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
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.
Post mortem video by Macauley Peterson
Topalov-Grischuk started quietly, until the Bulgarian suddenly went for an interesting idea at move 27.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Schedule & pairings
|Round 1||15:00 CET||21.09.12||Round 2||15:00 CET||22.09.12|
|Round 3||15:00 CET||23.09.12||Round 4||15:00 CET||24.09.12|
|Wang Hao||-||Grischuk||Gelfand||-||Wang Hao|
|Round 5||15:00 CET||25.09.12||Round 6||15:00 CET||27.09.12|
|Round 7||15:00 CET||28.09.12||Round 8||15:00 CET||29.09.12|
|Round 9||15:00 CET||01.10.12||Round 10||15:00 CET||02.10.12|
|Round 11||12:00 CET||03.10.12|
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