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Ivanchuk Takes Jermuk GP

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In the last year Vassily Ivanchuk has gone from #3 in the world to out of the top 30 and now it looks like he'll be back in the top five. If a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, Ivanchuk's mind must be enormous. He capped off his rating rally today with a final-round victory over Akopian that made him the clear winner of the Jermuk Grand Prix in Armenia. His +4, 8.5/13 score was a half-point clear of Gelfand and Aronian.

With this strong result Aronian, who beat Inarkiev in the final round, actually clinched first place in the Grand Prix series even though there's another tournament coming. He took clear first in his two previous GP events in Sochi and Nalchik. That makes the Armenian one of the two GP qualifiers for the next stage of the world championship. The GP standings are here, though Jermuk hasn't been added yet. Congrats to Aronian. This also likely kicks a rating spot down the list a notch, where Kramnik is waiting.

Peter Leko's sad-sack routine added another chapter in Jermuk. Starting the final round sharing the lead with Ivanchuk, Leko lost to Gelfand to finish =4-6 with Kasimjanov and Alekseev. This was a repeat of his loss to Aronian in the final round in Nalchik, when he was again in the lead. These are only the most recent late collapses in Leko's career. Of course the most famous was losing the final game of his 2004 WCh match with Kramnik. Add the final-round loss to Kramnik at Dortmund 2006, again when tied for first, and losing his last two games at Linares 2006 (yep, was in clear first and finished fourth). What I'm trying to say is that Leko should start burning down playing sites with a few rounds to go.

No shame in losing to Gelfand though. The Israeli was in fine form throughout and played a nice steady grind before sealing the deal in a bishop endgame. Ivanchuk's last-round win was also the work of a professional craftsman more than a piece of modern art sensationalism. He's just very, very strong and after he found 32..f5! and ruined the white structure, Akopian was going to have a very bad day in Jermuk. Akopian played all the way down to trying a few stalemate tricks, perhaps hoping to help his teammate take a share of first, but there was no Chucky meltdown today. Let's hear it for the veterans. 40 is the new 20!


By my count , there are 15 players who have played in 3 GP events and are eligible to play in the last GP whenever and wherever it is held; Aronian, Radjabov, Wang Yue, Gashimov, Leko, Jakovenko, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Mamedyarov, Alekseev, Kasimjanov, Akopian, Eljanov, Svidler and Inarkiev. So, whom will FIDE lean on to skip the last event ? Will it be Aronian who has already got the maximum number of GP points ? Or will Kirsan lean on his Kalmykian buddy Inarkiev to opt out to make the no: 14 as so far he has the lowest number of GP points and no hope of qualifying ? Either way, it is not fair to the players as it robs them of playing strong opposition for decent prize money .

I'm happy for Ivanchuk and his fans.

¨40 is the new 20! ¨

Mig, you should see the documentary ¨Comedian¨ about Seinfeld , then realize that there are some professions were that axiom is true.
Yours is one of them.

Chucky for president! , if not , at least he should be in the candy-dates tournament that master Kirsan told us we need because he loves chess much more than what we do.

"So, whom will FIDE lean on to skip the last event ?"
Sorry, I consider this cheap anti-FIDE propaganda or at least an unfounded rumor. So far, FIDE always "somehow" managed to find an organizer for the next GP tournament, so - for a few more months - they should at least get the benefit of doubt. If everything else fails (in the worst case!?), it might be held in Elista again?!

IM Stefan Loeffler ("Schachblogger") had spread a similar rumor on http://schach.twoday.net [in German], even stating that "according to the latest information" ("nach letztem Stand") only the first in the overall GP standings would qualify for the candidates tournament - hence Aronian would solve the problem for FIDE. Earlier today he corrected himself, his comment translated into English:
"Geoffrey Borg, as Global Chess-Director responsible for the GP-Series, confirmed that the second in the final standings will also be WCh candidate. And that there are no news yet concerning the sixth tournament."

BTW, Chessvibes in their final round report has an updated table of the GP standings. This includes some color coding: players already qualified for the candidates tournament in green (Aronian and ... Kamsky), those which can no longer qualify via the GP in red.

"Or will Kirsan lean on his Kalmykian buddy Inarkiev to opt out to make the no: 14"

That wouldn't make much sense since Inarkiev is included in the series from the start, while Kasim and Eljanov only are reserves for players that have disappeared along the way. One of they may get a spot also in the last event but hardly both ahead of the non-reserve Inarkiev. Suddenly removing Aronian to have a reserve playing would also be a strange idea since it would make the last event weaker than planned.

Sorry, I misunderstood chessplayer's comment ... .

I agree with hdghg: those who joined the GP at a later stage may not get to play four events (I think this was also somewhere in the regulations). Besides Kasim and Eljanov, these also include Alekseev and Akopian. Of these four, Alekseev is the only one who still has (rather theoretical) chances to qualify for the candidates tournament. Akopian was a host city nominee, and FIDE may not want to 'punish' the Armenian organizers who just did a good job in organizing one of the events. By the same reasoning, Eljanov may get/keep the right to play if Ukraine ends up organizing the last tournament (there were rumors about Kiev as a possible venue).

From the chessvibes link it seems only Radjabov, Wang Yue, Gashimov and Leko have a real chance to qualify. It may be a pretty interesting last GP.

Since Aronian has already qualified, apart from contractual obligations and prize money, there is no other incentive for him to play in the last gp.

And it looks like Carlsen and Kramnik/Jakovenko/Leko will qualify by rating. I am not sure which two rating list were proposed to be used. Was it july 2009 and Januray 2010?

Avg. of July 09 and Jan 10.

Jakovenko is basically out of the rating race after all his losses this period.

For the fun of it (and for all fans of Ivanchuk), here are the GP standings based on the two best results. The idea is that whoever gets clear first at the last tournament will gain another 180 points, and then one can calculate how many points others would need to stay ahead of him:

Radjabov 303.5
Wang Yue 273.5
Gashimov 263.5
Ivanchuk 245
Jakovenko 243.5
Leko 240
Gelfand 225

If I get things right, only Radjabov and Wang Yue wouldn't depend on any other results. If Wang Yue finishes clear first, Radjabov could get the same number of points by finishing clear second, but would have the inferior fourth result.

But what about Ivanchuk's chances? If he finishes clear first, Radjabov would need to be at least clear third to stay ahead of him. If the final standings turn out to be, for example,
2. Leko
3.-4. Radjabov and Gelfand
Ivanchuk (425) would qualify ahead of Radjabov (423.5).

Not such an impossible scenario, in any case I guess (form permitting) Chucky will do his best to "do his job".

nice stats there Thomas. Ivanchuk himself will then be preparing harder for his games against Radjabov, Wang etc. to make sure he hands them a defeat when he plays them thereby increasing his chances of qualifying.

OT (Ray Robson watch) - In Skokie yesterday, Robson beat Izoria (perhaps best known as the winner of the HB Global).


I don't see a link for games.

Wow. Board 1 at that Skolie (Chicago suburb) FIDE event is Robson vs Thaler. Thaler, another young kid is barely above 2200. He got to board 1 by beating IMs Arnold and Amanaov and drawing GM Kaichesvilli and IM Felecan.

The Skokie organizer has held a series of FIDE norm tournaments over the past 4 or 5 years - in fact, he does 3 or 4 of them a year.

This one is much bigger though - there are 30 players, more like an open than an "Invitational." All the others I saw were more-typical "norm" events, that is, 10-player round robins.

Perhaps the fact he's able to pull off a much bigger event like this, even amid a recession, means chess funding is on the upswing in the US?

I note that the NY International, a similar event, was just inaugurated last year and had its second go-round this past June.

"Ivanchuk himself will then be preparing harder for his games against Radjabov, Wang etc."

"etc." would include all the other players (11 of them)!? ,:) Because Ivanchuk's qualification chances would decrease considerably if he doesn't finish clear first ... . Simply finishing ahead of his direct competitors probably won't be enough if someone else takes clear or shared first - e.g. Aronian (I almost forgot that he will also play ...). There is a bonus for the winner - not 100 points as Bartleby proposed (probably in jest), but still 30 points.

But it may be to Chucky's advantage that Radjabov will also be the one to beat for anyone else trying to use his last qualification chance.

Thomas an important point to add.... it is the best 3 results that count; not cummulative 4.

In reality only Radja, Wang & Gash have a real chance.

Chucky would have to rely on rating if he has Eureka after Eureka tournaments!

It seems you didn't get my point. I took the best 2 results out of 3, because if player X (anyone from my list) wins the final tournament his (present) 3rd result will become the final 4th and irrelevant one - except if there is a tie, then the worst result will be the first tiebreaker (possibly decisive between Radjabov and Wang Yue).

In other words, the final score for the clear winner of the last tournament will be
180 + b, with b = (present points minus worst result) = [numbers in my list].

Maybe I made a mistake, but for the time being I think Mig (in another thread) was wrong when saying "Ivanchuk will need lots of help even if he wins the last tournament". He will need a bit of help (some fellow players have to keep Radjabov from finishing second or third). But already Wang Yue and Gashimov would be 'out' - they can at most earn an additional 150 points if they finish clear second.

there isn't an inch of funding for chess in the US.

Sevan has done most of these tournaments at a loss to his own finances. The rest of the money comes from the players (see the high entry fees based on rating!).

Robson is in a good position though to score his 2nd GM norm. Finegold looks in position to score his last as well. Thaler might get a GM norm but at least he should clinch an IM norm if he keeps this performance up! Even IMelect Felecan is not out of his 1st gm norm yet (he recently beat Yury Shulman at the Chicago open!).

A few more rounds will tell who is shaping up to score norms but lets root for the contenders!

4 Mig


"Politics and statistics aside, the Jermuk Grand Prix was the best of the five tournaments as far as chess was concerned, and from what we saw on the official website, the location and venue was just great. We can only hope that the Armenians want to continue organizing FIDE events".

Good to hear, though I'm not sure about the chess part for a snap analysis. All of the GP events have been quite good in that regard. And as I've mentioned many times, the chess, the organization, and the websites have all been either good or very good. And the local organizers seem to have done a very good job under difficult conditions.

My teasing has been directed at FIDE for making such a mess of the organization of the GP system overall, which was bad enough that Adams and Carlsen dropped out. It forced several other "local" players out after the circuit started, and revealed yet again the total inability of FIDE (Global Chess, whatever) to achieve proper professional sponsorship. Last-minute bailouts to out of the way places in the Caucasus are certainly better than nothing, but it's still a sign things have gone very wrong.

And don't forget one of the original intentions behind the GP was to bring the circuit to major international cities for promotion and sponsorship opportunities. That has been replaced with "let's just get it over with, wherever we can." To my knowledge, and according to two participants I've spoken to, they still don't know where the final GP tournament will take place. Hard to promote a mystery event!

It is fashionable to blame FIDE for everything but let us remember that it was the Western world's favourite Bessel Kok who was supposed to be responsible for the Grand Prix. When Bessel Kok bailed out , FIDE and Kirsan had to pick up Bessel's mess and clean it. Whatever Bessel Kok touches is a disaster; witness e.g. the Prague Agreement.

Yes it is easy to make fun of FIDE, to some extent because FIDE makes it easy ... . But I will ask three questions, my own answer is an unconditional yes only to the third one:

1) Can FIDE be blamed that some of the ambitious objectives (one tournament on every continent, "leading world cities") were not fulfilled at the first attempt?
I would say they can only be blamed for making such premature announcements or 'promises'. As I wrote at earlier occasions, maybe the GP field is inherently less attractive to some (Western) organizers because there is a surplus of ex-Soviet players. Of course this simply reflects the current [habitual, "eternal"] situation at the world top. It might explain why all events ended up in leading chess countries, clustered in a relatively small geographic area.

2) Can either FIDE or some of the initial organizers be blamed for the financial crisis, or even for the fact that they didn't anticipate it?
My answer is an unconditional no.

3) Can FIDE be blamed for changing the rules during an ongoing WCh cycle?
Yes, but even here one can see things from the sunny side. If only the first in the overall GP standings qualified, the last tournament would now lose relevance hence interest (while still a strong event comparable to Corus). With the current situation, IMO it isn't even necessary to promote the last event: it will "self-promote" itself one venue and dates are known. Until then, FIDE now (wisely!?) avoids making premature announcements.
As a matter of fact, I wasn't aware of Jermuk either until about a week before the tournament - which didn't prevent me from following it.

That quote from GG was based on my personal experience of working in Baku, Sochi and Nalchik and comparing that with what I saw on the Jermuk website. The playing hall itself, the stunning view, the many local fans, those big, old school yellow demo boards outside, all that made a very good impression on me, and I wasn't even there. But having Spassky commentating every day in Nalchik perhaps should give them an ex aequo first place. :-) And about the chess: in general I had the feeling the players were really inspired this time, but yes, in the other four events we saw many great games too.


> Can either FIDE or some of the initial organizers
> be blamed for the financial crisis, or even for
> the fact that they didn't anticipate it?

Why do you pose such a question? Do you actually think anybody blamed the financial crisis on FIDE?

> it will "self-promote"

Glad to hear it. Silly for other tournaments to look for sponsors and such, make press announcements, all these tedious preparation. Not really necessary, since you found Jermuk anyway.

As I was responding to Mig, I will quote him - selectively, but not out of context - to explain my second question:
"My teasing has been directed at FIDE for making such a mess of the organization of the GP system overall ... . It forced several other "local" players out after the circuit started ... . Last-minute bailouts to out of the way places in the Caucasus"

There can be little doubt that the financial crisis played a role in the cancellation of the Doha, Montreux and Karlovy Vary GP events which were then moved to Nalchik, Jermuk and another place presently unknown (but quite possibly also in the Caucasus), forcing Al-Modiakhi, Pelletier and Navara out.
Indeed, the Karlovy Vary organizers gave three explanations when the event was cancelled:
1) the event would be less interesting without Carlsen
2) changes to the WCh cycle
3) due to the financial crisis, the sponsor lost 80% of his stockmarket value.
While FIDE is more or less responsible for 1) and 2), 3) by itself probably would have been sufficient to cancel the event. But for the organizers, it might have been more convenient to blame FIDE rather than the global crisis or the ex-sponsor (if management mistakes were partly responsible for the new situation).

Concerning your second remark, you have a point. But FIDE still has to look for sponsors (to guarantee the prize fund). And the PR situation for the last GP event differs from other tournaments, new ones such as London and San Sebastian or the one-time Zurich event. The chess community already more or less knows
1) when - approximately - the tournament will take place (some time between now and the World Cup in November/December). Of course assuming that it DOES take place ...
2) who will play
3) what is at stake

Of course FIDE can be blamed. Who else? If you take something on and fail, you are blamed. That there may, or may not, be extenuating circumstances is of tangential interest and may help for next time, but in no way lessens the responsibility. A professional organization gets guarantees, money in escrow, and doesn't promise what it can't deliver. Because by so doing, it further damages its credibility for next time. The same applies to the individual organizers, of course, but they aren't relevant to the discussion about FIDE's lack of proper protocol and due diligence.

Changing the rules midstream is itself a major failure and a destructive act. They keep doing this, jumping this way and that, when only a stable and predictable system has any chance of growing into a mature sponsorship platform. By changing to what they believe meets the needs of the moment they only perpetuate the overall shoddy nature of things.

That fans will follow live chess linked to from TWIC is obvious. They don't provide sponsorship, however. Corporate and municipal sponsors of the type needed to sustain a cycle need years, not days, weeks or months, years of time to budget and allocated media resources. FIDE still doesn't know if and when its next world championship match will take place. Global Chess was supposed to break out of the usual FIDE fly-by-night, last-minute silliness. FAIL.

"Changing the rules midstream is itself a major failure and a destructive act. They keep doing this, jumping this way and that, when only a stable and predictable system has any chance of growing into a mature sponsorship platform. By changing to what they believe meets the needs of the moment they only perpetuate the overall shoddy nature of things."

Hear, hear. This assessment by Mig is logical, almost obvious, and still ignored by FIDE - and effectively by players and fans that consider it more appropriate to praise the Candidate charade "initiative" than to condemn how and why it came into existence.

Mig wrote in another thread, referring to himself and others from ICC Chess FM:
"Overall we tend to be very complimentary toward all the players ... being negative the whole time would be a drag."
But apparently with respect to FIDE and the Grand Prix, approach and attitude are the other way around: be negative as much as possible. And that's what GG and I don't like ... .

On the plus side, the GP is a series of strong tournaments with relatively transparent qualification criteria (as opposed to the subjective and selective invitation procedures for private tournaments), built up from scratch.
BTW, how many people had permanent working contracts, but still lost their jobs as a result of the financial crisis?

But I agree that "changing the rules midstream is itself a major failure and a destructive act" ... .

Being positive doesn't mean being stupid or lying, or shouldn't. I want chess to succeed as a sport and the players to succeed as sportsmen. When FIDE acts against those goals whom would I be helping by covering it up and saying how great everything is? And rooting for players/teams of players has nothing to do with rooting for inanimate objects and institutions, which is weird.

Criticism just for the sake of hating or being negative isn't what we're doing here, no more than telling your friend who's on crack that maybe he should consider a lifestyle change. FIDE, to run the analogy into the ground, is currently run as if they are on crack and need an intervention. Mindless (e.g. uncritical) cheerleading is fine for fans of players, but no matter how much you love FIDE (for whatever reason one would be in love with an institution) you should want them to improve.

And unlike the players, FIDE isn't going to have its feelings hurt. Nor does an institution need a pat on the back and brownie points. If there are four good things about something they do and one bad thing, obviously we should focus on changing the bad thing. What purpose would it serve to say, "golly, FIDE got four things right, I guess we should just applaud and shouldn't say anything critical"? Again, whom would we be helping? This isn't Peter Pan and FIDE isn't Tinkerbell, about to expire if we stop clapping.

I'm a big fan of the Grand Prix concept. These have been great events and I've been consistent in giving credit where credit is due in that department. That's also why it's extra infuriating to see them make a hash of it yet again. (Anyone remember the FIDE rapid grand prix?) It's the constantly making the same mistakes over and over that puts the turd cherry on the FIDE feces sundae. Apologies to those who are about to eat.

FIDE (like any addict ) could use a nice intervention , thing is : it has no friends ! the dealer (Kirsan) is running the show for now.

FIDE will never heal unless we stop re-electing Kirsan time after time ,non stop re-elections are dictatorship in disguise .
A system like in the rotary club (constant elections , always a different person) , could really help changing the current status quo , where we are always complaining about the now instead of working for tomorrow.

I see Mig's points, and this will be my last follow-up comment ... . For me, there are still many questions:
Would we expect any institution to be perfect? I would say one should focus (equally!?) on the four good things and the one bad thing. Just as for a player: if he has deep opening preparation, amazing tactical ability, great fighting spirit, sophisticated endgame knowledge and problems with his time management, should we mention only the last?

While it is easy to criticize FIDE, what are the alternatives? PCA and ACP didn't make an impact as expected or hoped, currently Danailov is catering only to a few top players (with emphasis on one of them). Of course, I do not mean to say that things can't be improved within FIDE.

Finally: Mig is, in his own words, "a big fan of the Grand Prix concept" but still emphasizes bad aspects of the GP Series. Is this motivating for potential new sponsors, particularly outside the Caucasus region (maybe even in the USA)?

According to FIDE VP Azmai, Kasimjanov is the extra man. He was there just to fill the spot anyway, and knew from the beginning that he will only play in 3 events.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 23, 2009 11:02 PM.

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