52nd "Torneo di Capodanno" in Reggio Emilia


28th December 2009 – 6th January 2010



(12 december) LAST NEWS !: Gata Kamsky in Reggio Emilia substitute for Vladimir Malakhov (read)

(Italian Version)


15th November 2009 – A new, great edition of the oldest Italian closed chess tournament will start on Monday, 28th December, in Reggio Emilia in the classic venue of the Hotel Mercure-Astoria (maps and directions here) with free admission. Ten top chess players will fight through Wednesday, 6th January, for the 52nd title of King of the “Torneo di Capodanno”. The official web site has the Hall of Fame of the tournament, that has seen the participation of all the top world chess players of the last half century (with the sole exception of Bobby Fischer), as well as all the results of the various editions and all the games for download. The rest day, missing since the 40th edition (1997-98), has been reintroduced: no games will be played on 1st January, allowing players to enjoy the New Year’s Day with no fear to influence their performance on the “battlefield”.


The Hotel Mercure-Astoria, long-time venue of the “Torneo di Capodanno”
The play hall

The “Torneo di Capodanno”, that in December 2005 lost its creator, Grand Master Enrico Paoli, lives on  thanks to the “Ippogrifo” Chess Club, Reggio Emilia, that organizes it with the help of few faithful sponsors and, since December 2007 (the 50th edition, the Jubilee!), the invaluable support of the publishing house Caissa Italia and in particular of Mr. Yuri Garrett, that will serve as Technical Director of the tournament also this year. This 52nd edition of the tournament will also see the sponsorship of a new, much welcome partner, the Italian magazine Torre & Cavallo, whose support will allow to line up on the starting grid the four top FIDE-rated Italian chess players.

Enrico Paoli, creator of the “Torneo di Capodanno” in 1958 (click here to watch him with his characteristic dynamism in an interview on the national television registered just one year before his passing, at the venerable age of almost 98)

The "Ippogrifo” Chess Club’s “Triad”: from left, Giuseppe “Silvano” Ferraroni, Renato Franzoni and Marco Chiossi.
The Technical Director of the “Torneo di Capodanno”, Yury Garrett (left), with Bjorn Thorfinnsson, winner of last year’s edition of the Group B tournament (unfortunately, too onerous to organise this year)
The director of “Torre & Cavallo” magazine, IM Roberto Messa (left), with Daniele Vocaturo, recently awarded the Grand Master title

And finally, the tournament: a great competition that will surely find its place in history as it will see four over-2500 Italian chess players (an absolute first) opposing six strong Grand Masters (GM) from Eastern Europe. The FIDE category of this 52nd edition, determined by the average value of the international ranking (Elo) of the participants, is by just a hair the 15th (average Elo 2625 points, a mere 10 point short of the 16th category), with the Grand Master norm set at 4½ points.

This edition will also be memorable because of the first participation of Fabiano Caruana, 17-years-old great Italian talent currently 81st in the FIDE world ranking list. By now Fabiano plays steadily on a par with the strongest world chess players, and he looks into a future of great opportunities. Before and after the “Torneo di Capodanno”, Fabiano has to face two very tough appointments. From 20th November to 15th December will play in the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia, where 128 players will fight to qualify for the final phase of next world championship cycle. From 15th January to 31st January, then, Fabiano will play in the Group A tournament (FIDE 19th category!) of the “Corus” super-tournaments in Wijk aan Zee (Holland), qualified by last year’s victory in Group B tournament. He will face players of the calibre of Anand, Carlsen, Kramnik, Ivanchuk, etc. Good luck, Fabiano!

Defending the Italian colours in Reggio Emilia will also be Michele Godena, the most prominent Italian player and real veteran of the “Torneo di Capodanno”, at the tenth participation in Reggio Emilia; Daniele Vocaturo, freshly appointed Grand Master, at the second participation to the “Torneo di Capodanno” as player (plus last year’s participation as game commentator for the audience), and Sabino Brunello, in search of his third and final Grand Master norm, at the second participation in Reggio Emilia as well.

Among the six foreign Grand Masters there will be the winner of the Jubilee edition, the Hungarian Zoltan Almasi (third time in Reggio in a row), but not last year’s winner, the Chinese Ni Hua, replaced by the Georgian GM Baduur Jobava, at his début in Reggio. The Russian GM Konstantin Landa (winner of the 48th edition) will be at his fifth participation in a row. Back in Reggio after an absence of 12 years is the Moldavian GM Viktor Bologan, who came very close to win the 39th edition. Top scorer of the tournament will be the Russian GM Vladimir Malakhov. Last but not least, an emerging young Azerbaijan GM, and fellow citizen of Garry Kasparov, the 17-years-old Eltaj Safarli.








Malakhov Vladimir





Jobava Baadur





Bologan Viktor





Almasi Zoltan





Landa Konstantin





Safarli Eltai





Caruana Fabiano





Godena Michele





Brunello Sabino





Vocaturo Daniele




The Players

GM Vladimir Malakhov (RUS)

The Russian GM (born on 27th November 1980) has played many times in Italy, also winning two editions of the Tournament of Porto San Giorgio (1997 and 1999) and the Saint Vincent Open (2002).


In 2005 he places among the first 10 players in the FIDE World Cup and qualifies for the Tournament of Candidates for the World Chess Championship 2007, in which he was eliminated by the Russian GM Grischuk in round one.


Among his victories let’s recall Salona (2006) and Benidorm (2005 and 2007). He recently achieved the title of vice-European champion 2009 in the Budva (Montenegro) tournament behind his fellow countryman Tomashevsky.


He is débuting in Reggio Emilia, where he shows up as tournament’s top-scorer with 2706 Elo points (31st place in FIDE world ranking).



GM Zoltan Almasi (HUN)

The Hungarian GM, winner two years ago of the Jubilee Edition of the “Torneo di Capodanno”, is back in Reggio Emilia for the third time in a row.

Reigning national champion and at his seventh title (1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009), he’s the third strongest Hungarian player after Peter Leko and Judit Polgar, together with whom he played in Hungarian national team at the 38th Chess Olympiad (eighth Olympiad for him) in Dresden (2008) and concluded at the 8th place. Among Almasi’s successes let’s recall the Under-18 World Championship (Bratislava, 1993), thanks to which he reached the title of Grand Master. Then the victories in Kecskemet (1993), Altensteig (1993), Groningen (1994), Horgen (1995), Budapest (1995), Pamplona (1996), Lillafured (1999). In August 2009 he won again the 7 ° Marx Gyorgy Memorial, already won in 2005 ahead of Viktor Kortchnoi. Almasi played in Italy in the Cattolica Open (1993), closing second by tie-break, and in the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin (2006), in which, playing in 1st board, he led the Hungarian team to score an excellent 5th place.

He has recently entered the exclusive “Club of Over-2700”, with his 2704 Elo points that bring him to the 33rd place in the FIDE world ranking.


GM Baadur Jobava (GEO)

Baadur Jobava (Gali, 26th November 1983) is a Georgian Grand Master.


National champion in 2003 and 2007, he played in five editions of the Chess Olympiad (2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008), winning two individual gold medals in 2004 (best 4th board player; best Elo performance) by scoring 8.5 points in 10 games. In 2006 he won the prestigious Aeroflot Open in Moscow. Among his other victories we recall Leinzell (2001), Dubai (2003), Skandenborg (2005) and Tbilisi (2009).


He became famous for his deep preparation of the games in 2003, when he beat GM Evgeny Bareev with a 34-moves line of play completely prepared in advanced. In the 2004 Olympiad he beat GM Alexander Grischuk in a similar way.

According to the on-line database, Jobava detains the highest percentage of winning sacrifices among the Grand Masters currently in activity.


This is his first participation to the "Torneo di Capodanno". His 2696 Elo points place him at the 39th place in the FIDE world ranking.


GM Viktor Bologan (MDA)

Viktor Viorel Bologan (14-12-1971) is a Moldavian GM.

His most prominent success was the victory in the 2003 Dortmund tournament, ahead of players of the calibre of Kramnik, Anand and Leko.


In the same year he also won the Aeroflot Open in Moscow, one of the world's strongest Open tournaments attended by more than 150 Grand Masters.


Among his successes let’s recall the tournaments in Poikovsky (2001 and 2005), Pamplona (2002), Dortmund (2003), Reykjavik (2004), Sarajevo and the Canadian Open in Edmonton (2005).


He defended the Moldavian national colours in eight Olympiads (from Manila 1992 to the latest edition in Dresden in 2008).


This is his second participation in Reggio Emilia, after playing in the 39th edition (1996-97) closed in second place behind the Polish GM Michał Krasenkow.


With 2692 Elo points he’s currently 43rd in the FIDE world ranking.


GM Konstantin Landa (RUS)

Born in Omsk (Russia), Landa studied at the Moscow chess school “Botvinnik-Kasparov”. He achieved the Grand Master title in 1995.


In 1999 he moved to Dortmund (Germany). Among his victories let’s recall the tournaments “Oberwart Open” (1994), Noyabrsk (1995), “Ubeda Open” (1999), “Neckar Open” (2001), “Pyramiden-Franken-Cup” (Furth, 2002), “Bavarian Masters” (Bad Wiessee, 2002), “Festival of Trieste” (2005) and “IHEM Tournament” (Hamburg, 2007). This is his fifth participation in a row in the Reggio Emilia tournament, which he won in the 48th edition (2005-2006).


Landa, with 2664 points, is currently at the 65th place in the international Elo ranking list.



GM Fabiano Caruana (ITA)

Fabiano Caruana was born on 30th July 1992 in Miami, Florida (USA), from an Italian-American father and an Italian mother.


At the age of 4 he moved with his family to Park Slope, a district of Brooklyn in which also the young Bobby Fischer lived for some time.

At the age of 5 his talent for chess surfaced thanks to a program of after-school activities of the Congregation Beth Elohim. Caruana played his first chess tournament at the Polgar Chess Centre in Queens, another borough of New York. Until the age of 12 he lived and played in the USA, with only sporadic participations to European and South-American tournaments.

Caruana's first trainer, when he was 6, was National Master Bruce Pandolfini (whose character, in the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer” [1993], was played by Ben Kingsley). From age 8 to 12 Caruana trained with GM Miron Sher. In 2002, at the age of 10, he became famous among chess enthusiasts by beating GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz in New York. In the same year and in the following one Caruana won two editions in a row of the Pan American Youth Chess Championships. In 2004, at the age of 12, the Caruana family decided to move from New York to Madrid, Spain, to allow Fabiano to dedicate to chess more seriously.


In Madrid Fabiano Caruana trained with the International Master (IM) Boris Zlotnik. The Caruana family then moved to Budapest in 2007, and since then Fabiano trains with GM Alexander Chernin.


In April 2006 Caruana reached the title of International Master. At his first participation in the Italian Championship (Cremona 2006) he gained an excellent second place at the end of an enthralling Blitz tie-break against GM Michele Godena. In the same year he also won the two other tournaments, Madrid and Alcalá de Henares.


In 2007, lining up three victories out of three participations (March, April and July) to the “First Saturday” tournament in Budapest, Fabiano achieved three Grand Master norms in a row and was awarded the title of Grand Master.


On 15th July 2007 Fabiano Caruana, at the age of 14 years, 11 months and 15 days, became the youngest Italian GM of all times and one of the youngest in the world. The GM title was awarded by FIDE in September 2007. Caruana was the fifth Italian player ever to reach the maximum chess international title.


In 2007 Caruana also won the Vlissingen tournament, drawing on the last round an 82-moves game against the former FIDE World Champion GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov and marking a performance of 2715 Elo points.


On 4th December 2007, in Martinafranca, Fabiano Caruana achieved his first National title with an authoritative 9.5 points out of 11 games, a terrific 3 points clear of the pursuers, IM Sabino Brunello and GM Carlos Garcia Palermo.


Caruana's first international consecration among the big players was his victory in Group C of the Corus Tournaments in Wijk aan Zee, in January 2008. With a score of 10 points out of 13 games, he outdistanced his closest pursuer by two points. This success made him the first Italian chess player of all times to overcome 2600 Elo points, reaching 2620 Elo points on the 1st April 2008 FIDE world ranking list.


In November 2008 Caruana played as first board in the Italian national team at the Chess Olympiad in Dresden, achieving an excellent performance and beating, among others, the player no. 12 in the FIDE world ranking list, the English GM Michael Adams.


On 14th December 2008, in Martinafranca, Caruana reconfirmed Italian national champion with a score of 8/11, half a point clear of GM Michele Godena.


In January 2009 Caruana, thanks to his victory in previous year's Group C, was qualified to play in the Group B of the “Corus” Tournaments in Wijk aan Zee. In this tournament (16th category, average 2641 Elo points) Caruana, second after the penultimate round, was to play in the last game against the tournament leader, the English GM Nigel Short. After almost 6 hours of play and 67 moves, Caruana managed to win the game and consequently the tournament, with a score of 8.5/13 and an Elo performance of 2751 points. In the history of the “Corus” Tournaments, Caruana shines as the sole player ever managing to win Group C and Group B in two consecutive years. This victory granted him the right to play in the main Group A in January 2010.


From 4th April to 11th April he played in the 16th Russian team championship in Sochi (Russia) with the Moscow team “Club 64”, scoring 5 points out of 6 games (+5, –1) and an Elo performance of 2896 points. He beat, among others, two "super-GMs": Sergei Rublevsky e Ni Hua. His team closed in second position behind the Tomsk team.


From 9th to 17th May Caruana played in the Mitropa Cup, in Slovenia, with the Italian national team, scoring 6 points out of 8 games, gaining the gold medal as 1st board with an Elo performance of 2729 points, and bringing a fundamental contribution to the final shared 1st place (2nd just by tie-break!) of the Italian national team after the Croatian team.


Fabiano Caruana is one of the 128 players that, from 20th November to 15th December, in Khanty-Mansiysk (Siberia), are fighting to qualify for the final phase of the next World Chess Championship.


This is his first participation to the “Torneo di Capodanno”, where he shows up with 2652 Elo points as the strongest Under-18 player in the world (81st place in the FIDE world ranking list).



GM Eltaj Safarli (AZE)

Azerbaijan GM from Baku (Kasparov's hometown), he was born in 1992. Current score: 2592 Elo points.


Safarli reached the GM title in 2008, at the age of 16.


In 2002 he won the Under-10 World Championship in Heraklion.


In 2003 Safarli conquered the Under-12 European Championship in Peñiscola.


In 2006 he won the Tournament B of the Aeroflot Open (Moscow).


In 2007 he won the Essent Open in Hoogeveen (Holland), and scored 2nd in the Azerbaijan national championship (after Guseinov) and in Istanbul.


In December 2008 Safarli placed second in Palma de Maiorca behind the English GM Stewart Haslinger.


He will play in Reggio Emilia for the first time.


GM Michele Godena (ITA)

Born in Valdobbiadene (TV) in 1966, Michele Godena learned chess in 1972 (the year of the famous Spassky-Fischer match). In 1982 he tied for second place in the Under-16 World Championship behind the Russian Evgeny Bareev.


National Master in 1984 and International Master in 1988, in 1996 he achieved the Grand Master title at the 32nd Chess Olympiad in Erevan (Armenia).


In his career Godena won many tournaments: Aosta, Asti, Cannes (France), Arco di Trento, Bolzano, Genova, Padova, to mention just a few. In 2000, at the Zonal Tournament in Mondariz (Spain), he was the first Italian player ever to qualify for the World Championship. In February 2006 he tied for first place at the prestigious tournament Aeroflot Open in Moscow (Russia). Five times national champion (1992, 1993, 1995, 2005 and 2006), Godena gained his 5th title in 2006 in Cremona after an exciting tie-break against the young talent Fabiano Caruana. Playing in the Marostica chess team, Godena also conquered 7 Italian team championships.


Godena has played 11 Chess Olympiads and 8 European Team Championships. Silver medalist with his team in the 2007 Mitropa Cup in Hungary and this year in Slovenia, in the same year he won the European Union Championship in Arvier (Italy) with a notable 8/10 (6 wins and 4 draws). In 2008 Godena won tournaments in Lugano and Genova.


This will be his eleventh participation in Reggio Emilia, where he attended 6 editions in a row of the “Torneo di Capodanno” (from 1992-93 to 1997-98), achieving also his first national title (1992-93). With 2537 Elo points, Godena is currently the second highest rated Italian player.


MI Sabino Brunello (ITA)

International Master, Sabino Brunello was born in 1989 in Bergamo. In 2002 he placed second in the Under-20 National Championship. In 2003 he won the Under-18 National Championship and participated in the Under-16 Youth World Championship. In 2004 Brunello won a tournament in Chiaravalle with an over-2600 Elo performance.


In 2005, in Verona, Brunello obtained the first IM norm, followed by a second one at the Mitropa Cup, in Austria. He then grabbed the 16th place in the Under-16 Youth World Championship, and in the same year he graduated National Team Champion with a team from Penne.


In 2006, again in Verona, Brunello conquered the third IM norm, which earned him the IM title. Then he played with excellent results (fourth IM norm and performance of 2549 Elo points) in the Chess Olympiad in Turin together with Denis Rombaldoni, Niccolò Ronchetti and Daniele Vocaturo (all aged the same) in the team Italy 2, winning the gold medal as a team in Group C. In the same year Brunello placed again 16th in the Under-20 Youth World Championship in Yerevan.


In 2007 he achieved a first GM norm in the European Union Championship in Arvier, then tied for second place in the National Championship with GM Carlos Garcia Palermo and behind the “phenomenon” Caruana. In 2008 he played in the Italian national team at the Chess Olympiad in Dresden.


In February 2009, in Cannes, Sabino Brunello achieved the second GM norm. In April he won the 15th International Tournament in Verona, half a point clear of GM Michele Godena and with a performance of 2613 Elo points.


Brunello will play in the “Torneo di Capodanno” for the second time, after his début in the 49th edition (2006-2007). With 2507 Elo points, Brunello is currently the third highest ranked Italian chess player.


GM Daniele Vocaturo (ITA)

Born in Rome in 1989, in 1988 Vocaturo played, winning it, his first tournament in a junior category of the UISP National Championship. In the following year he was promoted to the 3rd National Category. He played in many Youth National Championships, always placing in top positions, and in 2002, in which he qualified Candidate Master, he played his first European Championship.


In 2005 Vocaturo earned the FIDE Master (FM) title and scored three IM norms. In February 2006, then, he overcame the score of 2400 Elo points, reaching in this way, at the age of just 16, the IM title.


In the Chess Olympiad in Turin Vocaturo played as 2nd board in the team Italy 2 (together with Denis Rombaldoni, Niccolò Ronchetti and Sabino Brunello), winning the gold medal as a team in Group C. In the same year he played in the Under-18 Youth European Championship in Herzog Novi, as well as in the Youth World Championships in Batumi, scoring an excellent 7th place after a long battle for a top placement.


In October 2008, in the Rhone Open (France), Vocaturo obtained the first GM norm. The second GM norm was obtained in the International Open in Reykjavik in March 2009. in the Porto Mannu Open, Sardinia (photo-report here – in Italian), Vocaturo obtains the third and final GM norm, that earns him the GM title ratified by FIDE in October 2009.


Daniele has been the third chess player born and grown in Italy to ever reach the maximum international chess title of Grand Master, following Sergio Mariotti (awarded the GM title in 1974) and Michele Godena (1996).


This will be his second participation to the “Torneo di Capodanno” in Reggio Emilia, after first playing in the 48th edition (2005-2006). Last year he proved an excellent game commentator for the audience on the wall chessboard in commenting the performance of his fellow players.


Vocaturo is currently the fourth highest ranked Italian chess player, at 2500 Elo points.


Games will start daily at 14:30, except New Year’s Day (resting day) and the last round of 6th January, when the games will start at 10:30. Prize-giving ceremony and closing ceremony will follow, starting at about 16:00. The time control is set to 1 hour and 40 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 50 minutes to finish the game with additional 30 seconds per move from the first move.

Chief Arbiter will be the International Arbiter Cristina Pernici Rigo, assisted by National Arbiters Angelo Mancini and Antonio Sfera.


The tournament’s Chief Arbiter Cristina Rigo
National Arbiters Angelo Mancini and Antonio Sfera


It will be possible to follow the games on a wall screen directly in the play hall. The games will also be broadcasted on the Internet on the “Ippogrifo” Chess Club official web site


The event will also be covered with the usual competence on the blog of Scacchierando web site.


The wall screen with the 5 games projected live for the public

As clearly visible from this photograph, the play hall is right on the other side of the wall screen, so spectators are required to completely mute mobile phones and other electronic devices.

Also present will be the usual live commentary room, re-introduced in occasion of the Jubilee Edition, where the Croatian GM Miso Cebalo (fresh winner of the Senior World Championship in Condino, Italy) will illustrate to the audience the strategies of his fellow players. Then, at the end of their games and after the usual post-mortem analysis, the player themselves will show up in the commentary room to explain the secrets behind a victory or investigate the reasons of a defeat.

The analysis room (portrayed here are last year's winner GM Ni Hua and GM Marin during their post-mortem analysis)

GM Miso Cebalo explaining “live” to the audience what’s going on in the games of the day.


On the evening of 6th January 2010, at the end of the prize-giving ceremony, the now traditional 30-boards simultaneous exhibition in memory of the National Masters Tullio Trincardi and Mauro Reggiani, both from Reggio Emilia, will take place, hold by one of the participants to the 52nd edition of the “Torneo di Capodanno”.


The first event of the 52nd “Torneo di Capodanno” will take place on Monday, 28th December, with the drawing of lots.

(Translation by Eugenio Davolio)