Arrival at Sofia!

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
So here we are, at the press center of the Mtel Masters Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. After a smooth flight from Rome Ciampino I arrived this morning, and at the hotel I met with Macauley Peterson, who works in Sofia for ICC / Chess.FM. Together we will make some videos of this tournament. We hope to publish the first one later today. And of course I'll make some daily reports for ChessVibes and probably do some live blogging as well, just like in Wijk aan Zee in January.

For the viewers who are just tuning in, I'll start with a Mtel update of the results so far. This is because I need one myself too! ;-) So, who do we have. There's Topalov (2772), Mamedyarov (2757), Adams (2734), Kamsky (2705), Nisipeanu (2693) and Sasikiran (2690).

Ivaylo Ninov

They play a double round-robin with the classical time control of 2 hours for 40 moves + 1 hour for the 20 moves + 0,5 hour to the end of the game. Rounds start at 14.30 local time (that's 13.30 CET), the last round is on Sunday, May 20 and, of course, the Sofia Rule applies: draw-offers will be allowed only through the chief-arbiter in the cases of a triple-repetition, a perpetual check or a theoretically draw.

In the first round there was already quite a surprise when Topalov lost to Nisipeanu. The Rumanian played Tiviakov's favourite 3...Qd6 in the Sandinavian and was allright from the opening. A blunder by Topalov (43. Qd3??) finished the game promptly. Mamedyarov also won, against Kamsky, and actually almost out of the opening. Adams-Sasikiran was a Panov Caro-Kann that ended in a draw.

The second round saw three draws and then yesterday Topalov lost again, against Mamedyarov, continueing his habit of starting tournaments badly. Right from the opening he got into trouble when his king was under fire. The opposite-coloured bishops only made White's attack even more lethal. Almost the same scenario in Adams-Nisipeanu, where White went for the piece sac on e6 that Black was begging him to go for. It took Adams a bit longer than Mamedyarov but the result was the same. Sasikiran managed to beat Kamsky with Black in a Queen's Gambit Accepted, an opening that usually offers no more than a draw.

So the current standings are:

  1. Mamedyarov       2,5
2-3. Adams, Sasikrian  2
  4. Nisipeanu        1,5
5-6. Topalov, Kamsky  0,5

Today the fourth round is being played. Against the leader Mamedyarov, Nisipeanu again used a rare opening: the Blumenfeld Gambit (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 b5). Sasikiran-Topalov is a King's Indian (fully back at the elite level) with 7.Be3 and Kamsky-Adams is a Ruy Lopez with the seldomly-played 7...Bg4.

The games can be followed online here.

The stage

No complaints about the media attention

Right and left of the stage a screen shows GM Ermenkov's live analysis (although it hasn't worked so far)

Update 15.35 CET: when you're in a press room, news is all around. Here's a press release of today:

Mexico City joins the Chess Grand Slam

The Chess Grand Slam first edition (2008) is now completed, with five tournaments: Corus Wijk aan Zee (The Nederlands, January 11-27th), Linares (Spain, February 15th ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú March 9th), M-Tel Masters Sofia (Bulgaria, May 6-18th), Mexico City (June 21st ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú July 6th) and the Final Masters in Bilbao (Spain, September 15-27th).

The Mexico City candidature, supported by its Town Council, has been unanimously accepted during the Grand Slam Chess Association meeting in Sofia, as it fulfils all the required conditions.

The Bilbao Final Masters will have the winners of the other four Grand Slam tournaments. The total prize fund of the Final Masters in Bilbao will be 400.000 euros approximately.

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