Reports | May 20, 2010 18:04

FIDE GP: Eljanov back in the lead

FIDE GP: Eljanov back in the leadAfter nine rounds Pavel Eljanov is back in the lead in Astrakhan. The Ukrainian GM drew just three games, and he's the only one who collected 5.5 points so far.

The 6th 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.

Round 6

Tournament leader Pavel Eljanov lost his first game, with White against Evgeny Alekseev. In a Queen's Indian the Russian seemed better prepared and not only did he keep improving his position, but also his advantage on the clock. Around move 27 Eljanov had 9 minutes left for 13 moves against Alekseev’s 26 minutes. White soon lost a pawn and eventually the game.

This allowed Ernesto Inarkiev to grab sole lead, by beating Boris Gelfand with the black pieces. After 19 moves of Semi-Slav theory Black equalized comfortably and then got the upper hand. After 26…b4 White had to give up two pieces for the rook and then Inarkiev never let go.


Jakovenko and Ponomariov played a sharp game in a line of the Exchange Grünfeld that has been topical since Giri-Sutovsky, Corus 2010. In a difficult position Ponomariov blundered with 21…Qc6? missing 22.Bxb5! immediately winning an important pawn. Although he then put up a lot of resistance, the Ukrainian couldn't prevent a loss.

This round saw yet another decisive game: Akopian-Wang Yue 0-1. In the main line of the Petroff, the Chinese GM showed once again that it's well possible to play for a win with Black too.

Rounds 7

Inarkiev's lead was short-lived, as he lost the next game to Eljanov. They went for the topical 6...Qb6 line of the Advance Caro-Kann, where 11.Kd2 was new. Inarkiev's 13.g4!? was quite inventive but Eljanov's solid answer left White with a worse position. He had to give a pawn and for an Eljanov in good form this is enough to win.

Alekseev continued with another win to move into joint second place. The Russian defeated Akopian in a (very) Closed Ruy Lopez: the 12.d5 line of the Chigorin Defence. With 23.bxc4! he opened the queenside when Black decided to go all or nothing on the kingside, but it was nothing.

Rounds 8

This round saw the all Ukrainian derby Eljanov-Ponomariov. In a Catalan/Bogo Indian hybrid, White was the first to seize the initiative, and gained the control over the c-file in a queenless middlegame. However, Black's nice prophylactic ideas Kf8-e8 and Rb8 before breaking open the queenside proved strong. The initiative went over to Black, and he clinched the full point after another mistake on move 43 by Eljanov in the rook ending.

After two wins, Alekseev was defeated in this eight round, by Mamedyarov. In the same opening as in Eljanov-Ponomariov, Mamedyarov tried an interesting new set-up that involved leaving his queen's knight on b1 until move 25! It looks like 18...Ng4 was wrong.

The game of the round, and in fact of the tournament thus far, was Akopian-Inarkiev. Watch what happened:

Position after 14.b3

It looked like White was crushed like a patzer when Inarkiev played the obvious 14...Nxd5, but then it became clear what Akopian had in mind: 15.Nxf7!. Inarkiev responded well and gave up his queen to get a dynamically equal position. At some point Akopian avoided a move repetition and he was rewarded with the full point after 104 moves, when he won a Q vs R ending.

Rounds 9

Eljanov did it again. His last five (!) games ended in '0-1', and being Black himself, he regained the sole lead on top of the leaderboard. And he did it in nice, Capablanca style, slowly outplaying Radjabov with the black pieces in a Ragozin ending.


The only other decisive game was the second win in a row for Mamedyarov, also with the black pieces. The Azeri defeated Inarkiev, who went for the rare 3.c4 in the Sicilian and continued somewhat passively. Mamedyarov showed his usual aggressive style and occupied the center with many pawns, which at some point cost White a piece.

Report based on the tournament website

Photo courtesy of FIDE, more here

Games rounds 6-9

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 | Round 9 Standings

Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010

Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 | Schedule & results

Today is the second and last rest day of the tournament. With four rounds to go, Wang Yue and Radjabov will have to do better to reach the second and last spot in the Candidates. Gashimov and Jakovenko seem to have better chances right now, but the calculations remain complicated. We'll repeat here what we mentioned before, and what Thomas pointed out. It makes most sense to look at two best results of the players who still have a chance to finish second:

Radjabov 303.3
Wang Yue 273.3
Gashimov 263.3
Ivanchuk 245.0
Jakovenko 243.3
Leko 240.0

The idea is that the third (worst) result doesn't matter if they do better in Astrakhan. It follows that the maximum number of points any player can get is [number above] + 180 for clear first. The players' chances are as follows:
- Radjabov can obviously defend his qualifying spot.
- Wang Yue is through if he finishes clear first (Radjabov can tie if he's clear second, but has the inferior fourth result which is the tiebreaker).
- If Gashimov finishes clear first, Radjabov can stay ahead of him (but then Gashimov should get the wildcard, or would it go to Mamedyarov who is currently higher-rated?)
- If Ivanchuk is clear first, Radjabov needs to be at least clear third to stay ahead of Chucky. Noone else could catch him. This is because Ivanchuk's score is "most improvable" - he had one really bad result in Nalchik (12th-14th) which will be deleted.


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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

After my quick and not double-checked calculations the current provisional Grand Prix standings look like this:

Aronian 500
Gashimov 385.33
Jakovenko 365.33
Grischuk 363.33
Radjabov 363.33
Leko 362.5
Wang Yue 353.33

But it's still all so close, and with so many shared places half a point more or less can make a huge difference in GP total. I don't think we will know the 2nd qualifier until the very end of this tournament.

bondegnasker's picture

I get the same result, so now it's triple-checked :-)

The way I see it, Gashimov is currently holding the best chances.
- Jakovenko will have to make more points in the last 4 rounds than Gashimov.
- Leko will have to make more points than each of Gashimov and Jakovenko,
- Wang will have to make more points than each of the aforementioned.
- And Radjabov will have to make more points than each of the aforementioned, and then it may still not be enough.

That's just roughly speaking, of course. I'm sure it's possible to create a scenario where this doesn't hold true.

Thomas's picture

On the menu for the remaining rounds:
- Leko and Jakovenko still have the advantage of the black pieces against Eljanov :)
- Key games may be
round 12: Gashimov-Radjabov - damage control for Radjabov to keep/regain some of the lead in the standings he had before the tournament? Or, if Gashimov wins, both "qualify" for the candidates event (Radjabov gets the organizer wildcard)!?
round 13: Leko-Gashimov - "even Leko" may have winning chances against Gashimo'v's beloved Benoni, but he often has problems under final round pressure.

To make things more complicated, German Chessbase has speculated that the third place in the final GP standings could become relevant. Aronian said he won't play in Baku, and apparently FIDE cannot find a co-organizer for the candidates event. Of course this would be a major scandal. Then even Grischuk, who already played his four GP events, could qualify - if Jakovenko falls a bit behind in the final rounds of Astrakhan (currently Grischuk's tiebreak - fourth GP results - would be superior to Radjabov's).

bondegnasker's picture

@"Third place in the final GP standings could become relevant" - yes, let's hope that doesn't happen. It would be especially awkward if one the Azeris is in third place, as it would invite all kinds of speculations.

Thomas's picture

Actually I would like to see Grischuk in the candidates event ... but not at the expense of Aronian.

KingTal's picture

That´s quite messed up with the Candidates tournament. Bad that they couldn´t organize the tournament in Germany or other neutral countries which don´t have political conflicts.

I hope Gashimov will win and Grischuk or Ivanchuk takes the wild card, but i don´t know if this is possible. ;0

Castro's picture

Go Teimour!!!
(Though he's playing today aginst other of my favorites, Akopian)

Castro's picture

Eljanov won again on round 10.
It's kind of unfair, but whoever said Eljanov was not even on the same league as Ivanchuk may begin to have an unexpected reason! :-)

KingTal's picture

If Eljanov keeps this level of play he may become one of the top elite players soon, really outstanding result until now and a lot of decisive games!
And i´m happy Gashimov won today.. go Gashimov!!!

Hugo van Hengel's picture

Ranking in GP after 10th round in Astrakhan:

Aronian 500
Gashimov 413,3
Radjabov 378,3
Jakovenko 363,3
Grischuk 363,3
Wang Yue 353,3

ebutaljib's picture

All games completed except Radjabov vs. Wang (Wang has advantage). If Wang wins he qualifies for the candidates, if drawn Radjabov qualifies.

bondegnasker's picture

Radjabov drew, so he's in in the Candidates. Grischuk is no. 3 in the final standing - in case someone withdraws from the Candidates, he's the reserve.

ebutaljib's picture

Like I said, half a point more or less and your GP total changes dramatically. We will have to wait until the last move is played.

It's a pitty that the whole Grand Prix campaign was marred with so many difficulties and changes. The concept really isn't such a bad one - if you want' to be the challenger you have to put in a constant performance against the fellow elite over an extended period of time.

Of course there were quite a lot of top players who outright refused to have anything with GP from the beginning (Topalov, Kramnik, Morozevich, Shirov, etc.), but so it gave a chance for some new players to emerge. Names like Gashimov, Wang Yue, Eljanov, Alekseev, Jakovenko didn't mean much before. Now we all know them.

I would like to see such a series again in the future. But of course without all the changes and back and forths. We can do without those :)

ebutaljib's picture
Radical Caveman's picture

In the 11th round, Radjabov has just vaulted past his countryman Gashimov in the Grand Prix standings after Radjabov beat Ponomariov and Gashimov lost to another Azerbaijani, Mamedyarov. With just two rounds to play, here is how the battle for second in the overall Grand Prix results (behind Aronian) shapes up. If the rest of the tournament is all draws, we would have:

Radjabov 425.8
Gashimov 385.8
Jakovenko 365.8
Wang Yue 353.3

In the actual tournament standings, Wang Yue currently has 5.5 and the other three are tied at 6. Ponomariov also has 6, and Eljanov actually solidly leads the tourney with 7, but neither are in Grand Prix contention. Radjabov has Black against Gashimov in an ultra-crucial game in the next round, then has White against Wang Yue in the final round. He's in solid control of his own destiny...but crazy things can still happen.

bondegnasker's picture

It's a messy situation after round 12 - while Radjabov is the favourite, he can't be sure that a draw is enough to qualify. There could easily be a bunch of people on 7 points, which means that the difference in GP points between those on 7.5 and those on 7 would become large enough for Gashimov or Jakovenko to surpass Radjabov, in case they win their games.

This much is certain:
If Radjabov wins, he qualifies.
Wang, Gashimov and Jakovenko all need to win AND be lucky.
All seven games can influence the outcome.

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