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Jermuk Grand Prix Begins

You know what they say, if you can make it in Jermuk you can make it anywhere! Well, for all we know they do say that somewhere. Somewhere even smaller than Jermuk, for example. Which is in Armenia. It's also the host of the fifth FIDE Grand Prix tournament, another powerful 14-player round-robin. It begins Sunday with live games starting at 1500 local Jermuk time (I just love saying that) or 6am here in Brooklyn. No, won't be doing any live coverage of that one, thanks.

The field, in order by estimated percentage of body covered by hair: Aronian, Akopian, Ivanchuk, Cheparinov, Kasimjanov, Inarkiev, Gelfand, Eljanov, Bacrot, Alekseev, Kamsky, Jakovenko, Karjakin, Leko (he waxes). Final round is the 16th. Off days are 14th and 19th. Aronian won the last GP event in Nalchik, beating Leko in a clutch game in the final round. Pairings aren't up yet with 5.5 hours to go. It's Jermuk Time!


"The Grand Prix will be a series of six tournaments held over two years (2008-2009) in leading world cities."


Umm, in Kirsan's world?

Typo. Last day is 23rd.

Are you all saying you wouldn't put Jermuk, Nalchik, Elista, Sochi, and Baku up there with New York, Hong Kong, Moscow, London, and Paris as leading world cities?

5 stories in 24 hours! Mig is on a roll! ;)

Go win 2 olympiads in a row and you can host a super-GM tournament in a resort town of your choice.

Is that like "Hammer time"?

Where is the B-group (or should I say P-group) playing, with player names starting with letters from M-Z? Is there a secret fide conspiracy going on banning players at the end of the alphabet. Is that the reason for the Topalov exit. Is mig involved in that conspiracy thinking about the red herring with the percentage of body covered by hair thing.
Have you ever thought about the probability for that? About 1/50000!
Maybe someone can ask the fide presidents (ILYUMZHINOV, BALGABAEV) or the secretaries LEONG,JARRETT).

Kamsky - Bacrot must be some type of joke, right? Or some type of protest against the anti-draw rule. Anyway, I want some money for looking at this thing.

C'mon guys, Mig's just jealous. He is in damn bad-air-Brooklyn, which is far bein' a resort... a bruxism is a natural reaction :)

It's called "Black equalized comfortably and held the draw without problems".

I see. Comfortable chess. Nice and comfy.

Was taking a look at the pictures of the opening ceremony. Nice pictures actually. To my surprise I noticed the presence of great GM Gligoric. Young GMs still have lots to learn from old fox like Glicoric. Dressing code for example! GM Karjakin attended players meeting with his beautiful young wife. He was wearing grey suite and tie but color of his socks (light) dont match with his shoes (dark). Beautiful wife not attentife enough as of yet, Karjakin still too young to notice such petty thing as dressing code. Time better spent mulling over intricacies of the Sicilian Defense or life as newly wed. Somebody should start a chess gossip blog! Leko won with Black, Chepa with White, the rest draw. Aronian clear favorite; always sharp with his flank openings and his suites; nice picture with pretty Armenian girls at the tournament site, Australian girlfriend must be jealous...

Yes, some players dress and look world class, while others look like drunken, slovenly, seedy bums. Nobody here looks like a bum, but at other tournaments, some players look like filthy drunken, lice-infested ragmuffin trash bin dwellers.

ed, it is a common misunderstanding that socks need to be the color of shoes. In fact they need to be the color of the pants.

A rating list for visual appearance?

No one ever told me these 'sock rules'or any sartorial conventions for that matter.

Buy the DVD from Chessbase.

I think the real question re: socks is: do they need to be the color of each other? I say no. End the tyranny.

The field, in order by estimated percentage of body covered by hair: Aronian, Akopian, Ivanchuk, Cheparinov, Kasimjanov, Inarkiev, Gelfand, Eljanov, Bacrot, Alekseev, Kamsky, Jakovenko, Karjakin, Leko (he waxes).

And if Gazza were added to the field? ;-)

I would have placed the newlywed (cute couple: may they 100 years of happiness together) in last place....

I am confused ..

Final round is the 16th. Off days are 14th and 19th.

Always nice to have a day off after tournaments I suppose.

Anything goes, except white socks. The only man who was allowed wear those was assassinated by his monkey.

"And if Gazza were added to the field? ;-)"

Nigel Short once referred to Kasparov as "the ape".

Kasparov fired back, calling Short an "English boy".

Jermuk is a great place to spend as much time as you can spare to relax and get away from it all.
It is a mountain village, and was a very large and popular Soviet resort. Today it has very few visitors.
There was also a nice hotel which could be reached by turning right at the end of the steel bridge into town and heading to a large bed and breakfast type place near a playground. This place cost less than $10 per person a night and was quite nice with heat in the winter.
Before reaching Jermuk resort area at the end of the road, you will pass a few villages and a large town named Jermuk which is separate. There is also a large lake above a dam, with recreational possibilities.


Jermuk sounds like nice village to visit. It is just a little odd for FIDE to class it as a "leading world city."

The event is a 80th birth anniversary for Tigran Petrosian. Jermuk is where the World Beaters train for the Olympiad. And their Chess Academy http://www.chessacademy.am . They been having a International Open for kids the last 4 years, and they had a Asiran Memorial 2 months ago. But I guess it wasn't big enough to warrant a Jermuk tag. Shows you what little five million dram will gain you nowdays.

Why do they sell white socks at all? Malice?

On the white socks debate only that much: What does this mean for the frequent comparisons between chess and tennis? ,:)
On the Grand Prix venues: Elista seems to be a truly odd place - but I would say all of Sochi, Nalchik and Jermuk can 'compete' with Wijk aan Zee (in January) and Linares. At least once you get there, travel may be a bit more complicated.
Of course the FIDE statement about 'leading world cities' was premature. They put it on the Web when they were still looking for GP bids - both this and the fact that they don't update the webpage are odd.
And BTW, Petrosian is one example of a former top player where I wasn't sure if he is still alive. Wikipedia answers this question: He died in 1984 (at the age of 55).

Uff da, I guess very few people visit foreign countries for a chess event.

So it boils down whether there is local interest. Empty halls of Elista during Kramnik-Topalov match is a no-no.

If you have to choose between a quiet resort and a big noisy dirty city with remarkable nightlife and stuff, the quiet resort is way better. This is not some youth olympiad or an operating systems conference.

It is indeed retarded to call Jermuk one of "world's leading cities." Nevertheless, it is, given popularity of chess in Armenia, a great venue for such a tournament. And that is all that matters imo.

Why is Elista so odd?

And yes, FIDE doesn't actually call these locations "world's leading cities". As you say that was written way before they were picked and has simply been proven wrong. It's just a bit amusing...nothing wrong with these venues at all in my opinion.

"Why is Elista so odd?"
Maybe your question is ironic - you once wrote here "I am always ironic except when I am not".
If not: I have never been to Elista, so I have to rely on onsite reports from others (players and journalists). It seems it is in the middle of nowhere and doesn't have anything to offer in terms of sightseeing, scenery, ... . Of course players should focus on chess, but I guess restday activities are still appreciated. In terms of travelling to Elista, it seems to be a ~600km bus ride over bad roads away from the nearest operating airport. And, as playjunior just mentioned, "empty halls" complete the picture.

Is this enough to call it an odd place? If not, someone with first-hand experience has to help me.

No, I was not ironic. Thanks for your answer.

But I don't know if I believe everything in it. Elista does have an airport...if it was not operating at some specific point in time, and I have some vague memories that it was the case, maybe during the Topalov-Kramnik match?, that was then. And I'm not sure what "in the middle of nowhere" is supposed to mean. Also, while I have never been there myself, I would be surprised if a city of 100,000 people that's the capital of a Russian republic didn't have anything to offer in terms of sightseeing and such? Depends on what you are interested in seeing I suppose. From the Wikipedia page:

"The town center has a number of renovated public parks focused on the main square, boasting statues to both Lenin and the Buddha. To the east of the town lies the Olympic village of the 1998 XXXIII Chess Olympiad, known locally as "City-Chess". The site has a public swimming pool and an excellent museum of Kalmyk Buddhist art, and is also infrequently used as a conference center.

During his visit in 1998, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama chose a location west of the town center to build a new Buddhist temple for city residents. It was opened in December 2005."





Certainly seems fascinating to me!

Ah, Wikipedia mentions that

"The airport was closed by the federal aviation authorities sometime in the fall of 2006, but was reopened sometime in 2007." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elista

I haven't confirmed, but this is in line with how I remember it.

Anyway, I wouldn't mind spending a few days in Elista, from what I can judge. Being the capital of Europe's only Buddhism-dominated (!) political entity it has quite promising chances of offering fascinating sights, and it seems that there are at least enough for a top GM not to be bored to death during his two rest days!

I think Thomas was remembering Carlsen's trouble getting there: http://blog.magnuschess.com/1180159647_travelling_to_elista_.html

Personally I find all the weird and wonderful locations Ilyumzhinov comes up with fascinating (Jermuk sounds like the Soviet spa town that time forgot...) - but in commercial terms FIDE should also be arranging events in larger "Western" cities with sponsors willing to invest serious amounts of money.

I guess Jermuk came up because some serious western Carlovy Vary type of places refused to sponsor their respective event?

Thanks, I learnt something ,:). So maybe Elista does a poorer job than other GP locations to promote its (tourist) attractions.

Concerning travel to Elista: no I wasn't remembering Carlsen's story. Arguably it is still a (minor) inconvenience to depend on charter flights by the organizers, as there are no regular scheduled flights. I don't remember where I read about the long bus ride from the nearest 'full-service' airport. It might have been a journalist who either didn't get a seat on the charter flight, or could attend only part of the event.

ROTFLOL Mig! Great/funny blog, as usual. Keep 'em coming!

Check out Ivanchuck's salvaging of a half-point in a very inferior N and P ending today!

It was nice, but not that difficult. I could have done the same thing, and probably have.

Very nice indeed! Precisely calculated.


You're in good company HB!....Frau Einstein's son Albert was soxless at his 2nd Nobel ceremony!

Just check the photo gallery of the official site and cut this condescending crap on Jermuk. It really looks like a great resort, bearing a strong resemblence to Swiss. Would love to be there.

As for "leading world cities" - London, New York, Paris (qui vaut la messe), Shanghai... leading in chess? Maybe in finances (Lehmann Brothers not counted), business, everything except chess? Or you insist on that? Then where are those strongest annual tournaments? SO FIDE's right -
leading world chess cities are located in Russia, Armenia, etc. (Grand-Prix Series, Chess Olympiads, World/European Championships). The leading world chess cities of 20-21 category tournaments are located in Holland (Weik), Spain (Linares), Germany (Dortmund), Bulgaria (Mtel). So no need to whimper, just work hard and your day will come.

Hard to beat Aronian in his home school turf. Hard tournament to visit is that Internacional Open every summer in Benasque, in the Pyrenees. Probably four hours from Barcelona, last part in a mountain road, closer to six in a bus (which shouldn't run everyday). Can maybe fly to Zaragoza even Huesca, but still it's a long haul. And they get 400+ players in this town of 2000.

"Heat in the winter" is "quite nice" indeed.
The things we spoiled people take for granted...

Hmm, by that definition, do you automatically become a leading world chess city if you organize a GP tournament (or another major tournament)? And do three weeks of action count for the whole year? For example, Wijk aan Zee is a rather sleepy place chess-wise from February to December.

Taking other criteria: If a successful chess club matters, Baden-Baden would be #1 in Germany and European top. If a big and active chess club matters (switching to the USA where I have to rely on hearsay): New York seems to be clear #1, the Manhattan Chess Club is mentioned much more often here than anything comparable in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta or Miami. St.Louis may now be #2, where would it be on other lists (business, finance, education, ...)?

As a matter of fact, FIDE could easily update their homepage stating that GP events are held in leading chess countries. Noone would question this status for Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine? (is Kiev still a possible venue for the last event?). Indeed, after all those changes they do better than before - would Switzerland (Montreux), Czech Republic (Karlovy Vary) and Qatar (Doha) count as leading chess countries?

The fun thing with "leading world cities" isn't that Jermuk should be a worse place to hold the event than New York, it is that FIDE have to make things sound so great and refuse to change it when reality is far from how they want it to look.

Karlovy Vary and Montreux are maybe even further from being leading world cities than Elista, but one can't say that FIDE's desciption is right because they mean "leading chess cities" or something else that they don't write, especially since that too wasn't true.

The "legless" press officer is close to GM level by they way (Mkrtchian, Elo 2467), maybe it should be "cities with world leading press offciers" :-)

At least FIDE - finally - removed the statement that the overall GP winner will play a match against the winner of the World Cup, and the winner of this match will challenge the world champion. Here it took a few months to update the homepage, now FIDE is "accepting the reality" (created by FIDE).

"And I'm not sure what "in the middle of nowhere" is supposed to mean."


Yeah, I guess northern Sweden fits better. :)

Elista is *only* a 5-6 hour bus ride from Volgograd and Rostov. What good does an airport do, when "no" planes go there...?

zarg, don't know why the quotation marks around "no"... but planes do go there. That's what good the airport does. :)

acirce, "no" mean more than zero, but not exactly an airliner traffic hub.

See http://www.flightstats.com/go/Airport/airportDetails.do?airportCode=ESL
"No flights found arriving for the day
No flights found departing for the day"
In other words: the Elista airport exists and handles the occasional charter flight!?

I don't know how often regular flights go there, if at all. But that is basically a non-issue since the participants go there by chartered flight.

If you click on (to "Airports in Russia") from the link I gave, Elista is classified as "other airport", meaning no scheduled flights. This is still an inconvenience for some people (journalists and any chess fans who want to attend the tournament) who depend on the lengthy bus ride because
- they don't get a seat on the charter flight, or
- they cannot attend the entire event.

Maybe it's a minor issue, in any case poor transport connections disqualify Elista as a "leading world city" ,:).

Missing a chartered flight is possible, but heck a 18 hour bus drive from Moscow could be rather *interesting*, particularly during spring time if it's anything like the Russian Siberian road from Moscow to Yakutsk:



Thanks for a great link!

hypocritical blah blah blah...
you prefer godforsaken Lubbock in Texas or Edmonton, Alberta to Elista? Go ahead then!
Local lizards are waitin' for ya, as well as the USCF... the greatest chess federation of all times with the greatest website and greatest tournaments of lowest category. And don't forget to take Carlsen together with his childish caprices, blunders and novelties - to show Texas style of racking pipes.

By the way, you should ask him why all these IM's and GM's should travel to Tromso, Troms county, his native Norway? A real "Arctic challenge" for 2400-2500 losers? They treat'em that way? But they got an airport. Whewwww! That's why i guess Norwegians even bid 4 the right to organize in this cryogenic refrigerator the Chess Olympiad in 2014. Brrrrr.... Should GM's boycott it? Only because it is sooooo far and sooooo arctic? I don't think so. The only hope is a global warming... and fyords.

However, i definitely prefer Lubbock, Texas - the leading world chess city, isn't it? Say yes, yes you can...

From Moscow with love.

Wow. That's quite a rant. Time to breathe.
"Texas style of racking pipes." Anyone tell me what that means?

It’s sort of like the Moscow method of filing plates only much easier to learn.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 9, 2009 12:11 AM.

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