Friday, 15 August 2014

The Olympiad Trip - Day 18 (the long version)

The final day of the Olympiad started early – with an 11am start to the games, the bus from the hotel left at 8:30 - so there was little time to get sleep the night before, particularly with trying to get some of the packing out of the way.

Once I arrived at the venue, I found I was once again assigned to board 18, which had the Peru v Italy clash this round. On paper it should have been an interesting match, with Italy having about a 150 point advantage on board 1, with Fabiano Caruana playing Julio Granda Zuniga, while Peru had small (roughly 50 point) rating advantages on the other three boards. What eventuated was a massacre, with Peru clobbering Italy 3.5-0.5 … and Italy were lucky to scrape a draw on board 1! I can’t really split the games, so have included all four for Game of the Round!

 Board 18 Matchups for the final round
Boards ready for the players to arrive
Players ready for games to commence

Peru's board 1 Julio Granda Zuniga makes world number 3 Fabiano Caruana look like the lower rated player who struggles to hold a draw!

Board 2 Emilio Cordova turns a fairly equal looking major piece ending into a nice victory

Board 3 Jorge Cori starts slowly, but once his attack gets going, there's no stopping it

Board 4 sees Cristhian Cruz under some early pressure, but he defends well & then overwhelms his opponents with his pieces!

The unfortunate incident surrounding the passing of Karl Meier (mentioned in the previous brief post) deserves some explanation. According to Ian Rogers, Meier's face went red & the arbiter noticed this & went to get some medical attention. Another player also noticed this & ran across the room towards the medical area screaming 'MEDIC! MEDIC!'. The medical staff were quickly on the scene, but the commotion created concern amongst the otherwise very quiet playing hall. Some players & spectators moved towards the commotion to see what was happening & according to Kevin Bonham, at some point someone yelled out 'BOMB!' & this created havoc in the playing hall, with players, spectators & officials running for an exit. Seeing the likes of GM Michael Adams & other top chess players running past me as fast as they could was quite a sight! I stopped the clock of the remaining game (only the Granda Zunica v Caruana game was still in progress at my match) & noticed that the Australian team (who were playing on a nearby board) had just finished (Nisipeanu resigned against Illingworth just as the commotion began) & they were also moving towards the exits, so I joined them. However I only got a few steps when it was announced over the microphone that there was no need to panic, that medical staff were attending & that players should return to their boards. Games were to be restarted as soon as possible. Having said that, the hall was not quiet for the next 30 or so minutes while the medical staff & Ambulance that attended worked on Mr Meier, with the beep beep of the machinery echoing through the playing hall as the games resumed. Eventually although Granda Zuniga was a pawn ahead & pushing for the win, Caruana managed to create some threats against his king & the players repeated the position to finally draw the game.

After the match finished, I headed to the hotel for dinner & caught up with some Aussies on the way – Kevin Bonham (who had my FIDE Instructors card … complete with photo of Nik Stawski! Kevin had said that I looked different in the photo – now I knew why!), Ian Rogers & Junta Ikeda & talked about events of the day & the excellent performances of the Australian teams this Olympiad. I eventually got to the hotel for dinner & sat with Papua New Guineans Stuart Fancy & Shaun Press. As mentioned in the previous post, they talked a bit about Kurt Meier, but mainly discussed what they thought of the Olympiad overall. Shaun lamented the way that FIDE operates & how the system itself had huge obstacles to change, which made it difficult for the Kasparov ticket to get up in the first place. He also complained about how the General Assembly was largely pointless this year, with a quorum not being reached on two of the final days, so that no decisions could actually be made! This was caused by a number of countries being provided with incentives to send a team, along with a delegate who would make the appropriate vote in the Presidential election, however these nations (a number attending for the first time) had little or no interest in the meetings on other days, so simply did not bother turning up, leaving those who had attended frustrated by the situation.

After dinner it was off to the Closing Ceremony, again held at the Skarphallen on the other side of Tromso island. This seemed a bit smaller than the Opening Ceremony & did not seem to have the TV coverage that the Opening Ceremony had. There were speeches from FIDE President Kirson Ilyumzhinov, Tromso Major Jens Johan Hjort as well as a number of songs from a local Norwegian band throughout the evening. The main point of the evening was to award the various prizes for the Olympiad & they began with the Category prizes for both the Women's section & Open section. There were five categories in each tournament & they got the winning team up on stage to present them with their gold medals. One thing that did seem odd was that there was a Category A prize, which was effectively medals for 4th to 6th place! Next was the Board prizes for the Women's & Open sections, with the top 3 all presented with their medals on stage. Following this was the final presentations to the top three teams in the Open & Women's events, along with the Hamilton-Russell Cup & Vera Menchik Cup respectively. There was also a presentation to the best overall result, who received the Nona Gaprindashvili Cup, which was won by China, who won the Open division & finished second in the Women's division – a very impressive result indeed & arguably the crowning triumph of the 'Big Dragon Program' to develop Chinese Chess that was started in the mid 1970s by Dato Tan Chin Nam.

Finally there was a video showcasing Baku, the host of the 2016 Chess Olympiad, as well as the ceremonial handing over of the FIDE flag from the Mayor of Tromso to the head of the Organising committee for Baku.

Australian GM Ian Rogers was in the package of images from the tournament shown before the Closing Ceremony begam
Closing Ceremony ready to begin
FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov speaks
 The FIDE flag
 A local Norwegian band provided entertainment throughout the evening
 Mayor of Tromso Jens Johan Hjort speaks
Norwegian Flag
Women's section divisional winners

Open section divisional winners

Women's board prize winners

 Open board prize winners

 A jubilant China after winning the Open section
 Russia - Winners in the Women's section
 China - Overall winners
 Part of the Baku video package
The FIDE flag is handed over from Tromso to Baku
After such a long day, it was back to the accommodation to pack, before getting a fairly short sleep before the bus to the airport in the morning for the start of my flight home to Melbourne!

Late news: according to news online, another player died after the last round with Alisher Anarkulov from Uzbekistan, who played for the ICCD (Deaf) team, apparently found dead in his hotel room of natural causes on Thursday night. Another tragic death to close what was an otherwise memorable Chess Olympiad.

In a classy finish to the tragic news of Kurt Meier's passing, the game was recorded as a draw (as was his son's presumably unfinished game on board 1) at the venue, however that was later changed to be wins for both Kurt & Peter Meier in a wonderful gesture by their Rwandan opponents.

I'll post a full review of the Olympiad, including some discussion about some issues at the event at a later date, most likely once I am back in Australia (I'm posting this from London while in transit).

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