Reports | November 21, 2009 6:27

3rd FIDE World Cup officially opened

Earlier today the 3rd FIDE World Cup was officially opened, with the opening ceremony taking place in the House of Culture “Oktyabr” in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. No less than 128 strong chess players have travelled to the small, Siberian oil town and for most of them their journey took a long, long time.

As we can read on the tournament website, the epicentre of all the info on this huge individual tournament for the coming weeks, the

governor of Khanty Mansi Autonomous Okrug-Yugra Alexander Filipenko and the Vice Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexander Zhukov warmly welcomed the participants of the World Cup 2009. Alexander Zhukov called Khanty Mansiysk one of the chess capitals in Russia.

New beautiful chess palaces will be constructed by the start of the Chess Olympiad in 2010, - said the Vice Prime Minister. – In particular, the construction of one of the best chess palace of Russia, to my mind, will be finished. (...)

After the official opening words, chief arbiter Ashot Vardapetian was responsible for the drawing of lots. The top seeded GM Boris Gelfand picked a box with a white king in it, which means that all the participants with odd numbers will start the first round with White tomorrow.

Chief arbiter Ashof Ardapetian and top seed Boris Gelfand

After the official part the art groups of Yugra region showed some performance: young club “Druzhba” with its chess fashion show “Yugra chess”, young and talented designers from Nyagany Elena Goncharova and Elena Chernysh, Ob-yugorsk theatre “Solnze”.

Theatrical performances at the opening ceremony

Below we'll give you all the important data on the World Cup once more. But before that, we'd like to mention two players who have already started blogging about their long journey. Because, Khanty-Mansiysk is not only tough to pronounce and impossible to spell, but it's also darn far away. From just about everywhere.

American GM Josh Friedel, who played tournaments in Hoogeveen, The Netherlands and Bad Wiessee, Germany before the World Cup, writes:

Traveling to a desolate village in the middle of Siberia may sound like a hassle, but in fact it is… well OK it sucks. The first leg of my journey went easily enough. I travelled from Zurich to Moscow via Vienna. After arriving in Moscow is where the fun began. A couple days previous, I was notified that my flight from Moscow to Khanty-Mansiysk was cancelled. Luckily, I managed to book a new flight. Unfortunately, this flight was from a different airport in Moscow (there are three), so I had four hours to go from Domodedovo Airport to Vnukovo airport. Sound like enough time? The bus between airports I thought existed turned out hadn’t been running for two years, but this was unsurprising, as that would have been too easy. Cabs in Russia are a known hazard, so I took a train to the city, went on the metro for four stops, then waited for another train to take me to Vnukovo. I managed not to get lost during this process, which was in my mind nothing short of miraculous, but sadly I was still going to be too late! The woman at the train station told me the next airport train didn’t leave for almost an hour, so I’d only arrive thirty minutes prior to my flight, which wasn’t enough. Of course, I think that’s what she said, with my limited Russian and her speaking quickly she might have said the next train to the sheep factory didn’t leave for an hour. Still, I decided to try my luck at Vnukovo airport, maybe they would let me on.

(Continue reading here.)

An interesting question is: who had to travel the most to get there? The answer might well be GM David Smerdon from Australia. He recently started a blog on and he also has a few tidbits about the long journey:

The domestic trip was quite an experience. As you might expect, there wasn’t much written in Roman letters in the domestic airport, but I’m getting quite good at pronouncing words written in Russian text (though knowing what they mean is another matter). We also found a fantastic lady from Utair, our carrier, who was very enthusiastic about the chance to practice her English with us. While the plane was tiny and the usually anal safety procedures weren’t exactly followed (seatbelts, mobile phones, and upright seats optional), we made it safely and relatively painlessly.

On board our plane was Sergei Movsesian, a 2700 player I met a while ago in the Czech Republic (where he now resides). His English is flawless, so the bus ride to the hotel was a good chance to get the inside scoop on the town. But the big star-gazing moment came in the hotel itself, when Fi and I shared a tiny lift ride with none other than former world champion Anatoly Karpov (non-chessplayers: think Andre Agassi, but with more hair).

(Continue reading here.)


Khanty-Mansiysk is an oil boom town in Russia, the administrative center of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. It is located on the Irtysh River, 15 km from its confluence with the Ob. Besides the two previous World Cups (won by Levon Aronian and Gata Kamsky respectively), Khanty-Mansiysk was the venue of the 2003 Biathlon World Championships, and in 2005 the first Mixed Biathlon Relay (4×6 km) took place there.

World Cup format

There shall be 6 rounds of matches comprising two 2 games per round, with the winners progressing to the next round, plus the final seventh (7th) round comprising of four (4) games.
Round 1 (November 21-23): 128 players
Round 2 (November 24-26): 64 players
Round 3 (November 27-29): 32 players
Round 4 (November 30-December 2): 16 players
Round 5 (December 3-5): 8 players
Round 6 (December 6-8): 4 players
Round 7 (December 10-14): 2 players

The time control shall be 90 minutes for the first 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move from move one. For the first 6 rounds, each match shall be played over 2 games and the winner of a match shall be the first player to score 1.5 or more points. The final 7th round will be a match played over 4 games and the winner of the World Cup will be the first player to score 2.5 or more points.

Extended tiebreak

This edition will feature an extended format for tiebreaks. A maximum of four rapid games will be played, and if the score is still equal, there will be up to five pairs of blitz games. If the tie is broken after any pair of games, the tiebreak will end. Failing that, an armageddon game will be played, where players will have three-second increments beginning with move 61.

Prize fund

Round 1 losers:   64 x   USD   6,000  (net 4,800)  USD 384,000 
Round 2 losers:   32 x   USD  10,000  (net 8,000)  USD 320,000 
Round 3 losers:   16 x   USD  16,000  (net 12,800) USD 256,000 
Round 4 losers:    8 x   USD  25,000  (net 20,000) USD 200,000 
Round 5 losers:    4 x   USD  35,000  (net 28,000) USD 140,000 
Round 6 losers:    2 x   USD  50,000  (net 40,000) USD 100,000 
Runner-up:         1 x   USD  80,000  (net 64,000) USD  80,000 
World Cup winner:  1 x   USD 120,000  (net 96,000) USD 120,000 
Total:                                           USD 1,600,000

Tomorrow the first round starts at 15:00 locat time which is 11:00 CET. The pairings for the first round, with the correct colours, can now be found on the official website.

The audience in the House of Culture 'Oktyabr'

The chess theme, entering between black and white...

...but some beautiful colours as well

And many women beautifully dressed...

...and some with a mischievous look in the eye

All photos courtesy of FIDE



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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.


red-white-chess's picture

Look like all the chess event also a cosplay event... :)

John O's picture

Chuky is dominating the poll. "Vassily Ivanchuk 28% (151 votes) " I think any of the top 6 seeds can win. I'm rooting for Kamsky to pull off a major upset and win and Akobian to pull off a minor 1 in the first round.

jack's picture

why do they hold this tournament in the middle of nowhere???

Garnoth's picture

I would really like Shirov to do well again!

WGIFM's picture

Well, "Khanty-Mansiysk"? I would prefer a transliteration of "Khanty-Mansijsk". Anyway. For Russian it is perhaps a plain oil-town, but for a few people namely the Khantys and the Mansis it is the capital of the autonom region. Though it does not mean much any more in Russia.

Sadly enough, these first nations of this region are not represented anyhow at this event. "Can the subaltern speak?"

Not in this case

Arne Moll's picture

@WGIFM: The standard BGN/PCGN transliteration of ? is y so there's nothing wrong with Mansiysk. Of course, according to various scientific systems, j is correct, but this will only add to the confusion for ordinary readers, so y seems the best choice.

Peter Doggers's picture

Sigh... When I find the time I will try to fix that this site doesn't show Cyrillic.

Sanne's picture

Oh wow, another opening ceremony with people dressed in black and white costumes, can't they think of anything else.
Even worse, the livegames are not properly functioning.. So in my opinion a terrible start. Thank you Kirsan!

WGIFM's picture

@ Arne. I never said it is wrong. I just think if "y" is for "?" in one world than it is illogical to use it again for the different grapheme of "?" in the next world.
In fact BGN/PCGN system -as you see- is rather a transscription than a transliteration, and represent a fairly colonial view on other writing systems.
But probably I am the only stupid one who cares about such details on a site about chess. It is actually not that important.


steven's picture

Yes, it would be much better to put less money and time in those cliché opening ceremonies and make sure the online transmission works smoothly.
It drives me crazy...
I can read the moves but the board remains empty (no pieces or pawns).
Peter, are you able to follow the games correctly ?
I remember you were responsible for the internet part of the GP in Baku (if i'm not mistaken) and there the online transmission was very good.
Do you have any idea why so many organizers screw up in this IMPORTANT part of their tournament ?

han's picture

Live broacast of Round 1 is stopped due to technical reasons.

test's picture

The woman in the last picture looks a lot like Kosteniuk.

steven's picture

In these times a chess tournament with no or bad live coverage is a complete non-event, especially such an important one.

chris's picture

Why do they have opening ceremonies ?
Are they necessary ? Useful ? Have anything much to do with chess ?
Do the players like them ?
Do the officials ?
Does anything actually take place, aside from choice of colours, which could be done by tossing a coin ?

Erevnitis's picture

Opening ceremonies suck big time!

Ricardo's picture

Results for the first round are already published on the official website, except for Polgar - Pavasovic which I think hasn't been played. No idea what happened there.

Thomas's picture

@Ricardo: Comment by Pitor at Susan Polgar's site: "Pavasovic had an accident while playing football a few day ago (something happened to his Achilles . Due to his operation he is not able to get to the venue in time. " So Polgar won by forfeit.

Ricardo's picture

Thanks for the info, Thomas!

John O's picture

Kamsky won and the minor upset I picked was correct: 58 1-0 Akobian, Varuzhan USA 1-0 Tregubov, Pavel V. RUS

nick burrows's picture

I follow chess mainly for the varied & colourful opening ceremonies we see around the world. Aren't the costumes beautiful! Hooray to Kirsan and his wonderful appreciation of the art of ceremony.
Illuminating the drab, practicality of chess witha sense of importance and meaning ;O)

test's picture

Why are people here complaining about the opening ceremony? You didn't have to sit through it did you? ;)

This one looked pretty nice judging by the pictures. Of course I have no idea about the music. ;)

One could say that they are not "useful" (depending on your approach), but so are a lot of things in life, chess included. :)

Erevnitis's picture

Chess not useful?! What are you talking about? Chess is a creative game, from which we derive pleasure. Opening ceremonies are a waste of money.

Pam's picture

Where is Nakamura?

Harry's picture

He is playing in the upcoming tournament in London with Kramnik, Carlsen etc.

Thomas's picture

@Erevnitis: Maybe there is also creativity and, at least for some people, pleasure in opening ceremonies. Whether you like them, any or all of them, is another story.

As far as money is concerned: I would be surprised if costs were even 1% of the total budget of the tournament .... I wonder if the artists even got an "appearance fee". But I agree with steven that a reliable live transmission is more important than a colorful opening ceremony!

Erevnitis's picture

@Thomas: It's totally irrelevant if opening ceremonies are creative. This is a chess event, all other creative activities are out of place. Have you ever seen chess games played before other activities?

Thomas's picture

@Erevnitis: No, but I have seen opening ceremonies at other sports events such as Olympic games or major football events. Those might even be expensive because major stars are performing (the likes of Kylie Minoque, Nelly Furtado or also Pavarotti) - in Khanty-Mansiysk, I guess the local artists happily performed for free in front of an international audience. In any case, it is not just a weird idea of Ilyumzhinov .... .

What's the problem?
- for the players (if attendance is compulsory) it is a small sacrifice given that even first-round losers get an "appearance fee"of 4,800$
- for chess fans: You can simply ignore it if you want - Peter Doggers chose to show some photos and write a few words, but you and others are in no way obliged to read everything here or elsewhere ... .

It would be different if, and only if there was a direct causal relationship between the opening ceremony and failure of the live transmission yesterday - but this is both very unlikely and very hard to prove.

Erevnitis's picture

@Thomas: You are a stubborn fella aren't you? All opening ceremonies are a total waste of money. They are also booooooriiing. In Khanty-Mansiysk they didn't spare a couple of hundred dollars (maybe less) for 2-3 persons to enter chess moves for the pgn files. Every dollar counts. And YES I would have ignored the ceremonies if you and the other one (test on November 21st, 2009 10:19 pm) did not try to compare chess with opening ceremonies for god shakes.

I'm out.

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