertournament *series* in classical chess in 2016:

since 1968 (49th) Biel Chess Festival (Biel chess tournament), Open without GMT in 2016
since 2008 (9th) Bilbao Masters Final (6 players/drr) (Bilbao Chess Masters Final)
since 1973 (44th) Dortmund Sparkassen (8 players) (Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting)
since 1962 (51st) Havana, Cienfuegos, Varadero et al. (Capablanca Mem Elite) (6 players/drr)
(Capablanca Memorial)
since 2009 (9th) London Chess Classic (10 players) (London Chess Classic)
since 2006 (10th) Moscow (Tal Mem) (10 players) (Tal Memorial)
since 2013 (4th) Saint Louis, Sinquefield Cup (10 players) (Sinquefield Cup)
since 2014 (3rd) Shamkir (Gashimov Mem) (10 players) (Shamkir Chess)
since 2013 (4th) Stavanger area, Norway Chess Altibox (10 players) (Norway Chess)
since 1938 (78th) Wijk aan Zee, TATA Steel (14 players) (Tata Steel Chess Tournament)
(from 1938 to 1967 played at Beverwijk, originally known as Hoogovens, later Corus tournament)

> Wijk aan Zee, the Wimbledon of Chess, is the sole all-play-all international supertournament in classical chess to invite more than ten players today! 

> Wijk aan Zee, the Wimbledon of Chess, is the only all-play-all international supertournament in classical chess still to offer a strong "B-group" as it was a longtime tradition:

Wijk aan Zee, TATA Steel Challengers (14 players) 

> Wijk aan Zee, the Wimbledon of Chess, is the only tournament with a complete database, including all games and detailed tournament information about every player who has participated at Beverwijk and Wijk aan Zee in the past eight decades on its Website:

http://www.tatasteelchess.com/history

Biel Chess Festival regularly offers both, a closed invitation tournament (round robin) and an open tournament (swiss system) of high level calibre : the large and strong Open (MTO), sometimes forgotten / outshined by the Invitational (GMT).


drr = double round robin, number of participants and modus of the tournaments sometimes vary!

This list of present invitational <serials> is not intended to be an exhaustive or definitive record of (super)tournament chess, no attempt is made at comparing the relative strengths of tournaments in the list, as this is the subject of inconclusive and heated debate amongst experts.

These are the present-day individual international invitation tournament series in classical chess with a player average of usually ELO 2700+. For instance, in the year 2014, the Sinquefield Cup (then 6 players) has had the highest average, and Dortmund (not Havana, Capablanca Memorial) the comparatively lowest average of all such tournaments (Moscow, Tal Memorial was a Blitz).

No offense to other series intended!

Not listing official FIDE Chess World Championship (male, female, junior, senior; rapid, blitz), Candiates, (former) Interzonals and Zonals, the FIDE World Cup knock-out competition or the FIDE Grand Prix umbrella with tournaments in changing countries, nor team events (famously the biennial Chess Olympiads).

Competitions such as city, national or continental championships are not enough internationally mixed and have been omitted for reasons of consistency and clarity.

Of course, had they been included, then many of them, particularly the Soviet / Russian Chess Championships, would have featured prominently. They are considered as a class by its own.

Because of galloping ELO inflation, this rather rough definition could be used (if ever) only for current events, it is clearly not sound for historical comparisons!

In the rush of daily Liverating hysteria, Youth mania, ELO fetishism and CATEGORY madness,
don't forget:

The smaller the number of participants, the easier to pimp up the average! We should not be focussed (only) on the the average, but on median and number of players of a tournament.

The number of players does have an impact on the individual chances to win, not only average counts! The probability to win for instance a round robin tournament such as Wijk aan Zee with normally 14 players, mostly top hundred including a handful from the top ten, could be therefore statistically lower than to win any tournament with four or six players even if all of them are in the top ten and their average of players subsequently higher.

Footnotes:

since 2012 (5th) Zurich Chess Challenge (6 players) (Zurich Chess Challenge) is a mix of Rapid & Blitz with combined overall winner of former Melody Amber type ambiance. 

Baden-Baden (Grenke Chess Classic) no edition in 2016.
Survey: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tournoi_d%27%C3%A9checs_de_Baden-Baden (in french)

Danzhou, Hainan not yet fitting the international criteria (at maximum half of the player from the hosting nation): The Hainan Danzhou Tournament is gaining momentum, gets better every year and is inviting now also strong players from abroad.

The 1st edition at Danzhou in 2010 saw ten Chinese grandmasters playing: Bu Xiangzhi, the winner on tie-break above Li Chao, Ding Liren, Wang Hao, Zhou Jianchao, Zhao Jun, Zhou Weiqi, Yu Yangyi, Hou Yifan, and Ni Hua who had a bit of a bad result (2/9) finishing last without a win.

In 2014 (5th edition), it was the first time that foreign players were participating, as well as in 2015 (6th edition), in both years two out of ten players were from abroad. In 2016 (7th edition), Hainan Danzhou has now become more and more international: six players from the hosting nation battling four international stars (ten players).

Hainan Danzhou indeed has the potential to become a classical international tournament series! Survey: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tournoi_d%27%C3%A9checs_de_Danzhou (in french)

Other current and annually organized international invitationals of note, but not considered as a chess supertournament (ELO average consistently below 2700 and / or no global mix of players): eg. Vidmar Memorial (Ljubljana, Portorož, Bled et al., unregularly played), Karpov tournament (Poikovsky), Barcelona, or Edmonton.

As mentioned, the former world-class tournaments of Hastings and Sarajevo (Bosna) are now played in a swiss system and lost their previous stardom.

Glory and fame of a tournament (series) seem sometimes unpredictable, there are so many imponderabilities in economic life, well, in life in general Ha ha 

This has not necessarily to do with a format change, other factors count as well: an excellent combination of serious chess, playing conditions, organisation, sightseeing, location, good food, sponsoring, prize money, time, duration, media coverage and reception, the love and respect for the players!!

Reykjavik for instance gained much on reputation in status and strength after switching from a closed invitational tournament to an Open Festival today. Gibraltar Tradewise, Moscow Aeroflot, Dubai, or Doha (Qatar Masters) are proof, that an Open can successfully be launched or (in the case of the Isle of Man Open) relaunched on a high level, big and diverse. They have reached the status of a supertournament, too, and are offering several hundred of rated players to join the chess community.

Compare:
Closed elite series - www.chessdiagonals.ch
Open Superseries - www.chessdiagonals.ch

Major serials - past

iii) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international invitation tournament series,
recently cancelled and major past

A selection of numbered series in alphabetical order: the hosting city is mentioned first, followed by the principal sponsor(s) and/or sub-claim(s). If a series has been played at various venues, eg. a Memorial tournament, then a typical city is indicated. Note: <individual> implies no team events, <international> implies no national (continental or city) tournaments, <invitation> implies no open tournaments and no official FIDE Championship cycles or other umbrella brands (GMA, PCA). Classical chess means no Rapid or Blitz.

In general, the reasons why a long time running series has a break or collapse are economically driven, lack of financial sponsoring: either the main private industrial company lost its interest, has a new marketing strategy and / or the public hand did no longer subsidy — often due to a change of responsible chairman or reigning government) or the principal initiator (private maecenas) passed away, is forced to stop his / her organizational and financial support, unfortunately mostly due health problems. Sometimes the momentum in a region has just gone, new series are launched.

Amsterdam-IBM, Amsterdam (OHRA), Amsterdam (Euwe Memorial) - including one edition in Rotterdam, Balatonfüred, Debrecen, Gyula et al. (Asztalos Memorial), Banja Luka, Belgrade (Investbanka), Budapest (Tungsram), Brussels (OHRA & SWIFT)Buenos Aires (Clarin)Buenos Aires (Konex), Buenos Aires (Najdorf Tournament / Najdorf Memorial), Bugojno, Carlsbad, Cordoba, Costa del Sol series (in Torremolinos, Malaga, et al.), Dos Hermanas, Enghien-les-Bains, Essen (Julian Borowski), Foros (Aerosvit), Groningen (adult invitational series), Haninge, Hoogeveen (VAM, Essent, Univé, invitation series), Horgen (Crédit Suisse Masters), Lady's Cup (1st held in Surakarta, often called Solo, and Denpasar, the capital of Bali; 2nd held in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Denpasar, all in Indonesia), Las Palmas (Jorge Puig series), London (Phillips & Drew Kings, then GLC Chess Challenge), London (Staunton Memorial), Linares / Linares-Morelia (Luis Rentero series), Manila (Marlboro), Madrid (Magistral), Mar del Plata (invitation, not to mix with the ongoing open tournaments), Margate, Monte Carlo (not to mix with Melody Amber series), Montilla-Moriles, Munich (SKA-Mephisto), Nanjing (Pearl Spring), Netanya, Novgorod, Olot, Ostende (in total six invitation editions), Palma de Mallorca (Jorge Puig series), Paks (György Marx Memorial), Pamplona, Piatigorsky Cup (1st held in Los Angeles; 2nd held in Santa Monica, both in California), Reggio Emilia, Rome (Banco di Roma), San Sebastian (invitation editions, later open events, and Donastia Chess Festivals), Sochi (Chigorin Memorial), today an annual Chigorin Memorial is held as an open tournament in Saint Petersburg, Skopje (Turnir solidarnost), Sofia (M-Tel Masters), Tallinn (later Keres Memorial, closed tournaments in classical chess, not to mix with the ongoing rapid series), Teesside, Ter Apel Klooster (Cloister), Tilburg (Interpolis, Fontys), Venice, Vienna et al. (Schlechter Memorial), Vinkovci, Vrsac (Kostic Memorial, with a big break), Zafra et al. (Ruy Lopez Festival, including further events)

Athens Acropolis (in 1968, and 1977 - 2009 switching between round robin and swiss system), Gausdal, Norway (with a vast number of Open Festivals, as well a series of invitation tournaments 2001 - 2008), or León, Spain (lasting annually since 1988 with various / changing formats: round robin, swiss system, matches, classical chess, rapid chess and especially pioneering the new Advanced Chess "Man and Machine") are not primarily recognised as an invitation series in classical chess, thus not classified here, please compare the corresponding sections

in bold: supertournament series in status as an elite event, but not always in strength, for instance Reggio Emilia once organised the strongest tournament in terms of ELO average so far (read more further down), sometimes it was rather regional. Despite being pretty strong, Ostende 1937, 1938, and 1956 are near forgotten, overshadowed by the big three tournaments in a row of world-class calibre at Ostende, Belgium, in the years 1905, 1906, 1907. Other series started as a minor event, even Linares or Dos Hermanas. And of course, it is discussable whether just two tournaments, played at different venues can be regarded as a series (Piatigorsky Cup and Lady's Cup). Horgen, Switzerland intended to launch a series together with the Crédit Suisse (CS), but featured merely two top tournaments in a row, one of them was part of an umbrella label (PCA Super Classic), too. Teesside in 1972 was followed up with the World Junior Chess Championship 1973, the World Student Team Championship 1974, and finally in 1975 with another GM tournament. Bugojno, London Phillips & Drew Kings have been played biannually, and usually also the Kostic Memorial. The closed editions at Mar del Plata, Banja Luka and a few other series have been held unregular - but still with numbering. The prestigious Euwe Memorial and Hoogeveen (VAM, Essent, Univé) were normally a Mini-Tournament of only four players. Some of the series presented parallel an open tournament and / or a strong closed B-group (sometimes C or D section) as well, most famously the legendary Amsterdam-IBM, Margate Congresses, and Hastings Congresses as an invitation tournament in its dominant decades.

Individual international invitation tournament series that merit inclusion here have been largely judged according to the strength of their participants (top players and / or 'big reputation players') and the status of the series. Other factors were taken into account, but have less influence, for example the quality of chess played, historical interest, tournament books, or online presence. Inevitably, this introduces a degree of subjectivity.

Incredible footnote @ Hoogeveen: Smyslov, Korchnoi, Spassky, Karpov, and Carlsen played in the closed Crown Group (Mini-Tournament of four player) - but all were not  winning! Veteran Smyslov and Karpov faced even the fate to be clear last.


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A comment Herz

Supertournament series a few decades ago

The major (super)tournaments of the past were not exclusively meant for only top ten players: Tournaments used to be bigger, almost all events in those days were larger than this tendency in recent years towards 6 players in a double round robin or 10 players in a single round robin.

Variety is the spice of life

One may take the strong invitationals held for some years in at Palma de Mallorca as an example: those often had several top Soviet GMs, other elite players such as Larsen and a smattering of lesser lights comprising 16, 18, or 20 player fields in a generational split. Similar at Bosna, Sarajevo (original invitation series), the early Capablanca Memorial tournaments at Havana, or the legendary Amsterdam-IBM, and of course, the traditional and ongoing Wijk aan Zee (Tata Steel), today the sole all-play-all international supertournament in classical chess to invite more than ten players!

Las Palmas (starting with 16 participants in 1972, ending with 6 participants in 1996), later Linares or Tilburg for example reduced the number of invited players to 14, 12, 10 or 8, but generally still had more variety. Yes, they tended widely to invite the absolute top three to five best players in the world to give more visibility and prestige to their events. But they nevertheless also invited some in-form, up-coming, legendary or / and local players as well.

The Narrative is missing

Today, in closed supertournaments, you find almost always the same group. It's obvious that the players are finding it exceedingly hard to figure out what to play in the opening because they know each other's tendencies so well, they are in danger of making insipid draws between themselves instead of showing attractive and combattant chess.

After a while, for the public it can be boring to see the exact same players play themselves every time. I wonder how this model of only inviting players from above 2700+ Elo (top ten preferred) is a sustainable one in the long term. I hope even the top 10 guys will like to face contrasting players from time to time, otherwise the narrative is missing for the public.

What we need today

An international invitation tournament policy not only based on Elo and category average, with about always the same top ten players per year, and some engine evaluations, but also on the Narrative: mixed ages (legends and youth, both together) and gender, different styles, plus prominent and promising players from the hosting nation.

Chess careers and games can again have a narrative story all sports (and arts) need this!

Inspired by ideas and comments of chessgames members fisayo123 (posting from Aug-13-16), and perfidious (posting from Aug-13-16).

PCA SUPER CLASSIC series 1995

Tal Memorial, Riga, Latvia 1995
Novgorod, Russia 1995
CS-Masters, Horgen, Switzerland 1995

Open serials (swiss system) - present

iv) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international Open Festivals (swiss system),
present, a selection of the most important series in status and strength

U.S. Open Chess Championships (Open, played annually at various venues) since 1900 without any break!, Reykjavik (Open, at the beginning up and including 1980 and once again in 1992 a biannual international invitation tournament) since 1964, World Open (most often in Philadelphia, sometimes in New York and other U.S. cities) since 1973, Politiken-Cup / Xtracon Chess Open (with renaming in 2016), Copenhagen, Helsingor et al. since 1979, Cappelle-la-Grande (Open), France since 1985, Isle of Man Open (IoM), originally under the patronat of "Monarch Assurance", annually played in Port Erin from 1992 to 2007, after a seven-year break, now relocated in Douglas as "PokerStars" in 2014, and after another extensive relaunch in 2016 labelled as "Chess.com", Dubai Open (Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup) since 1999, Moscow, Aeroflot Open from 2002-2012 (rapid and blitz edition in 2013, no edition in 2014), and again since 2015, Gibraltar Chess Congress (Open) since 2003 in Catalan Bay (span. La Caleta), initially sponsored by Gibtelecom, since 2011 by Tradewise, Las Vegas (for the first two editions) and Atlantic City, Millionaire Chess (Open) launched in 2014, or Qatar Masters (Open) in Doha launched in 2014

Note: Hastings (first invitation tournament in 1895), is today played as an Open Festival using the swiss system since 2005/06 (after one year with knock-out modus). Hastings International Chess Congress welcomed Tradewise Insurance Services as a new sponsor since the edition of 2015/16, in conjunction with Hastings Borough Council and the English Chess FederationThe traditional Sarajevo (Bosna), starting in 1957 with a ten-year break due to Balkan conflicts, is today played as an Open Festival since 2010

Survey in alphabetical order of about 50 annually recurring Open Festivals in classical chess: 

Abu Dhabi Chess Festival, Open
Al-Ain Chess Classic, Open
Andorra Open, in La Massana
Bad Homburg, Rhein-Main-Open
Bad Wörishofen, ChessOrg Open
Baku, Open
Bangkok, BCC Bangkok Open
Barcelona, Open de Sants, Hostafrancs i La Bordeta
Basel (Riehen), Schachfestival Neujahrs-Open (ex Hilton)
since 1948 Belgrade Trophy, Open
since 1968 Biel Master Tournament, Open
Bratto, Open
Bunratty Masters, Open
since 1956 Canadian Open, at various venues
Capo d'Orso, Porto Mannu Open in Palau, Sardinia
Cappelle-la-Grande, Open
Chicago Open, in Wheeling, Illinois
Copenhagen, Helsingor et al. Xtracon Open (formerPolitiken-Cup”), Open
Dehli, Open
Dresden, ZMDI Festival, Open
Dubai, “Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup”, Open
Gibraltar, Tradewise Chess Festival”, Open
Guernsey Chess Festival, Open
since 1963 Groningen Chess Festival, Open
since 1920/21 (1895 Summer Congress) Hastings Chess Congress, Open
Isle of Man  (IoM),Chess.com Isle of Man International”, in Douglas
                     
  (originally “Monarch Assurance” in Port Erin), Open
Karlsruhe, “Grenke Chess Open” (since 2016 following Deizisau, Neckar-Open”)
Doha,Qatar Masters, Open
Kolkata (Calcutta), Open (successor of Goodricke)
Kuala Lumpur
, “Malaysia Open
Las Vegas (MC1 & MC2), Atlantic City (MC3), “Millionaire Chess Open
Liechtenstein Open, in Mauren, Triesen et al. (1983-2014, relaunch possible)
Malta Open, in Sliema
since 1960 Mar del Plata, Open
Mérida, Yucatán (Torre Repetto Mem), Open
Metz, Open
Moscow, Open
Minsk, Open
National Open, in Las Vegas, Nevada et al.
North American Open, in Las Vegas, Nevada
Philadelphia Open, Pennsylvania
Pardubice, Czech Open
since 1964 Reykjavik, Open
San Sebastian, Donostia, Open
since 1957 Sarajevo, Bosna, Open
Sharjah Masters, Open
Skopje, Macedonia “Karpos Open
St. Petersburg (Chigorin Mem), Open
since 1971/72 Stockholm,Rilton-Cup”, Open
Trieste, Open
since 1900 U.S. Openat various venues
Vancouver (Keres Mem), Open
Vienna Open
(mostly in bi-annual rhythms)
Vlissingen, Hogeschool Zeeland”, Open
Voronezh Master (Alekhine Mem), Open
since 1973 World Open, at various venues
Zürich Weihnachts-Open (ex Nova-Park)

Compare:
Open Superseries - www.chessdiagonals.ch
Closed elite series - www.chessdiagonals.ch

Sincere apologies to anyone whom I have unintentionally omitted to mention!

From a technical point of view, some open tournaments revealed an incredible strength (number of grandmasters participating), but lacked somehow of the same status / prestige  as a closed invitation tournament. Maybe this will change in near future. In 2015, for the first time ever since 1971, Boris Spassky, co-winning at the Canadian Open Chess Championship, held that year in Vancouver, a reigning male World Chess Champion participated again in an open tournament (swiss system instead of round robin): Magnus Carlsen, winning at the Qatar Masters in Doha. 

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A comment Herz

Open Chess Tournaments or When your meal depends on your next move..

The gap (loss) of a few dozen rating points can make the difference between regular invitations to closed supertournaments and “banishment” to the chancier and less rewarding world of the Open chess circuit:

Globetrotter Vladimir Epishin, is an example of a grandmaster who could claim at the highest level only for a few years, the fate of so many professional chess players just one step beyond the very best. He was a regular top-twenty player in the mid-1990s, who peaked as clear number ten of the world in 1994 (January-June list), but soon afterwards disappeared from the radar of the very best, dropped out of the top hundred (there are plenty strong players today), remaining a very busy Open participant: A real chess professional - who has to win prizes to eat and pay mortgages or rent.

Think also of traveller Sergei Tiviakov, winner of the European Individual Chess Championship in 2008 and always dangerous for anyone, or Bartosz Soćko, the Polish player is one of the most busiest professionals today, or Lithuanian world voyageur Eduardas Rozentalis, there aren't that many countries in which he hasn't played a competitive game, or multiple British Rapid Chess Champion Mark Hebden, who also seems to be playing non-stop following the chess winds seeking a weekly wage, or from Hungary, veteran Iván Faragó, supposed to have the second largest number of higher class games, after Viktor Korchnoi.

No guaranteed prize money (except you got 'conditions') plus potential to lose face and a ton of Elo points if they have a couple of drawn games against lower rated participants: That's why top ten, top five players didn't often play in open tournaments (swiss system).

Rare empirical exceptions of fearless top-level chess prominence, playing as well even during their heyday frequently in Open tournaments (swiss system, non predictable opponents contrary to a closed round robin, no chances for drawing masters), are especially Korchnoi and Nakamura (i.e. Short, Miles and others accelerated to play in international Open when they were no longer ranked in the top ten, top twenty of the world, or participated primarily in Open in their youth years, before they advanced to the absolute elite).

From the absolute top-level players, Viktor Korchnoi had the biggest impact, the broadest range and diversity of Superopen series, followed by Hikaru Nakamura at relatively young age (many strong, but not that much internationally mixed Open in the USA, plus an epic record at Gibraltar), chess Open is his favourite hunting ground, in closed elite tournaments (round robin or knock-out), comparatively, Nakamura seems to be somehow less successful.

Then there are surprising strong Vlastimil Hort (winning or co-winning Lone Pine, U.S. Open, London Lloyds Bank, Berlin Summer, Amsterdam OHRA, plus some less known Open Festivals), the mentioned Nigel Short and Tony Miles (including many tournaments of rather moderate strength), Gyula Sax or Alexei Shirov, as well as many strong American GMs frequently playing and surviving the harsh competition of the large Open chess tournaments in the United States, of course (eg. from Benko to Browne, from Christiansen to Kamsky, from Evans to De Firmian).

From all World Champions, until Carlsen arrived, it is first and foremost Boris Spassky who did play and (co-)won several different Open of note (see the list further below). If you do consider all Open Chess Festivals with titled players participating, then Sergei Tiviakov is a contender for achieving the most wins in different international swiss system tournaments, above pure local club level, yet sometimes, Tiviakov, the traveller, was the only grandmaster in the open field.

Fischer  played in the inaugural edition of the Canadian Open Chess Championship, held at Montreal in 1956 as a thirteen years young teenager, and won the U.S. Open at Cleveland in 1957 (on tie-break above Arthur Bisguier). Later as reigning World Chess Champion, and for twenty years afterwards, he didn’t play any competitive chess game whatsoever.

Karpov  very rarely played in an Open tournament in classical chess during his prime time, and never as a reigning World Champion. He heavily criticized the swiss system, eg. after the IBM-Vienna Open in 1986 with four top ten players, Karpov himself, Korchnoi, Beliavsky, and Spassky (organized in the style of Lone Pine).

Kasparov  did never play an individual international Open tournament (swiss system) in classical chess after becoming a Grandmaster in 1980, the year he won the official FIDE World Junior Chess Championship in Dortmund, played in swiss system.

Kramnik  did not play any individual Open tournament in classical chess after the official FIDE Interzonal tournament in Biel 1993 and the PCA Qualifier (equivalent to FIDE's Interzonal) in Groningen 1993, then both held in swiss system up to the first Qatar Masters, held at Doha in 2014, a span of 21 years! Prior to that, he played for instance at Dortmund Open in 1992 or at Gausdal Troll Masters (Open) in 1992.

Note: Since the 1976 Chess Olympiad in Haifa, Israel, and since the 1989 European Team Chess Championship, also in Haifa, these two major FIDE team events are organised in swiss system, but team events have quite a different character, and there a player can pretty easily avoid to play an opponent (s)he doesn't like, taking a rest day.

Most of the Superopen are divided into different sections for players of all level 

==> There are hundreds of fascinating local Open Chess Events and Festivals !!

Watch out in your area Winken

Open serials (swiss system) - past

v) Classical chess, annually recurring individual international Open Festivals (swiss system),
past, a selection of the most important series in status and strength

Lone Pine, California, formally titled the Louis D. Statham Masters (strong international Open 1971-1981 with a semi-invitational character, less than hundred players per edition), Lugano, Switzerland (strong International Open 1976-1989, in the 1980 years extremely tough mixed in countries, gender and age of competitors and regularly with top ten players), London Lloyds Bank (strong international Open 1977-1994, many British players), New York Open (strong international Open 1981-2000, no edition in 1982 and 1999, many American players, biggest price money), Berlin Summer (large international Open 1983-1998, many German players, about 400 players in one field), as the arguably five most prominent past series of Chess Open Festivals, among various other cancelled tournaments (Aosta Valley Open in Saint Vincent, Bled Open, Liechtenstein Open, etc.) 

Lugano Open series (1976-89), big and diverse: 
History: Lugano Open - www.chessdiagonals.ch

Special, large and strong Swiss system in classical chess:

GMA World Cup Open series 1988-1990
in Belgrad, Moscow, Palma de Mallorca and Moscow (final)

FIDE Interzonal played in a swiss system
in Manila 1990, and in Biel 1993

plus Junior, Senior, and team competitions

GMA OPEN series 1988-1989, 1990

Belgrade GMA 1988 (Hulak), including 98 GM, record
Moscow GMA 1989 (Dolmatov)
Palma de Mallorca GMA 1989 (Gelfand), including 164 GM, new record
Moscow GMA 1990 (Speelman), no player below ELO 2500

Famous Regional Chess Festivals

vi) Famous recurring individual (open or closed) rather regional based Chess Festivals,
with international reputation in long annual tradition, a selection of past and present events

Daniël Noteboom Memorial in Leiden, sometimes Noordwijk since 1936 (75th edition in 2015), Belgrade Trophy, in divers shapes since 1948, Chess Festival Groningen since 1962/63 (Prequel World Class Tournament in 1946, at times the Niemeyer Tournament followed by the official European Junior Championship, later an invitation series, still an annual Open with matches and side events), Doeberl Cup (Open), Canberra in Australia, held each year over Easter since 1963, Mar del Plata Open since 1967 (as well as many Zonals and previous international invitation tournaments at Mar del Plata), Beersheba Chess Club, Israel (closed or open tournaments, rapid chess, or matches) since 1973, the yearly Paul Keres Memorial in Vancouver (Open) and in Tallin (today: Rapid), both since 1976, Carlos Torre Repetto Memorial in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico (Open, partly mixed with knock-out) since 1987, First Saturday in Budapest, monthly (!), eleven times per year played since 1992, Hoogeveen (VAM, Essent, Univé), originally consisting of a four players "Mini-Tournament" in a Crown group, today replaced by matches, plus a more local Open event since 1997,

... to name a very few famous events amongst many others!

Special mention:

Athens, Acropolis Festival, 1968, and 1977 - 2009. The longest running international chess tournament in Greece with in total 24 editions, starting as an invitation tournament in 1968, held again in 1977, then played on a fairly regular annual basis, switching between closed and open tournaments, including sometimes a tournament for women and another minor (open) tournament for men. Note: The format varied across the series, switching several times between closed and open events.

Gausdal Chess Festival (Norway), 1970 - 2008,  founded by Arnold J. Eikrem, relaunched by Hans Olav Lahlum, starting with an international Open in 1970, followed by frequent open tournaments (eg. Troll Masters, Peer Gynt, Eikrem Memorial, and Arnold Cup). Thus it happened quite often that several events were held in a same year! Plus the Gausdal Classics, with a GM group + IM group(s)) + Open as innovative invitational series from 2001 to 2008 (with two editions in 2003).

Magnus Carlsen had his entry in a invitation tournament at international level in April 2001 in the closed IM-group of Gausdal Classics (series from 2001 - 2008), invited by Hans Olav Lahlum.

Exhibitions in Rapid & Blitz

vii) Rapid and / or Blitz recurring individual invitation exhibitions events,
a small selection of past and present, by definition not part of classical chess

León, Spain with various / changing formats (round robin, swiss system, matches, classical chess, rapid chess and especially pioneering the new Advanced Chess "Man and Machine") since 1988, Melody Amber, usually in Monaco as a rapid and blindfold event with combined overall winner(1992-2011), Mainz Chess Classic, with inofficial Chess960 World Championship and computer chess (1994-2000 in Frankfurt, 2001-2010 ten years in Mainz), Corsican Circuit since 1997 (rapid, played in Bastia and Ajaccio), Zurich Chess Challenge since 2012 (the first edition as a match, since 2013 as invitational round robin event with special scoring, at the beginning classical and rapid chess combined, now no longer classcial chess, the ZCC in 2016 was in week-end type of rapid and blitz exhibition held from a Friday evening to Monday), 

and since 2016 Paris, and Leuven (Belgium) YourNextMove, both consisting of Rapid & Blitz in a combined overall classement, as well as the Saint Louis  Rapid & Blitz since 2017 (not to mix with the Sinquefield Cup, a supertournament in classical chess since 2013 at same place in Missouri), all three series are annual part of the Grand Chess Tour (GCT).

... to name the most prominent events of that ambience

CORSICAN CIRCUIT (CORSICA MASTERS), since 1997

Annual Rapid Chess Festival organized by Léo Battesti in Corsica, starting at Bastia with an open tournament, then followed by a knock-out phase, with the final played in Ajaccio (Corsican: Aiacciu)

One-off individual international chess tournaments

viii) One-off individual international invitation chess tournaments,
by definition not building of a series, thus not part of this survey

Nottingham 1936, AVRO 1938, for a prominent illustration, as well as many strong international invitation tournaments beyond / additional a series, often in major towns as Amsterdam, Belgrade, Budapest, Bucharest, London, Moscow, Paris, Prague, Saint Petersburg, Vienna, Yerevan, or Zurich, to name only a few 

No numbering: For example the Alekhine Memorial or the Maróczy Memorial have been played very unregular, and in different countries or cities. They were never numbered; no one knows, if / when there will be a next edition, that's why such chess tournaments are not considered as a series by definition, neither are FIDE nor former GMA, PCA umbrella brands at various places

Not listing official FIDE Chess World Championship (male, female, junior, senior; rapid, blitz), Candiates, (former) Interzonals and Zonals, the FIDE World Cup knock-out competition or the FIDE Grand Prix umbrella with tournaments in changing countries, nor team events (famously the biennial Chess Olympiads).

Competitions such as city, national or continental championships are not enough internationally mixed and have been omitted for reasons of consistency and clarity.

Of course, had they been included, then many of them, particularly the Soviet / Russian Chess Championships, would have featured prominently. They are considered as a class by its own.

(as mentioned above)

Compare Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_strong_chess_tournaments
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_bedeutendsten_Schachturniere
Team events: http://www.olimpbase.org/
FIDE World Chess Championship cycles (Zonals, Interzonals, and Candidate's): 
http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/wcc-indx.htm
Historical and present chess events (with tournament index):
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/tournaments
Present tournament results: http://www.chessfocus.com/
TWIC - week by week, the mother and father of all pages:
http://theweekinchess.com/
Historical Chess Library: http://www.thechesslibrary.com/
Historical and pictorial survey: http://www.endgame.nl/ (no longer available)
Excellent page for tournaments in South America: http://www.brasilbase.pro.br/
Global survey in italian language: http://storiascacchi.altervista.org/storiascacchi/index.htm
and in spanish language: http://www.ajedrezdeataque.com/05%20Palmares/palmares.htm

Full survey of 200 important chess links:
sources and readings - www.chessdiagonals.ch & museum and library - www.chessdiagonals.ch 

Peter Svidler as a pupil - maybe the smartest chess player of the world today and a contemporary role model for us all in the chess community; he is a historic and record seven-time National Russian Chess Champion (1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2011 and 2013)

Peter preserves his Karma, is immensely ironic, particularly in relation to himself! So if he criticises himself, and once again resigns a game fully aware of a drawn position, then please divide everything he says by three or four (GM Sergey Shipov). You also need to get a subtle sense of humour ready, as some of Peter’s jokes take those he talks to a year to understand…

Peter lives in Russia, a fan of Bob Dylan, he likes cricket and plays billiards masterfully, especially esteemed for his amusing post-mortem game analysis, always in a flawless English, of course.

He is married and has two sons. Svidler is a very decent person on and off the board.

Portrait of Peter Svidler

Peter (Pyotr Veniaminovich) Svidler was born on 17 June 1976 in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg.

1994 was his breakout year, winning the Russian Championship held in Elista at 8/11, winning the under-18 section of the World Youth Championship in Szeged, debuting for Russia at the Chess Olympiad in Moscow (team gold), and gaining his three Grandmaster norms in the same year. 
Andrei Lukin is Svidler's coach who started to work with him in 1993.

Svidler already won the last ever USSR Junior Championship back in 1991, but he really made a name for himself by winning the adult Russian Championship as an 18-year-old in the year 1994. Since then he’s claimed that title frequently:

Svidler is a record seven-time national Russian Champion!

Svidler (co-)won at Tilburg, Dortmund, Biel, as well as at Moscow Aeroflot, and Gibraltar Open.

In 2011 he went on to achieve perhaps the greatest success of his career to date by winning the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk.

A multiple Candidate, Svidler has often competed, in different formats, for the World Championship and is a renowned live commentator at elite chess tournaments.

Svidler has represented Russia at the Olympiad ten times (1994-2010, 2014) securing five team gold medals (1994, 1996, 1998 on board one, 2000, 2002) and two team silvers (2004, 2010).

At the chessboard, Peter Svidler is a superb tactician and an acknowledged expert on the Grünfeld Defence. Off the board he stands out for his self-deprecating humour, billiard skills, extraordinarily good English, and an incorrigible love of cricket.

Career record

  • Born 1976 in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, GM 1994

  • 1st-2nd in the last USSR Junior Championship 1991, World U-18 Champion 1994

  • Many Gold medals in international team tournaments for Russia (Chess Olympiad, World Team Chess Championship and European Team Chess Championship), also a frequent club player for Saint Petersburg, OSG Baden-Baden and Paris NAO

  • Linares Anibal Open (1st) 1994, Svidler clear first
  • Saint Petersburg City Champion 1995

  • Novosibirsk (GM Invitation) 1995, 1st-4th joint with Ehlvest, Rublevsky, and Kharlov
    (ahead of M. Makarov, Dreev, Khalifman, Smirin, Beliavsky, Vyzmanavin, 12 players)

  • Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (Open) 1997, clear first ahead of Ivan Sokolov

  • Tilburg (Fontys) 1997, with Kasparov and Kramnik; Svidler unbeaten and beating Garry, Svidler as first on tie-break: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=80030

  • Dortmund 1998, shared with Kramnik who won on tie-break, and Adams

  • Esbjerg, Denmark, 15th North Sea Cup (GM Invitation) 2000, with Mikhail Gurevich

  • Biel 2000, clear first ahead of Van Wely, Ponomariov, Gelfand, Milov, Gallagher; and clear runner-up at Biel in 2001 (behind Korchnoi, ahead of Gelfand, Grischuk, Lautier, Pelletier)

  • Aeroflot Open in Moscow 2002, four players co-winning, Bologan as first on tie-break

  • Poikovsky (Karpov Tournament) 2003, with Lautier, both ex-aequo winner

  • Mainz, Germany, 2003 chess960 World Champion (inoffficial), beating Peter Leko,
    defending the title successfully in 2004 and 2005, losing it to Levon Aronian in 2006

  • Dortmund 2006, shared with Kramnik who again won on tie-break

  • Gibraltar, Gibtelecom Masters (Open) 2008, after winning play-off vs. Vadim Milov

  • Bunratty Masters (Open) 2008 & 2009

  • Many Gold medals in international team tournaments for Russia (Chess Olympiad, World Team Ch and European Team Ch), and as frequent club player for Saint Petersburg, Baden-Baden or Paris NAO

Record seven times Russian Champion: 1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2011, 2013

Candidate's campaigning

  • Winner World Cup 2011 in Khanty-Mansiysk, defeating Grischuk in the finals 2½–1½

  • Finalist World Cup 2015 in Baku, losing to Karjakin in the finals 6–4 (after rapid and blitz)

  • Semi-finalist at the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2001) in Moscow, eliminated by the eventual winner, Ruslan Ponomariov (new FIDE World Champion)

  • Participant FIDE World Championship Tournament (2005) in San Luis, Argentina, Svidler tied for second place with Viswanathan Anand, behind dominating Veselin Topalov who won and was subsequently crowned new FIDE World Champion (Vladimir Kramnik was absent)

  • Participant FIDE World Championship Tournament (2007) in Mexico City, placing sole fifth out of eight players including Kramnik. Anand won to become undisputed World Champion

  • Participant World Championship Candidates (2013) in London, where Svidler placed joint third, only half a point behind Magnus Carlsen (eventual winner on tie-break) and Kramnik

  • Participant World Championship Candidates (2014) in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Svidler was selected by the Organizer as their wildcard and placed shared sixth (Anand won)

  • Participant World Championship Candidates (2016) in Moscow, Russia. Svidler placed shared fourth to seventh with 50% (Karjakin won outright ahead of Caruana)

Peak ranking and rating

  • Peak ranking: 3.-4. (together with Kramnik in Oct-Dec IV / 2006, both players at Elo 2750 and with seven new rated games for that period)

  • Regular top twenty player since more than 20 years

  • Peak rating: Elo 2769 (May 2013 (now monthly lists) on position 9)

Team

Peter Svidler participated in the European Chess Club Cup almost every year since 1995,
winning it with Ladya Azov in 1997, Paris NAO in 2003 and Saint Petersburg in 2011.

In Germany's Bundesliga, Svidler has won has won with OSG Baden-Baden ten titles en bloc from 2005/06 up to and including 2014/15. Svidler won the French Team Championship with Paris NAO in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. He also played in the Four Nations Chess League.

Svidler has represented Russia at the Chess Olympiad ten times (1994-2010, 2014) securing five team gold medals (1994, 1996, 1998 with Svidler on board one, 2000, 2002), two team silvers (2010) and an individual bronze (1996).

Note: all information per end of 2016; of course, Peter Svidler’s career is continuing

Famous games of Peter Svidler:

Svidler-Styazhkin 1986
[Peter was ten years old, beating his first trainer in a wonderful combination]

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1070948
(Svidler vs. Kasparov 1-0, Tilburg 1997)

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1714070
(Carlsen vs. Svidler 0-1, Candidates 2013)

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1547255
(Svidler vs. Karpov 1-0, Donostia 2009)

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1751498
(Kramnik vs. Svidler 0-1, Sochi 2014)

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1254288
(Svidler vs. Anand 1-0, Moscow 2002, Russia vs. Rest of the World 2002, Rapid)

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1321967
(Svidler vs. Adams 1-0, Neum (ECCC) 2000)

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1272293
(Svidler vs. Topalov 1-0, Wijk aan Zee 2004)

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1633835
(Kamsky vs. Svidler 0-1, World Cup 2011)

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1421399
(Peter lost to Viktor Korchnoi, St. Petersburg 1997)

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1799484
(Peter lost to Denis Khismatullin at the Russian Superfinals (National Championship) in 2015)

Svidler is extremely humble and cooperative when he is on the wrong end of some brilliancies:
I suspect that Svidler realized that he was completely lost in any event, saw the queen sac, and decided that since he was going to lose anyway he might as well cooperate and create a beautiful game for the spectators. I love especially the final sequence of the game after 23...Qa7, White has simply no good moves left and decided to co-creating for 'his own' mating net!

Peter Svidler, maybe the smartest chess player of the world and a contemporary role model for us all in the chess community today.

Sources:

https://twitter.com/polborta?lang=de (Twitter)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Svidler (Wikipedia, comprehensive summary)

http://www.chessgames.com/player/peter_svidler.html (Chessgames)

https://chess24.com/en/read/players/peter-svidler (Chess24)

The Grünfeld according to Svidler (Chess24 Video)

“A new star is rising quickly over Russia”, a media headlines announcing his rise to prominence: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1997-11-09/news/9711090112_1_garry-kasparov-judit-polgar-vladimir-kramnik

Interviews with the always articulate  Peter Svidler in English, Russian & German language:

Crestbook Q & A Conference on http://www.crestbook.com/node/1364 (with sample games),
https://en.chessbase.com/post/che-conference-with-peter-svidler; and in
the Russian version.

http://forum.chesstalk.com/showthread.php?4441-Svidler-interview-on-Crestbook (extract)

Indepth interview in 2006 by Abdul Karim (ChessBase, originally in the Chess Chronicle):
https://en.chessbase.com/post/peter-svidler-on-the-che-world, and in 2007 by Frank Große: http://de.chessbase.com/post/peter-svidler-sorry-ich-bin-s-nicht- (ChessBase)

Peter Svidler on Viktor Korchnoi, personal memories with two games of Peter and Viktor: https://chess24.com/en/read/news/peter-svidler-on-viktor-korchnoi