41st Olympiad Officially Opened

41st Olympiad Officially Opened

| 23 | Chess Event Coverage

The 41st Chess Olympiad was officially opened on Friday evening at the Skarphallen in Tromsø, Norway. Hosted by the city mayor, the evening included musical performances, speeches and the drawing of colors performed by Magnus Carlsen. The first round starts today at 15:00 local time.

Most of the city of Tromsø is located on the small Tromsøya island, located between the mainland and Kvaløya island in Tromsø municipality of Troms county. The airport is located on the western side of the island, the city center on the east, and in between there is a natural reserve area that includes the Prestvannet lake. This picture, taken from the airplane that took the teams of Netherlands, Surinam (and England's Matthew Sadler!) to Tromø, shows some of the beautiful geography:

Because of this geography, all players, officials and delegates arriving need to take buses or cars to reach the city center. Interestingly, the tunnel that goes under the natural reserve area includes a roundabout!

Most of the chess players have seen that roundabout a few times already, since the opening ceremony was held in the Skarphallen, close to the airport. After being dropped off at their hotels, shuttle buses from the center brought everyone back again to the north-eastern part of the island. Some players hardly had time to check out their hotel room (described by some as “smaller than a prison cell”), others (e.g. the Azerbaijani) decided to skip it altogether.

What did they miss? Well, some pretty good musical performances, a fun five minutes of cheering and speeches by the mayor of Tromsø, the minister of Finance and the FIDE President.

Teams arriving for the opening ceremony from all over the world: from Uruguay... China.
Also spotted outside: the team of Kasparov.

Mayor Jens Johan Hjort first came on stage, and welcomed everybody. Wearing his livery collar, Mr. Hjort himself turned out to be the host of the show, which was live broadcast online. An edited version was later shown on Norwegian national TV.

Jens Johan Hjort, Mayor of Tromsø, hosted the show.
The evening started with traditional fiddle music performed by Hekla Stålstrenga, who was supported by the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra.
FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov welcomed everyone on a chess-themed stage...
...which later turned into a spectacular musical show.
The audience was standing up during the FIDE hymn and the Norwegian national anthem.
Inger Biret Gaup performed two Sami joik songs.
Siv Jensen, Minister of Finance: “With Magnus Carlsen as world champion it's kind of fitting to have an Olympiad here.”
There was also a sneak preview of what is a new version of the musical "Chess," which will see its premiere in Tromsø later this week.
The huge audience watching the show...
...and each country cheering when its flag was shown.
Team Norway on stage. Carlsen said he was very pleased to play in an Olympiad on home soil, and was looking forward to strolling along the playing hall and watching some of the lower countries, adding “so beware!”
Carlsen picked a black for both the open and women's sections, so each odd-number team starts with black on board one.
One of Norway's most popular bands, Violet Road, ended the show.

Meanwhile, the pairings for the first round have been posted online. One funny detail is that Russia faces Jordan in both sections. Here are the top 15 boards of the open:

Strongest players | Open section (Top 20)

No. SNo Team Res. : Res. Team SNo
1 87 Jordan : Russia 1
2 2 Ukraine : Tunisia 88
3 14 Norway : Yemen 100
4 89 Zambia : France 3
5 4 Armenia : Japan 90
6 91 Algeria : Hungary 5
7 6 United States of America : Uganda 92
8 93 Guatemala : China 7
9 95 Kyrgyzstan : Israel 9
10 10 England : Wales 96
11 97 Andorra : Netherlands 11
12 12 Germany : Iraq 98
13 99 Puerto Rico : Cuba 13
14 101 Angola : Poland 15
15 16 Czech Republic : Libya 102

It remains to be seen if all the top players will be playing today already (it's a common strategy to not start with the strongest line-up in this event of eleven rounds), and if everyone has made it to Tromsø in time for the first round.

One super GM who won't be seen behind the board on Saturday is Hikaru Nakamura, who has had travel issues due to bad weather conditions.

Many players who have made it to Tromsø have been tweeting about the city, and about that sunlight that just doesn't go away!

On a final note, the following tweet just has to be included in this report as well. Next week the FIDE Presidential elections will take place in Tromsø, and as it turns out, the team of Kasparov has put big posters on buildings and bus stops. His opponent, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has also noticed:  

[Translation: In Tromsø it's already clear to everyone. Kirsan says: “This future of black chess will not happen.”]

The official website is here, and the Olympiad is also on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. will be transmitting a number of top games every round in Live Chess, and we'll be hosting a daily show on reporter Peter Doggers will be present in Tromsø for on-the-spot (video) reports, so stay tuned!

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