Kick-off in challenging conditions

The Biel International Chess Festival launches its 53rd edition this Saturday. Only a reduced numbers of participants will attend, but the traditional Grandmasters' tournament with eight players will take place. The extraordinary situation forced the organizers to a last minute change: GM Arkadij Naiditsch will replace GM Salem Saleh. To ensure the competition can be carried out, a comprehensive corona protection concept was compiled.

The organizers of the Biel International Chess Festival are pleased to offer the world of chess a glimpse of normalcy by holding the 53rd edition of the tournament. The festival begins tomorrow Saturday with the opening ceremony, followed by the ACCENTUS Chess960 tournament among the eight participating grandmasters in the afternoon. The following days the usual Grandmaster tournament takes place, as last year in the «Triathlon» format with a combination of standard, rapid and blitz games. Furthermore, a Corona Amateur Tournament with a limited number of participants is held in place of the usual open-tournaments, as well as the VINETUM youth tournament and the Swiss youth championship final.

Naiditsch replaces Saleh

The extraordinary situation in the world forces the organizers of the Biel International Chess Festival to be spontaneous and to improvise. GM Salem Saleh from the UAE, who was scheduled to participate in the Grandmaster Triathlon Tournament, was unable to leave his home country despite earlier confirmations and therefore cannot participate in the tournament. For the Grandmaster Triathlon Tournament the organizers were able to engage GM Arkadij Naiditsch (Elo 2626) from Azerbaijan. The native of Latvia should be arriving in Switzerland tomorrow evening. GM Alexander Donchenko (Elo 2646) from Germany will replace Saleh in the ACCENTUS Chess 960 tournament of tomorrow. The 22-year-old is not unknown in Biel: Last year he finished second in the Biel Master tournament.

Comprehensive protection concept

The corona pandemic requires a wide number of measures that were developed by the organizers in an own comprehensive protection concept for the chess festival. At the chessboard the distance is increased by having two tables between the players. All pieces, boards and chess clocks are cleaned after each game. And unfortunately, the measures mean that no spectators are allowed at the venue. Participants that do not abide to the rules will be sanctioned and may be excluded from the tournament. The organizing committee of the chess festival will do its best to protect the health of all participants and involved persons. But ultimately each participant agrees to participate at his own risk.

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