Carlsen starts with a win in Nanjing

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
CarlsenIn the first round of the Pearl Spring tournament in Nanjing, Magnus Carlsen defeated Peter Leko to grab an early lead. With the white pieces Veselin Topalov couldn't break through Dmitry Jakovenko's stubborn defence while Wang Yue and Teimour Radjabov also split the point, in a quiet King's Indian.

Photo: Gujuan Tzu

Now officially part of the Grand Slam from the start, the 2nd Pearl Spring tournament takes place September 27th - October 9th in Pukou, Nanjing, China. Again it's a six-player, double round-robin with this year Veselin Topalov (2813), Magnus Carlsen (2772), Peter Leko (2762), Teimour Radjabov (2757), Dmitry Jakovenko (2742) and Wang Yue (2736) playing for a € 250,000 prize fund.

Although the official website mentions an extremely fast rate of play of 90 minutes + 30 seconds increment for the whole game, from the live transmission of the first round we gather it's in fact 2 hours for 40 moves plus 1 hour to complete the game. Update: It's 40 moves in 90 minutes plus 1 hour, no increment. Phew.

The tournament is organized by the Municipal People’s Government of Nanjing and the Chess & Cards Administration Center of General Administration of Sport of China. Like last year, it is held at the Mingfa Pearl Spring Hotel in the Pukou District of Nanjing, China. The city of Nanjing (literally meaning “southern capital”) is the capital of China’s Jiangsu Province, located 300 km northwest of Shanghai.

Like last year the players are wearing special Chinese clothes - this time colourful, shiny shirts - and for his first-round game against Leko, Carlsen decided to try something new on the board as well: the Scotch. The young Norwegian had played this opening only a few times before in his career, so perhaps it's a first sign of the cooperation between him and Garry Kasparov, who popularized this opening in the 90s.


In the 5...Bc5 line Carlsen went for the well-known pawn sacrifice that starts with 10.f4, and perhaps caught by surprise, Leko didn't follow the game Morozevich-Kramnik, Dortmund 2001, where the Russian had quickly drawn with the move 13...Bh3. The Hungarian soon found himself under considerable pressure, as he couldn't generate any counterplay on the kingside while his queenside was being robbed. The desperate-looking 29...Nxh4 was in fact practically Black's best chance, but Carlsen defended flawlessly. An impressive start, enough for clear first after one round.


It's good to see the world's number one playing again, for the first time since the MTel Masters in May this year. Topalov went for 8.a4 in the Catalan main line and got some space advantage, but the Bulgarian could never hope for more than a draw against an ultra-solid Jakovenko today. Wang Yue started cautiously in his first-round game against Radjabov. The two have met each other quite often in recent years, and their personal theoretical battle in the King's Indian continues to be quite interesting, except for today. The Chinese first exchanged queens, and then traded the e-pawns as well. OK, Radjabov needed to find one accurate defensive idea, but when he did, a drawn rook (and later pawn) ending was reached by force.


Game viewer

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2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009 | Round 1 Standings
2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009

2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009 | Schedule & results
2nd Pearl Spring (Nanjing) 2009

Opening Opening

Alongside the Pearl Spring the 2nd FIDE Women Grand Prix is held at the same venue. Like the men's event, the Women GP is a series of 6 tournaments over two years. The winner of each tournament receives 6,500 euros out of a prize fund of 40,000 Euros; the overall winner of the series will win a further 15,000 Euros.

The first Women Grand Prix was held March 5-20, 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey and was won by Humpy Koneru from India. In Nanjing, GM Zhao Xue (2544), Wenjun Ju (2443), GM Nana Dzagnidze, (2536), GM Marie Sebag (2531), GM Xu Yuhua (2485), GM Zhu Chen (2473), IM Lilit Mrktchian (2467), WGM Shen Yang (2453), WGM Munguntuul Batkhuyag (2412), WGM Baira Kovanova (2406), IM Martha Fierro (2394) and WIM Betul Yildiz (2217) play.

Women GP


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