Chess Olympiad, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Us Gold Medal, Magnus Carlsen Tweet, Bermuda party, Hotels and food, playing hall and security.
The Olympiad in Baku - Azerbaijan , The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Every two years the brightests minds meet to play representing their teams. However, in any event there is the the Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The US won the Gold Medal at the Olympiad in the Open Section. This is great news for all the americans and followers who have been waiting this moment since 1976 which was the last time the US team achieved this accomplishment. The team was: GM Caruana, GM Nakamura, GM So Wesley, GM Robson, GM Shankland and the coach was GM Lenderman. Silver medal was for Ukraine and the Bronze medal was for Russia.
Photo credit: Maria Emialonova
The bad and the ugly?
Magnus Carlsen Tweet.
Norway did a fantastic job finishing in a fifth place. However, the world champion questioned the US team. On his twitter he stated:
Apparently, Magnus disminishes a bit or a lot the US Gold medal since Caruana, an Olympiad ago, was playing for Italy and So used to play for the Philipines. Caruana was born in the US and then he moved with his family to Italy. He represented Italy many years until last year he decided to play for the US. I don´t have doubts that the fact that Rex Sinquifield sponsorship to chess (professionals, outreach chess programs...) has something to do with So´s and Caruana´s decision. However, it is legal to change your federation and represent another country even if you were not born in it. It is ethical? Well, many can argue that Caruana had support in Italy.. not only economical but he also had a large vast of fans over there. On the other hand, in order to become world champion maybe he tought he will need more economical support or he simply decided he felt more american. So, had complaints about the support of the Philipines chess federation and he was pursuing a university career in the US... then he decided to play for the US. In any case, So and Caruana were not the only GM playing for another country different to the one they used to represent. GM Naiditsch was representing Azerbaijan and he used to represent Germany. GM Bareev was representing Canda and not Russia. At the end, the hands who build up America are not only natives but also immigrants. Sorry, Magnus... chess is the games of Kings not the game about xenophobia.
The good - Playing Hall
It is worth to mention that the playing hall (Crystal Hall) was impressive. The playing hall at the last Olympiad in Tromso - Norway was dissapointing and one of the main reasons was that it has portable toilets. Another reason was the lack of air conditioning and the playing hall was more like a storage than a venue for the brightest minds. Crystal Hall in Baku was large enough, good light, it had free coffee-water and I was glad to see a few sponsors such as Turkish Arilines, Lavazza, Mega Insurance, Milla etc. At the end, this is a sports event and corporate sponsor is a main part of the game.
The playing hall was astonishing but I didn´t see too much spectators, wich was a surprise considering that chess is one of the main sports in Azerbaijan. I wonder if the tickets were expensive or if the security mneasures (like in an airport) made many spectators to show up to the playing hall.
The hotels were nice but the food was repetitive and not even 3 star hotel food . I was staying at Crown Hotel 4 stars but I heard same commentaries from other chess players regarding the food. To make things worse, my friend GM Vocaturo from Italy got food poisoning and even went to the hospital. On the bright side, the food in Baku city center was delicious and not so expensive.
Besides miniatures, incredible endgames and forced mates... chess players know how to party. The Bermuda party was scheduled to the night before the rest day. It was amazing the work that people put in organizing such event. The venue Elektra Hall was huge and had different halls. A terrace where jazz was played, a chillout bar, and a dance hall. I was really surprised with the chess animations while the dj was playing... also there was chess pieces hanging on the roof (that was a nice detail). Instead of checking the pics.. why you don´t check the video ?
THis was my 4th Olympiad. First one was Dresden 2008, then Istanbul 2012, then Tromso 2014 and finally this one. Overall, I think that the Baku chess Olympiad was the best one I have been. I specially liked the playing hall and the bermuda party.I must mention that Balu is a lovely city and people were really welcoming... there were a vast numbers of volunteers doing in most part an excellent job, taxi drivers who were always happy to give a ride, excellent food restaurants and a city who supported a major chess event. Also, finally after 3 Olympiads, I managed to do a good performance. Here is one of my best games against an IM 300 points higher than me.