Cheparinov and Leko start with wins in first round Jermuk Grand Prix

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Jermuk GPThe FIDE Grand Prix in Jermuk, Armenia started today with five draws and two decisive games in the first round. Cheparinov beat Jakovenko using the Four Knights while Peter Leko defeated Ernesto Inarkiev with Black in an Anti-Marshall. Full, pictorial report.

The 5th tournament in the FIDE Grand Prix Series takes place in Jermuk, Armenia. It's a 14-player round-robin with Aronian, Jakovenko, Leko, Gelfand, Bacrot, Kamsky, Karjakin, Eljanov, Alekseev, Akopian, Ivanchuk, Cheparinov, Inarkiev and Kasimdzhanov. More info on the GP and Jermuk in our preview.

Round 1

While it's still highly unclear whether this first FIDE Grand Prix will be concluded as planned, with no news whatsoever about the 6th and last tournament scheduled for December, the 5th event has started, and quite smoothly or so it seems, in Jermuk, Armenia. In New in Chess Magazine 2009/4 yours truly wrote that "perhaps it's best to look at the Grand Prix tournaments like most of the participants are doing by now: as a series of individual super-tournaments with many strong players and good prize money."

With two Grand Prix victories already in the pocket, Levon Aronian should be considered favourite to win this tournament and the GP in general. Armenia's number one player needs to do very little to surpass Grischuk's 2nd place in the overall GP standings: he's just 3⅓ points behind the Russian while one more tournament result will be counted and Grischuk has already played his 4 tournaments.

Aronian started on home ground with a solid draw with the Black against Ivanchuk. With his bishop pair White kept a very small plus in a Guioco Pianissimo - apparently Ivanchuk had little appetite to test the already legendary preparation of the Aronian/Sargissian tandem in either the Marshall or the Berlin Wall.

Jermuk GP

The tournament is officialy opened with a handshake between FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, with Vassily Ivanchuk, Levon Aronian and all other players watching (Zahar Efimenko to the left)

Peter Leko, who lost the crucial last-round game of the previous Grand Prix in Nalchik to Aronian, must have travelled to Armenia with similar hopes and ambitions, and lived up to them immediately. After his colorless Dortmund tournament the Hungarian is showing serious business right from the start in Jermuk with a very nice black victory against Ernesto Inarkiev. A small inaccuracy by the Russian was immediately punished and although White's bishop was trapped like a rat, Leko made use of a nice tactic to win the rook instead.

Boris Gelfand lost his White game against Pavel Eljanov in Nalchik but this time it went much better. GM Tigran Petrosian (a logical choice in a tournament that's dedicated to 80th birth anniversary of the former world champion bearing the same name) is doing live commentary of all games and so we cannot expect the same depth of GM Sergey Shipov, who always focused on one game during the day and only then started looking at the other six. However, it's still a bit disappointing that Petrosian couldn't pinpoint where exactly White lost his endgame advantage.

Sergey "just married" Karjakin not only brought his wife WIM Kateryna Dolzhikova to Jermuk, but also Alexander Motylev. After obtaining Russian citizenship Karjakin can now work with strong coaches (see our interview) and after working with Yuri Dokhoian in Nalchik, he's now got himself the 2009 Poikovsky winner working for him! It immediately paid off as Karjakin used Motylev's idea 18...Re8 and drew quickly with Rustam Kasimdzhanov in a Queen's Indian.

Jermuk GP

Karjakin and Kasimdzhanov at the press conference, hosted by IM Lilit Mkrtchian (2467), who celebrated her 27th birthday yesterday

Alekseev-Akopian was a highly thematical Chigorin Ruy Lopez where White trades his 'good' bishop for Black's 'bad' one to make use of the c5 square. However, with this pawn structure Black can sometimes make use of the d4 square himself, and this is what happened.

Ivan Cheparinov had a quite successful preparation himself. Like Ivanchuk he avoided Spanish theory (in Dmitry Jakovenko's case the Berlin Wall) and went for the Four Knights, using the interesting set-up 11.Bd2!? and 12.Bd3. Although he wasn't prepared for this, Jakovenko reacted solidly and Black was doing fine for a long time. Only 29...Qe5? was a mistake, where he overestimating the rook endgame - Black should have played 29...dxc2.

Jermuk GP

Jakovenko and Cheparinov at the press conference

The only game we didn't mention yet was Kamsky-Bacrot but this one can be quickly forgotten. White used an innocuous line of the Symmetrical English which can be found on the repertoires of ultra-solid grandmasters like Ribli and Andersson. Without the Sofia Rule, the players would have shaken hands around move 16 already.

Round 1 games

Click on the pairings at the top of the board to reveal a drop down list of all the games. More info on our new game viewer can be found here.

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Jermuk Grand Prix 2009 | Round 1 Standings

Jermuk Grand Prix 2009

Jermuk Grand Prix 2009 | Schedule & results

As the tournament website reports, the opening ceremony was quite spectacular last night, covered live on Armenia’s Public TV channel and witnessed by nearly 3000 people who crowded around the central pond in the quaint center of Jermuk, Armenia.

Spectators were treated to a variety of live songs, a retrospective short film about World Champion Tigran Petrosian, speeches by the President of Armenia Serge Sargsyan and President of FIDE Kirsan Iljumdzhinov as well as a clip documenting the last two Olympiad victories by Armenia’s national team.

The participants had a unique vantage point, viewing the entertainment while cruising around the pond on a motorized raft while enduring the evening cold temperatures.

Jermuk GP

The drawing of the lots took place on the raft itself

Jermuk GP

An organizer this time: GM Smbat Lputian

Jermuk GP

Peter Leko talking to special guest GM Svetozar Gligoric

Jermuk GP

Thousands of spectators in chess-loving Armenia...

Jermuk GP

...who had a beautiful view especially when it got dark...

Jermuk GP

...of the raft and the ceremonies

Jermuk GP

A big star: Levon Aronian

Jermuk GP

The two presidents playing a game themselves during the first round

Jermuk GP

Traditionally, by now, the press conferences are held with a TV screen showing the position

Jermuk GP

Also pretty typical: seconds working with laptops in a hotel lobby - Igor Kurnosov and Denis Khismatullin

All photos © Arman Kharakhanyan


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.”

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