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Gib chess gets serious with international ‘Battle of the Sexes’

International chess will return to Gibraltar in a new and exciting format in January 2022, with 10 top-rated women players facing a team of 10 similarly-rated men at classical chess in the ‘#GibChess Battle of the Sexes’ match-tournament.

With prize money of £100,000, play will commence on January 24, with the final round and prize giving dinner taking place on February 3.

And with the Caleta Hotel, the traditional venue for international chess on the Rock, closing its doors in December ahead of the site being redeveloped, the tournament will be played in the elegant surroundings of the upper reading room in the Garrison Library.

But the event, which will attract worldwide attention, will also seek to showcase other heritage sites in Gibraltar.

The prize giving dinner will be held at the City Hall, courtesy of the Mayor of Gibraltar His Worship Christian Santos, while the World Heritage Site Gorham’s Cave will be part of the programme.

Tourism Minister Vijay Daryanani will host a dinner at the Rock Hotel on January 29 for participants and guests.

“With ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ still fresh in everyone’s mind, this Classical Battle of the Sexes is sure to be a big hit,” the organisers, The Caleta Hotel, said in a statement.

“Men vs women match-tournaments have been held previously, notably the series of Veterans vs Women dance-themed match-tournaments of the 1990s, but the organisers believe this is the first time that teams of men and women players have been selected to match each other closely in terms of average rating and age.”

“Over the course of ten rounds and 100 games, this match-tournament will contribute some socio-scientific evidence to the debate as to whether men or women of similar ratings are likely to outperform the opposite gender, or whether the rating system gets this right.”

“The ‘Battle of the Sexes’ fun match played on a giant chessboard has been an innovative and popular part of Gibraltar Chess Festivals for many years, but now it got serious.”

Joe Bossano, the Minister for Economic Development, welcomed the announcement and said: “Chess is more than a sport, it is a challenge to the human intellect.”

Swedish grandmaster Pia Cramling is the women’s captain.

Pia, twice European Champion and an iconic figure in the chess world, is greatly looking forward to an exciting contest.

She has participated in every Gibraltar Masters tournament since the series began in 2003.

Her husband, Juan Manuel Bellon, also a grandmaster, is a former Spanish champion, and their daughter Anna is an accomplished player and chess streamer.

Men’s captain Sabino Brunello will be making only his second visit to the Rock. The Italian grandmaster played in the Gibraltar Masters in 2012, exactly ten years ago.

Games will be shown online move by move, and a daily show will be broadcast from the Library itself, with expert commentary on the latest play, all can be viewed at

The event will be run in accordance with Public Health advice. Owing to its size limitations, access can only be for accredited visitors.

Accreditation can be obtained by application to

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