3rd FIDE World Cup officially opened

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Earlier today the 3rd FIDE World Cup was officially opened, with the opening ceremony taking place in the House of Culture “Oktyabr” in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. No less than 128 strong chess players have travelled to the small, Siberian oil town and for most of them their journey took a long, long time.

As we can read on the tournament website, the epicentre of all the info on this huge individual tournament for the coming weeks, the

governor of Khanty Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yugra Alexander Filipenko and the Vice Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexander Zhukov warmly welcomed the participants of the World Cup 2009. Alexander Zhukov called Khanty Mansiysk one of the chess capitals in Russia.

New beautiful chess palaces will be constructed by the start of the Chess Olympiad in 2010, - said the Vice Prime Minister. – In particular, the construction of one of the best chess palace of Russia, to my mind, will be finished. (...)

After the official opening words, chief arbiter Ashot Vardapetian was responsible for the drawing of lots. The top seeded GM Boris Gelfand picked a box with a white king in it, which means that all the participants with odd numbers will start the first round with White tomorrow.

Chief arbiter Ashof Ardapetian and top seed Boris Gelfand

After the official part the art groups of Yugra region showed some performance: young club “Druzhba” with its chess fashion show “Yugra chess”, young and talented designers from Nyagany Elena Goncharova and Elena Chernysh, Ob-yugorsk theatre “Solnze”.

Theatrical performances at the opening ceremony

Below we'll give you all the important data on the World Cup once more. But before that, we'd like to mention two players who have already started blogging about their long journey. Because, Khanty-Mansiysk is not only tough to pronounce and impossible to spell, but it's also darn far away. From just about everywhere.

American GM Josh Friedel, who played tournaments in Hoogeveen, The Netherlands and Bad Wiessee, Germany before the World Cup, writes:

Traveling to a desolate village in the middle of Siberia may sound like a hassle, but in fact it is… well OK it sucks. The first leg of my journey went easily enough. I travelled from Zurich to Moscow via Vienna. After arriving in Moscow is where the fun began. A couple days previous, I was notified that my flight from Moscow to Khanty-Mansiysk was cancelled. Luckily, I managed to book a new flight. Unfortunately, this flight was from a different airport in Moscow (there are three), so I had four hours to go from Domodedovo Airport to Vnukovo airport. Sound like enough time? The bus between airports I thought existed turned out hadn’t been running for two years, but this was unsurprising, as that would have been too easy. Cabs in Russia are a known hazard, so I took a train to the city, went on the metro for four stops, then waited for another train to take me to Vnukovo. I managed not to get lost during this process, which was in my mind nothing short of miraculous, but sadly I was still going to be too late! The woman at the train station told me the next airport train didn’t leave for almost an hour, so I’d only arrive thirty minutes prior to my flight, which wasn’t enough. Of course, I think that’s what she said, with my limited Russian and her speaking quickly she might have said the next train to the sheep factory didn’t leave for an hour. Still, I decided to try my luck at Vnukovo airport, maybe they would let me on.

(Continue reading here.)

An interesting question is: who had to travel the most to get there? The answer might well be GM David Smerdon from Australia. He recently started a blog on and he also has a few tidbits about the long journey:

The domestic trip was quite an experience. As you might expect, there wasn’t much written in Roman letters in the domestic airport, but I’m getting quite good at pronouncing words written in Russian text (though knowing what they mean is another matter). We also found a fantastic lady from Utair, our carrier, who was very enthusiastic about the chance to practice her English with us. While the plane was tiny and the usually anal safety procedures weren’t exactly followed (seatbelts, mobile phones, and upright seats optional), we made it safely and relatively painlessly.

On board our plane was Sergei Movsesian, a 2700 player I met a while ago in the Czech Republic (where he now resides). His English is flawless, so the bus ride to the hotel was a good chance to get the inside scoop on the town. But the big star-gazing moment came in the hotel itself, when Fi and I shared a tiny lift ride with none other than former world champion Anatoly Karpov (non-chessplayers: think Andre Agassi, but with more hair).

(Continue reading here.)


Khanty-Mansiysk is an oil boom town in Russia, the administrative center of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. It is located on the Irtysh River, 15 km from its confluence with the Ob. Besides the two previous World Cups (won by Levon Aronian and Gata Kamsky respectively), Khanty-Mansiysk was the venue of the 2003 Biathlon World Championships, and in 2005 the first Mixed Biathlon Relay (4×6 km) took place there.

World Cup format

There shall be 6 rounds of matches comprising two 2 games per round, with the winners progressing to the next round, plus the final seventh (7th) round comprising of four (4) games. Round 1 (November 21-23): 128 players Round 2 (November 24-26): 64 players Round 3 (November 27-29): 32 players Round 4 (November 30-December 2): 16 players Round 5 (December 3-5): 8 players Round 6 (December 6-8): 4 players Round 7 (December 10-14): 2 players

The time control shall be 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move from move one. For the first 6 rounds, each match shall be played over 2 games and the winner of a match shall be the first player to score 1.5 or more points. The final 7th round will be a match played over 4 games and the winner of the World Cup will be the first player to score 2.5 or more points.

Extended tiebreak

This edition will feature an extended format for tiebreaks. A maximum of four rapid games will be played, and if the score is still equal, there will be up to five pairs of blitz games. If the tie is broken after any pair of games, the tiebreak will end. Failing that, an armageddon game will be played, where players will have three-second increments beginning with move 61.

Prize fund

Round 1 losers:   64 x   USD   6,000  (net 4,800)  USD 384,000 
Round 2 losers:   32 x   USD  10,000  (net 8,000)  USD 320,000 
Round 3 losers:   16 x   USD  16,000  (net 12,800) USD 256,000 
Round 4 losers:    8 x   USD  25,000  (net 20,000) USD 200,000 
Round 5 losers:    4 x   USD  35,000  (net 28,000) USD 140,000 
Round 6 losers:    2 x   USD  50,000  (net 40,000) USD 100,000 
Runner-up:         1 x   USD  80,000  (net 64,000) USD  80,000 
World Cup winner:  1 x   USD 120,000  (net 96,000) USD 120,000 
Total:                                           USD 1,600,000

Tomorrow the first round starts at 15:00 locat time which is 11:00 CET. The pairings for the first round, with the correct colours, can now be found on the official website.

The audience in the House of Culture 'Oktyabr'

The chess theme, entering between black and white...

...but some beautiful colours as well

And many women beautifully dressed...

...and some with a mischievous look in the eye

All photos courtesy of FIDE


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