Sharjah GP: Opening Ceremony

by Albert Silver
2/18/2017 – The new FIDE Grand Prix cycle is about to start, and the first event will take place in Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates at the Sharjah Cultural and Chess Club, the world’s largest chess club. There are four events in all, but innovating on the previous system of a series of round-robins, this time 24 players in all will participate with 18 in each event playing a nine-round Swiss. Here is all the Opening Ceremony report with all the info.

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The time control in the GP tournaments is 100 minutes for the first 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move one.

The first leg, in Sharjah, will be held February 18 - 27 (with a rest day on the 23rd) at the Sharjah Cultural & Chess Club. The first prize is €20,000; the total prize fund is is €130,000. 

2017 Grand Prix Participants

#
Name
Elo
Rank
1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
2796
5
2 Levon Aronian
2785
7
3 Hikaru Nakamura
2785
8
4 Anish Giri
2769
10
5 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
2766
11
6 Ding Liren
2760
12
7 Pavel Eljanov
2759
13
8 Pentala Harikrishna
2758
14
9 Michael Adams
2751
16
10 Ian Nepomniachtchi
2749
17
11 Peter Svidler
2748
18
12 Alexander Grischuk
2742
20
13 Ernesto Inarkiev
2723
28
14 Boris Gelfand
2721
29
15 Li Chao
2720
30
16 Evgeny Tomashevsky
2711
34
17 Teimour Radjabov
2710
35
18 Dmitry Jakovenko
2709
36
19 Francisco Vallejo Pons
2709
38
20 Richard Rapport
2692
50
21 Alexander Riazantsev
2671
77
22 Salem Saleh
2656
99
23 Hou Yifan
2651
105
24 Jon Ludvig Hammer
2628
128

Each leg will see 18 of the 24 participants playing. The 18 who will feature in Sharjah are:

2017 Sharjah GP Participants

#
Name
Elo
Rank
1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
2796
5
2 Levon Aronian
2785
7
3 Hikaru Nakamura
2785
8
4 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
2766
11
5 Ding Liren
2760
12
6 Pavel Eljanov
2759
13
7 Michael Adams
2751
16
8 Ian Nepomniachtchi
2749
17
9 Alexander Grischuk
2742
20
10 Li Chao
2720
30
11 Evgeny Tomashevsky
2711
34
12 Dmitry Jakovenko
2709
36
13 Francisco Vallejo Pons
2709
38
14 Richard Rapport
2692
50
15 Alexander Riazantsev
2671
77
16 Salem Saleh
2656
99
17 Hou Yifan
2651
105
18 Jon Ludvig Hammer
2628
128

Sharjah is the third largest and third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and alone contributes 7.4% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates. The 2016 edition of QS Best Student Cities ranked Sharjah as the 68th best city in the world to be a university student. In fact, aside from the prominent University of Sharjah, which offers 15 masters degrees and four PhD degrees, it is home also to the American University of Sharjah, with degrees that are also accredited in the United States through the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Sharjah is also regarded as the cultural capital of the UAE.

Needless to say, temperatures there can reach extreme highs, with a peak average of 42 C. (108 F.) in July. However in February, it is nowhere near this, and is the coolest period of the year, with a much more palatable average high of around 25 C. (77 F.).

In spite of these excellent cultural credentials, readers may wonder whether there is any direct connection with chess. Indeed there is. In 2013, The Sharjah Cultural and Chess Club was established by Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, the ruler of Sharjah, and was officially opened on March 28, 2013. It is in fact the largest chess club in the world.

If you'd like to read more on it, be sure to check out the article we published in 2014 by Anastasiya Karlovich.

The largest chess club in the world

7/27/2014 – The United Arab Emirates has many landmarks that are famous around the world, including the tallest man-made structure, the Burj Khalifa, the world's biggest mall, the Dubai Mall, and the JW Marriott Marquis, the world's tallest hotel. Therefore it should come as a no big surprise that it is now home to the largest chess club in the world. Big illustrated report.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony was attended by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, head of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Social Development, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE President, Al Sheikh Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Mualla, Sharjah Cultural & Chess Club Chairman, Ilya Merenzon, CEO of World Chess, representatives of the sponsors, Sharjah Chess Club VIP guests, Sharjah Chess Club members and the large number of media.

FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov explains his goal of one billion chess players

The ceremony was attended numerous dignitaries

Finally the players were brought on stage

Jon Hammer, Alexander Grischuk and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave chat while they wait

As the highest rated player in the group, Maxime was selected to choose the color. He chose white.

There then followed a variety of cultural acts

One of the most intriguing and entertaining was a man who came on stage doing finger painting

He painted four canvases with odd black shapes that seemed to have no purpose

When he was done, this is what the audience saw. He then proceeded to the back.

He moved the four pieces around, and suddenly they formed a puzzle in a portrait of Magnus!

The result of the drawing of lots yielded the first round pairings below:

Round 1 on 2017/02/18 at 15:00

Bo No Ti. Name Rtg Pts. Result Pts. Ti Name Rtg No
1 1 GM Vachier-Lagrave M. 2796 0   0 GM Li Chao B 2720 10
2 11 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2711 0   0 GM Aronian Levon 2785 2
3 3 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2785 0   0 GM Jakovenko Dmitry 2709 12
4 13 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2709 0   0 GM Mamedyarov Shak 2766 4
5 5 GM Ding Liren 2760 0   0 GM Rapport Richard 2692 14
6 15 GM Riazantsev Alexander 2671 0   0 GM Eljanov Pavel 2759 6
7 7 GM Adams Michael 2751 0   0 GM Salem A.R. Saleh 2656 16
8 17 GM Hou Yifan 2651 0   0 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian 2749 8
9 9 GM Grischuk Alexander 2742 0   0 GM Hammer Jon Ludvig 2628 18

Live Commentary

AGON is offering exclusive pay-per-view video of the games and live commentary. It comes in three packages: a one-time $10 fee just for Sharjah GP, a full package of all the events in the World Championship cycle for $30, and a $250 package, which is the same as the $30 Base but comes with signed posters from each event.

For more information, see the widget on the main page.



Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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vinniethepooh vinniethepooh 2/18/2017 07:19
Chris in St Maur, they have used world two times. Funny, didn't notice that before.
fons fons 2/18/2017 06:06
And another tournament in a questionable regime.
daftarche daftarche 2/18/2017 04:47
what has hou achieved to deserve to be in grand prix?
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 2/18/2017 03:43
while hammer is included , why not adhiban or vidit gujarati????
ChessHulk ChessHulk 2/18/2017 01:56
"For more information, see the widget on the main page". No idea where/what that is.
Justjeff Justjeff 2/18/2017 01:11
Chris - the world just hasn't produced a chess club located off Earth yet. But when this is done it will be the world's largest chess club not in the world. I think that's how it works.
Chris in St Maur Chris in St Maur 2/18/2017 12:29
There is something wrong with this phrase.
Can you find it ?

"the world’s largest chess club in the world"
Frederic Frederic 2/18/2017 12:13
The rules say AGON nominates "nine players with published ratings of at least 2700 in classical, standard chess (or 2600 for former men and women national or world champions)." Further: "Each player will play in three of the four tournaments. Players must rank their preference of tournaments once the final list of cities is announced and the dates are allocated to each city. FIDE is not obliged, but will endeavour to respect the players' preferences, and will balance the player allocation to a host city according to objective criteria such as average tournament rating, and continental representation. Once the players are allocated, FIDE reserves the right to transfer players from one tournament to an other within the cycle if required due to exceptional or unexpected circumstances. " -- https://www.fide.com/FIDE/handbook/FIDE_GP_Regulations_2016_2017.pdf.
rohitraj_iit rohitraj_iit 2/18/2017 11:10
Originally press release included name of Wei Yi instead of Hou Yifan. What hapened
blitzterminator blitzterminator 2/18/2017 10:36
FIDE is too generous to Hou Yifan. But they just get what they need eventually.
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