Reports | April 15, 2009 4:50

We're in Nalchik! (Where the 4th GP starts tomorrow)

Nalchik GPFlying via Moscow to Mineralnye Vody airport, from where I was picked up by the organisers, I arrived in Nalchik about two hours ago. Here, in the capital of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, the 4th FIDE Grand Prix will start tomorrow. Round one pairings: Leko - Kamsky, Mamedyarov-Aronian, Akopian-Kasimdzhanov, Karjakin-Eljanov, Grischuk-Gelfand, Alekseev-Svidler and Ivanchuk-Bacrot.

Just a quick post from the hotel lobby (no internet in the room - only the players have this "luxury"), to let the readers know about this new big tourney, starting tomorrow. The standard Grand Prix schedule is followed: fourteen players, thirteen rounds, two rest days (after round 5 and 10). Nobody, including FIDE officials, are exactly sure what the Grand Prix exactly involves, and where it leads to, and the players mostly treat it as an individual, and quite good tournament. Perhaps we chess fans should do the same.

It's in Nalchik, where the Women World Championship was held last year as well. In the same hotel "Sindica". I'm the "video guy" here so that's what you can expect from my part at the official website (and, naturally, embedded here as well), where the pairings are up already.

And fyi, after a sort of short Easter break, me and the co-editors will try to catch up with the tournament news (Foxwoods, Neckar, Doeberl, etc.) as soon as possible.

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.


CumnorChessClub's picture

@ Lionaile

Thank you for your quick response, I do need glasses :-)

Much appriciated

Lionaile's picture

15:00 local time

Lionaile's picture

At least I found it:
Time zone ¬? UTC+3

Ex: For France (with summer time +1): start at 13:00

MamedyarovFan's picture

I'm thrilled that Peter will take videos as we now know we can look forward to superior quality output. Of course I hope that everyone will cooperate with Peter in keeping background noise to a minimum when the players are being interviewed and/or giving postmortems. Enjoy Nalchik, Peter!

CumnorChessClub's picture

Does anyone know at what time the games start as I can not find anywhere on the web this information? (but then again I may need glasses).

I look forward to watching your videos.


Ariel's picture

Well well well. This GP series is turning out to be quite excellent.

Too bad Magnus chose to drop out of it, because he is missing some of the best chess action around!

I am looking forward to seeing some "neglected" players here--Akopian, Alekseev, Eljanov, Leko, Svidler... there are some excellent players that should be seen playing with the "elite" which seems to be a bit too clubby nowadays.

me's picture


The players you mentioned are there only because the "elite" dropped out :p

guitarspider's picture

It seems very strange to say Leko and Svidler are not part of the elite. Both have competed in elite tournaments for years, Leko even played a World Championship against Kramnik.

harald's picture

Puh, same problem every tournament.... When will the rounds start?? No information on official site, no information here, ...

Peter Doggers's picture

Yes, isn't it terrible? Boooooh.

Eiae's picture

I think Svidler is working hard on a major comeback and he got his sights set on this tournament. I think he will win.

me's picture

who is Gustafson working for?

Peter Doggers's picture

for Leko

Castro's picture

Go Gata!! :-)

Harish Srinivasan's picture

As for the Elite players, apart from Carlsen nobody else really did drop out.

Kramnik could never have played as it would have intervened with his Bonn match and preparation. Plus, he pretty much knows he will be the one nominee for the candidates tournament / knock out match to be held in qualification for the 2011 cycle.

Topalov is already in the candidates 2011 whether or not he wins against Anand. And his preparation for the match against Anand, his match against Kamsky before all this plus auto seeding means he would have never played the grand prix.

As for Anand, no reason to play Grand prix. So these people were never really in to drop out. So I cant see which elite players other than Carlsen dropped out ?? May be you can add Morozevich and Adams to the list. But almost everybody else in the top 10 or 15 are in the Grand prix. Many have already played 2 or 3 out of the 6. so they are taking a break.

me's picture

1) Anand, Topalov, Kramnik all refused to play. And no, they were not assured of their place in the candidates before Grand Prix started. In fact, there was no candidate tournament/matches when Grand Prix started. Ilyumzhinov changed the cycle afterwards.

2) Grand Prix didn't intervene to Kramnik's or anybody elses plans. Kramnik and Anand could have requested to leave out the first two GP's and play in the last four. FIDE would have granted them. Grand Prix didn't interfere at all - they just decided to not participate, thats all. Kamsky participates, and he was in the same boat as Anand, Topalov and Kramnik (he was supposed to play the match with Topalov few weeks after Anand-Kramnik match)

3) In addition to Topalov, Kramnik and Anand, Morozevich and Shirov refused to participate too. Judit Polgar was one of the reserves, and refused also. If she would accepted, Grischuk wouldn't be here (from the start).

4) After FIDE changed the cycle Adams and Carlsen dropped out.

So without all those "drop-outs" players like Eljanov, Alekseev, Kasimdzhanov, Akopian,etc. and even Grischuk!, wouldn't be there.

me's picture

P.S.: Also Bacrot, Cheparinov and Wang You wouldn't be there if not for the "drop-outs". Even Svidler had to be nominated by Ilyumzhinov!

Half of the GP participants are nominees.

Ariel's picture

There is no doubt that the path into the GP tournaments still leaves much to be desired, but the idea is a good one. Several supertournaments leading, via a combination of results, to a spot in a candidates final tournament.

This can produce some excellent, exciting, unpredictable tournaments.

The qualifyication path into the GP needs to be standardized and globalized (since ELO does not necessarily travel well). If not the old zonal tournaments, something like it.

The point, I think, is to get a good mix of established and new talent, producing matchups where it is not so obvious what opening will be seen, what kind of game will result, etc.

I think the chess world needs more Kramnik vs. Nisipeanu matchups than Kramnik vs. Morozevich (say). Even if that means that Kramnik wins more often. :)

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Ofcourse the candidates did not exist then when Anand, Kramnik Topalov did not enter the grand prix. But the point was, they always knew they will be in the cycle somehow, which is why they never needed to take this long route of the grand prix format. And they were right, they are very much in the cycle even though they never came in the grand prix. Kamsky was not sure and hence he is playing in the grand prix.

Thomas's picture

Absence of certain top players is at most part of the reason why the GP field is "different but strong". Three other aspects come to my mind:
1) The Grand Prix tournaments have 14 participants, most other supertournaments (Nanjing, Linares, MTel) have 6 or 8.
2) Supertournament fields always include mostly top 10 players, plus the recent tendency to consistently invite one player from Latin America (Dominguez) and one from China. Invitations to the Grand Prix were mostly based on rating, hardly on country of origin - consequently Nalchik has 10-12 ex-Soviet players (depending on whether one counts Gelfand and Kamsky among them). This is not the case for other strong tournaments, except those in ex-Soviet countries (Tal Memorial, Foros).
3) While I have 'mixed feelings' concerning the fact that all GP tournaments are now held in the wider Caucasus area, at least it means that local invitees are also strong but not that widely known players. The most striking example is Gashimov (I hadn't heard his name before, but he clearly deserved his invitation). I don't know who replaced Al-Modiakhi and Pelletier (advance favorites for last place whenever they played in the Grand Prix).

@'me': "Kramnik and Anand could have requested to leave out the first two GP’s and play in the last four. "
Maybe, but wouldn't this be a bit unfair - certainly if Topalov also participated and asked a similar favor? I mean whoever else played one or both of the first two tournaments would then have an advantage compared to the rest of the entire field.

fido's picture

"Kramnik and Anand could have requested to leave out the first two GP’s"

Or they could have played in Baku, it was half a year between the event and Bonn, I don't think any player could demand more than 6 months to prepare for a match as a reason to be given a free spot while others have to play many strong events during two years. It's not as if Kramnik and Kamsky are so much above players like Ivanchuk, Carlsen and Aronian that they should be given special treatment because 6 months is not enough (if they really didn't want to play the last four events since that would have been uncomfortable for some other reason, but Kamsky is playing the GP anyhow and just isn't good enough to qualify that way).

verhoek's picture

Is this a category 20 tournament?

David Korn's picture

Category XIX, per table at

me's picture

Yes, it is XIX. One ELO point short of XX :)

Jagadish Dube.'s picture

@ Harish Srinivasan,
Your comments on Leko-Kasky drawn games please(121 Moves of 1st Round).
I felt Leko was winning as also analysed by Rybka.Feel You will reply as we the Indian always do.Waiting please..........!
Jagadish Dube.(ORISSA)

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