The games themselves took on quite different
tones: Two victories and five draws started things off in the bucolic
Armenian resort town in round 1 of the Grand Prix event. The
aforementioned Ivanchuk-Aronian affair saw white choose a quite modest
opening setup, and after some maneuvering and trades, the two opponents
agreed to a draw. Kamsky-Bacrot also saw a flurry of trades before the
game settled into a symmetric draw.
Round one of the Grand Prix was underway on a rainy but upbeat Sunday in Jermuk as the 14 participants squared off. Promptly at 3:00 PM local time, as the participants sat at the seven chess tables around the perimeter of the rotunda bar-now-playing-hall, the games began. The dual Presidents, Iljumzhinov of FIDE and Sargsyan of host country Armenia, made the opening move on the board in the game between Ivanchuk and Aronian, and then proceeded to face off in a friendly game that ended in a sporting draw.
caught his Russian opponent Jakovenko in the opening phase of the
four-knights opening, and after winning a pawn, went to the rook
endgame, which he converted smoothly. Alekseev-Akopian saw black
choose a solid setup against the Spanish opening in which white never
had too much of an advantage. On move 45, in a dead-even rook endgame,
the players agreed to share the point.
In Kasimdzhanov-Karjakin, it
was black who produced a new move, 18…Re8 (which the newlywed Ukrainian
during the post-game press conference gave credit to his second Motylev
for finding) after which black equalized, leading the game to peaceful
waters and a draw. In another captivating game of the 1st round, Leko
with black sacrificed a pawn against Inarkiev and carried out a
successful attack against the white king. With white’s bishop out of
play, Leko brought home the full point; the final position is optically
elegant, with mate or a rook capture to follow.
And in the last game
to finish in round one, spectators witnessed a tense struggle between
Gelfand and Eljanov. In the opening and middlegame, it was the Israeli
who build up pressure against black’s position, but as time-trouble
loomed, he missed the correct line, and black was able to organize a
defense and counterplay, which proved enough to split the point.
two begins Monday at 3:00 local time. On behalf of the organizers,
Happy Birthday to IM Lilit Mkrtchian, press officer here at Jermuk!
PS: In late breaking news, Armenia was selected as a host country for
the Women’s Grand Prix and Lilit Mkrtchian was chosen as Armenia’s
additional participant, as according to FIDE regulations. Couldn’t ask
for a better birthday present!
(all photos taken by Arman Karakhanyan)