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Agonized Grand Prix Resumes In Geneva

Agonized Grand Prix Resumes In Geneva

Thursday the third leg of the FIDE Grand Prix started in Geneva, Switzerland. The first round saw four decisive results, including a black win for Teimour Radjabov over Anish Giri.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov at the first round in Geneva. | Photo: World Chess.

Unfortunately, it seems the further we go into this Grand Prix Series, the worse it gets. Before we look at yesterday's games, larger GP issues need to be discussed first.

Agon, the company that owns the right to organise events in the world championship cycle, managed to find three sponsors for their events. Nonetheless, as reported earlier, they couldn't pay an amount of $500,000 in time to FIDE, which was due for late 2016.

And, at least until a week ago, the participants of the Moscow Grand Prix were still waiting for their prize money, because FIDE was still waiting for it too.

"The reason the players received their money late was that we were waiting payment of the prize money by the organisers," FIDE Executive Director Nigel Freeman told Chess.com.

This week, most (but not all) Moscow participants have finally received their money, 1.5 months after the tournament.

Many would argue that Agon is not only treating the world's best players with less respect than they deserve. The chess fans are also suffering.

The user experience for following the Candidates', the world championship match and now these Grand Prix tournaments is simply worse than at other major tournaments. An important reason is Agon's position towards the live transmission of games.

By trying (and, thus far, failing) to limit the live transmission to the WorldChess website, Agon has alienated a number of well-established chess websites. One of the major Russian sites, ChessPro, hasn't covered Agon's events since the Candidates' Tournament last year. Chess24, who have been involved in lawsuits with Agon, decided to boycott the Moscow Grand Prix altogether and also did not cover yesterday's first round of the Geneva GP.

Starting from the Candidates' Tournament in 2016, chess fans have had to pay to see games in the world championship cycle on a website that is simply below today's standards. The issues range from diagrams that aren't working properly, basic functionalities that aren't there, and bugs that are still present up to this day.

Whether it's because of financial trouble or not, Agon seems to have lowered its budget for these GP tournaments. The first, in February in Sharjah, saw three commentators. The one in Moscow, in May, only had one. The Geneva GP also has only one commentator, and he's not even on site.

Speaking from a studio in Moscow, GM Alexander Morozevich was commenting on round one. (After round five GM Evgeny Miroshnichenko will take over.) It's a big name, but the live show still had just roughly 150 simultaneous viewers throughout the day—who only had access to one webcam with an overview shot of the playing hall, all day long.

All in all, it seems regardless of their statements, things are tough for Agon right now, but even harder for those interested in follow these tournaments.

Regardless of these circumstances, Chess.com remains committed to providing the best chess coverage to the global chess community. The world's top tournaments deserve to be brought to the fans, and the world's top chess players deserve our attention. With those ideals in mind, we will continue to report on top chess events regardless of the potential difficulties and obstacles laid out, or any alleged outstanding problems with Agon.

2017 FIDE Grand Prix | Standings After Two Legs

Rk. Fed Name Sharjah Moscow Total
1 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 140 140 280
2 Ding Liren 70 170 240
3 Alexander Grischuk 140 71,4 211,4
4 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 140 71,4 211,4
5 Hikaru Nakamura 70 71,4 141,4
6 Hou Yifan 7 71,4 78,4
7 Michael Adams 70 3 73
8 Ian Nepomniachtchi 70 3 73
9 Anish Giri 71,4 71,4
10 Peter Svidler 71,4 71,4
11 Teimour Radjabov 71,4 71,4
12 Dmitry Jakovenko 70 70
13 Francisco Vallejo Pons 25 7 32
14 Richard Rapport 25 25
15 Pavel Eljanov 25 25
16 Li Chao 25 25
17 Evgeny Tomashevsky 3 20 23
18 Pentala Harikrishna 20 20
19 Boris Gelfand 20 20
20 Jon Ludvig Hammer 3 7 10
21 Levon Aronian 7 7
22 Saleh Salem 3 3 6
23 Alexander Riazantsev 1 1
24 Ernesto Inarkiev 1 1

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (32, Azerbaijan) tops the GP standings going into the third tournament, in Geneva, where he plays as well. Ding Liren (24, China) is second but will play his third tournament in November in Palma de Mallorca. The top two finishers of the overall Grand Prix will qualify for the 2018 Candidates' Tournament.

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Shakhriyar Mamedyarov leads the Grand Prix after two tournaments. | Photo: World Chess.

Geneva Grand Prix | Round 1 Results

Bo. No. Fed Name Rtg Pt. Result Pt. Fed Name Rtg No.
1 1 Aronian 2809 0 ½ - ½ 0 Li Chao 2735 10
2 11 Gelfand 2728 0 ½ - ½ 0 Mamedyarov 2800 2
3 3 Giri 2775 0 0 - 1 0 Radjabov 2724 12
4 13 Inarkiev 2707 0 ½ - ½ 0 Grischuk 2761 4
5 5 Svidler 2749 0 ½ - ½ 0 Jakovenko 2703 14
6 15 Rapport 2694 0 ½ - ½ 0 Nepomniachtchi 2742 6
7 7 Eljanov 2739 0 1 - 0 0 Hou Yifan 2666 16
8 17 Riazantsev 2654 0 0 - 1 0 Harikrishna 2737 8
9 9 Adams 2736 0 1 - 0 0 Salem 2638 18

Let's start with Geneva, where Michael Adams (45, England) defeated Salem Saleh (24, UAE) with the white pieces like he had done in the Sharjah Grand Prix as well—but that was a better game.

"I think I had quite a nice opening actually but then I had to play more directly, play f4 somehow. I think he got quite a good position," said Adams. The Englishman won a pawn, but "messed up again," in the words of Adams. "A bit of a strange game."

FIDE Press Officer Goran Urosevic interviews GM Michael Adams after the game.

Teimour Radjabov (30, Azerbaijan) beat Anish Giri (23, Netherlands) with the black pieces. "I was happy to play a beautiful game," the winner said.

Radjabov thought that Giri created the problems for himself. "He spent a lot of time in the opening and then he offered a draw at move 19, but I had such a time advantage that I thought, my moves are quite simple, I have an hour more on the clock, why shouldn't I play this position?"

The Azerbaijani was satisfied with his tactical abilities. "I was fresh in general. But he probably lacked a bit of energy today. His calculations were not too convincing." Radjabov also noted that Giri just came from the Leuven Grand Chess Tour, and that Mikhail Botvinnik would not have approved of Giri's schedule!

WGM Anna Burtasova interviews  GM Teimour Radjabov after the game.

Hou Yifan (23, China) did quite well in the first two Grand Prixs. Let's see if she can keep it up; this time she suffered a loss in the first round.

Pavel Eljanov (34, Ukraine) said he wasn't sure about how he played the opening. It was the first time from the white side; he only had experience in the Giuoco Piano from the black side.

"In timetrouble she didn't play the right way and it looks like the pawn ending is lost for Black," said Eljanov.

WGM Anna Burtasova interviews GM Pavel Eljanov after the game.

The fourth and last winner of the day was Pentala Harikrishna (31, India), who won against Alexander Riazantsev (31, Russia). "Hari," as he is called by most people, ground down his opponent in a long maneuvering game.

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Sporting new glasses, Harikrishna started with a win. | Photo: World Chess.

All other games ended in draws, with Levon Aronian (34, Armenia) vs Li Chao (28, China) being the most interesting. Li said he had no idea what was going on, but felt that he was playing well. In the final position you really need a computer to know for sure what's going on, and even then it's hard to understand!

Geneva Grand Prix | Round 1 Standings

# Fed Name Rtg Perf Pts
1-4 Pavel Eljanov 2739 3466 1.0/1
1-4 Pentala Harikrishna 2737 3454 1.0/1
1-4 Michael Adams 2736 3438 1.0/1
1-4 Teimour Radjabov 2724 3575 1.0/1
5-14 Levon Aronian 2809 2735 0.5/1
5-14 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2800 2728 0.5/1
5-14 Alexander Grischuk 2761 2707 0.5/1
5-14 Peter Svidler 2749 2703 0.5/1
5-14 Ian Nepomniachtchi 2742 2694 0.5/1
5-14 Li Chao 2735 2809 0.5/1
5-14 Boris Gelfand 2728 2800 0.5/1
5-14 Ernesto Inarkiev 2707 2761 0.5/1
5-14 Dmitry Jakovenko 2703 2749 0.5/1
5-14 Richard Rapport 2694 2742 0.5/1
15-18 Anish Giri 2775 1924 0.0/1
15-18 Hou Yifan 2666 1939 0.0/1
15-18 Alexander Riazantsev 2654 1937 0.0/1
15-18 Salem Saleh 2638 1936 0.0/1

Round two pairings: Radjabov-Eljanov, Harikrishna-Adams, Jakovenko-Aronian, Mamedyarov-Inarkiev, Grischuk-Rapport, Li Chao-Svidler, Nepomniachtchi-Gelfand, Salem Saleh-Giri, and Hou Yifan-Riazantsev.

The Geneva Grand Prix takes place 6-15 July in the Hotel Le Richemond in Geneva. The prize fund is €130,000 / $148,520. The time control is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 1.

Download Tournament PGN

Correction: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that draw offers are not allowed in this tournament.

Correction: An earlier version of this article wrongly suggested that FIDE had received Agon's prize money for the FIDE Grand Prix, but was not paying it out until they received the FIDE share on top of the prize money.

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