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3 September 2017

The Funicular Sang and Danced

Start of the World Cup in Tbilisi reported by Eteri Kublashvili

Perhaps the most awaited and entertaining tournament of the year began on September 2 in the capital of Georgia. The knockout, where entry into the Candidates Tournament is at stake, where sudden death matches are played, where yawns cost tens of thousands of dollars, will capture the attention of professionals and fans of chess from around the whole world for one month.

Two years ago the tournament was played in Baku, where the organisers set the highest benchmark for hosting this competition. In an interview to Extra Time, the head of SOCAR Energy Georgia (the company is one of the sponsors for the World Cup), vice-President of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation Mahir Mamedov pointed out that “the sporting intrigue in Baku was extremely exciting, and it is unlikely that it will be possible to repeat that. However, in one respect the World Cup in Tbilisi already surpassed the one in Baku- the composition of the competitors. Apart from Veselin Topalov, all of the world’s strongest chess players will participate. Furthermore, for the first time the current World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, will play. The Norwegian himself was surprised that he was permitted to compete. In principle, the World Champion will be able to influence who his opponent will be during the match. Of course, from the point of view of the appeal of the World Cup, Magnus Carlsen’s participation is beneficial, but from the ethical point of view his participation seems ambiguous”. 

It is true, the attendance of Magnus Carlsen will provide additional intrigue to the tournament and will multiply the public interest towards the competition. But at the same time the Norwegian can prevent multiple strong chess players from advancing to the tournament of candidates. calculated that the Viking’s path could be as follows: Balogun, Dreev, Bacrot, Svidler, Vachier-Lagrave, Kramnik, So.

We should also note that, besides Topalov, Leinier Domínguez, Dmitry Jakovenko and Arkadij Naiditsch will not participate in the World Cup.

Out of 128 competitors, 20 Russians arrived in Tbilisi. On September 1, we flew with Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Daniil Dubov and Anton Demchenko from Moscow on the same flight. The current World Cup holder immediately posted a photo with Kostya Tszyu, who was also flying to Tbilisi on personal business. Whether the force stays with Sergey after this meeting, we shall know very soon.

Apart from the aforementioned Russians, the blue-white-red tricolour will be represented by Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Vladimir Fedoseev, Nikita Vitiugov, Maxim Matlakov, Dmitry Andreikin, Evgeniy Najer, Ernesto Inarkiev, Vladislav Artemiev, Alexander Motylev, Boris Grachev, Alexey Dreev, Mikhail Antipov and Aleksey Goganov.

In the first round, the draw brought together four Russian players: Tomashevsky will play Antipov and Andreikin will face Goganov.

Some participants, like Vishy Anand came to Georgia well in advance. Magnus Carlsen did not advertise his travels on social media, but it seems he arrived on the night of September 2.

Until the final the chess masters will live and play in the Hualing Hotel, built by the Chinese beside the Tbilisi reservoir. It is evident that the territory is only just being developed; currently construction is taking place around the hotel. You’ll be able to see what it all looks like in our gallery underneath the report.

The final will take place in Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi. This is Rustaveli, the centre. This hotel opened last year, the main investor is the Arab company Dhabi Group. Biltmore is made up of two parts- the historical building of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, built in the 1930s, and a modern 34-floor building made of glass and concrete. This combination, for better or for worse, does not surprise anyone today.

The Opening Ceremony was organised in the Funicular Restaurant on Mount Mtatsminda. The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly; the guests socialised and tried Georgian dishes and wine. During the ceremony, speeches were given by the Minister for Sport and Youth of Georgia Tariel Khechikashvili, President of the Georgian Chess Federation Giorgi Giorgadze, President of the European Chess Union and the Chairman of the Appeals Committee of the World Cup Zurab Azmaiparashvili and FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos. The President of FIDE Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is also in Tbilisi, but was not present during the Ceremony. 

The nail in the program were local dances and music. Professional and extremely talented performers made a great impression on the visiting guests.

The Chief Arbiter of the competition Tomasz Delega (Poland) carried out the draw for the colour. World Champion Magnus Carlsen pulled out white. Therefore, the chess masters who are playing under odd numbers will start off the first game of the first round with white pieces.

The matches start at 2 p.m. in Moscow time. Support your favourite chess players with us!

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