Reports | September 21, 2012 21:37

Gelfand beats Nakamura in first round London Grand Prix

Boris Gelfand grabbed an early lead at the London FIDE Grand Prix on Friday, scoring the only win in the first round. The Israeli grandmaster defeated top seed Hikaru Nakamura (USA) with Black in a Sveshnikov Sicilian. Ten more rounds will be played in Simpson's-in-the-Strand in central London.

Nakamura vs Gelfand, 0-1 | All photos © Ray Morris-Hill

Event Grand Prix
Dates September 20-October 4, 2012
Location London, UK
System 12-player round robin
Players Hikaru Nakamura, Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexander Grischuk, Veselin Topalov, Peter Svidler, Wang Hao, Boris Gelfand, Peter Leko, Shakriyar Mamedyarov, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Anish Giri, Rustam Kasimdzhanov
Rate of play

120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then each player will be allotted 15 minutes after the second time control and an increment of 30 seconds per move will be allowed from move 61 onwards

Extra Players will not be allowed to offer draws directly to their opponents; players will continue to play if the arbiter does not authorise the draw

Strand is a street in the City of Westminster, about 1.25 km long, starting at Trafalgar Square and running east to join Fleet Street at Temple Bar. All participants of the London Grand Prix are staying at the Strand Palace Hotel, located at number 372, and the playing hall is conveniently located right across the street: Simpson's-in-the-Strand, at number 100. The hardest part of reaching the venue is crossing the street in a straight line, instead of taking a slight detour and wait at the traffic lights.

Simpson's is really something. We've mentioned here before that it was the location of the famous Immortal Game Anderssen-Kieseritzky, played in 1851. (Trivia: it wasn't actually a game from the famous London 1851 tournament, but a casual game during a break of that tournament.) And indeed, after entering the building the first thing you see on your left is a very old chess board and pieces, with a metal tag in the middle of the board saying that it has been used since 1826 by players such as Staunton, Zukertort, Blackburne, Tarrasch, Morphy, Winawer, Chigorin, Lasker, Steinitz, Bird and Janowsky! There are chess memorabilia, and many walls are decorated with photos of old masters and more recent players who participated in the Staunton Memorials.

The tournament is being held on the first floor, where besides the playing hall a small bar and a spacious press room can be found. The playing hall itself looks exactly like the renderings that we showed a few days ago.

The tables are placed in two rows separated by wooded panes that carry lights, to provide the perfect setting for a chess game. Even Fischer wouldn't have had reasons to complain!

Each game has its own webcam, and HD video streams are broadcast at Livestream throughout the round. Links to these video feeds are given at the official website. There's no GM audio commentary, but obviously you can watch the video images while listening to commentary at Playchess, ICC or another service.

As you can see in the picture, there is one row of chairs for spectators. It hasn't been communicated clearly whether spectators are welcome or not, but now that the tournament has started, for local chess fans there doesn't seem to be a reason not to drop by at the tournament.

During the first round the atmosphere was very relaxed, sometimes downright cheerful. For example, at the start of the round, when Kirsan Ilyumzhinov wanted to play Veselin Topalov's first move, the Bulgarian jokingly whispered his move 1.Nf3 in the FIDE President's ear, so that his opponent wouldn't hear it!

Luckily all this didn't lead to seven dull draws. While the Sofia Rule wouldn't have allowed that, in fact the players were actually in a fighting mood. OK, eventually six out of seven games did end peacefully, but results don't tell you everything.

The first game to finish was Kasimdzhanov vs Leko, an "unexpected theoretical battle". It was the only game that ended before the first time control.

PGN string

Post mortem video by Macauley Peterson

Topalov-Grischuk started quietly, until the Bulgarian suddenly went for an interesting idea at move 27.

PGN string

Post-mortem video by Macauley Peterson

Dominguez and Giri, who are both playing their first Grand Prix, also split the point. The Cuban took some risks in the middlegame and then had to defend a difficult position with much less time on the clock.

PGN string

Post-mortem video by Macauley Peterson

Gelfand seemed to have outplayed Nakamura but in fact the players both felt that White's loss was the result of a one-move blunder.

PGN string

The game between Wang Hao and Adams showed how much it takes to win a game at this level. At some point GM Jon Speelman felt that his countryman was close to winning in the rook ending, but the Chinese defended it to a draw.

PGN string

The last game to finish, Mamedyarov vs Ivanchuk, showed how hard these players are trying to win! The Ukrainian reached a 3 vs 2 knight ending at move 39, tried everything he could but eventually had to stop his efforts at move 110!

PGN string

Schedule & pairings

Round 1 15:00 CET 21.09.12   Round 2 15:00 CET 22.09.12
Kasimdzhanov ½-½ Leko   Leko - Ivanchuk
Nakamura 0-1 Gelfand   Adams - Mamedyarov
Topalov ½-½ Grischuk   Giri - Wang Hao
Dominguez ½-½ Giri   Grischuk - Dominguez
Wang Hao ½-½ Adams   Gelfand - Topalov
Mamedyarov ½-½ Ivanchuk   Kasimdzhanov - Nakamura
Round 3 15:00 CET 23.09.12   Round 4 15:00 CET 24.09.12
Nakamura - Leko   Leko - Adams
Topalov - Kasimdzhanov   Giri - Ivanchuk
Dominguez - Gelfand   Grischuk - Mamedyarov
Wang Hao - Grischuk   Gelfand - Wang Hao
Mamedyarov - Giri   Kasimdzhanov - Dominguez
Ivanchuk - Adams   Nakamura - Topalov
Round 5 15:00 CET 25.09.12   Round 6 15:00 CET 27.09.12
Topalov - Leko   Leko - Giri
Dominguez - Nakamura   Grischuk - Adams
Wang Hao - Kasimdzhanov   Gelfand - Ivanchuk
Mamedyarov - Gelfand   Kasimdzhanov - Mamedyarov
Ivanchuk - Grischuk   Nakamura - Wang Hao
Adams - Giri   Topalov - Dominguez
Round 7 15:00 CET 28.09.12   Round 8 15:00 CET 29.09.12
Dominguez - Leko   Leko - Grischuk
Wang Hao - Topalov   Gelfand - Giri
Mamedyarov - Nakamura   Kasimdzhanov - Adams
Ivanchuk - Kasimdzhanov   Nakamura - Ivanchuk
Adams - Gelfand   Topalov - Mamedyarov
Giri - Grischuk   Dominguez - Wang Hao
Round 9 15:00 CET 01.10.12   Round 10 15:00 CET 02.10.12
Wang Hao - Leko   Leko - Gelfand
Mamedyarov - Dominguez   Kasimdzhanov - Grischuk
Ivanchuk - Topalov   Nakamura - Giri
Adams - Nakamura   Topalov - Adams
Giri - Kasimdzhanov   Dominguez - Ivanchuk
Grischuk - Gelfand   Wang Hao - Mamedyarov
Round 11 12:00 CET 03.10.12        
Mamedyarov - Leko        
Ivanchuk - Wang Hao        
Adams - Dominguez        
Giri - Topalov        
Grischuk - Nakamura        
Gelfand - Kasimdzhanov        


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.


RealityCheck's picture

Hey Naka, is this the same Gelfand you dis'd earlier this year during the Anand vs Gelfand 2012 Wch?

fabio's picture
Chess Fan's picture

Ha Ha! I came to say the same thing. Great minds think alike ;-)
PS: There is a difference between dissing a World Champion (whoever you are - including being #1 in the World, and being the actual official World Champion. That is why it is so difficult to achieve and so respected, in my opinion).

pundit's picture

On Gelfand's tombstone: "I TOLD you I could play!"

Niima's picture


Good one! :-))

mig's picture

Naka must have liked his position but Gelfy proved he was a worthy WC material.

Anonymous's picture

If you believe that Gelfand is world champion material, so why could he win only one single game out of his 8 played, scoring a pretty poor rating performance of only 2713 during the recent olympiad? The world's highest rated player regularly scores more than 100 rating points stronger than this. I conclude that Gelfand is not WC material.

mig's picture

The worlds highest rated player chickened out of playing the olympiad like the previous candidates and had a stupendous rating performance of 2600 in the previous olympiad. I conclude that he is not fit to be the WC either.

Anonymous's picture

OK, point taken about the world's highest rated player's relatively weak performance during the last olympiad he played. Not trying to bash anyone here, but I believe that ELO doesn't lie, and more than 100 points difference would be telling even to hardest non-believers. Still many observers (including myself) like Gelfand and his style, wishing him best of success for the rest of his brilliant career. :-)

pundit's picture

Gelfand has a peculiar ability to raise his level at select events. Will this event be one of those?
We shall see.

Chess Fan's picture

Very poor logic. I am glad that you are "Anonymous".

Anonymous's picture

See my friend, I like to please and oth glad not be known as "Chess Fan". Please don't ask me why ;-)

Chess Fan's picture

See my friend, I do not mean disrespect, but as a N.American, I do not understand what you are saying in English. Please write in proper English and I would respond to your comment/direct question.
Is your problem with my calling myself a "Chess Fan"? It is an accurate description of myself commenting in this chess forum. I try to be objective and be most loyal to chess. So, it is not a MISNOMER.

Anonymous's picture

hmm, so this year's wch challenger did indeed just win a chess game against a top 10 player in the first round of eleven. spectacular.

RealityCheck's picture

As usual you all missed the point. Gelfy just beat one of the big mouth guys who put him down, counted him out, said he can't play.

The point is: before you go mouthing off about someones playing strength be sure you can beat them yourself. Nakamura, better luck during the rest of the tournament.

We can give a rats ... about noOne, noTen etc.

Anonymous's picture

we just saw the point you were trying to make. naka will be relieved seeing your good wishes. lol

pundit's picture

This reminds me of Fischer who once said that he could give Knight odds to any female ... then he lived with the Polgars for a while.

Anonymous's picture
trollaras's picture

The Polgars don't count, they were given brain steroids by their obssessed father in accordance with the prevailing communist regime tactics of the time

foo's picture

yeah. Doesn't Naka have a horrible score against both Gelfand and Svidler? .

Chess Fan's picture

Well said RealityCheck. Whoever you are, I am becoming a fan of your comments. I cannot stand these so called top tens mouthing off against the World Champion and not performing well against the fellow top ten and chickening out of World Championship qualifying matches (I am NOT including Magnus Carlsen in this, for whose chess I have the highest respect).

choufleur's picture

Naka's objective of reaching 2800+ by the end of this year sounds optimistic.

Bob's picture

It's ONE game. And Gelfand is GOOD.

pundit's picture

Yes but if Gelfand starts drawing it will take Nakamura TWO wins just to even the score.

Chess Fan's picture

He is good because he qualified for the World Champion on meritocracy and played honorably against the unified undisputed World Champion. Gelfand has also played and being amongst the best for 20 years now. It is attractive that he has class and has not dissed anyone in those 20 years. Got it?!

Bartleby's picture

It catches me by surprise that Nakamura is top seed. Well done lately, young man!
The game against Gelfand was fascinating. I thought White had ended up with the better pawn structure, but then Gelfand moved his weak e pawn. From weak on e5 to doomed on e4 it looked, but everything changed within the next few moves.

Hugh Jass's picture

Great to the the so called american get schooled. Classy Chess player 1 mouthy twit 0.

dave's picture

You are the same one twitting about Atalik, calling him an "horrible individual":) I love your comments, especially those showing your character and chess knowledge! Nothing chess related, and just about the characters and nationalities of the players. Please, go and follow something else, like, "nothing"!

NN's picture

Winning by simplifying to an opposite coloured Bishop ending. I wonder if Nakamura underestimated this possibility thinking "it's opposite coloured Bishops, I' ll make a draw" and not delving deeper. Exactly like he lost (with white again) in London against Carlsen last year (or the year before, I am not sure).

AljechinsCat's picture

You should not wonder. Its nonsense to think that a Top10-player thinks in terms like "its opposite bishops and its a draw". Nakamura miscalculated.

AljechinsCat's picture

You should not wonder. Its nonsense to think that a Top10-player thinks in terms like "its opposite bishops and its a draw". Nakamura miscalculated.

Tom's picture

@PeterDoggers: Correct spelling in opening paragraph - it says "FIaDE".

Peter Doggers's picture


eric's picture

love to get reports on this event. by the way, girls are also playing: you can follow on chessbase:)

Anonymous's picture

Can someone point to the source that shows Nakamura "putting down" Gelfand? All I find is a tweet but it's not directed at Boris.

gekagelaleka's picture

Anand must be happy seeing this game.

louis's picture

Naka defeats Anand. Anand defeats Gelfand. Gelfand defeats Naka. FTW

Chess Fan's picture

Let Naka qualify for the Wch and play Anand. And then we will speak. Defeating Anand in one game paying Kasparov a fortune does not make a fact. Even Pascal Charbonneau (a great guy personally) defeated Anand in one game.
BTW, so did I many years back!

Anonymous's picture

You probably won't believe it, but we will talk about whatever and about whomever we like whenever it is related to the topic here. You may or you may not agree and you may make your comments as well.

Tom Servo's picture

Well at least Naka does not have to deal with the "cruel and harsh reality of only being as good as his teammates". LOL

sen's picture

I think gelfand will do well in this event.He is indeed worthy WC challenger.I think it will be tough for any one(including carlsen,aronian etc) in current scenario to replace anand in next few years(4-5 years).It will be extremelly difficult for them to defeat anand in a match .This time quite understandable about anand's less intensity of preperation was bit low due to his family events like child birth etc.

Anonymous's picture

Like Kasparov and many other followers Nakamura simply dared stating his opinion that the world championship match was not played between the world's two strongest chess players at that time (which to my memory included their assessment of both players). I believe this assessment was correct and definitely Nakamura as one of the top 5 players in the world has a particularly qualified judgement on this matter - not only because he has played them both several times. Even though he is of course entitled to his opinion like everybody else, it remains debatable if he actually had to state it publicly while the wc match was in progress - surely a matter of taste and personal style.

BUT before you all point at him, call im arrogant and disrespectful, you should also at least try to understand his personality. As a fairly young, promising and hard working chess professional, he is very eager to fight hard and at the same time rightfully confident of being able to reach out very high, perhaps even for the crown some day. As I understand him, he really doesnt want to belittle any of his opponents, but rather motivate himself and proudly speak out about his goals. I do believe he has as much respect for anybody else as for himself. He simply likes to share his thoughts and emotions, not to everybody's liking! If he sometimes seems to overreach, I found that attributing that to his youth, eagerness and character is right most of the time.

Anonymous's picture

What a strange way to motivate one self ! You're mild !!! Naka is a well known Arrogant kid, no question about it. He is also a terrific player, but you cant deny he is more than borderline in many of his statements concerning his peers

Anonymous's picture

I agree. Considering his tweets, he sometimes seems to lack certain intuition. On the other hand, a young world class player simply needs a strong ego and real motivation for being so successful. On a side note, Carlsen had the best you can imagine: He simply wanted to beat his sister! ;-) I don't know if Naka had similarly sufficient incentive in his own family, e.g. chess playing siblings, but surely I won't blame him for finding it with his peers nowadays :-)

sen's picture

There is no point in debating opinion of a player who haven't even qualified for a candidate match.Nakamura has to go long way to go to even compared with gelfand ,forget about even considering to compare him with anand.

Anonymous's picture

Anand is a chess legend and currently (still) world champion due to his relatively easy oppenent in the last match, but most probably never will be again. Carlsen, Aronian, Radjabov, Karjakin, Caruana, surely Wang Hao and Nakamura are the future of top level chess.

We're all currently observing the changing of the guards in world chess.

sen's picture

How do u say gelfand is easy opponent.Did'nt he came out in flying colours in the rigirous qualifying process.I think you are wrong on saying anand probably never will be again champion.Still i don't see any current crop of player are good enough to beat him match play(atleast for next two cycle).As far as big mouth nakumar, i really don't whether he even qualify for the next candidate matches.

redivivo's picture

"i don't see any current crop of player are good enough to beat him match play(atleast for next two cycle)"

Yes, if he could draw the match against Gelfand it's hard to see how he won't keep the title into his 50s against easier opponents like Aronian et al.

Chess Fan's picture

Let us see, smart ass. You are dissing the World Champion like Naka. I will be here after the next World Championship match, with the same handle. I do not know which "Anonymous" you are but hope you have the CLASS to be back and take responsibility for your uninformed comments.

Anonymous's picture

You also wouldn't believe how little I care where you will be after the next world chmapionship match. Now let's see how the world champion fares against today's top players in a tournament first. This will be more interesting to see than evaluating how well a team of seconds outprepares the opposition during many months for a match.


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