As seen in Aronian vs Kramnik on day 3, the opening was e4 which Levon Aronian rarely plays. It later turned into the Berlin variation.

The article from FIDE says

Francesco Tristano, a classical and experimental pianist from Luxembourg, made the ceremonial first move for the round. By chance, it was in the game between Aronian and Kramnik, and he started with 1 e4, a move that Aronian almost never plays.

Why did FIDE allow Francesco Tristano to open for white in Chess Candidates tournament 2018? What if the person chooses a "relatively" bad opening like f3 or h3?

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f86OTmsnI1c


It is very common in top tournament that a local celebrity or other people who like attention such as politicains, people from FIDE, etc, make the ceremonial first move. This is purely for the photographers, and of course it is perfectly fine to take back this move and make your own move.

In the game you mention however Aronian chose to stick with 1. e4 which is of course also an option. I don't think that Aronian was in any way influenced by the choice of Francesco Tristano, i.e. he would have played 1. e4 anyway.

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    That's right. After hearing the commentators closely, i learnt that the e4 move could have been taken back. – ABcDexter Mar 13 '18 at 19:24
  • It is definitely allowed, and common, to take back the ceremonial first move and play the one you want. Aronian had planned to go 1.e4 in this game, and Francesco Tristano's choice had no influence whatsoever on the game. – Evargalo Mar 14 '18 at 8:23
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    @Evargalo I always assumed that Aronian just informed Tristano earlier that he'd prefer 1. e4. – Myungjin Hyun Mar 17 '18 at 14:36
  • @HarryWeasley that also happens. I don't know how exactly it was done in Berlin, but at least in Kramnik said in his comments that he was expecting Aronian to take back 1.e4 – Evargalo Mar 17 '18 at 14:41

Having a celebrity make the ceremonial first move of a chess match is a PR thing, similar to a ceremonial first pitch in baseball. It got interesting when Mikhail Gorbachev made the ceremonial first move in an exhibition match between Anatoly Karpov and Judith Polgar in Lindsborg, Kansas, in 2005, and then insisted that Karpov leave the move 1.g4 on the board:

President Gorbachev arrived at 4 p.m. and they were ready to start. Anatoly had white in the first game. Therefore, President Gorbachev would make the first move for Anatoly. As he arrived at the board, he told the audience that this is a wonderful match between two great champions. “I am going to cause some difficulties for the older player”, he said, then proceeded to play 1.g4 without asking Anatoly. Both Anatoly and Susan looked up at President Gorbachev in shock. Anatoly thought that the President was joking as Anatoly mentioned that he would like to make another first move. But the President was firm in saying there is no take back in chess. Then the players started their first game.

This was probably the only time Karpov ever played Grob's Attack.

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