FIDE Grand Prix Jerusalem: Pairings announced

The fourth and final leg of FIDE Grand Prix 2019 took off in Jerusalem today. The event stretching over twelve days will decide two players qualifying for the Candidates Tournament that is scheduled for the spring of 2020 in Yekaterinburg.

First round pairings:

Veselin Topalov - Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Radoslaw Wojtaszek - Dmitry Andreikin
Yu Yangyi - Wesley So
Yan Nepomniachtchi - Boris Gelfand
Wei Yi - Anish Giri
Pentala Harikrishna - Sergey Karjakin
David Navara - Wang Hao
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov - Dmitry Jakovenko

Currently, the list of front-runners for two slots in Yekaterinburg includes four players: Alexander Grischuk, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and Yan Nepomniachtchi. Alexander is not playing in Jerusalem but with a 7-point margin over Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, he can feel relatively safe. Actually, the one and only scenario in which Grischuk would not qualify for the Candidates Tournament is that Mamedyarov takes down Vachiev-Lagrave in the final after the Frenchman's winning his three first matches without tiebreaks, whereas the Azerbaijanian scores at least 20 Grand Prix points total (10 in Jerusalem only). All these considerations will make the battles in Jerusalem even more exciting.

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Tie-break will determine the winner of FIDE World Cup

The fourth games of the Final and the 3rd place match of the FIDE World Cup were played on October 3 in Khanty-Mansiysk. The playing venue was visited by Yury Yuzhakov and Alexander Tirtoka, Deputy Governors of Ugra, and FIDE Vice-President Mahir Mammedov.

Ding Liren and Teimour Radjabov played a variation of the English Opening, in which Black sacrifices a pawn, but obtains certain compensation due to an insecure position of the white king. The game quickly transposed to an endgame, where White's ruined pawn structure left him little chance of utilizing the extra material. Black regained a pawn in a rook ending and equialised the game fully. A draw was agreed on the 31st move.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Yu Yangyi once again played the Petrov’s Defense. According to the Frenchman, his position was better, however, he was unable to increase this advantage, and after multiple exchanges the game equalised. The players agreed to a draw in a queen ending.

Thus, classical parts of both matches ended in a 2-2 tie, and the winners will be determined on tie-break on Friday, October 4.

In the first rapid game Teimour Radjabov will have White against Ding Liren, and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave will have White against Yu Yangyi.

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Cuban Miranda remains leader in FIDE Women´s American Zonal 2.3

With 5.5 points, Cuban WIM Yerisbel Miranda remains leader and will play today the eighth and penultimate round of the 2019 FIDE Women´s American Zonal 2.3 chess tournament.

Despite drawing with Cuban-born Costa Rican WIM Tania Hernandez, who ranks second with 5 points, Miranda will face today the other Cuban attending this contest, WGM Oleiny Linares, current Cuban national champion.

The latter now appears seventh with 4.5 units after beating Jamaican CM Rachel Miller.

The locals WIM Ingris Rivera and WGM Beatriz Irene Franco rank three and four, in that order, both with 5 units and according to the tiebreaker system used in this competition.

The 2019 FIDE Women´s American Zonal 2.3 is a 9-round Swiss tournament attended by 25 players and grants only one ticket to the 2020 World Cup.

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The 43rd World Olympiad opened with a spectacular show!

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The festive ceremony, which was held in Shekvetili, at the Black Sea Arena, was attended by the participants of the Olympiad, the presidents of FIDE and the 185 countries’ chess federations, the officials and supporters.

Approximately 1000 people worked on this massive event. As numerous guests mentioned, the show turned out to be really unforgettable.

The five-time World Champion, the eleven-time triumphant at Chess Olympiads, the goodwill ambassador of Batumi 2018 – Nona Gaprindashvili said: “Everything starts with the opening. I have attended a lot of Olympiads, but none of them had an opening similar to this. When I talked to our foreigner guests, they were all stunned and I am extremely proud as a Georgian and as a host! I’m overwhelmed with emotions! This show included everything: the history of chess, our region… Directors did a great job!”

The music for the Olympiad’s opening ceremony was created by Maestro Nikoloz Rachveli and DJ Kordzi. Nina Ananiashvili choreographed the ballet performance and the Sukhishvili ensemble presented a new dance, which was choreographed by Iliko Sukhishvili.

Batumi Georgia

The Opening Ceremony presented representatives from not only classical music, but also modern culture. Guests at the Black Sea Arena saw the performances of Nino Katamadze, Lado Ataneli, Liza Bagrationi, Giorgi Ushikishvili, Giorgi Tsagareli, Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz, the folk ensemble “Lashari”, the Adjara Capella, the Evgeni Mikeladze State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nikoloz Rachveli, the Iliko Sukhishvili and Nino Ramishvili Georgian National Ballet.

The text for the Opening Ceremony booklet was written by famous Georgian writer Aka Morchiladze.

Zaal Chikobava was the Stage Director for the opening ceremony, the Painter was Tamar Potskhishvili, Musical Director- Nikoloz Rachveli, Stage Choreographer – Iliko Sukhishvili.

Among the guests of the Black Sea Arena, were the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia Mikheil Batiashvili, the Chairman of the Government of the AR Adjara Tornike Rizhvadze. Besides them, the FIDE Deputy President and presidential candidate Georgios Makropoulos made a speech.

The President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili announced: “I am pleased to welcome participants, athletes, coaches, guests, and supporters of the 43rd World Chess Olympiad!

Georgia and one of its most beautiful cities, Batumi are hosting the largest sports event - Chess Olympiad 2018. It would not be exaggerating to say that this Olympiad is a huge celebration not only for our chess players, but also for the entire country.

Georgia is well-known for its hospitality and I am sure that the Organizational Committee of the Olympiad, as well as the Chess Federation of Georgia will generously host this remarkable tournament.

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Chess has always been very popular in our country. We are deservedly proud of Georgian legendary champions: Ms. Nona Gaprindashvili and Ms. Maia Chiburdanidze are both five-time world champions, while Ms. Nana Alexandria is the two-time vice-world champion and six-time champion of the Chess Olympiad.

Overall, the chess queen crown has been kept in Georgia for 30 years! I wish Georgia would celebrate the world championship once again in the nearest future.

The Olympiad is a team contest; Georgian chess history has witnessed numerous triumphs: four Olympiads won under the Georgian flag, world championship, etc. I do understand that you feel extremely responsible while performing in front of your supporters, though the joy caused by your victory at home is also extremely overwhelming.

I would like to wish successful performance to Georgian women’s and men’s teams and pleasant days to guests, visiting Batumi and participants of the Olympiad.”

The Olympiad starts today, September 24, from 15:00. Tournament will end on October 5.

During the Olympiad, the World Chess Federation – FIDE and Continental Chess Association’s presidential elections will be held. FIDE has 3 presidential candidates: the Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos (Greece), Arkady Dvorkovich (Russia) and Nigel Short (England). FIDE’s presidential elections will be held on October 3.

The European Chess Union has an only presidential candidate - one of the leaders of the Organizing Committee of the 2018 World Chess Olympiad - Zurab Azmaiparashvili. He has been working at this position since 2014.

After the Olympiad ends, the winner of the Nona Gaprindashvili Cup will be chosen. This award was established by FIDE in 1997. Since the 1998 Chess Olympiad, the Nona Cup is awarded to the country’s federation, whichs teams of both men and women achieve the most points.

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Vaishali to be India's first visually impaired player at World Chess Olympiad

Blind chess player Vaishali Narendra Salavkar will become the first Indian female to be part of the International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) team at the world chess Olympiad, starting September 23 at Batumi in Georgia, a top IBCA official said.

The IBCA, affiliated to FIDE, sends its teams - open and women - to compete at the chess Olympiad. "Vaishali will be the first Indian blind chess player to participate in the World Chess Olympiad," IBCA President Jadhav Charudatta told IANS on phone from London on Saturday.

Charudatta is also the President of All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB). "Forty-five-year-old Vaishali from Maharashtra has been playing chess for the past 20-25 years. She is an eight-time national champion," AICFB Treasurer Swapnil Shah told IANS. Vaishali has an Elo rating of 1,357 points. An Elo rating is a system which calculates the skills of chess players. 

Shah said two Spanish women chess players were not able to play in the Olympiad and hence the chance came to Vaishali. As per the Olympiad official website, the other Indian female chess player who will be playing in the Olympiad is Malika Handa (ELO rating 1,334) as part of the International Chess Committee of Deaf (ICCD) team.

With these two players, the total number of Indian women chess players including the normal women`s team at the Batumi Olympiad will be seven. The Indian women`s chess Olympiad team consists of Koneru Humpy, Harika Dronavalli, Tania Sachdev, Karavade Esha, and Padmini Rout.

Meanwhile, Charudatta requested FIDE - the global chess body- to extend its cooperation in developing chess for the blind. "For instance, FIDE has specific programmes like chess in schools. It can be extended to blind school students. The blind school students could be allowed to attend the chess classes held in normal schools," Charudatta said.

He said the three chess federations for differently abled - IBCA, ICCD, and International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPDCA) - could first look forming a common platform to address the problems faced by their players.


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St. Louis R&B, Day 2: Mistakes were made

Fabiano Caruana maintained his two-point lead in the St. Louis Rapid and Blitz after scoring three draws on a day featuring huge swings in many of the games. Vishy Anand, Wesley So and Levon Aronian all lost winning positions, while you couldn’t take your eyes off Alexander Grischuk’s time trouble adventures. The upwardly mobile players were Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Hikaru Nakamura, who both scored +1 to join MVL and Sergey Karjakin in the chasing pack.

Round 4: The calm before the storm

The big match-up in the first round of the day was Nakamura-Caruana. Could Fabiano Caruana maintain his winning streak after three wins on the first day, or would Hikaru Nakamura maintain his own winning streak after he beat Fabi in all three of their games in the Paris Grand Chess Tour? In the end they balanced each other out.

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The only decisive game of the round would in fact be MVL-Grischuk, where the French no. 1 once again demonstrated his endgame prowess to convert a position a pawn up. He was given a helping hand by his opponent’s time management, though, with Alexander Grischuk finding himself with 13 seconds to his opponent’s 11 minutes midway through the game. Hikaru Nakamura would later muse that Grischuk has failed to adapt to the delay rather than increment used in the Grand Chess Tour.

There were relatively quiet draws in Karjakin-So and Dominguez-Anand, while Aronian-Mamedyarov was anything but quiet after Levon was tempted by an exotic queen sacrifice.

Round 5: Mayhem

It was curious that in the very next round Mamedyarov was on the white side of almost exactly the same scenario.

Fabiano Caruana had a relatively uneventful day, but he admitted his clash with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was “pretty wild”. Maxime went for his beloved Najdorf and looked to be taking over with a queenside attack, but while Fabiano admitted “for most of the game I was probably losing” he also got what he called “a slightly accidental” chance to play for a win.

Fabiano finally had things under control around his king and could have gone hunting on the other side of the board with 41.h5! (41…Nxg5 loses more or less on the spot to 42.Qf1 and various other moves), 42.Nxe4 next move and then targeting the black weaknesses on the kingside. Instead Caruana played on the queenside with 41.Nb1?! and the forcing line with Nc3 that followed almost led to disaster. Black is probably winning in the position where the players repeated moves, though Maxime would have needed to find some (more) very tricky moves.

Caruana was correct, though, when he commented that “there weren’t huge blunders in my games”. The same couldn’t be said elsewhere in Round 5.

The loss for Wesley So was even more dramatic. Wesley would have been close to a win, with zero losing chances, if he’d exchanged his bishop for Leinier Dominguez’s knight on move 43, but a missed win only turned into a catastrophe on move 50.

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Black’s one threat in the position wasn’t hard to spot, but 50.Kxf5?? fatally ignored it. After 50…c3 a black pawn will queen and Wesley had no choice but to resign. Instead simply 50.e6! and the bishop could deal with the pawns for a simple draw.

Round 6: Black is ok!

A certain Garry Kasparov was impressed by the fact Black managed to win three games in the final round of the day.

Wesley So recovered fastest after his misfortune in the previous round to smoothly outplay Vishy Anand on the black side of an Italian, while the other two wins were more dramatic.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave puzzled everyone by almost blitzing his way to 9.exf6 after Mamedyarov launched a trademark early g5.

There were draws in Dominguez-Grischuk, where White’s seemingly unstoppable attack was eventually stopped…

…and Karjakin-Caruana, where Fabiano admitted he was worried about his dubious opening until his opponent chose to castle and the worst was over.

That meant that at the end of what Caruana described as, “not a great day, but perfectly satisfactory”, the World Championship challenger still had a two-point lead, though the chasing pack had grown to four players:

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Cuba without GM Leinier Dominguez for World Olympiad

Cuban chess player and Grand Master Leinier Dominguez was temporarily dismissed from the Cuban national team to represent the island in the 43rd next edition of the World Olympiad in the city of Batumi, Georgia, from September 23 to October 6, 2018, said Cuban national chess commissioner Carlos Rivero here today.

'When he decides to come back to Cuba we will evaluate his reinsertion to the national team, starting from the established rules in the sport,' Rivero said in a press release by the Cuban National Chess Federation that was read and published during the official presentation of the 53rd edition of International Jose Raul Capablanca in Memoriam.

This will be the second consecutive year Dominguez is absent from the national team's list, since in 2017 he asked permission not to participate in Cuban tournaments for a non-specified period of time.

At that time the chess player born in Güines, 60 kilometers southeast of this capital, resided outside the country and worked as a commentator on the website Chess24.

The Adolfo Luque Hall of the Latin American Stadium was the place where the Elite Group to compete at the Capablanca International was revealed, led by US Grand Master (GM) Samuel Shankland, owner of the 70th place in the world ranking with .2671 Elo points.

Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzon, his Russian counterparts Alexey Dreev and Aleksandr Rakhmanov, Spanish David Anton, and the Venezuelan Eduardo Iturrizaga will also participate.

The tournament will begin on Tuesday, May 8, at the Embajadores Hall of the Habana Libre Hotel and will hold its first round the following day, starting at three o'clock in the afternoon.

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