The ACP Masters was opened on Monday, December 7th, in Kivoonim cultural Centre in the city of Ashdod. The players were welcomed by Moshe Slav, chairman of the Israeli chess federation and chief organizer, who said that it is in fact the strongest invitational tournament ever to be held in Israel to be transmitted to the entire world with the the modern Israeli technology of Chess Vision. He thanked the mayor, Dr. Yechiel Lasri, for the town hall continuous support, mentioning that no less than 3500 kids are having chess tuition in 30 chess centres around the city. He awarded the special stamp that had been issued for the 80th anniversary of Israeli chess to the next two distinguished speakers: Oded Forer, member of the Israeli parliament (Israel Beitenu party), said that Israel is a chess power and the government should have done a lot more for developing chess and support Israeli participation in official events worldwide.
Mayor Yechiel Lasri stressed the importance of sports in general and chess in particular for the city, praising the remarkable achievements of the municipal chess club since its foundation in 2003, especially the top team that has won five national championship titles and five times the cup games and the ladies team that has won nine national titles to date.
Following the speeches and the refreshments the qualification games started in both preliminary groups. Three rounds were held in each yet not at the same time. Here are the results of the first day in group A:
Round 1: Jakovenko- Gelfand 0.5: 0.5; Guseinov- Georgiev 1:0; Sevian- Nepomniachtchi 0:1;
Round 2: Jakovenko- Guseinov 1:0; Georgiev-Sevian 0:1; Gelfand- Nepomniachtchi 0.5: 0.5.
Round 3: Sevian- Jakovenko 1:0; Guseinov-Gelfand 0:1; Nepomniachtchi- Georgiev 1:0
Ian Nepomniachtchi, the runner-up in the early tournament rankings is the early leader with 2.5 points ahead of Boris Gelfand and Sam Sevian 2 each; Dimitry Jakovenko 1.5; Gadir Guseinov 1; Kiril Georgiev 0.
Results of the first day in group B:
Round 1: Smirin- Rapport 0:1; Sutovsky- Bacrot 0.5: 0.5; Ivanchuk- Eljanov 0.5: 0.5;
Round 2: Smirin- Sutovsky 1:0; Bacrot- Ivanchuk 0:1; Rapport- Eljanov 0: 1
Round 3: Ivanchuk- Smirin 0.5: 0:5 ; Sutovsky- Rapport 0.5: 0.5 ; Eljanov-Bacrot 0:1
Vassily Ivanchuk, the leader of the early rankings is also the leader of the first day with 2 points, ahead of Smirin, Rapport, Bacrot and Eljanov 1.5 each , Sutovsky 1.
All games may be found in PGN format at the games department of the tournament’s official website and photos in the gallery.
The second day of the preliminary games as well as the tie break blitz matches if needed will be played on Tuesday, December 8th in Kivunim centre. The last two rounds in group A will be played at 13:00-16:00 and in group B at 16.00-19.00.