Reports | May 16, 2010 19:42

Eljanov leads in Astrakhan

Eljanov leads in AstrakhanUkraine's new number one Pavel Eljanov started strongly in Astrakhan. After five rounds he's leading the sixth FIDE Grand Prix tournament with 3.5 points. His compatriot Vassily Ivanchuk started with 1/4, but yesterday he defeated another Ukrainian, Ruslan Ponomariov, with the black pieces.

The sixth and final FIDE Grand Prix takes place May 10-24 in Astrakhan, Russia. Akopian (2694), Alekseev (2700), Gashimov (2734), Gelfand (2741), Eljanov (2751), Inarkiev (2669), Ivanchuk (2741), Jakovenko (2725), Leko (2735), Mamedyarov (2763), Ponomariov (2733), Rajabov (2740), Svidler (2735) and Wang Yue (2752) play. More details can be found in our first report.

Rounds 4-5

In round 4, played on Thursday, Vassily Ivanchuk already suffered his second loss. The Ukrainian obtained a big advantage in a Caro-Kann and the game quickly proceeded to an endgame. Ivanchuk needed to make a few accurate moves to secure a win, but instead he lost the thread. He conceded the initiative to the opponent, and soon initiated an unsuccessful rook maneuver, allowing Black to promote his passed pawn.


At the press conference "Chucky" said: "I got a big advantage, and all I needed to do was to find the best way of converting it. Maybe 34.Kd4 instead of 34.Kf4 was the right move. I’d probably win the game if I played 34.Kd4. And then I made an elementary blunder..." Inarkiev: "I consciously went for an inferior ending, expecting to neutralize White’s advantage. However, I made a mistake somewhere, and my position became lost. Of course I was very lucky in the end."

All other games ended in a draw. (With five more undecisive games in round 5, the drawing percentage is now as a high as 78%). Good games were Akopian-Mamedyarov and Eljanov-Gashimov, where both Azeri GMs had winning chances.

On Friday Pavel Eljanov took the lead by defeating Wang Yue in round 5 with Black. Quite an achievement, we'd say, since the last classical game the ultra-solid Chinese number one lost with White was art Corus 2009!

It must be said that Eljanov was forced to defend a difficult position for most of the game. In his own words: "I played terribly in the first half of the game, partly because I underestimated my opponent. My position was worse, and I wasted a lot of time... Wang Yue played well and obtained a solid advantage."


The Chinese obtained a big space advantage following a temporary pawn sacrifice in a well-known variation of the Slav Defense. Eljanov: "I even wanted to resign at some point, but then found the only chance and sacrificed an exchange. I was almost exhausted at that moment and had nothing to lose..." Prior to the first time control Eljanov managed to complicate the game with an exchange sacrifice, and Wang Yue got nervous. First he missed the winning continuation, and then, after the control was already passed, blundered a rook instead of transposing into a better ending.

Vassily Ivanchuk won his first game in Astrakhan, defeating his arch-rival Ruslan Ponomariov. Ponomariov, having White, got a slight advantage after of the opening, but made an unsuccessful pawn sacrifice on the 22nd move and gave away the initiative. White’s problems got worse after he missed Black’s strong bishop manoeuvre. After the first control Black already had a winning position.

Ponomariov's take on the game at the press conference: "Both players showed a lot of creativity from the start, especially after Vassily Mikhailovich played 9...Qe7. I thought I played logically, developed my pieces... Ivanchuk was taking his decisions very fast, and maybe I didn’t get enough time to fully comprehend the position. After 28...Be3 I gave away the initiative completely. Black started to attack... Maybe I had to play something more principled, but it’s hard to say without serious analysis. I thought I played well, but Black’s energetic play left me perplexed."


Ivanchuk said: "As far as I know, 9...Qe7 occurred in the Anand-Karpov match. I misplayed something in the opening, as I didn’t like my position early on. The a6- and b6-pawns could easily become weak. 22.h4 gave me some hope. Instead of 31.Nd5 White had 31.Bc2 intending 32.Bd1 with an unclear position."

Saturday was the first rest day of the tournament. Today the sixth round is played.

Report based on the excellent tournament website

Games rounds 4-5

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 | Round 5 Standings

Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010

Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 | Schedule & results


The brand new Astrakhan State Drama Theatre...


...with a stunning area for commentary by GM Evgeny Sveshnikov


Chess fans getting as close as possible to the players


A cheerful press conference with Peter Leko and Ruslan Ponomariov


Peter Svidler and Teimour Radjabov are not in a bad mood either


Vassily Ivanchuk: a bad start, but also a first victory


Pavel Elanov, in sole first place after five rounds

Photo courtesy of FIDE, more here


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


ebutaljib's picture

Yeah, I didn't know what they were playing ;) At first glance it looks like patzer chess - hanging pieces all over the place, and opponent missing that he can take it. Like watching two complete beginers play :)

It's frightening that what they were doing actually makes sence!!!

bondegnasker's picture

In case anobody wonders, here are the virtual standings in the FIDE Grand Prix (meaning, this is what the final standings would look like if the rest of the games were drawn):

1. Aronian 500
2. Gashimov 383.3 (tiebreak 448.3)
3. Radjabov 383.3 (tiebreak 443.3)
4. Grischuk 363.3
5. Leko 360
6. Wang 353.3
7. Gelfand 345
8. Jakovenko 323.3
9. Eljanov 285
10. Ivanchuk 280
11. Mamedyarov 240
12. Bacrot 240
13. Kamsky 235
14. Karjakin 230
15. Svidler 230
16. Alekseev 220
17. Akopian 210
18. Kasimdzhanov 200
19. Inarkiev 155
20. Cheparinov 130
21. Ponomariov 80

These are my own calculations, I hope I got it right.

ebutaljib's picture

It's much too early for this. Too many shared places and half a point can make a huge difference. After the 2nd rest day situation will be much more clear.

bondegnasker's picture

I know, but it's still fun to look at, and it gives you a general idea of how the contenders are doing. With a win in the 5th round, Wang would have been in virtual second place.

ebutaljib's picture

Wouldn't it be something if those 0.33 points will be decisive? :)

bondegnasker's picture

Definitely, but I'm not sure if that could even happen theoretically. If it can't happen, it would probably make more sense to omit those decimals... :-)

bondegnasker's picture

... and, pondering over that question, I realized that I actually DID get it wrong. Please add 2.5 points to Gashimov, Leko, Gelfand and Inarkiev in the above. And with that, I think it's time for me to stop spamming this thread....

perell's picture

off topic.

Where is morozevich? He has not playing this year...

VladimirOo's picture

Morozevich: his agenda is always a big mystery... Anybody at least where he is ? Russia r anywhere else?

Castro's picture

What a game Akopian - Inarkiev!!!! (round 8)

Castro's picture

round 8, that is... :-)

Thomas's picture

But you can take the hanging pieces only one at a time :) . For quite some time during the game I didn't think white has the "right" to play for a win - I and engines thought that he should go for a move repetition to avoid being somewhat worse.

Interesting that some players who have no chance to qualify for the candidates event have relatively many decisive games either way: Eljanov has five non-draws, Ponomariov, Inarkiev, Alekseev and Akopian have four.
By comparison: Jakovenko, Leko and Gashimov +1=7, Radjabov =8

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