Opening Ceremony of FIDE Grand Prix Sochi 2008 Print
Thursday, 31 July 2008 11:37
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The 2nd Grand Prix Tournament, SOCHI 2008 is being held from 30 July to 15 August in Sochi, Russia. The Tournament has officially been opened by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on 30 July 2008. 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.

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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.

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Winner of the first Grand Prix, Vugar Gashimov, picking the lucky number of a certain other player from Baku.

After the drawing of lots, beautiful show was given by local musicians and dancers, wo even managed to get Anatoly Karpov, Ivan Cheparinov and Viorel Bologan (Al-Modiakhi's second) on the dancefloor!

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Here are some other photos from the opening ceremony:

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