Kick off of the second stage of the Grand Prix in Belgrade

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High expectations

A very successful first event in the Grand Prix series in terms of entertainment value means chess fans expect to see yet another high quality fighting tournament. The new format, with a preliminary phase and a knockout phase, seems to be here to stay, as a high-risk, high-reward approach seems to be best suited to achieving the knockout in the 4-man double round robin prelims. – only one player makes the cut in each pool.

Of the sixteen participants who will play in Belgrade, nine will make their debut in the series, including household names Anish Giri, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

When drawing lots to decide who will play in each pool, the organizers place the four highest-rated players in different groups, then move on to the players ranked 5th through 8th, who are also placed in different groups, and so on. Given the strength of the participants in Belgrade, French star Vachier-Lagrave falls into the second group (as the 5th seed) and is expected to face Mamedyarov in the preliminaries.

Belgrade FIDE Grand Prix 2022

All ready to organize the second stage of the Belgrade Grand Prix | Photo: Mark Livshitz

While MVL and Shakh will struggle from the start, the player with the best performance in Berlin and participating in Belgrade is Richard Rapport. The Hungarian grandmaster reached the semi-finals in the first leg, where he was knocked out by eventual tournament winner Hikaru Nakamura. For Rapport, reaching the semi-finals in Belgrade is unlikely to be enough to claim a place in the Candidates, given the way Grand Prix points are awarded in the series.

  • Winner – 13 points
  • Finalist – 10 points
  • Loser in the semi-finals – 7 points
  • 2nd pool – 4 points
  • 3rd pool – 2 points
  • 4th in pool – 0 points

As we see above, reaching the semi-finals twice in the series is only 14 points, which is an almost impossible score for the finalists of any of the three events not to exceed.

Five Russians in the mix

For Alexander Grischuk, Nikita Vitiugov, Dmitry Andreikin, Vladimir Fedoseev and Alexandr Predke, adding GP points is probably not a priority at the moment. The Russians will be playing with the uncertainty of whether they will be allowed to participate in future tournaments in the back of their minds.

Major sports organisations, such as FIFA and UEFA, have already banned Russian teams from participating in any event ‘until further notice’, while the International Olympic Committee has recommended no participation of athletes and officials Russians and Belarusians.

In addition, professional chess players, like any other Russian citizen, have to deal with the consequences of financial sanctions that weigh on their country’s economy.

For now, as announced by the FIDE Council a few days ago, we expect to see no Russian flags on display in Belgrade:

Following the IOC’s appeal, the FIDE Council decides that no Russian and Belarusian national flags will be displayed or anthems played in all FIDE-rated international chess events. Instead, the flag of the national chess federation or the official symbol/logo must be used. A simplified procedure for playing under the FIDE flag would be followed where crucial for players or any other chess official in the current geopolitical situation.

World Chess, the organizers of the series, decided to change its logo to a peace sign to show support for Ukraine and call for an immediate ceasefire.

Vladimir Fedoseev

Vladimir Fedoseev | Photo: World Chess

The swimming pools

A 16-man event, the tournament consists of a group stage followed by a semi-final and a knockout final. In the group stage, participants compete in four double round robins, with only the winners of each group qualifying. The semi-finals and the final consist of two classic matches, plus tiebreakers if necessary.

Pool A

  1. Alexander Grischuk (Russia), 2764
  2. Dmitry Andreikin (Russia), 2724
  3. Sam Shankland (USA), 2708
  4. Etienne Bacrot (France), 2642

Pool B

  1. Anish Giri (Netherlands), 2772
  2. Nikita Vitiugov, (Russia), 2726
  3. Pentala Harikrishna (India), 2719
  4. Amin Tabatabaei (Iran), 2623

Pool C

  1. Richard Report (Hungary), 2763
  2. Vidit Gujrathi (India), 2727
  3. Vladimir Fedoseev (Russia), 2704
  4. Alexei Shirov (Spain), 2704

Pool D

  1. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), 2767
  2. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France), 2761
  3. Yu Yangyi (China), 2713
  4. Alexandr Predke (Russia), 2682

Belgrade FIDE Grand Prix 2022

Full tournament rules (PDF)…

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