NEW CYCLE, NEW FORMAT, OLD IDOLS
Today, the new edition of the Fide Grand Prix has started with the first of the four legs, taking place in Sharjah. The third largest city in the United Arab Emirates.
The main characteristics of the Grand Prix series are listed below:
- The Grand Prix consists of four tournaments held throughout the year.
- In total there are 24 players participating in the Grand Prix 2017.
- Every player has to participate in three out of four tournaments.
- The best two players in the overall standings gain the right to participate in the 2018 Candidates tournament. Therefore, Fide Grand Prix can be regarded as an indirect qualification for World Championship Match.
The major novelty of the Sharjah Grand Prix tournament is the tournament format. Instead of the usual all play all system, the 18 players will compete in a 9 round Swiss tournament.
I don't know when was the last time that event of such a calibre was held under Swiss system. But as a chess fan I welcome this idea very much, since usually Swiss system discourages playing for a draw. Which means we might be up for more bloodthirsty chess than usual.
Also, the Swiss system means that participation of more players is possible. Which means that we will finally see some relatively lesser known players finally getting the opportunity to compete against the world's elite.
Although New Kids on the Block don't necessarily lead to positive experiences.
Anyway, when asked about their opinion about the format, almost all players welcomed the change. Although we should probably wait for the event to end for a more sober and realistic evaluation of the system.
Game analysis: MICHAEL ADAMS - SALEM A.R. SALEH
Out of the more or less interesting nine games from the first round, I have decided to analyse the game between the English grandmaster and my personal favourite, Michael Adams, and one of the "new faces", grandmaster Salem A.R. Saleh, the number one of the United Arab Emirates, and a strong 2650 grandmaster.
I was very impressed with this game, because it featured a brilliant positional pawn sacrifice. And since positional pawn sacrifices are always hard to evaluate and completely understand for a player like me, I also thought it might be useful from the learning viewpoint to spend some time clarifying and analyzing such a game.
I hope that result will satisfy the reader as much as it satisfied me. Going through Adams' moves was really enjoyable, and also, it is worth noting a beautiful tactical shot Rc8 that he missed in the course of the game.