Reports | December 29, 2008 1:15

Jakovenko, Grischuk and Radjabov share first prize in Elista

RadjabovAll would be decided in the final round, but in the top of the standings nothing changed: Jakovenko (who drew with Alekseev) and Grischuk & Radjabov (who drew with each other) finished shared first at the 3rd Grand Prix in Elista. In the last round Eljanov scored the only win, against Inarkiev.

The 3rd Grand Prix took place December 13-28 in Elista, Kalmykia. Radjabov, Leko, Jakovenko, Wang Yue, Mamedyarov, Eljanov, Grischuk, Alekseev, Bacrot, Gashimov, Cheparinov, Akopian, Kasimdzhanov and Inarkiev played.

Results Final Round, December 28

Gashimov-Kasimzhanov ¬?-¬?

Eljanov-Inarkiev 1-0

Alekseev-Jakovenko ¬?-¬?

Wang Yue-Leko ¬?-¬?

Akopian-Mamedyarov ¬?-¬?

Grischuk-Radjabov ¬?-¬?

Cheparinov-Bacrot ¬?-¬?

Round 13

The final round of the 3rd Grand Prix was not the best round we've seen, but luckily it contained more interesting chess than yesterday. Still, the start was pretty disappointing.

Akopian and Mamedyarov went for a quick draw in the Petroff but nobody really cared, no, there was another quick draw that did affect the tournament. Didn't the Grand Prix regulations make this impossible? No, they didn't, as we've known for a while now.

Alekseev played one of the leaders, Jakovenko, and they found their way to finish their "game" quickly: by simply copying Tiviakov-Kramnik, Wijk aan Zee 2007 until 26...Rdd2 and then adding a few meaningless moves. In such situations the player with the black pieces can be blamed a bit less perhaps, and especially when a draw means you're staying undefeated for a whole tournament - we're talking about Jakovenko of course.


Dmitry Jakovenko: the only player to stay undefeated for 13 rounds

The top game Grischuk-Radjabov was better: it lasted 97 moves! But alas, most of them were played in an opposite-coloured bishop ending that might have had some tricky, hidden ideas, but not much seemed to be going on there.

Grischuk had tried Van Wely's idea, the immediate 13.Ne6, in the Bayonet Attack of the King's Indian. Radjabov had a new idea himself: 14...Re8!? (instead of the usual 14...Nh5) which looks like a useful waiting move. Grischuk chose the logical plan of keeping the pawn on e6, but the middlegame with opposite-coloured bishops was already a bit better for Black and so Grischuk decided to allow the bishop ending with a pawn down, because it had to be a draw - and it was.

Radjabov tried it for a long time, and why not? That half point he was fighting for, was worth almost six thousand euros. Clear first means a first prize of € 30,000 while a shared first prize comes down to ( € 30,000 + € 22,500 + € 20,000 ) / 3 = € 24.167.


Grischuk-Radjabov: a long game but an inevitable draw, and therefore a shared first prize

The only player who still had a chance to join the three winners was Gashimov, who had previously topped the standings for several rounds. However, Azerbaijan's 3rd grandmaster drew with Kasimdzhanov to stay at 4th - still an excellent result for the overall Grand Prix standings, of course.

Cheparinov had prepared a very interesting idea in the Chebanenko Slav (12.Qb3 followed by 13.e4) and a few moves later White was suddenly threatening mate! It forced the Black king to stay in the center and White got a very strong attack indeed. However, Bacrot defended well and could reach a queen ending with a pawn down, which he then managed to draw as well.


Cheparinov versus Bacrot: a great idea in the Slav, but not enough to win

Wang Yue's 17.Re1 was a new move in the topical gambit line of the Queen's Indian. At the Tal Memorial this year Leko had played 10...Qc8 against Kramnik, but this time the Hungarian went for 10...Nc6 and in the game he proved that he has an almost waterproof Black repertoire. Some accurate calculation was needed but then the position was an instant draw.

And so the only decisive game of the round was Eljanov-Inarkiev. During this tournament Inakiev has had some bad luck with "normal rook moves"; his 32...Rde8 seemed to be the losing move this time where 32...g5 is quite unclear. In the game White's attack played by itself.



And so the 3rd Grand Prix tournament has come to an end. 25 games were won by White, 7 by Black and 59 ended in a draw - that's 66%. In the last three rounds only three games were decisive, from which we may conclude that the players find it tough to play a 13-round tournament these days.

Besides, it was a strong field where everybody was of almost equal strength. Gashimov keeps on doing well, Leko disappointed a bit and Jakovenko was, like in Sochi, very solid. Radjabov however is the one currently leading the overall standings and we cannot deny that we're happy to see that one can still be this successfull with openings like the Dragon and the King's Indian on your repertoire.


The winners: Grischuk, Radjabov and Jakovenko, with FIDE President Ilyumzhinov



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.


Lajos Arpad's picture

There should always be a world champion. Without a true world champion to be beaten there will always be an arguing about who's the best, which is not good for chess. The sponsor of an event is happy if he can bring the best player of the planet to his event. Without a best player the sponsors can't get as happy as now, so chess will be less sponsored, not to mention the fact that in 2050 nobody will remember who had the best rating in january 2009, but everybody will remember that Anand was world champion. The title of world champion is greater than a rating leader.

val's picture

So we are back to sqare one. It's like the house that Jack built. Meanwhile a comfortable "house" for all seasons (a fair qualifying system} built by "our great predecessors" is still waiting for us, all we have to do is move back in.

val's picture

Jettisoning world championship, thus abolishing the institution/status of "all-time greats" i.e. well-merited, universally recognized world champions, may or may not diminish stars' motivation, adversely affect chess image in the eyes of general public and prove detrimental in PR terms.

didrik's picture

I did not clarify in my comment yesterday the reason of my defence of Fide
It was really in response of the heavy Norwegian critic of the rescheduling of grand prix series. Arild Runde comments in liveratings I see as excessive really.
regarding world championships val is maybe right. For the general public and PR for the game it is important.
Really it is all matter of money ,as long there sponsers who are willing to give the money the show will go on.
The main thing as I see it is that the 100 best in the world has opportunities to play and it seems as the situation is better now than some years ago.
Eg who would have heard of Wang if he had not been able to participate in grand prix

Thomas's picture

Chessgirl wrote: "My theory is finally confirmed: accepting to attend a week in advance a tournament that most of the players had time to prepare is not a good idea."
_Intuitively_ your theory seems plausible, _empirically_ it may have been confirmed .... but I wonder about the actual 'objective' reasons. True, Eljanov could not do much specific (opening etc.) preparation for, say, Grischuk - but Grischuk also could not prepare for Eljanov. So didn't both players start "with the same disadvantage" !?
So the only difference is that 10 participants played 4 games without specific preparation, and the four last-minute replacements all 13 games. Is this really crucial, does it take so much extra energy to play without specific preparation ??

I assume that, for top grandmasters, _general_ preparation (analysing their own games, following opening theory, ...) hardly ever stops !? And BTW, I wonder how much (more) time the other players had to prepare for this very tournament: most of them played the Dresden Olympiad not that long ago .... .

xtra's picture

I agree with didrik, just remove the world championship and chess would be less messy and more interesting to follow. some system with "fair" majors would be more interesting. maybe with the grand slam finale as a boost. with a fair major I mean a tournament that everyone can enter (maybe with a bottom ELO cap of, say, 2600), maybe some kind of knock out qualify phase first (with ELO-based seeding, more ELO = less K-O rounds to enter, so it doesnt become a huge K-O tournament), and then finally a large round robin tournament. no invitees, no BS (but maybe the top finishers wouldqualify for the tournament next year). this would make chess very ineresting to follow every year.

seriously, long friggin' championship cycles with arbitrary invitees and rules, when ELO already basicly decides who is the best and super tournaments count for more status than the winning the FIDE knock-out tournament...its completely pointless in so many ways. four-six of the above mentioned tournaments every year and you have a nice system that is completed every year. you dont need a chess world champion, you need a top player of the year, every year. boo for fancy no-good chess world championship cycles.

val's picture

Its either returning to the proven traditional WCC system destroyed by Kasparov & Co or tolerating endless squabbles and a mess created by favouritism, arbitrary rule of FIDE managers, whims of stars and individual sponsors prone to retract their words and abandon their commitments at a short notice. The traditional WCC cycle is ever-green, it cannot get obsolete bcs it's uniquely comprehensive, clear, stable and fair to everyone in the chess world. Don't worry, both FIDE management and stars and real sponsors will but have to obey and adapt to it.. Giving it up was "a big misfortune for chess" (Gulko).

didrik soderberg's picture

I think it is high time to give Fide and Ilyumzhinov some credit for organizing the grand prix series and not always complain on Fide which now is so common. After all Ilyumzhinov has managed to arrange in short notice a tournament in Elista. Probably using his own money also. Besides for me the grand prix is the most interesting tournaments to follow as far as I am is concerned. They give excellent commentary and interviews with the players also. It becomes boring to follow Topalov, Ivantchuck, Aronian and the other highest ranking players over and over again play each other. OK it was clearly wrong to suddenly change the conditions for qualifying for the world title. But it was also fault of the sponsors of Dubai and Lausanne. I think maybe it is a culture thing really.
Isn't strange that Bacrot is now the only player left from what formerly was considered western countries. Also as far as I am concerned the world championship is not that interesting. If the top players play a lot against each other in different tournaments their ELO standings will tell it all. No need really for world championships.

val's picture

Rustam Kasimdzhanov is probably that proverbial exception that proves the rule.

ChessGirl's picture

My theory is finally confirmed: accepting to attend a week in advance a tournament that most of the players had time to prepare is not a good idea.

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