Pearl Spring: opening ceremony & pairings

0 | Chess Event Coverage
Pearl Spring starts tomorrow - pairings & many photosIn case you had missed it: ChessVibes is in China again! The first round of the third Pearl Spring tournament in Nanjing starts tomorrow at 14.30 local time (that's in the morning in Europe: 08.30 CET). The pairings of the first round were announced tonight at the opening ceremony: Anand-Wang Yue, Carlsen-Bacrot and Topalov-Gashimov.

General info

The third Pearl Spring tournament, officially called "Kanion Cup Nanjing Pearl Spring Chess Tournament", takes place October 21-30 in Nanjing, China. Viswanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen, Veselin Topalov, Wang Yue, Vugar Gashimov and Etienne Bacrot play a double round-robin with one rest day halfway.


The event is organized by the Municipal People's Government of Nanjing, the Chess and Card Management Center of the General Administration of Sports in China and the Chinese Chess Association. The main sponsor is Kanion, a pharmaceutical company. The venue is, like the first two editions, at the Mingfa Pearl Spring Hotel in Pukou, Nanjing.

The chief arbiter is Almog Burstein from Israel. The time control is 2 hours for 40 moves, then 1 hour for 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with 30 seconds increment starting from move 61. Players can only offer a draw through the arbiter. The rounds start at 14.30 local time (08.30 CET) except for the last round which starts at 10.00 local time (04.00 CET).

If two players tie for first with the same number of points, there will be a play-off of two games with 10 minutes plus 3 seconds increment. If this minimatch ends in 1-1, two more games with 5 minutes plus 3 seconds increment will be played. If needed there will be an Armageddon game afterwards with 6 minutes for White (who needs a win) and 4 for Black.


The total prize fund is 250,000 Euros and the prizes are divided as follows (but note that the players have to pay 20% taxes in China):

1 EUR 80,000 | 2 EUR 55,000 | 3 EUR 40,000 4 EUR 30,000 | 5 EUR 25,000 | 6 EUR 20,000

In China again

So far the basic info. This year we have more to add than what's also available on the official site and elsewhere on the internet, since yours truly is writing this from a Pearl Spring hotel room in Nanjing. After skipping the last night in Bilbao on Friday due to an excellent party and a very early flight, I arrived in Amsterdam with some sort of jetlag, and I duly doubled it on Sunday night with a flight to Beijing and another one to Nanjing. I'm a bit dizzy and should be heading to bed soon but first I'll post the pairings and a bunch of photos of today's activities.


This morning the players were treated to an exclusive banquet with high officials, for which the press wasn't invited. This afternoon we all travelled by bus to the Nanjing Experimental Elementary School, where all the children had gathered outside, at a big sports field. The youngest childred were either watching or playing chess against themselves, and the older ones could play in a simul against one of the players of the tournament, or against one of a number of China's grandmasters.

It was a very big and just fantastic event which for me was a model for how to popularize chess in schools. Later we were told by the school head that all 2000 children play chess for an hour every day during the break.

Opening ceremony

At night the opening ceremony took place in a big theatre hall of the Nanjing TV studios. After speeches by officials (including Chairman of the Chinese Chess Association Chu Bo and FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong) the six players were asked to come on stage and say a few words to the organizers.

After that the chief arbiter announced the pairings of the first round, since the drawing of lots had already taken place on Monday afternoon. Here's the full schedule:

Here's a big selection of photos from today.

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

The view from the primary school's third floor, with on the far left and right small children playing chess against each other, some unoccupied seats down in the middle and the simuls by the grandmasters above that area with spectators in between

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

Veselin Topalov in action - he'd later state that some players were 'very decent'


Always dressed in fashionable style

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

Vishy Anand wearing a jacket from his sponsor NIIT, which was very good news, as the World Champion had arrived at the hotel on Monday in Nanjing with only one of his two suitcases, and not the one with his suits! (Someone else had taken it from the luggage belt.) Yesterday he joked that he might wear the same T-shirt for days at the tournament (and I added that it would be his 'unlucky shirt'...) but later in the evening his second suitcase was dropped at the hotel

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

The job also involved signing many autographs...

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament between the moves

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

Etienne Bacrot about his very young opponent: 'He was playing better than my son!'

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

We can tell the Frenchman that he'll face even tougher opponents soon

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

Vugar Gashimov dressed for the occasion, in black & white

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

Wang Yue, a big idol for many present, just like...

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

...Xu Yuhua...


...and Shen Yang

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

Hundreds and hundreds of children had brought small chess sets from the class rooms to play along...

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

...but this boy was more lucky and could join a simul

Pearl Spring Chess Tournament

The players on stage at the opening ceremony, with the arbiter announcing the pairings of the first round - what follows are pictures from the opening ceremony, with lots of music, dance and acrobatic acts that took about 1.5 hours in total and were visited by a few hundred spectators

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The following photos are from an absolutely stunning perfomance choreographed by Fei Guangsheng and performed by Shen Siyuan and Chen Min, two acrobats who slowly moved and used their strength in perfect balance to make the following figures.

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