The Future Owns the Stage
The future steadily transforms into the present and the golden and silver medallists from the first-ever Futures tournament held at the 2020 Prague International Chess Festival have gone through a remarkable journey. The incredibly gifted Turkish player, Ediz Gurel, and his Czech opponent Václav Finěk will meet again after four years in the main hall of the Don Giovanni Hotel to compete in the Challengers tournament.
Ediz Gurel, a promising Turkish player born in December 2008 in Bursa, started playing chess at seven years of age. Just a year later he got a chance to join the national team. Three years after that, he won the bronze medal at the European School Chess Championship and in 2022 he achieved his first GM norm. This year witnessed an even more amazing display of his talent, as his extraordinary performance in March European Championship secured him a spot in the Chess World Cup in Baku. A month prior he seized the gold at the World Blitz Championship in the U16 category. Wearing the colours of the Turkish Airlines Sports Club, Gurel’s exceptional performance of 7/7 at the European Club Cup in early October earned him a FIDE wild card to participate in the Grand Swiss.
„I like thinking, this is what I like about chess,“ are the words of Gurel quoted by Emil Sutovsky, the CEO of FIDE, on X (Twitter), who has designated Gurel as the leader of the chess boom in Turkey. The ambitions of the current fifth-ranked player are crystal clear: attain the GM title as soon as possible, pursue the goal of 2700 ELO rating and assume the top positions in the world ranking.
Ozgur Solakoglu brought Ediz Gurel and Aydin Gulenay in Prague 2020 to play the Futures tournament (photo: Vladimír Jagr, PICF)
„When Petr Pisk came up with an idea to host a closed tournament for very young talents during PICF, little did anyone expect the enrichment this project would bring to the entire festival and how many opportunities it would bring to the participants,“ says Festival director Petr Boleslav. Futures participants get a unique chance to play on the main stage against GMs from the Masters tournament. They will meet their role models at the Festival’s outset during the opening ceremony, where a draw will determine the GM-Futures pairs for the Festival. „I believe the chance to establish such close contact with a professional player and spend more than a week in their presence can significantly impact the next steps of these rising chess stars,“ says the main director of the Futures tournament Petr Pisk.
Czech prodigy Václav Finěk made his debut in the Challengers tournament during the fifth PICF this year, making a commendable start among experienced international players. In the first round he defeated the 2020 Open tournament winner, Indian GM Akash G, and continued to triumph over Slovakia’s No. 1 Jerguš Pecháč and the long-standing Dutch player Erwin Lami.
The 6th year of the Festival is just three months away, scheduled for February 26 to March 7, 2024. We extend a warm invitation to every fan to visit the Don Giovanni Hotel Prague and remind those contemplating participation that the Open and rating tournaments registrations are currently in full swing.
(photo by Lennart Ootes)