Tonight, the 2nd Grand Prix Tournament, SOCHI 2008, has officially been opened by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. At 20.00 hrs, he was the first of a number of officials, including former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, to give a speach to the present guests, arbiters, media and, of course, the players.
Both Ilyumzhinov and Karpov referred to the World Mind Sports Games, which will be held 3-18 October in Beijing, China. Together with Bridge, Go, Draughts and Chinese Chess, the game of Chess (its variants Blitz and Rapid) will be part of the first edition of this “Olympiad of Mind Sports”. It will be an excellent opportunity to once again introduce chess to the world and especially the International Olympic Committee.
Senator of the Krasnodar region Alexander Pochinok and Alexei
Germanovic, Vice President of sponsor Severstal, mentioned an important
detail about the host city Sochi: the fact that the Winter Olympic
Games of 2014 will be held here. Naturally it was a great success for
the city to win the race between the nominated cities. Germanovic,
whose company also sponsors the Russian Olympic team (with Sochi
participants Grischuk, Jakovenko and Svidler), said: “Nobody believed
that Sochi made a serious chance to become an Olympic city. And look
what we have reached. At the same time, nobody believes chess will be
an Olympic sport by 2014, but we will see!”
After the speeches it was time for the drawing of lots, executed by
Chief Arbiter Geurt Gijssen. In alphabetical order the players came on
stage, where they had to pick a football shirt – the number on the back
became their pairings number. This way, the organizers remembered the
great success of the Russian national football team, who defeated The
Netherlands in the quarter finals of last month’s European
Championship. Gijssen, who is a Dutchman himself, couldn’t resist
mentioning the new match between Russia and Holland, scheduled for
August 20. Or should we call it a revanche match?
Back to chess. The pairings numbers of the players are: 1. Svidler,
2. Cheparinov, 3. Gelfand, 4. Radjabov, 5. Grischuk, 6. Wang Yue, 7.
Navara, 8. Ivanchuk, 9. Aronian, 10. Karjakin, 11. Al-Modiahki, 12.
Jakovenko, 13. Gashimov, 14. Kamsky. This leads to the following
pairings for the first round, which will be played tomorrow at 15:00
hrs local time:
Winner of the first Grand Prix, Vugar Gashimov, picking the lucky number of a certain other player from Baku.
After the drawing of lots, a beautiful show was given by local
musicians and dansers, who even managed to get Anatoly Karpov, Ivan
Cheparinov and Viorel Bologan (Al-Modiahki's second) on the dancefloor!
Our video crew have captured the atmosphere of the opening ceremony in the following, first video: