In September 2008, the eyes of the global chess community were on the World Women's Chess Championship in the city of Nalchik. Once again, the world's leading chess players have gathered in the very centre of the North Caucasus in southern Russia.
The opening ceremony of the Men's World Chess Championship Round 4 began in the Music Theatre of the Kabardino-Balkarian capital Nalchik on 14 April. The President of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria Arsen Kanokov, the Head of the Republic of Kalmykia and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov inaugurated the tournament. The Nalchik Grand Prix attracted 14 top world chess players, including the Chess World Cup winner Gata Kamsky (USA), 2007 World Championship bronze medalist Boris Gelfand (Israel), the winner of the super chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee Sergey Karyakin (Ukraine), former FIDE world champion Rustam Kasymzhanov (Uzbekistan), 2005 World Chess Cup winner Levon Aroyan (Armenia), former blitz chess world champion Vasily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) and top grandmasters Peter Leko (Hungary), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Etienne Bacrot (France), Vladimir Akopyan (Armenia) and Pavel Elyanov (Ukraine).
"Nalchik is ready to host the FIDE Grand Prix," declared the Assistant to the FIDE President Berik Balgabayev following the pre-tournament review carried out in Kabardino-Balkaria. "We have visited the players' accommodation facilities and the tournament venue. Nalchik is completely prepared for Round 4 of the FIDE Grand Prix Chess Tournament. I am confident the games will be well-organised, as they were during the 2008 World Women's Chess Championship," he said. In terms of its participants, the Nalchik Grand Prix is rated on average above the Dutch Corus Chess, Wijk aan Zee, but according to Mr Balgabayev, its rating is slightly below the chess tournament held in Linares, Spain. "The Nalchik event is classified as a category 20 tournament and all games above category 19 are considered super-tournaments," noted Mr Balgabayev.
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