World Chess Beat (December 2008)

Pearl Spring Super-GM Tournament (December 10th-22nd, Nanjing, China)

China will host its first super-tournament and strongest ever held on the continent with the Pearl Spring in Nanjing, China. The field will feature world’s top-ranked Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Sergei Movsesian (Slovakia), Peter Svidler (Russia), and Bu Xiangzhi (China).

Main Site (Chinese):
Main Site (English):

FIDE Grand Prix (December 13th-29th, Sochi, Russia)

This 3rd Grand Prix tournament was had to overcome a few defections including big names such as Magnus Carlsen, but is still a powerful lineup. The field of 14 is as follows:

Sd Surname Name Nation Rating
01 Radjabov, Teimour (AZE, 2751)
02 Leko, Peter (HUN, 2747)
03 Jakovenko, Dmitry (RUS, 2737)
04 Wang Yue (CHN, 2736)
05 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (AZE, 2731)
06 Eljanov, Pavel (UKR, 2720)
07 Grischuk, Alexander (RUS, 2719)
08 Alekseev, Evgeny (RUS, 2715)
09 Bacrot, Etienne (FRA, 2705)
10 Gashimov, Vugar (AZE, 2703)
11 Cheparinov, Ivan (BUL, 2696)
12 Akopian, Vladimir (ARM, 2679)
13 Kasimzhanov, Rustam (UZB, 2672)
14 Inarkiev, Ernesto (RUS, 2669)

Main Site:

Fred Cameron Open (December 20th-21st, Kingston, Jamaica)

The island of Jamaica will hold their Fred Cameron Open during the holidays. The event hopes to attract all the nation’s top brass after a successful Olympiad. FM-elect Jomo Pitterson won last year’s event by upsetting GM Maurice Ashley.

More information here!

North American Open (December 26th-29th, Las Vegas, USA)

One of the premier tournaments on the west coast of the US, this tournament is located in the tourist haven of Las Vegas, Nevada. It is a modest tournament typically drawing top U.S. players. Past winners have been Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Shabalov and Walter Browne (1st winner in 1991). This year’s field will be significantly weakened the a number of other competing tournaments and many of the top players playing overseas. Nakamura is in Europe, however, Shabalov will return and past winner Jaan Ehlvest will be among the hopefuls.


Eastern Open (December 27th-30th, Washington DC, USA)

Those who did not want to deal with the notorious holiday travel in getting to the North American Open, the Eastern Open is an option. The event is held by the U.S. Chess Center.


Pan-Am Intercollegiate (December 27th-30th, Dallas-Ft.Worth, USA)

This long-running team tournament will feature the nation’s top collegiate teams including perennial powers host University ot Texas-Dallas, University of Maryland-Baltimore Miami-Dade Community College, Duke and Stanford. Other schools to make an impression will be Harvard, University of Toronto and Texas Tech.



  1. From all accounts, the event started well with a rousing opening ceremony. Since the Beijing Olympics, China has really refined the art of opening ceremonies with all the splendor of a first-rate nation. Perhaps this is the beginning of a shift to having more strong tournaments dispersed around the world. This is one sure way to promote chess in different regions as opposed to concentrating only in Europe.

    Pearl Spring Super-GM (Round #1)
    Photos by Leontxo Garcia.

    Opening Ceremonies… said to have been splendid!

    Ceremonial First Move at Aronian-Topalov


  2. Wow! now the oriential brothers are starting to crush the russians, we already know the story with the indians! Thats funny every time i put on a Bruce Lee movie for Shaka i always have called him Bu Ye now look whats happening! They got 2 of them hahaha!It seems the best time for us Africans to strike them down is now while they are clearly in trouble.The European players are trying to use the ne6with f5 concept to bail themselves out like Ivanchuck is attempting here, but we not worry theres considerably more in our science than that so they are behind.! Peace.

  3. Actually Ivanchuk is probably in the “ultramodern” category and plays a lot of interesting ideas. Good to see Bu holding the lead after three rounds, but a long way to go.

    I really like those Mao suits! 🙂

    Pearl Spring Super-GM (Round #3)
    Photo by organizing committee.

    Bu Xiangzhi of China in lead.

    All the players were fitted with custom-made suits from the Mao era. I didn’t see any shops when I was in China, but I hear they’re coming back in vogue.

    Look like they all took the day off today. The games were all pretty tame and ended up symmetrical.

  4. Pearl Spring Super-GM (Round #4)

    Below is an interesting link with many photos and coverage! It appears to be a first-class event. Here are a couple of pictures from the venue by Wang Liang and Liu Xianglin.

    Hou Yifan

    is visiting and supporting Bu Xiangzhi. She holds her little “red book” presumably of Mao’s inspirational writings. Rising star Li Chao is seconding Bu and this is why China will be a force for many years to come.


  5. Pearl Spring Super-GM (Round #5)

    Veselin Topalov scored a rousing victory over Peter Svidler with a positional exchange sacrifice. The game evolved out of a Grunfeld and Topalov seized the initiative on the queenside and customary offered an exchange with 20. a4! and after 20…Bxb5 21.cxb5 Rd6 22.Qc3 Bg7 23.Qxc5 with had strong compensation. Topalov has made a reputation of sacrificing the exchange in games where immediate compensation is not apparent.

    Ivanchuk-Movsesian has a lot of fireworks out of a Scheveningen. Vassily Ivanchuk even pitched a pawn to gain time against black’s centralized king. Sergei Movsesian decided to return the pawn and the game descended into an all-out brawl. It seemed that black was just a tempo short of collecting a point as his heavy forced encircled the white king. White also had some counterplay and the game ended in a three-fold repetition.

    Aronian-Bu was also very exciting. Look at the position after Bu’s 11…g5! That initiated hostilities in which the black king ran for cover on the queenside. The position after 25.Qxe7 is also interesting, but both players had vulnerable kings which prevented either from trying to wrest a lasting initiative. Aronian’s passed h-pawn could not make it up the board and had to split the point after Bu forced a three-fold repetition.

    Great games!

    Veselin Topalov


  6. Pearl Spring Super-GM (Round #7)

    More exciting chess at the Pearl Spring tournament. Bu-Topalov went the full distance and the China’s Bu Xiangzhi could not snatch a full point from the world’s #1. Pressing for the better part of the game, Veselin Topalov salvaged a draw despite being down the exchange. Again… Topalov shows disregard for material exchange (rook vs. minor piece). Peter Svidler got an impressive win against Sergei Movesesian. It is very instructive how helpless the rooks were against the bishop and passed pawns.


  7. The FIDE Grand Prix has had four rounds of play and Teimour Radjabov is out front with 3/4. These results come in on the heels of the latest controversy of the change of the World Championship Cycle. A couple of high-profile players have dropped out and FIDE President has reconsidered the situation and will revisit the issue. Meanwhile, several articles are circulating about the damage done to the image of chess. Dylan Loeb McClain has penned a piece in the International Herald Tribune.

  8. Pearl Spring Super-GM (Round #8)

    More exciting chess today. Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov unfurled a novelty and played energetically against Vassily Ivanchuk to jump ahead of the field by a full point. Bu Xiangzhi lost his first game of the tournament sucuumbing to Peter Svidler in a bishop ending. Lev Aronian and Sergei Movsesian also played a tough game with the two called a truce.

    Topalov won a tough game against Ivanchuk.
    Leads field by full point!


  9. Pearl Spring Super-GM (Round #9)
    Topalov clinches victory!


    Fan-friendly venue!

    The penultimate round of the China’s first Super-GM tournament ended as it started, with exciting chess. Movsesian-Ivanchuk was an exciting Sicilian featuring a queen sacrifice by the Ukranian. Topalov outplayed Svidler in the finale with the Caro-Kann Defense. Svidler blundered but his position was already difficult to hold. Aronian-Bu was a relatively short draw as the long-time combatants called a truce. Topalov is 1.5 points ahead of the field and victory is assured.


  10. Great action from the FIDE Grand Prix tournament in round #5! What is more interesting was the player poll they took on doping. Here is one from Vugar Gashimov:

    Usually during the game I drink only water. Chess, I can say, is a kind of doping itself, even a drug. All grandmasters have become addicts of this wise game since childhood and can’t get rid of it for the rest of their life.

    I suppose chess should be illegal!


  11. Pearl Spring Super-GM (Round #10)
    Topalov wins Pearl Spring!

    Veselin Topalov, winner of Pearl Spring!

    Veselin Topalov

    ended the tournament quietly, but tallied a near-2900 performance. The “nation’s choice” Bu Xiangzhi fell against Vassily Ivanchuk and the tournament featured inspired play in a number of games. Lev Aronian and Peter Svidler ended on a peaceful note.


    Strong chess!
    Congratulations to China for a successful event!

  12. FIDE Grand Prix (Elista, Russia) – Round #8

    Two very interesting games today played at the FIDE Grandprix. Cheparinov-Alekseev was featured a queen sacrifice that was pretty, but not hard to see. The other was a super-complicated Kasimjanov-Akopian game which gets my pick for best game in the round. The final position shows black’s position is totally collapsing with a number of tactical motifs.

  13. 2008 Arab Chess Championships

    SHARJAH – Mona Khaled of Egypt is in commanding position in the Arab Women Chess Championship after taking a full point lead with 3 rounds to go after defeating Hamza Amira of Algeria. Mona is at the top of the table with 5.5 points.

    Results of Round 6 (Men)

    Al-Modiahki Mohamad (4.5) ½-½ Salem A R Saleh (4)
    Amin Bassem (4) ½-½ El Gindy Essam (4)
    El Taher Fouad (3.5) 0-1 Al Qudaimi Basheer (4)
    Bakr Jwan (4) 1-0 Haddouche Mohamed (3)
    Chahrani Ibrahim (3) 0-1 Alhuwar Jasem (3.5)
    Mohammad Farhan (3) ½-½ Khader Sami (3)
    Mohamed Nawfal Karim (2) 0-1 Hussein H A (3)
    Ayyad Husain Abdulgalil Saleh (2) 0-1 Shobaita Talal (2.5)

    GM Mohamad al-Modiahki (Qatar)
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Results of Round 6 (Women)

    Hamza Amira (3.5) 0-1 Mona Khaled (5.5)
    Mouradian Knarik (4.5) 1-0 Latreche Sabrina (4)
    Mezioud Amina (3) 0-1 Mir Mahmoud Afamia (4.5)
    Essa Kulood (3.5) ½-½ Algildah Nibal (3.5)
    Fuad Natalie (3.5) ½-½ Jelda Fatma (3.5)
    Salem Amna (2) 0-1 Basil Ziana (3.5)
    Nouman (2.5) 0-1 Mona(3)

    Source: Khaleej Times

  14. National “A” Chess Championship (Mangalore, India)

    India India India

    Surya Shekhar Ganguly is on top in the National “A” Chess Championship with 4.5/6 and six rounds to go. He is seeking an unprecedented sixth title in a row.

    Source: The Hindu

  15. FIDE Grand Prix (Elista, Russia) – Round #9

    A couple more nice combinations. Dmitri Jakovenko cracked off Rustam Kasimjanov with a nice finish… 34.Rxg7! is cute. Nice skewer tactic! In the other notable game Shakriyar Mamedyarov get his queen trapped in an original way. Vugar Gashimov lured his queen deep into his own territory only to trap in a few moves later. It was reminiscent of a “Venus Fly Trap.” Gashimov and Alexander Grischuk are leading the field on 6/9.

  16. FIDE Grand Prix (Elista, Russia) – Round #11-12

    After a violent 10th round of 5/7 decisive games, Rustam Kasimjanov was the only player to get wins in rounds 11 & 12. Kasimjanov took advantage of Jakovenko’s 63.Qe3? with 63…Nxg3! The standings remain practically the same at the top, but Kasimjanov has dug himself out of the cellar and is at a respectable 50%. Dmitri Jakovenko, Teimour Radjabov and Alexander Grischuk go into the last round with 7.5/12. Jakovenko will play his compatriot Evgeny Alekseev while Radjabov and Grischuk will battle.

  17. Teimour Radjabov, Dmitri Jakovenko and Alexander Grischuk held on to win the FIDE Grand Prix in Elista, Russia. The three winners in this elite tournament were 8/13 for 24,167€ (US$34,367.89) each… Gashimov came fourth and got €15,000 ($US21,331.50)… Peter Leko, Wang Yue, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Etienne Bacrot and Rustam Kasimdzhanov, scored 6.5/13 for €9,000 (US$12,798.9) each… Ivan Cheparinov came tenth on 6/13 and got €6,000 (US$8,532.60)… Evgeny Alekseev and Pavel Eljanov ended on 5.5/13 and got €5,250 (US$7,466.025)…the last two finishers, Vladimir Akopian and Ernesto Inarkiev ended on 5/13 and took home €4,750 (US$6,754.98).


    Grischuk, Jakovenko and Radjabov each ended on 8/13 and won
    a total of €24,167 (US$34,367.89). Photo by FIDE.

    Source: FIDE (

  18. Mamedyarov, Etienne Bacrot and Rustam Kasimdzhanov, scored 6.5/13 for €9,000 (US$12,798.9) each… Ivan Cheparinov came tenth on 6/13 and got €6,000 (US$8,532.60)… Evgeny Alekseev and Pavel Eljanov ended on 5.5/13 and got €5,250 (US$7,466.025)…the last two finishers, Vladimir Akopian and Ernesto Inarkiev ended on 5/13 and took home €4,750 (US$6,754.98).

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