by John Saunders
The opening ceremony of the #GibChess Battle of Sexes Chess Match-Tournament, to be held at the Garrison Library from January 24 to February 3, 2022, took place at 6:00 PM on Sunday at the Garrison Library.
The ceremony will also take place in the presence of Dr John Cortes, the Minister for the Environment, Sustainability, Climate Change and Education, and Dr Jennifer Ballantine, Director of the Gibraltar Garrison Library, which is organizing the event.
Laurent Freyd, director of the Gibraltar International Chess Festival, opened the proceedings by explaining the background to this new chess competition, in which two teams of 10 leading professional chess players, men and women, play 10 rounds of classical chess against each other for a prize fund of £100,000, of which £75,000 would go to the winning side and £25,000 to the runners-up.
It marked another imaginative and innovative chess initiative for a festival that has become world famous for the past 18 years and has been named the world’s best open tournament several times by the World Chess Federation.
It also meant the festival would maintain its annual continuity during the pandemic, with open-to-all tournaments at the Caleta Hotel in 2020 and an elimination from the Women’s World Championship in the summer of 2021.
dr. Cortes congratulated the festival on its achievements and commented on the tournament’s suitability for the historic venue where it was to be held.
Gibraltar is proud of its cultural heritage, with the Garrison Library being a prime example of heritage and culture, he said.
Gibraltar has now become known as the home of chess, itself an activity with a long cultural heritage, added Dr. Cortes to it.
The minister wished the tournament and the participants every success and hoped that everyone involved would take home a small piece of Gibraltar in their hearts as a cherished memory.
dr. Ballantine also wished the participants good luck with their chess match.
She hoped that during their stay in Gibraltar the players would find time to look at the small collection of chess books that are located in one corner of the library and are about two centuries old.
dr. Cortes was then invited to draw the colors for the first round of the team event.
In keeping with the library setting, two benches with traditional library card drawers contained a white and black king.
dr. Cortes was asked to choose a drawer on behalf of the women’s team.
He slid to the left drawer.
It opened to reveal a white king, meaning the women’s team will take all the white pieces in the first round of the tournament starting at 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.