Reports | May 11, 2010 6:02

Astrakhan FIDE GP R1: Gashimov beats Ivanchuk

Gashimov beats Ivanchuk in first round Astrakhan FIDE Grand PrixIn the first round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Astrakhan, Vugar Gashimov beat Vassily Ivanchuk in the only decisive game.

The sixth and final FIDE Grand Prix tournament started today in Astrakhan, Russia. Akopian (2694), Alekseev (2700), Gashimov (2734), Gelfand (2741), Eljanov (2751), Inarkiev (2669), Ivanchuk (2741), Jakovenko (2725), Leko (2735), Mamedyarov (2763), Ponomariov (2733), Rajabov (2740), Svidler (2735) and Wang Yue (2752) play.

Astrakhan is a major city in southern European Russia and the administrative center of Astrakhan Oblast, a federal subject of Russia. The city lies on the left bank of the Volga River, close to where it discharges into the Caspian Sea at an altitude of 23 metres below sea level. It has a population of a bit over 500,000 people.

This FIDE Grand Prix is the final of six events that form the 2008-2010 Series. It all started in April-May 2008 in Baku, followed by Sochi in August of the same year. After Doha withdrew, the third GP took place in December in Elista. Montreux also withdrew, and so the fourth was held in Nalchik. The fifth was in Jermuk in August last year.

All players were to play four of the six events, and for the overall standings their best three tournaments would count. Since Levon Aronian already secured overall victory after three evens, he was allowed to withdraw from this last event. The current GP standings are (thanks to ebutaljib:)
Grand Prix Standings

OK, Aronian won, but it doesn't mean that this tournament is only for the prize money. Finishing second in the overall Grand Prix gets you a spot in the Candidates Tournament for the next World Championship cycle, so there's still something to fight for in Astrakhan for a small number of players.

As Thomas pointed out, for this it makes more sense to look at two best results of the players who still have a chance to finish second:

Radjabov 303.3
Wang Yue 273.3
Gashimov 263.3
Ivanchuk 245.0
Jakovenko 243.3
Leko 240.0

The idea is that the third (worst) result doesn't matter if they do better in Astrakhan. It follows that the maximum number of points any player can get is [number above] + 180 for clear first. The players' chances are as follows:
- Radjabov can obviously defend his qualifying spot.
- Wang Yue is through if he finishes clear first (Radjabov can tie if he's clear second, but has the inferior fourth result which is the tiebreaker).
- If Gashimov finishes clear first, Radjabov can stay ahead of him (but then Gashimov should get the wildcard, or would it go to Mamedyarov who is currently higher-rated?)
- If Ivanchuk is clear first, Radjabov needs to be at least clear third to stay ahead of Chucky. Noone else could catch him. This is because Ivanchuk's score is "most improvable" - he had one really bad result in Nalchik (12th-14th) which will be deleted.

The opening ceremony of the final Grand Prix took place in the new Astrakhan State Drama Theatre on Sunday, a national holiday for the Russians. The ceremony was attended by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the Governor of Astrakhan Region Alexander Zhilkin, who stated that a new chess center will soon be established inside the theater. The speeched were followed by the traditional drawing of lots, and several dancing and singing acts.

On Monday the first round was played, and it was a bad start for Vassily Ivanchuk who let his queen trapped not long after the opening phase, against Vugar Gashimov. All the other games ended in a draws, and especially Wang Yue and Leko didn't spend much time behind the chess board. They started repeating moves already on move 15 - necessary to draw early in FIDE GPs where the Sofia rule is in effect.

When I was in Baku for the first Grand Prix tournament, the plan of FIDE/Global Chess was to create a 'media team' that would take care of all six tournaments. This way each tournament website would be a bit better than the previous, and we'd be working to a very professional way of covering chess. Somewhere along the way this went wrong, because at the moment of writing the tournament website doesn't have a PGN file, a bulletin, a video or game commentary. But OK, it's only the first day, let's give them some time.

Games round 1

Game viewer by ChessTempo


Dancing and colourful girls during the opening ceremony


FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the Governor of Astrakhan Region Alexander Zhilkin


Radjabov, Svidler, Leko and Gashimov


Ponomariov, Jakovenko and Alekseev


An experienced trio: Gelfand, Svidler and Leko


Alekseev picks his number 6


Gashimov: number 4


World Cup winner Boris Gelfand: number 13


The stage of the theater during the first round

Photos courtesy of FIDE, more here


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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.


Jo's picture

looks like Chucky got his knickers in a twist

ChessGirl's picture

Eljanov´s gonna have to do really well in this tournament if he wants to keep his position in the top 10.

chess's picture

Aronian must play the future candidates somewhere. one of the best chess players.

Paolo Quiesa's picture

What a strong field!. Just look at those names...there are no really weak players. Great tournamet to follow after the World Championship feast.

Meppie's picture

Too bad that hardly any players of the west have the level of this tournament. 12 of 14 players are from the former Soviet Union.

S's picture

34. ..Re7 by Ivanchuk traps his own queen. Auch.

Arne Moll's picture

There is quite a bit of laughter about the obscurity of Astrakhan (or should we say Azkaban) and understandably so, but according to Wikipedia, Astrakhan is also the birth town of the famous Russian Futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov (although I always thought he was an originally from Kalmykia) and there's even a Khlebnikov Museum in Astrakhan, so perhaps the place is worth a visit after all!

Alexander's picture

Also worth mentioning is Astrakhan Café, a great Azeri traditional song (here performed by Anouar Brahem):

Hortensius's picture

That was the first thing I was thinking after Chucky's 30 ...Qh4, it's almost trapped...

ChessGirl's picture

LOL who the hell was Khlebnikov!

marnix's picture

Seems to me Khlebnikov was a reknown ice-scater, not sure were he has been born!

S's picture

I don't see the point of complaining about the location (not that anyone was complaining..)
In Holland you have major tournaments in Dieren and Hoogeveen, not exactly well known cities either.

Arne Moll's picture

@S: oh but you can be assured many Dutchmen also complain about such far-off locations for major tournaments! I know I certainly do.

Great Gatsby's picture

Khlebnikov obviously had something to do with bread (khleb) perhaps he was the most famous bread merchant in the region?

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