Days after Russia won bronze at the World Championship and his hockey season officially ended, Alex Ovechkin let loose in his home country. And by let loose, I mean Ovechkin attended a Russian chess match in his finest black polo shirt.
On Wednesday, Ovechkin was invited to the highly-anticipated Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk tie-break at the FIDE Grand Prix. A celebrity guest of theCentral Chess Club, Ovechkin made the ceremonial ‘first move’ before the match officially started.
Think a ceremonial faceoff in hockey, but for chess.
Ovechkin moved one of the tan-colored pawns forward.
After his daring advance, Ovechkin was asked by the assembled chess media if he was nervous.
“Of course,” Ovechkin said to sports.ru as translated by RMNB’s Igor Kleyner. “I asked what’s a better move. They told me, ‘move further,’ and that’s the move I made.”
According to Ovechkin, he’s actually a somewhat advanced chess player and plays frequently.
“During the Worlds, we were constantly bickering with Evgeni Malkin because he was always helping whoever I was playing against,” Ovechkin said. “We aren’t really grandmasters. We’ll play as we can. It’s always interesting.”
While at the event, Ovechkin took pictures with fans and signed autographs.
Chess.com gives a great rundown of the tournament.
The 2019 FIDE Grand Prix series consists of four knockout tournaments, with 16 players each, who play two classical games per round and if needed a tiebreak on the third day. The remaining three Grand Prix tournaments are Riga/Jurmala, Latvia (July 11–25), Hamburg, Germany (November 4–18) and Tel Aviv, Israel (December 10–24).
Each of the four tournaments has a prize fund of 130,000 euros ($145,510). Prizes for the overall standings in the series total 280,000 euros ($313,405), making the total prize fund of the series 800,000 euros ($895,444).
Ian Nepomniachtchi defeated Alexander Grischuk in the second of two tiebreak games.
During his big chess day, Ovechkin also visited the Russian Chess Federation Chess Museum where he marveled at the many chess exhibits.
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