Sochi R1: Grischuk and Radjabov win

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
No, it's not a fencing championship that's taking place, although chief arbiter Geurt Gijssen and yours truly might give that impression. We're just two Dutch guys making the people in Sochi think that walking on crutches is as common as using wooden shoes. (Both are not!) Warning: huge pictorial report.

After a smooth first day, the tournament website is in decent shape now: reports on the opening ceremony and first round are online, photo and video galleries, results, standings, PGN, the whole bloody thing. Which means it's about time to share something with my favorite audience!

Everybody eats and sleeps, and some of us also push wooden chess pieces, in the Radisson SAS Lazurnaya Hotel, which is quite a posh place. Actually the only five-starred accommodation in Sochi I believe, located a few miles south of the city centre, close to the beach. All of this might be the reason why it was so quiet on the first day in both the press and spectators rooms. Commentator GM Genna Sosonko has mainly been talking to empty chairs (well, actually there are many old friends around to entertain the entertainer).

Two Very Important Persons visiting the tournament should be mentioned: former world champion Anatoly Karpov and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. In their speeches at the opening ceremony, both referred to the upcoming World Mind Sports Games (October 2008, Beijing), and they expressed their hope to see the game of chess as part of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Keep on dreaming or a realistic goal? Who knows.




After some more speeches it was time for the drawing of lots, executed by Chief Arbiter Geurt Gijssen. In alphabetical order the players came on stage, where they had to pick a football shirt ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú the number on the back became their pairings number. This way, the organizers remembered the great success of the Russian national football team, who defeated The Netherlands in the quarter finals of last month's European Championship. Gijssen, who is a Dutchman himself, couldn't resist mentioning the new match between Russia and Holland, scheduled for August 20. Or should we call it a revanche match?


Back to chess. The players picked the following shirts: 1. Svidler, 2. Cheparinov, 3. Gelfand, 4. Radjabov, 5. Grischuk, 6. Wang Yue, 7. Navara, 8. Ivanchuk, 9. Aronian, 10. Karjakin, 11. Al-Modiahki, 12. Jakovenko, 13. Gashimov, 14. Kamsky.




Then the players, officials and other spectators were treated a show with female dancers and a band, who did manage to bring some smiles onto the players' faces, when they picked Cheparinov, Karpov and Bologan as dancing partners on stage! Especially Bologan performed quite decently, I must say.







sosonkosutovsky GMs Genna Sosonko and Emil Sutovsky enjoying the show

After the offical part, a small technical meeting was conducted by Gijssen, to discuss some details. First, Svidler, Navara and Kamsky were chosen in the appeals committee, with Gelfand and Wang Yue as reserves. Navara asked if he shouldn't be a reserve, to which the arbiter replied: "Don't be so modest, David!"


Then Gijssen explained about the draw offers, since the Grand Prix applies the Sofia Rule. After it was made clear that the players are not supposed to talk to each other during the game, Aronian asked: "What if I want to offer a draw, but not want my opponent to find out about that?" :-)

That was all Wednesday night, and the first round has been played by now. Grischuk was the first to draw blood this tournament: he played a fine game against Karjakin. Especially his prohylactic Ra1-a3 was instructive (see the game further down).


The other winner was Radjabov, who defeated last seeded Al-Modiahki after an original rook maneuver.


One of my favorite players, Navara, luckily doesn't have to worry about his studies here, as it was the case in Baku. He started well by drawing with first seeded Ivanchuk.


The other draws were quite balanced encounters, except for Cheparinov-Gashinov, where Black missed a beautiful win.

All photos are by editor-in-chief of 64, Mark Gluhovsky, who is the press officer here. Below you'll find the games of the first round (with commentary by GM Sergey Shipov and myself), followed by the first videos by Robert Fontaine and G?ɬ©rard Demuydt of Europe-Echecs.


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