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Introductory report

On the eve of the beginning of 46th Biel Chess Festival we must unfortunately start our report with a couple of sad news. Bad things have started immediately after the end of the 45th edition when Mr.Olivier Breisacher, a well known Swiss journalist and the co-organizer of the Festival being responsible for the GM tournament, all of a sudden passed away at the age of only 44 years during his vacations in Spain.

Six months later the Festival has lost one more important member,  Mr. Rino Castagna, who past away at the age of 76 and who was responsible for the finances during the first 30 editions. Finally, in the middle of June two other losses occurred, one after another in two days. On June 13 it was Mr. Photios Barvas, who was a member of the team for 25 years, first as arbiter and then as a bulletin redactor, who died after a long illness at the age of 78. Finally, on June 14, the Festival has lost its founder Mr.Hans Suri who organized the first 30 editions (from 1968 to 1997) and was also a tournament director. He died at the age of 85.

Being a regular guest of the Festival since 1974 I established a friendly relations with all these persons, but that one with Mr.Suri was really something special and I would like to share with You one of my favorite memories. It was in 1975 that I came for the second time to participate in the Festival, which at the time was just an Open tournament. After a long trip of about 1.000 km by car, my wife and me we arrived in Biel around 21,30 and in our room there was a message that Mr.Suri is waiting for me at his home. The reason of that visit was to do a drawing of lot, since at the time that was the system of doing pairings for the first round. After a couple of questions about our trip Mr.Suri took a small bag, full of tournament lots, and it was my turn to pick up one of them.  I put my hand in the bag, shuffled for 2-3 seconds and then drew out one of the lots, which happened to be number 1! In that moment, in spite of being tired after a long trip, I managed to activate my sense of humor and with a very serious expression on my face I said: "I hope You don't mind Mr.Suri, but now it is clear who will be the winner of the tournament." Slightly surprised, he looked at me trying to discover whether I was joking or it was just one of those superstitions so frequent by many sportsmen. I let him in doubt for a couple of seconds and then a smile on my face solved his dilemma and we started to smile, both of us.

What is so special in that story, you might ask yourself? Well, I won the tournament, of course!

Now, let’s say a couple of words about the GM tournament, the central point of the Festival. The participants will be 6 GMs of the high level and a double round Robin system will be applied as it was usually in a last couple of years. Among them there are two well known guests, French GMs Etienne Bacrot and Maxim Vachier Lagrave, who won this tournament in 2009. Other 4 players are newcomers, Ian Nepomniachtchi comes from Russia, Alexander Moiseenko from Ukraine, Ding Liren from China and Richard Rapport, the only participant below 2.700 elo points, comes from Hungary. It seems that the tournament becomes each year younger and younger, since their age average is only 24,5 years, a detail which announces a fighting chess with many interesting games.


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