RIGA, April 10 (LETA) – The Latvian Chess Federation had long wanted to
host a major tournament, Aris Ozolins, the head of the federation, said
at a news conference in Riga on the eve of the European Individual
Woman’s Chess Championship 2017 that will begin in the Latvian capital

The European championship will be held in the Omega conference hall of
Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija on April 11-22. It is the biggest chess
tournament organized in Latvia since the restoration of independence in
the early 1990s.

In 2006 we made a bid to host the Chess Olympiad, but Latvia did not get
picked as the host, Ozolins recalled. “I had an idea to bring a major
tournament to Latvia. We worked towards it and got to host the European
Woman’s Chess Championship and will also be hosting the European Youth
Chess Championship 2018,” he said.

The president of the Latvian Chess Federation said that they had started
preparing for the championship a year ago. He noted that Egons
Lavendelis, the director of the tournament, had extensive experience in
organizing RTU Open, the largest classic chess tournament in the Baltics.

“We have good contacts with the World Chess Federation (FIDE) and the
European Chess Union (ECU), and we have plans to host an even bigger
event with time. We chose the European women’s chess championship and
the next year’s youth championship as the first step,” Ozolins said.

The Latvian federation was courageous enough to host both women’s and
youth championships, and I think this is going to be one of the best
tournaments, said Martin Huba, a board member of the ECU. The
organization looks good, the team is experienced and the championship
will take place in a high-level hotel, he said, adding that he was
pleased to come to Latvia because [Latvian-born World Chess Champion]
“Mikhail Tal is one of the gods of our game.”

Ozolins voiced regret that Latvian Finance Minister Dana
Reizniece-Ozola, who is a Woman Grandmaster in chess, will not take part
in the championship, “apparently for work-related reasons”.

“The competition is very great. I am glad, that many young women chess
players participate,” he said.

The total prize fund of the tournament is EUR 75,000. The organizers say
this is going to be one of the strongest European women’s chess
championships in the recent years – 32 European chess federations are
represented in the list of 145 participants which include some of the
world top women players.