Interview with Dimitris Skyrianoglou

players from over 15 countries join the Ikaros festival three months before the start

ikaros chess

The first list of participants of this year’s summer chess festival in Ikaria has been made available (scroll down for the list of players). Although there are several months to the start of the event, strong GMs and IMs have already joined the list, attracted by the good conditions and the beeautiful narture of the island. The Chessdom editors had the chance to speak to the man behind the festival, Dimitris Skyrianoglou.

Official website:

Chessdom: Here we are with Dimitris Skyrianoglou, the tournament director of the 2009 Ikaros Chess Festival, one of the major open events in Europe during this summer. As we were reading through the brochure of the tournament, we were very amazed of the multiple conditions offered to players, some of which actually getting paid for their rating points. As an organizer, how do you manage to provide such fantastic conditions in the current financial crisis?

ikaros chess

Tournament director
Dimitris Skyrianoglou

Dimitris Skyrianoglou: Before anything else I would like to stress that Ikaros Chess Festival is not a profit-making tournament for the organizers. At least this is not our main objective, that’s why we do not hesitate to offer good conditions to titled players who, in turn will attract more participants to the festival. Ikaros Chess Festival commenced 32 years ago as a friendly training tournament for the players of Ikaria Chess Club and the friendly atmosphere of the tournament remains until today. Our main aim is to offer to all participants the chance to combine chess with relaxing and cheap vacations and on the other hand attract people to the island in a period (middle of July) that is not the tourist high-season for Ikaria. This is important for the local economy since during the tournament all hotels, pensions, restaurants and bars are full with chess players :-) . The main financial supporter of this initiative is the municipality of Aghios Kirykos, the capital of Ikaria and the site of the festival. Our budget is not very high but we are willing to provide good conditions not only to strong players (that increase the prestige of a tournament and thus attract more players) but also to lower rated players that’s why offer discount to families, junior players and club teams.

To GMs/IMs/WGMs/WIMs the organisation committee provides:

1. Free entry to the tournament (no entry fee)

2. Accommodation (in double room, the food expenses, meals, breakfast etc are NOT included) for the period 11-19 July.

3. Round Trip (Piraeus-Ikaria-Piraeus) ferry tickets (C class on commercial ferries of the line (Does NOT include the fast ferry lines)) (Piraeus is the port of Athens).

Additionally, for GMs/WGMs only, the organisation committee provides:

4. Pocket money 2 (two) euros for each rating point above 2400 based on the FIDE rating list of 1st of July 2009. Assuming that a player’s rating is 2550 he/she will get (2550 – 2400) x 2 = 300 Euros as pocket money.

This year we started the preparations quite early so we have already almost reached the maximum number of participants to whom we can offer conditions. Maybe we cold afford 4-5 more titled players, so if anyone is interested he/she should hurry up! :-)

The reason why we preferred to offer conditions based on the title, besides the rating ones, is that we are interested in giving the opportunity to the other participants to make international norms. In the past we had several players who made their norms at Ikaria, I believe this years that the field is expected to be quite strong that it would be a good chance for those seeking to achieve a norm.

Ikaria beach

Ikaria beach

Chessdom: With the top conditions you mention, there are probably already requests for the event?

Dimitris Skyrianoglou:Yes, there are several months to the event and we already have more than 40 confirmed foreign players (Greek participants usually contact us in June :-) ), out of which 14 are titled GMs and 7 IMs. We also have several WGMs and WIMs. We are expecting many more players, as this is a nice opportunity to combine chess with family vacation. The players who came with their families can confirm that the combination of nice weather, beaches, etc. was a unique experience for their whole family. We have acquired some very loyal friends during all these years, people who return to Ikaria every summer or recommend the tournament to their friends. This is the best reward for us!

Chessdom: Are there conditions and special offers for families?

Dimitris Skyrianoglou: Yes we offer a 15% discount for families (at least 3 members), juniors (below 20 years of age) and club teams (with at least 4 members from the same club). So instead of the normal 300 euros price (that includes entry fee, accommodation -in double room, NO board expenses are included- and ferry tickets -C class, Piraeus-Ikaria-Piraeus-) they pay 255 euros per person for the period 11-19 July. For those who will pay before the 30th of June, in case they are eligible for the 15% discount, there is an additional 5% discount (so the respective price drops to 240 euros per person) while for those who are not eligible for any other discount, there is a 10% discount (so the price drops to 270 euros for them). I believe there are good conditions and special offers for practically everyone. On our part we always try to be honest with our guests and let then know in advance what to expect at Ikaria.

Ikaria Nas Beach

Chessdom: Tell us more about the organization and the people behind the tournament?

Dimitris Skyrianoglou: During all these 32 years a lot of people have been involved with the tournament but definitely the most prominent figure is this of Kosmas Kefalos, secretary of Ikaria Chess Club and head tournament director of Ikaros Chess Festival. Mr. Kefalos is truly the soul of the event putting a lot of effort, passion and love to it. I should also mention the president of Ikaria Chess Club Giorgos Moraitis, and also Michalis Venios and Nikos Xenakis. A special mention also goes to Savas Kyriakou who is the all-around man of the festival before, during and after the event! Finally me, I usually introduce myself as the tournament director but this is merely a title. Like everybody else I am involved with almost everything regarding the festival… :-) Last but not least I shouldn’t also forget to mention the mayor of Aghios Kirykos Mr. Spyros Teskos who strongly supports the tournament.

ikaros chess

Mr. Kosmas Kefalos together with his daughter Maria wearing 30 medals that went to the winners of Ikaros 2007 tournament. Mr. Kosmas Kefalos has 7 children – 2 daugthers and 5 sons. During the tournament
all of them without exception help with the organisation.

Chessdom: From what you say it looks like a very well planned and organized chess event with good traditions.

Dimitris Skyrianoglou: Yes, it is like that. But let me say, it is not all about chess. Ikaria is a nice place for relaxing vacations too. The island has several nice beaches (e.g. Armenistis. Gialiskari, Faros and many others) to visit which are also combined with the nice mountain countryside ideal for hiking and trekking activities. During July the weather is quite warm but the constant breeze that is characteristic of Ikaria makes the atmosphere very pleasant and suitable for such activities.

More about the Ikaros Chess Festival

Ikaros chess festival general info

About the prize fund and the main event

The event in 2008

Official website

History and facts of Ikaria

First list of participants

1 Markus Robert GM SRB 2606

2 Vorobiov Evgeny GM RUS 2596

3 Kempinski Robert GM POL 2587

4 Buhman Rainer GM GER 2582

5 Mista Alexandr GM POL 2572

6 Bobras Piotr GM POL 2561

7 Tukmakov Vladimir GM UKR 2551

8 Rychagov Andrey GM RUS 2530

9 Jojua Davit GM GEO 2520

10 Ivanov Mihail GM RUS 2470

11 Kopylov Michael IM UKR 2457

12 Sulashvili Malkhaz IM GEO 2442

13 Szymanski Marcin IM POL 2422

14 Batyrov Sapar GM TKM 2421

15 Ghane Shojaat GM IRN 2415

16 Maly Alexey IM RUS 2377

17 Khotenashvili Bela WGM GEO 2364

18 Groetz Herald IM AUT 2358

19 Maryasin Boris IM ISR 2354

20 Grabinsky Vladimir IM UKR 2312

21 Batsiashvili Nino WGM GEO 2300

22 Srebrnic Ana WGM SLO 2283

23 Hrabinska Myroslava WGM UKR 2267

24 Chasovnikova Evgenia WIM RUS 2257

25 Yordanova Svetlana WIM BUL 2220

26 Kopylova Ljubov WIM UKR 2202

27 Gavasheli Ana WIM GEO 2202

28 Dennis Rej DEN 2175

29 Kudriashova Irina WFM RUS 2132

30 Nebojsa Nesic SRB 2127

31 Tsifanskaya Mila WIM ISR 2113

32 Vrublenskaya Olga WIM RUS 2100

33 Mohota Swati WFM IND 2096

We would like to thank the photographer Yiorgos Depollas and the Editions Fotorama Co. for their kind permission to use the photos from Yiorgos Depollas’ album titled “Ikaria” (ISBN: 960-7524-18-7). If you are interested in the other photo albums of Yiorgos Depollas please check at: