Olympiad preview: so how are things in Khanty-Mansiysk?

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
OlympiadToday the first round of the 39th Chess Olympiad starts at 15:00 local time (11:00 CET, right now in fact). The colourful pictures from the opening ceremony might have given a different impression, but not everything went according to plan so far.

Especially after our worrisome article about the accommodation and transportation of the Olympiad, and the follow-up about the continuous change of the charter flights, we suspect you'll be curious how things are in Khanty-Mansiysk on this morning of the first round.

The good news is that everything seems more or less fine with the hotels. Most of the players are staying in the "Olympic", where only double rooms are avaible, but they're said to be quite spacious. Most teams from Western countries chose different hotels were they could book single rooms.

The weather was excellent on Monday, when most of the players arrived. It was sunny and about 18 degrees, good conditions for a stroll to explore the city or, in the case of the world's number one, buy some orange juice. Today it's a bit colder.

Many teams have reached Siberia rather smoothly. At arrival they all received a welcome bag with some bread, nuts and accreditation passes. They were met by a personal assistant. Sometimes this turned out to be a young English language student, recruited at the last minute by the organizers, as there weren't enough volunteers.


Teams arrive in Khanty-Mansiysk - some still carrying a Chess Informant


GM Zahar Efimenko - board 4 (!) for Ukraine


Team captains Evgeny Bareev and Pavel Tregubov

Not everyone was lucky, though. We were told that a number of teams got stuck at Dubai airport, so we have to wait and see if everyone will arrive in time for the first round. Romania will not be there in time; in fact they won't be in Khanty-Mansiysk at all, due to a financial dispute with the federation - just like with Germany's top players. India's stars Viswanathan Anand and Humpy Koneru won't play either, and we've already covered Vugar Gashimov's sad case. It's great to see Jan Gustafsson showing such solidarity and collegiality for the Azeri at his brand new website.

Captains meeting

Before the opening ceremony last night the traditional Captains meeting took place. The most significant rules this year are:
  • the zero default rule is in operation again;
  • there will be no restrictions on draw offers.
Luckily, the Zero default rule is being applied with a little more flexibility. As Shaun Press explains, the round will not start until the Chief Arbiter announces the start, giving her the right to delay the round in case of problems with players reaching the hall. Players who are at the table before the start but have to leave before the game starts (usually for a medical reason) can receive permission from the match arbiter to do so.

The draw offer rule is quite surprising as it means that players can now offer a draw at any time. However, the chief arbiter keeps the right to change the result to 0-0 in the case of 'pre-arranged' games.

Russia: eight teams

The Captains meeting included one big surprise: the Russian Chess Federation will be represented in this Olympiad with no less than eight teams. The ladies play with three, the men with five.
Russia in the Open section: Russia 1: GMs Vladimir Kramnik (2780), Alexander Grischuk (2760), Peter Svidler (2731), Sergey Karjakin (2747), Vladimir Malakhov (2725) Russia 2: GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi (2706), Evgeny Alekseev (2691), Nikita Vitiugov (2709), Evgeny Tomashevsky (2701), Artyom Timofeev (2690) Russia 3: GM Dmitry Jakovenko (2726), GM Alexandr Motylev (2694), GM Sergei Rublevsky (2683), IM Aleksei Pridorozhni (2556), GM Nikolai Kabanov (2500) Russia 4: GMs Sanan Sjugirov (2627), GM Alexei Bezgodov (2485) IM Vladimir Genba (2445), Ilia Iljiushenok (2412), IM Valeriy Yoshan (2408) Russia 5: IM Pavel Potapov (2464), FM Alexander Kopylov (2438) Sergey Savitskiy (2373), CM Daniil Yuffa 2235 and GM Evgeny Prokopchuk (2522).

Russia in the Women section: Russia 1: GM Tatiana Kosintseva (2573), IM Nadezhda Kosintseva (2565), GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, (2524), IM Alisa Galliamova (2482), WGM Valentina Gunina (2465). Russia 2: WGM Natalija Pogonina (2491), WGM Olga Girya (2414), WGM Anastasia Savina (2404), IM Anastasia Bodnaruk (2399), WGM Alina Kashlinskaya (2358) Russia 3: WGM Baira Kovanova (2370), WFM Mariya Bezgodova (2170), Svetlana Bezgodova (2120), Yekaterina Kabanova (2177), Aysilu Yakupova
Some captains protested to this strange situation, but to no avail. They received the remarkable answer: "FIDE has decided this and we can't do anything about it." This must have been a decision by the FIDE President himself, as there certainly hasn't been a meeting with the federations where it was decided.

Normally an organizing federation gets two teams in the open section, and three with an odd number of countries. It seems that FIDE immediately gave Russia three, then a fourth when there appeared to be an odd number, and then a fifth when again there appeared to be an odd number!


The strong, young team Russia 2


World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk is board 3 for Russia 1


The highest rated Russian: Vladimir Kramnik

Photos courtesy of FIDE, more at the official site

More info

The 39th Chess Olympiad takes place September 20th – October 3rd at the Tennis Sport Development Center in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. 148 teams (735 players) in the Open section and and 114 teams (559 players) in the Women section will participate in the biannual event.

Each team consists four players and one reserve. The rate of play is 90 minutes for 40 moves and then 30 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move one. The pairings of round 1 are now up: the Open section here, the Women section here.

The pairings system was explained by Shaun Press at the Chess Rules blog:
Firstly, acceleration is out. So the pairings start with 1 v (N/2)+1 etc However Match points remain for pairing ordering and placing. The team ordering for pairings has been changed from the Olympiad SB system, to a simpler method. The ranking is now Match points, then game points and finally Team rating (as defined at the start of the tournament). Pairings will be done in the order of top down to just above middle, then bottom up to just below middle, then middle. Pairings with a pairing group will revert to top v (N/2)+1, rather than top v bottom. The pairings will also try and have top half v bottom half wherever possible. This is more achievable than under the normal swiss rules, as colurs in teams events is less important, and will not be an overriding criteria. For colours, not team can have a colour imbalance >2 or >2 colours in a row. However teams that both have a +1 (or -1) colour imbalance already can still play each other. Colour allocation will follow the equalisation, then alternation system.

If you want to see a full description of the system then it is published here in the FIDE handbook.
Below that is the official schedule for both the Olympiad and the FIDE Congress, which is held at the same time in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Chess Olympiad & FIDE Congress 2010 | Schedule
Chess Olympiad & FIDE Congress 2010 | Schedule


We'll continue adding links during the Olympiad. If you're missing one, don't hesitate to mention it in the comments!
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