Reports | August 04, 2009 19:37

5th FIDE Grand Prix starts next weekend

Jermuk 2009After its 4th tournament in Nalchik, Russia (won by Levon Aronian) it has been very silent around the FIDE Grand Prix Series. Although FIDE hasn't communicated a thing yet, we can tell you that in just five days from now, the first round of the 5th GP will take off in Jermuk, Armenia - not Yerevan.

A bit of Grand Prix history

To refresh our memory, let's first recapitulate. The FIDE Grand Prix, not to be confused with the Grand Slam (Wijk aan Zee, Linares, Sofia, Nanjing and Bilbao), was designed as a series of six tournaments (Baku, Sochi, Doha, Montreux, Elista and Karlovy Vary) in the years 2008-2009 that would deliver an opponent for the winner of the 2009 World Cup. These two winners would then play a match to decide on the next opponent for the reigning world champion.

The FIDE Grand Prix Series started reasonably successfully, with tournaments in Baku (April-May 2008) and Sochi (August 2008), but then things started to go less smoothly. Doha was the first host city to withdraw from the Series in November 2008 and was quickly replaced by Elista. At the same time FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov announced the Candidates Tournament for the first time at a press conference at the Olympiad in Dresden, which came down to changing the rules of an already running World Championship cycle.

On the one hand, not just the winner, but also the GP runner-up would qualify for this tournament. On the other hand, the GP winner wouldn't be just a match away from playing the World Champion. The sudden rule change and last-minute move to Elista led to Michael Adams and Magnus Carlsen withdrawing from the GP Series (and many open letters, including one by top GM Levon Aronian).

Also at the end of 2008, Karlovy Vary, the Czech host city for the 6th and last Grand Prix in December 2009, withdrew and was soon to be followed by Montreux, where the 4th tournament was to be held. In the meantime the Armenian Chess Federation had offered to host the 5th event, in August 2009, in Yerevan, replacing the original host city of Elista.

Because of these changes in host cities, not only Adams and Carlsen but also the hosts' nomated players Mohamad Al-Modiahki, David Navara and Yannick Pelletier were removed from the list of participants. They were replaced by Vladimir Akopian, Evgeny Alekseev, Pavel Eljanov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

The replacement host city for Montreux became Nalchik, Russia and this is where the 4th and last Grand Prix took place, in April 2009. Levon Aronian clinched his second Grand Prix victory, after his first in Sochi last year. The first GP, in Baku, had been a shared victory between Gashimov, Wang Yue and Carlsen while in Elista (December 2008) there were also three winners: Radjabov, Jakovenko and Grischuk.


Q = Qualification: CH = World Championship, CP = World Cup, RL = rating list, RR = reserve rating list, PR = presidential nominee, HC = host city nominee, nc = not qualified

5th FIDE Grand Prix: Jermuk, Armenia, August 8-24, 2009

In four days the opening ceremony of the 5th Grand Prix in Jermuk is scheduled and a day later the first round takes off. The tournament is organized by the Armenian Chess Federation. Chairman of the organizing committee is GM Smbat Lputian. Chief arbiter at this event is Dirk de Ridder and deputy arbiter is Armen Nikogosian.

The tournament was orginally to be held in the Armenian capital Yerevan, but later moved to Jermuk, where the climate is much better. As FIDE's Commercial Director Geoffrey Borg told us, "Jermuk is also the place where the Armenian Olympic Chess Team goes for training prior to any Olympiad. The Armenian Chess Federation preferred it to Yerevan as it will be too hot in the capital city at this time."

Jermuk is a city in the southern Armenian province of Vayots Dzor. The city has approximately 4,600 people, down from 9,000 reported in the 1989 census. It was a popular destination during the Soviet era and famous for its hot springs. The city provides mineral table water and also has a waterfall and mineral water pool. Jermuk is currently being redeveloped in the hope of becoming a centre of tourism once again.
Source: Wikipedia

The word Jermuk comes from the Armenian word for warmth, a reference to its plentiful hot natural springs and mineral waters. A resort town located about 170 km south-east from Armenia's capital Yerevan, this picturesque and pristine resort is nestled in mountains rising over 2 kms in altitude. In addition to its natural beauty, Jermuk also boasts significant historical and spiritual importance. In the environs surrounding the town are the 10th-13th century churches and monasteries of Gndevank, St. Astvatsatsin, Noravank, and Tanahat, among others. Not surprisingly, Jermuk was also the vacation-residence of various Armenian royalty dating back 2 millennia.

Today Jermuk is experiencing a revitalized growth of tourism as health spas, medical treatment and tourism, and more traditional touristic destinations offer their services to both local and international guests. An inviting climate and forested, hilly terrain complete the picture of an ideal vacation hot spot.
Source: Tournament website

Jermuk GP 2009 | Participants

Jermuk participants


1st day: Arrivals & Open. Ceremony 08.08.2009
2nd day: Round 1 09.08.2009
3rd day: Round 2 10.08.2009
4th day: Round 3 11.08.2009
5th day: Round 4 12.08.2009
6th day: Round 5 13.08.2009
7th day: Free day 14.08.2009
8th day: Round 6 15.08.2009
9th day: Round 7 16.08.2009
10th day: Round 8 17.08.2009
11th day: Round 9 18.08.2009
12th day: Free day 19.08.2009
13th day Round 10 20.08.2009
14th day: Round 11 21.08.2009
15th day: Round 12 22.08.2009
16th day: Round 13 & Closing Ceremony 23.08.2009
17th day: Departure 24.08.2009


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.


Meppie's picture

I notice something strange:

- Adams and Carlsen withdrew.
- Mohamad Al-Modiahki, David Navara and Yannick Pelletier were removed.
- Replaced by Vladimir Akopian, Evgeny Alekseev, Pavel Eljanov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.

5 players are out. 4 new players are in...
Has Navarra been removed? The website of the grandprix doesn't say so.

Paulo Schreiner's picture

It´s a pity the GP will probably be gone the next cycle. It provided great chess, this 14 player format is much better the the 6 player double round robin that seems to be the norm nowadays. More players, more openings, more interesting games...

They also provide us with a chance to see players out of the top-10...

me's picture

"Has Navarra been removed?"

Yes, he is out.

"5 players are out. 4 new players are in…"

In first two GP's Carlsen, Adams, Navara and Al-Modiahki played and thus "used up" games for one player. Despite changing of venues and participants the whole Grand Prix works out surprisingly well. All participants will play in exactly 4 GP's (like it was planed) except for one player. Either Kasimdzhanov or Eljanov will play in 3 instead of 4 GP's.

Peter Doggers's picture

@Marcos Try the hyperlink of "announced the Candidates Tournament" in the article above.

Thomas's picture

@ed: In the regulations section of the general Grand Prix website, FIDE gives detailed figures on what a tournament would cost (all in Euros, which is a bit more than US$):
Prize money - 212,000
"FIDE contributions" - 42,400 ["usual supplement", maybe 'debatable']
Players' travelling expenses - 19,800
Accomodation costs - 42,800
Stipends for 4 FIDE officials - 13,000
Other costs (tournament venue, airport transfers, "drug testing if required", ...) estimated at 50,000
Total is 380,000 Euro, roughly 550,000 US$

Now, as Peter Doggers was webmaster for the GP (at least at one occasion), maybe he has statistics on how many people were watching the games live - or at least visiting the site. Then we could calculate how much the tournament costs per interested chessfan ... .

Marcos Sander's picture

I'm confused about something.The Grand Prix Series will or will not qualify for the WC?I say this 'cause after the news in Dresden tha no longer the Grand Prix will qualify players for the WC i think i read something that the FIDE has changed something about that.I maybe just losing it,but i'm quite certain that heard something about it a couple of weeks ago...Well,i think it's an intersting way to qualify for the WC,i'ts a shame that isn't work out.

Peter Doggers's picture

No idea - I was never really a "webmaster" as I wasn't involved in technical stuff. In Baku and Sochi I wrote the daily reports for the site & bulletins, created the results & standings, that kind of thing. In Nalchik I did the videos. "Content provider" is more accurate. ;-)

HJVFan's picture

$ 212,000 seems a lot for a FIDE qualification tournament, where one can win a ticket to the World Championship as a pretty nice prize. It's especially high considering how few players are participating. This saves almost 1/3 of the budget.

Besides - sponsors, sponsors? Doesn't FIDE have enough money of its own? What else would they spend their budget on but qualifiers?

ed's picture

I agree with Paulo's comments above, this format with 14 players is much more exciting than a 6 player double round robin tournament. The problem is that it is hard to find sponsors for such long tournaments, a real pity. Finding sponsors is and apparently always will be a challenge for our royal game.

My guess is that a tournament like this has a budget of some US$300,000 and I wonder if there is a business model in which the money is raised from chess lovers by broadcasting the games (video plus audio) via internet. Say US$30.00 for the whole tournament, all you need is 10,000 chess lovers to sign up and there you have it! What do you guys think?!

Thomas's picture

@HJVFan: Maybe you forget that only one (initial version) or two players (present situation) can qualify for the candidates tournament. The other players also have to remain motivated, particularly now in the later stages when many can no longer qualify ... .

I guess 212,000 (Euros, not Dollars) is not that excessive. It's hard to find figures for other top events - most also have appearance fees which are usually kept secret. Linares 2009 didn't have appearance fees, but a prize fund of 314,000 Euros - split between six players.

On FIDE's role: maybe they should spend their money not only on top events (where it is hard enough, but still possible to find other sponsors) but also on lower levels of chess. At the very other end of the scale, I remember an interview during the Olympiad with a player from Gabon (on Daaim Shabazz' Chessdrum site): "We would like to get a chess club in our country, but we urgently need boards, pieces, clocks and a place to meet" [probably not the exact quote]. In any case, FIDE earns rather than spends money on the Grand Prix - more than 10% of the tournament budget, and that's debatable IMHO.

Thomas's picture

@Peter Doggers: OK, but then your Sochi preview (which I vaguely remembered and just looked up again) may have been misleading: "I will be in charge of the tournament website again, just as I was during the first Grand Prix tournament." At least for me the person in charge is called webmaster ... .

me's picture

There are too many unnecessary question marks in Grand Prix Standings table.
Situation looks like this:

Marcos Sander's picture

Well,i see there is a possibility for Grand Prix players to run for the world title.But,these matches i'm divided.I don't know for sure is the best way to choose the candidates.It will keep Kamsky,Topalov,Anand in the run.They have credits but also the other players don't have the chance to show what they can do.For example:I know this is kind of tough argument however it's clear to me that Kamsky it's not in the same god shape as in 2007 when he was champion of the World Cup.I think other players deserve a chance.Also the player above 2700 this is pure politics of the FIDE.I think there is no credit at all just 'cause you're above 2700.Of course you're a great player and deserve a chance but not the place on the World Candidates Match.Thanks Pete for the tip!

Mauricio Valdes's picture

Aronian can win the Grand Prix for good, he has won two out of two and now he is playing on his home country.
Unless a catastrophe occurs Aronian will qualify to the next World Championship Cycle. Let´s hope FIDE does not change the criteriafor the cycle.

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