September 16, 2010 19:06

Olympiad charter flights changed again

Olympiad charter flights changed againThis week the organizers of the 39th Chess Olympiad had to disappoint many chess federations once more. Yesterday, just four days before many teams would be travelling to Khanty-Mansiysk, the schedule of the charter flights was seriously changed. Again.

We already mentioned the many changes in the Olympiad charter flights in our recent article on the accommodation and transportation issues. To refresh your memory, here's the quote from Ilia Bluvshtein, the father of GM Mark Bluvshtein and in charge of all the organizational elements of the Canadian team going to the Olympiad:

"Delegations had to book charter flights by May 20th. Essentially it meant that delegations had to purchase tickets to European airports at the same time because flights to Europe are linked to charters.

Then without any notification flight schedule was changed in another announcement issued on July 28th. (...) Then without any notification the flight schedule was changed again! The organizers simply changed flight times on the web announcement from July 28th!!! It happened somewhere between July 30th (when I checked previous time) and August 27th (when I found out the new schedule). I know that flight time for charters Khanty-Munich and Khanty-Milan were changed. Probably there were other changes as well…

I know that other Federations are also outraged at all these changes."


You might have guessed it already: this week the charter flights were changed again. We spoke to one of the team captains, who yesterday routinely checked the currently schedule, compared it to his latest information, and to his horror discovered that there were many differences. He made an angry phone call to the Russian organizers, and suddenly fifteen minutes later the following email was sent to hundreds of players, captains and others (in CC, not BCC):

From: []
Sent: wed 15-9-2010 12:14
CC: hundreds of email addresses
Subject: changes in the charter flight and charters briefing

Dear friends!!

Please, find attached the changes in official charter schedule and charters
briefing, where you can find all the necessary information about
charters. If the are some problems at airports, you can contact ACS
Representatives, whose contacts you can find in charters briefing.

The Organizing Committee of Khanty-Mansiysk hopes for your
understanding and wishes you good flight!

Best regards,
OC Khanty-Mansiysk

This email had three Word documents as attachments; two containing letters with flight details, and one with the new changes. The latter we copy below.

This document already had the many changes marked in yellow, but it's not immediately clear what exactly were the changes. For this we need to know the previous "final" charter times, as put on the FIDE website and in the news section of the Olympiad website ("Dear Chess Friends!") about two weeks ago. Here's a copy:

If we compare the two schedules, we can make the following conclusions:

  • The Milan-Khanty flight on September 19th leaves an hour later.
  • The first Munich-Khanty flight on September 19th leaves an hour later.
  • The second Munich-Khanty flight on September 19th leaves an hour later.
  • The Prague-Khanty flight on September 19th leaves an hour earlier.
  • As Alexei Shirov notes in the comments, the first Moscow-Khanty flight on September 20th leaves 16 hours (!) earlier. He later adds: OK, they changed it back (also changing the airport but organizing a free transportation) to 3 AM on 20th, also totally ridiculous but maybe lesser evil...
  • The first second Moscow-Khanty flight on September 20th leaves two hours and fifty minutes earlier.
  • The second third Moscow-Khanty flight on September 20th leaves one hour and 35 minutes earlier.
  • The first Khanty-Munich flight on October 4th leaves one hour later.
  • The Khanty-Milan flight on October 4th (at 0.00) now leaves 24 hours (minus 5 minutes) later, on October 4th at 23.55.
  • The second Khanty-Munich flight on October 4th (at 04:35) now leaves 24 hours (minus 5 minutes) later, on October 5th (at 04:30).

Some changes are minor, but some changes are significant. This will no doubt result in less time for changing flights for many teams, or much more, which brings extra costs for hotel rooms. Besides, a big number of players will have to stay an extra day in Siberia after the Olympiad and cancel appointments or even ask for an extra free day at their day jobs.

By the way, we also discovered that the current flight numbers for a Khanty-Moscow flight and a Khanty-Dubai flight on October 4th are the same: U63437. Therefore we won't be surprised if more changes will be announced.

The local organizers in Khanty-Mansiysk keep on giving the same reason for the changes: "The airlines are making these changes, not us." With several different airlines involved, this sounds hard to believe, but they might be right. We were told that the Khanty-Mansiysk airport is very small and so it's a big challenge to match the slots with those of bigger airports, such as Milan or Munch. Which brings up the question why the Olympiad is being held there in the first place.

What is clear is that both the organizers and FIDE are lacking communication skills. They have repeatedly told chess federations that the charter times would be final, while they were never in the position to make such promises.

Or, as Shaun Press put it:

It is as though the organisers of the 2010 Olympiad have decided that the whole thing will run much more smoothly if there are no players to deal with.

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Septimus's picture

People need to start pulling out of this Olympiad. It is turning out to be a bad joke.

The management is giving the city and its citizens a really bad name. Somebody should be fired for gross incompetence. I find it hard to believe that transportation is such a huge issue here. Surely, if travel is difficult by air, you can always travel part way by land (say 100-200km)??

If I were the government, I'd step in and take charge. Reputations are at stake.

Sergio's picture

Next we have to wait for the organiser to change the dates or maybe the year of the Olympiad.

Alexei Shirov's picture

There is an important addition to your report. The flight from Sheremetyevo on 19th of September leaves 16 (!!!) hours earlier and I was an a****le to be on that flight, of course planning to be still sleeping in Riga at the time the plane leaves. :)

Peter Doggers's picture

Aha, that must be the one originally scheduled 0:05 on the 20th which didn't have a flight number. I added it to the report. Thanks Alexei, and good luck getting there...

Thomas's picture

Maybe Anand doesn't participate because he is afraid of yet another long road trip? :)

Alexei Shirov's picture

OK, they changed it back (also changing the airport but organizing a free transportation) to 3 AM on 20th, also totally ridiculous but maybe lesser evil...

Michael Yeo's picture

The Prague -Khanty flight on 19th now allegedly takes only 165 minutes (allowing for the 4 hour time difference) which seems unlikely as Concord is no longer in operation.
One has to guess that it is the arrival time that they have got wrong.

Colm Daly's picture

This really is getting silly. I booked my flight only a few days ago on the basis that the later I leave it the better!

So confident that there would surely be no more significant changes I booked the return for the evening of OCT 4th at about 2030 [munich time] so that even if there were delays of several hours coming back from Siberia I could still get my flight back from Munich to Dublin no problem.

Now all of a sudden they say = ah no it will be a day later! So instead of departing October 4th it is now October 5th

What am I, or people in a similar position, supposed to do? Maybe book a ticket for several days of that week, just in case?

It is very disappointing and actually makes you wonder is it really worth all the hassle, and you end up thinking, to hell with it, and consider going on a two week holiday in the sun instead.

Shaun Press's picture

It is worse if you are travelling through Dubai. They have shifted one of the flights from the 19th to the 20th of September, meaning everyone who booked to arrive on the 19th now has to spend an unscheduled night in Dubai.

Luca B's picture

The mistake was at the origin, in choosing such a place for the Olympiad.

Everybody knew the airport was small since the beginning, and the rest was easily predictable. Maybe this will be a nice wake up call for federations and players. Time to stop repeating the usual leitmotiv "let us just play chess".....

test's picture

Shaun Press, just noticed on your website this article: FIDE looking to buy into the New York Real Estate Market.

"MOSCOW - The eccentric Russian head of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) on Thursday announced a 10-million-dollar bid to buy the site of a controversial mosque project near Ground Zero in New York."

You couldn't make stuff up like this. I'm starting to believe he wasn't just kidnapped by aliens, but replaced by one.

Clifford's picture

An extra day in Dubai on the way over is not a disaster (except for those without visas) but leaving KM a day later will mean that dozens of players miss their connecting flights home. Still, I guess that is after the Olympiad is finished - and the election decided - so FIDE and the organisers don't have to worry about this.

calvin amari's picture

For the glory, honor, and prestige of chess and, above all, out of consideration of the convenience and needs of participants, the masterminds at FIDE select as the site for the Olympiad ... Outer Siberia! This was a joke right from the start and presumably, as always with Ilyumzhinov, a decision based on lining someone's pockets. I can hardly wait for the next chapter: if this isn't a complete and utter fiasco (but merely the significant fiasco that it already is), the FIDE sleaseballs will be patting themselves on the back so hard they will practically knock themselves over.

Bert de Bruut's picture

This is just in: all tickets will be valid to board Ilyu's private UFO. Problems solved!

Kerry Liles's picture

FIDE is incompetent.

Felix's picture

I'm interested in the email addresses. Please contact me.

:) :) :)

LMedemblik's picture

As long as someone feeds the fire it stays hot.

Stewart Reuben's picture

Actually the decision to hold the Olympiads in Khanty-Mansiysk was made by the delegates democratically in Turin in 2006. It was a very close-run thing against Montenegro. Buenos Aires, Poland and a Baltic state also bid. K-M offered much more money at the time. I held the proxy vote for England and have never heard of any bribes relating to this matter. Remember several major events, albeit much smaller, have been held in K-M.

Stewart Reuben

CAL|Daniel's picture

you would pass on Poland and Buenos Aires for SIBERIA?!?!

My god I would love to see Norway win their bid attempt. Or the USA or CAN to put a bid forward. Just get it away from SIBERIA.

jussu's picture


Oh come on, you sound as if Siberia were on Moon. Holding a major event outside Europe or North America is not unheared of, this particular one is just horribly organised.

CAL|Daniel's picture

Perhaps you forget but Siberia's history is as one of the worst places on this Earth. So yes, holding an event on the MOON would be better. I think the problem is there are so so few major events held in NA and EU compared to third world places most can't find on fing maps or rather would not wish to go to for all the king's marbles. What is the last real event that has been in NA outside of the US Championship? Probably the FIDE KO in Vegas? Btw, since you obviously aren't aware, Buenos Aires is in South America.

jussu's picture

You can blame many things on the organisers in KM but hardly the lack of interest in NA to organise the Olympiad, which has been mostly held in Europe (where chess has at least some popularity), and very rarely in Asia (where it seems to be more popular). What does Siberia's bad history stand for, beats me; it is one area of notariously low population density but if there is a city there wanting to hold the Olympiad then I don't see any a priori reason why should it be deprived of this honour.

noyb's picture

Final nail in the coffin for Kirsan. Yet another in a long line of FIDE failures.

Mikhail Golubev's picture

Good luck everyone.

CAL|Daniel's picture

I love it. You want no place in South America, North America or Europe to hold the Olympiad because they of their location yet you do not want Siberia to be not considered for the same reason. You are clearly not using logic sir.

The main reason for chess lack of popularity is its lack of organizational ability. You would think for a major event like this that you would NEVER change such essential details once they have been disseminated to all the participants. You would certainly only accept bids where you could be assured of enforcement on key issues like HOTELS BEING BUILT. My god, are such things just ignored by organizers and fide officials? Well to be sure, sponsors will continue to ignore chess as long as thats the case.

Zong-Yuan Zhao's picture

I am coming to the olympiad in Khanty via Dubai. Looking at the 2 timetables posted above I noticed that U63467 (1st flight leaving Khanty to Dubai after olympiad) leaving Khanty to Dubai on 4th of October has beened shifted to 14:30 (instead of originally at 12:00). This 2.5 hour time change means I will miss my connecting flight from Dubai back to Sydney in Australia.

Also as someone else has pointed out above there is also a Khanty-Moscow flight with the same flight number U63437, does this mean that there is a mistake somewhere?

jody overland's picture

This ridiculous example of FIDE incompetence should finish Ilyumzhinov and pave the way for Karpov. A messed up Chess Olympiad is a small price to pay if it assures the demise and replacement of Ilyumzhinov. Put another way, the state of disarray of the current Olympiad proves that FIDE desperately needs new leadership.

lefty's picture

CALIDaniel you're absolutely right- Let's hope that soon western corporations will just take over chess as a way to access new demographics- it would be so cheap for a company like google to start sponsoring major events and turn Palo Alto or NYC into the center of global chess. Its impossible for me to imagine that it's a struggle for chess organizers to come up with a few million dollars for a major event like the world championship when i watch ten times that spent on minor events for more popular sports in america (tennis, golf, college football).'s incredible to comment on the same thread as Shirov and Golubev. Damn I love chessvibes!

jussu's picture


I thought it was you who had a list of locations where the Olympiad should not be held. I don't. Neither do I hold the title of sir - the Queen of England has quite certainly never heard about me. Thank you all the same.

Hotels being built is a matter of promises. Has always been - even the Olympic Games are never assigned to places where the entire infrastructure is already in place. So as I see it, it would be entirely alright to give the Olympiad to some base in Antarctis, as long as they give reasonable guarantees that they are actually able to hold the event. KM did give such guarantees, they have just failed to fulfill their promises.

Geoffrey Hollis's picture

Don't want to worry any participants, but the official site has little to say on Venue and Transportation. Clicking on the links for these menu items produces absolutely nothing. You can get greetings from the organisers though, and a rather good artist's impression of the main hotel.

ChessInquisitor's picture

It is not clear who is more at fault, FIDE or the local organizers. Could these disruptions be a conspiracy by FIDE to disadvantage teams and delegates that will vote for Karpov rather than Kirsan?!
An olympiad with no players may be fine for FIDE, but even better would be an assembly without dissent!

Thomas's picture

In fairness to Siberia, they can't do anything about remoteness and climate. They regularly organized the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk - here one may wonder why it's always in the same place and why it's held in winter, but it might be part of the reason why delegates as Stewart Reuben had confidence or at least "benefit of doubt" that KM could also handle a bigger event as the Olympiad. Siberia underestimated the task, this could also happen to other potential organizers.

Jussu correctly pointed out that infrastructure is hardly ever available years in advance - indeed, construction work only starts if the bid is successful. There were similar issues about the football World Cup in South Africa - not about getting there, but regarding infrastructure and security - some people were quickly saying "I told you! Don't give such an event to Africa!" and in the end things went rather fine. OK, regarding the Chess Olympiad there isn't much time left ... .

bernd's picture

I'm sick of major events held in remote places with next to no spectators apart from the chess press being present. This is completely ridiculous. How does anyone want to attract sponsors, improve the image of chess, increase number of players etc and still hold events on the moon?
Good: Dortmund, Bonn, Mainz, Bilbao, London, Sofia, Monaco, Moscow,
and of course any capital city ...
Bad: Elista, Khanty, Jermuk, Astrakhan, ....

Time to get rid of Kirsan.

Chris's picture

My theory is that they are trying to reduce the numbers attending so as to fit the available hotel rooms.

Unless they are delaying people attending until they finish building the hotels.

WGIFM's picture

As far as as I know Earth is approximately ball-shaped, and therefore geographically speaking there are no peripheral and central locations on its surface. It is politics, economy and culture what marginalizes places like Siberia, and people living there. I am pretty sure that fighting against metropolitan culture, and legitimsed inequalities is something many of us support. Bad organization work rather than Kh-M. is what makes this Olympiad rather shaky and unconvinient for players.

I think it is better to stop vining about the location and let us hope the best for Chess and Siberia.

LMedemblik's picture

All players will play in a camp surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by men in uniform with a large barking dog and they will wear gloves and scarves against the cold and their meal will consist of dry bread with water and sleeping on a wooden board with splinters .
So exactly the right conditions for performance!

bernd's picture

WGIFM: It is not about "marginalizing" locations. Imagine the "normal" sports Summer or Winter Olympiad held in, say, Khanty. Ridiculous, right?

Big sports events need an appropriate location, which people can easily reach, and which has supporting infrastructure like hotels, public transport and all that.

Thomas's picture

I wouldn´t call bernd a racist, IMO this was the wrong term from Shirov (not a native English speaker after all). Nor is he anti-Russian, because he considers Moscow a "good" place. It's rather Euro- or even Germanocentric, if Dortmund, Bonn, Mainz (and Bilbao) are considered "good", while any Russian or "Soviet" city but the capital seems bad ... .
Makes me wonder:
- did you "forget about Dresden" (your list is obviously incomplete), or is it already too far east? :)
- What about Linares and Wijk aan Zee? I would say dedication and experience of local organizers, as well as interest from the local audience matters more than the size of the city or village.

@WGIFM: Lillehammer vs. Atlanta - well said, in line with what I suggested before: small places aren't necessarily bad places, and big places aren't necessarily good ones. It may indeed be easier to organize major events in small or medium-sized places: shorter distances to be covered, more visibility, less competition from other activities.
On a Dutch scale: While the two events aren't quite comparable, Corus in Wijk aan Zee has more visibility and attracts more spectators than NH in Amsterdam. Not that an Olympiad could be organized in a small seaside village ... :)

Daaim Shabazz's picture

I will miss my first Olympiad since 2004. I had already nixed this because of the reports given back in December of 2009 and July of 2010 about the accommodations. This issue with charter flights is ridiculous.

Alexei Shirov's picture

I didn't know that rasists such as Bernd (and not only him) liked chessvibes. By the way, Khanty hosted a lot of World Cup competitions in biathlon and theoretically could organize many other winter sport events, OK maybe not the whole winter Olimpiad but only because there are no mountains.

CAL|Daniel's picture

Dear Shirov,

Clearly you agree there is a difference between a place hosting 64 participants such as the World Cup and a place hosting 1200 participants such as the Olympiad. The amount of infrastructure needed is different.

Thomas's picture

Of course "big" Olympics have to be held in big cities with major airports, but - compared to such events - the Chess Olympiad is still a small-scale event. It should even be easier to create new infrastructure in a small place surrounded by lots of empty space. True, major cities already have hotel infrastructure, but it's continuously in heavy demand for other activities (life goes on while some 1200 people are playing chess! :) ).

So the problem isn't that the Chess Olympiad is held in Siberia, the problem is that the organizers had difficulties building a few hotels, and cannot properly handle eleven charter flights - noone could anticipate this when their bid was honored.

BTW, this is probably the biggest but not the first major chess event held in a remote place. As Buenos Aires was mentioned: a world championship was rather held in San Luis (800km to the west), and a world junior championship in Puerto Madryn (roughly same distance to the south?). No big deal once you have arrived, playing conditions (or rather conditions between rounds) may actually be better than in a busy and noisy capital?
Regarding spectators: most people watch via the Internet anyway, actually Khanty-Mansiysk has the advantage that it's in a fairly convenient time zone for chess fans in Europe AND Asia ... . Of course it's nice to see people like Shirov in person every now and then - I got several chances at Corus, he probably also has fans in Khanty-Mansiysk ... .

Alexei Shirov's picture

Agree or disagree I will draw conclusions after it ends and not before it starts.

CAL|Daniel's picture

fair point. I look forward to hearing your opinions (I hope mostly on your games!) after the fact.

Good luck Alexei! I hope you do well.

Michael's picture

Final foting: Siberia - Montenegro coast 71:64. Delegates want Siberia? Please!

bernd's picture

Mr Shirov, with all respect, a "racist" is somebody who has prejudice about people, not places. I'm sure Khanty has many nice people. I wish you all the best getting there, playing some good chess, and returning safely.

noone's picture

Racism is reality. ---rest deleted---

Please go somewhere else if you want to go this far with your comments.

WGIFM's picture

@ Berndt

I remember the very well organizted winter Olympic games in Lillehammer (not so well known location) and a tragically weak organization in Atlanta.

So the location do not define the quality of the event at all IMHO.

tiger's picture

I suggest Las Vegas as a venue.

caissa's picture

First Munich-Flight today have been changed to 3 pm.


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