After the Olympiad

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 8/18/14, 7:39 AM.

Two chess players died on the last day of the Olympiad. Also on the last day, Garry Kasparov published a statement regarding the FIDE Presidential elections. He lost to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who was congratulated by none other than Vladimir Putin.

Some players immediately picked up chess again, but not all were successful. Here's an update on different types of chess news right after the Olympiad.

Two Deaths
It was probably a remarkable coincidence, and surely a sad end to the Olympiad: two players died on the final day. This was mentioned at the end of our final report, and in the meantime more details have appeared.

The player of the Seychelles team who collapsed during the last round was 67-year-old Swiss-born Kurt Meier. He received first aid in the playing hall and was brought to the hospital, but didn't make it. 

Later in the evening of the same day, another player taking part in the Tromsø Chess Olympiad was found dead in his room at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Tromsø. This was 46-year-old Alisher Anarkulov from Uzbekistan, who played for the International Chess Committee of the Deaf team at the Olympiad.

In the official press release the Olympiad organizers expressed their condolences, and so did FIDE the next day on its Web site. would like to join them; our thoughts are with the families.

Meanwhile a column by Stephen Moss titled “Why chess is really an extreme sport” received mixed comments. won't join this debate, but instead here's one of the many tweets that came out in the past few days:

Presidential elections
The FIDE Presidential elections, won by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, were covered in this article. On the last day of the Olympiad, three days after the elections, the Kasparov team issued a statement on its Web site. A quote from that:

“The sad conclusion is that working hard and having big ideas and investing millions of dollars for the global development of chess all has very little to do with winning a FIDE election today. It was this disastrous situation that my team and I set out to change.

"I was never naïve, of course. I knew from the beginning that chess politics, especially in FIDE, had been steadily taken over by people who have little interest in the success of chess and chess players, but only in expanding their own power. I hoped that there was still a chance for a coalition of reform-minded federation leaders and others tired of broken promises and stagnation to reach a winning number of votes. The fact is that we fell far short and the result demonstrates that the rot is even deeper and more widespread than I believed back in October, or even on the morning of the election.”

The winner of the elections was congratulated by none other than the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, that other big opponent of Mr. Kasparov. It was published on the FIDE website:

“The election victory was a convincing evidence of the high esteem of your fruitful activity as the President of FIDE, well-deserved reputation in the global chess community. Largely thanks to you and your energy, competence, good knowledge of what you are doing - FIDE increases its uniting potential, makes a serious contribution to the organization of major tournaments and Championships, does much to the popularization of chess in our country and abroad.”

The telegram of Mr. Putin

Other elections
Mr. Ilyumzhinov was not the only winner in Tromsø, as there were more elections than just for the FIDE presidency. It was already mentioned here that Zurab Azmaiparashvili of Georgia defeated Silvio Danailov of Bulgaria to become the new president of the European Chess Union (ECU). Lewis Ncube became the president for Africa, Jorge Vega remains the president of the Americas and Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nehyan is the name for Asia.

The full ticket of Mr. Ilyumzhinov includes Georgios Makropoulos (deputy president), Abraham Tolentino (general secretary), Aguinaldo Jaime (vice president), Martha Fierro Baquero (vice president), and Adrian Siegel (treasurer). 

The nominated vice presidents are Khalifa Mohammed Al-Hitmi (Qatar), Israel Gelfer (Israel), Yang Junan (China), Boris Kutin (Slovenia), Gulkiz Tulay (Turkey). The elected vice presidents are Herbert Bastian (Germany), Andrey Filatov (Russia), M. J. Kambuzia (Iran), Beatriz Marinello (Chile), and D.V. Sundar (India).

During the press conference of the winning Russian women's team on Thursday in Tromsø, Russian Chess Federation (RCF) President Andrei Filatov repeated his earlier statement that “it would have been nice if the organizers had offered apologies and flowers to the Russian women's team.” 

On Monday, the RCF distributed a press release in which it is stated that the Olympiad organizers have now apologized:

“The Norwegian Chess Federation (NCF), one of the organizers of the World Chess Olympiad in the Norwegian city of Tromsø, has apologized to the Russian Chess Federation (RCF) and Russian national team for the situation that occurred one week prior to the start of the Olympiad in which the Russian women’s national team was not permitted to take part in the competition.

"In a letter sent to the RCF, the Olympiad organizers expressed regret that this misunderstanding could have affected the preparation of the Russian chess players. The authors of the letter congratulated the Russian national team on its victory and expressed hope for further fruitful cooperation.

"For its part, the RCF accepted the apologies of the Olympiad organizers. Thus, the conflict that arose just before the start of the tournament may be regarded as fully resolved.”

All this was about the turmoil just before the Olympiad, when the names of the Russian women's team weren't submitted before the deadline. This way the Russians gained more time to arrange the transfer of Kateryna Lagno from the Ukrainian to their own federation. Lagno played board one for Russia, who won its third gold in a row.

Natalija Zhukova of Ukraine, who won the individual gold medal (board four), didn't mince words when asked about the situation. 

“Getting rid of the parasites is always painless. Well, love cannot be forced. If she doesn't want to play for Ukraine, why do we need such people? We didn't communicate at the Olympiad, she avoided it. Cleansing is always for the better.”

This was reported by xsport (translation: Chess-News).

Back to chess
Some Olympiad participants are taking a well-deserved rest before going to their next gig, but others immediately returned to the chess board! For instance, Erwin l'Ami might have lacked some energy for a simul he had scheduled:

The Turkish league is under way as we speak, and for instance Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Pavel Eljanov, Ding Liren, Wei Yi, Ivan Cheparinov, Alexander Ipatov, Eltaj Safarli, Dragan Solak, Marie Sebag and Salome Melia are playing.

Another big event currently under way is the Riga Technical University Open. Held for the fourth time in the Latvian capital, the tournament is stronger than ever with players such as Alexei Shirov, Richard Rapport, Hrant Melkumyan, Eduardo Iturrizaga, Igor Kovalenko, and Daniel Fridman. After a gruelling Olympiad and a day of traveling, the top seed went down against a much lower rated player:

But Shirov won in round two, and so he's back on track. But for GM Sam Shankland the tournament is already over. After winning the individual gold medal (board five) in Tromso with 9.0/10, things went quite differently for him in Riga.

Shankland escaped with a draw against a 2200-player in round one and then lost to another 2200-player. Having dropped 13.2 rating points already, the U.S. grandmaster decided to call it quits.

19668 reads 50 comments
4 votes


  • 2 years ago


    With Ilyuzhinov's "win" Soviets yet again gain control over FIDE. Oh, right, they call themselves "democrats" nowadays. That makes no difference as we all know what they are - corrupted SOB's, nontheless. As to Ilyumzhinov, he trumps them all by his association with a real criminal case (homicide).

  • 2 years ago


    @Tarjei: There is a large spectrum from "it was horrible" via "it was bad",  "it was at least better than Istanbul 2012" (which doesn't mean much), "it was OK" to it was good or fantastic. For anyone, it depends on how he weighs different aspects, what he expects and a bit also on things beyond control of the organizers. For example, the Ukrainian team captain blamed Ivanchuk's bad play on the playing conditions - a statement affected by Ivanchuk's bad play but probably not by sympathies for Putin or Ilyumzhinov.

    What people tell you (part of the organization or at least perceived as such) may also depend on their degree of diplomatic politeness.

    As to Peter Doggers' blog, shortening "slightly above average" to "above average" says something about your debating technique - and even if he had said "fantastic", it would be just one opinion. Peter wrote "it cannot be denied that Tromsø was simply too small for what ended up as the biggest ever Olympiad. ... When you have to lodge a few dozen arbiters 70km away from the playing hall, something went seriously wrong! [so much for "no one had problems finding hotel accomodation in Tromso" - true, no one who had to be there needed to sleep in a tent] The playing hall was OK, but not great. ... the toilets were a serious problem. Half-way the organizers had received so many complaints, that they were forced to hire more cleaners."

    On the plus side, he liked Tromso and surroundings and praised the NRK media coverage with " “guerilla style” interviews, where are charming blond reporter put a microphone under a top chess player's chin, a few minutes before the game would start!" In Wijk aan Zee, I had the chance to ask at least one player questions shortly before the round but didn't do it. I may be charming (up to others to judge), but I am neither female nor blond Cry.

  • 2 years ago


    What strikes me the most is the attitude of Norway towards the Russian female team. What is the bad thing that the Russian female chess team did to Norway? Why playing such "games" by refusing to register them? It shows not so good things about the charecter of the people involved.

  • 2 years ago


    @inselschaker I didn't say " complaints about playing conditions are unfounded" either. What I am saying is that people too easily jump on the bandwagon and that there were many opinions on the conditions in the playing hall. The people I spoke to weren't as negative as the impression is when reading this commentary field.

    "probably would have been difficult to find hotel accomodation"

    This is the problem with you, that you keep assuming things that you don't know anything about. What you are saying is simply untrue. The accomodation problem was solved when the organisers rented private apartments for some of the teams. To my knowledge, noone had problems finding hotel accomodation in Tromsø.

    "But Chessbase must have been there"

    Yes, if you read carefully, you can see that their reports were written by Alejandro Ramirez. Peter Doggers also wrote a much more balanced and thorough review of the event on his saying it was "above average".

    "They probably also talked to other top players on and off the record, and didn't simply make up "the top players complained ..."."

    Yes, "they" may have, although I start to wonder seeing things such as "almost everyone complained that the rooms were too small". What does that mean? Who? There was one hotel that had very small rooms. 

    "What about the official website" - are you kidding me? 

    I suppose that last sentence wasn't clear, but I was trying to focus on the Olympiad's news coverage, which surely must've been one of the best in recent events with daily reports, lots of photo galleries, interviews, videos and so on. The official website had no down-time and worked perfectly during the event. The same can't be said for for example Istanbul 2010. 

  • 2 years ago


    @Tarjei: replace "all was fine" with "complaints about playing conditions are unfounded". True, some people commenting here (including myself) haven't been to Tromso - time and money were issues as far as I am concerned, and it probably would have been difficult to find hotel accomodation. But Chessbase must have been there - they had their own live coverage with Kramnik joining the show, so it wasn't produced from Hamburg. They probably also talked to other top players on and off the record, and didn't simply make up "the top players complained ...".

    "What about the official website" - are you kidding me? Would you expect them to criticize, or be wholly objective about their own event? News coverage from other sources (not just Russian ones, but as mentioned also Chessbase) was mixed.

    "The Expo area, the VIP lounge and the mixed zone also got a lot of praise." - you forgot to mention the opening ceremony ... . Working conditions for journalists also got mixed responses from people that have been there, and in any case all this couldn't compensate for apparent deficiencies of the playing hall.

  • 2 years ago


    Albena Bulgaria would have been the dream place. They have long tradition of organizing chess events.

    Too sad organizers didn't perform as they should. Maybe in the future Organizers have to be rated and if underperforming they should pay penalty for not complying to min. standards.

  • 2 years ago


    It would be funny but is tragic (people die). In the 21st century top sport event organizers doesn't known how to ventilate a room (or hall).

  • 2 years ago



    I never said "all was fine". There will always be things that could've been done better in a big event like this. There will be varied opinions when you have so many players from so many different cultures at the same place. Some players said they didn't like the playing hall, but in fact I spoke to at least one experienced top player who said the playing hall was really good. The Expo area, the VIP lounge and the mixed zone also got a lot of praise.

    It is funny that the opinions here (in general) come from people who did not attend the actual event. What about the official website, the live coverage and the news coverage?

  • 2 years ago



    "Stinking toilets and stall air in playing hall might be just top of iceberg."

    Stinking toilets? How many public toilets have you been at that actually smell good?

    "Hysteric "security" where people have to wait from 30 to 45 minutes just to get in?"

    This is simply not true. As has become rather normal in Chess Olympiads, players simply do not show up in time before round 1. Because "everyone" showed up quite late, there was a delay of round 1 of 15-20 minutes. That was the last time there were any problems with the security checks.

    In Istanbul 2012, the problems were much worse, especially in round 1.
  • 2 years ago


    According to Chessbase, playing conditions were on average OK: "The playing hall was not the best. The top players were consistently complaining of the lack of air circulation... but they were oblivious that the bottom boards were too close to the exit, had too much wind coming in and were therefore too cold to play in!".

    As I wrote before, Pogonina and Barsky went too far by ascribing the death of players (who probably played close to the exit ...) to the playing conditions, but Tarjei's 'no one told me, so all was fine' doesn't seem to be the whole story.

  • 2 years ago


    Lagno/Zhukova is a touchy situation.  Zhukova is fearless, but don't expect Lagno or any of the Russian players to return fire out of respect to GM Alexander Grischuk (Zhukova's husband).  Similarly, Natalija would be wise to drop the issue before Alex gets involved.

  • 2 years ago



    yeah, I thought it was strange you didn't know but I thought perhaps you didn't realize while replying

  • 2 years ago


    @pdela Yes, I know he is the husband of Pogonina. But he was saying it was "widely reported" that there were terrible playing conditions, so I would like to know what he is basing that on.

  • 2 years ago



    His wife plays for Russia.

    Anyway, there may be different opinions about how well the organization was. But because of respect for the person who died I think you can not use his death as a weapon against the organization, that line shouldn't been crossed. Obviously he didn't died because the main hall conditions weren't good enough

  • 2 years ago


    @Peter_Zhdanov I am not sure if you were actually present in Tromsø? I would like to know more about the supposed "widely reported terrible playing conditions"? What are your sources? Who did you speak to?

    I spoke to many people who were present in Tromsø, and also published interviews with some of the top players. None of them said anything such as "terrible playing conditions". In fact they were in general quite satisfied.

    Yes, some pointed out the toilets, and the air in the playing hall, but this is hard to avoid when you have 3000 players and others in the same place. 

    In general, the problem with the toilets was that they weren't cleaned regularly enough and that they weren't marked. This issue was adressed, and the organization increased the cleaning personell from 2 to 8. To my knowledge, there were fewer complaints after that.

    You implying that Tromsø was responsible for a player dying is just not worth any further comment.

  • 2 years ago


    Peter_Zhdanov lesson #1, don't mess with IM Pfren!

  • 2 years ago


    @IMPfren I am not sure if I should even be wasting my time on rude trolls like you who call others "braindead" and "sockpuppets" for no reason. If you had the ability to think logically, you would probably recall that it was widely reported that the playing conditions were absolutely terrible: crowded halls, stuffy air, stinky biotoilets, etc. Many participants claimed they had health problems due to having to endure such an environment for hours. One of them actually had a heart attack and died during the round. Did you get it now, or should I repeat it slower and in more detail?

  • 2 years ago


    @pdela, adarkhorse: As impfren commented in an earlier thread, the problem most likely wasn't Norway but Tromso - a relatively small and remote/isolated city. Best illustrated by the unintentionally funny response of the organizers to complaints about toilets: first "these are the best ones available in northern Norway", then "they were shipped in from Malmo". People are now bashing Russia (true, Pogonina and also Vladimir Barsky in his final report for the RCF homepage went too far), what about Aronian? Asked by the orgnizers about the organization, he said "OK but not perfect" - coming from him this seems a textbook diplomatic poisoned pawn compliment!?

    During the bidding procedure, conditions in a still to be constructed/converted playing hall cannot be assessed, but other aspects such as quantity of toilets and hotels have to be specified in the bid. Did Tromso make misleading statements or false promises? Possible, Istanbul had made false promises for the 2012 Olympiad. Were the delegates blinded by the undisputable beauty of Tromso and its surroundings, and/or by the undeniable Carlsen hype? Did the competing bid from Albena, Bulgaria have substantial weaknesses?

  • 2 years ago

    IM pfren

    @ pdela: Lagno and Zhukova have personal issues- serious ones, at that. I guess more about that will be known rather soon.

  • 2 years ago


    "knowing Norway, I can't hardly believe the organization could be that bad"

    That's exactly the problem. A self content over estimation of own abilities. But even though Norway is a great country, they suck at organizing chess events. Olympiads are never perfect but this one had financial problems AND widespread complaints about the playing hall by participants of all nationalities.

    Saying that Norway is too good for that is just wishful thinking.

Back to Top

Post your reply: