Astrakhan FIDE GP R1: Gashimov beats Ivanchuk

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Gashimov beats Ivanchuk in first round Astrakhan FIDE Grand PrixIn the first round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Astrakhan, Vugar Gashimov beat Vassily Ivanchuk in the only decisive game.

The sixth and final FIDE Grand Prix tournament started today in Astrakhan, Russia. Akopian (2694), Alekseev (2700), Gashimov (2734), Gelfand (2741), Eljanov (2751), Inarkiev (2669), Ivanchuk (2741), Jakovenko (2725), Leko (2735), Mamedyarov (2763), Ponomariov (2733), Rajabov (2740), Svidler (2735) and Wang Yue (2752) play.

Astrakhan is a major city in southern European Russia and the administrative center of Astrakhan Oblast, a federal subject of Russia. The city lies on the left bank of the Volga River, close to where it discharges into the Caspian Sea at an altitude of 23 metres below sea level. It has a population of a bit over 500,000 people.

This FIDE Grand Prix is the final of six events that form the 2008-2010 Series. It all started in April-May 2008 in Baku, followed by Sochi in August of the same year. After Doha withdrew, the third GP took place in December in Elista. Montreux also withdrew, and so the fourth was held in Nalchik. The fifth was in Jermuk in August last year.

All players were to play four of the six events, and for the overall standings their best three tournaments would count. Since Levon Aronian already secured overall victory after three evens, he was allowed to withdraw from this last event. The current GP standings are (thanks to ebutaljib:) Grand Prix Standings

OK, Aronian won, but it doesn't mean that this tournament is only for the prize money. Finishing second in the overall Grand Prix gets you a spot in the Candidates Tournament for the next World Championship cycle, so there's still something to fight for in Astrakhan for a small number of players.

As Thomas pointed out, for this it makes more sense to look at two best results of the players who still have a chance to finish second:

Radjabov 303.3 Wang Yue 273.3 Gashimov 263.3 Ivanchuk 245.0 Jakovenko 243.3 Leko 240.0

The idea is that the third (worst) result doesn't matter if they do better in Astrakhan. It follows that the maximum number of points any player can get is [number above] + 180 for clear first. The players' chances are as follows: - Radjabov can obviously defend his qualifying spot. - Wang Yue is through if he finishes clear first (Radjabov can tie if he's clear second, but has the inferior fourth result which is the tiebreaker). - If Gashimov finishes clear first, Radjabov can stay ahead of him (but then Gashimov should get the wildcard, or would it go to Mamedyarov who is currently higher-rated?) - If Ivanchuk is clear first, Radjabov needs to be at least clear third to stay ahead of Chucky. Noone else could catch him. This is because Ivanchuk's score is "most improvable" - he had one really bad result in Nalchik (12th-14th) which will be deleted.

The opening ceremony of the final Grand Prix took place in the new Astrakhan State Drama Theatre on Sunday, a national holiday for the Russians. The ceremony was attended by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the Governor of Astrakhan Region Alexander Zhilkin, who stated that a new chess center will soon be established inside the theater. The speeched were followed by the traditional drawing of lots, and several dancing and singing acts.

On Monday the first round was played, and it was a bad start for Vassily Ivanchuk who let his queen trapped not long after the opening phase, against Vugar Gashimov. All the other games ended in a draws, and especially Wang Yue and Leko didn't spend much time behind the chess board. They started repeating moves already on move 15 - necessary to draw early in FIDE GPs where the Sofia rule is in effect.

When I was in Baku for the first Grand Prix tournament, the plan of FIDE/Global Chess was to create a 'media team' that would take care of all six tournaments. This way each tournament website would be a bit better than the previous, and we'd be working to a very professional way of covering chess. Somewhere along the way this went wrong, because at the moment of writing the tournament website doesn't have a PGN file, a bulletin, a video or game commentary. But OK, it's only the first day, let's give them some time.

Games round 1

Game viewer by ChessTempo


Dancing and colourful girls during the opening ceremony


FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the Governor of Astrakhan Region Alexander Zhilkin


Radjabov, Svidler, Leko and Gashimov


Ponomariov, Jakovenko and Alekseev


An experienced trio: Gelfand, Svidler and Leko


Alekseev picks his number 6


Gashimov: number 4


World Cup winner Boris Gelfand: number 13


The stage of the theater during the first round

Photos courtesy of FIDE, more here


Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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