5th FIDE Grand Prix starts next weekend
After 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.
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
|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|
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