After the Olympiad

After the Olympiad

| 37 | Chess Event Coverage

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.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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