September 21, 2010 18:08

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

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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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


hanseman's picture

It will be great to see Topalov back on his horse again.

LMedemblik's picture

I wish the Dutch team all the best and I hope van Wely wil not be too distracted!
(See Volkskrant of 20/09/2010)

Mehul Gohil's picture

The official site sucks. Keeps crashing. Cannot watch my Kenyan team playing live. Not like other olympiads where live transmission had no probs. Hope they fix this.

David's picture

Which is the best site to follow all the games live&free?

Bert de Bruut's picture

It's not only the sheer number of Russian teams that is peculiar, but especially the strength of the first three: Russia1 tops the ranking, Russia2 is 4th, after Ukraine and China and before Hungary, Russia3 is 14th, right after England and the Netherlands and before Poland and Spain. So Russia is apparently seriously competing for taking prizes 1-3!

Marcel's picture

Just as I expected : live coverage of the official site is hopeless. When will the chessworld ever learn?

Eiae's picture

Go Germany! Show what playing for your country means.

Will be interesting to see how Vietnam will do this time, they were the surprise team in the top last time, if I remember correctly.

Septimus's picture

Eight Russian Teams? You have got to be joking...
Well, if it is a free for all, I want to play too! I may not win a single game, but I sure as hell can take a lead-pipe to the knee-cap.

That aside, pretty sad to see the German A Team not present.

Official site is up and works fine for me.

Grischuk - Collins In progress
Sviedler - Lopez 0-1
Karjakin- Heidenfeld 1-0
Kohlm- Mahlakov 0-1

Frits Fritschy's picture

There must be something wrong with the offical site, because I saw Jan Smeets lose to Munoz... or not? (oops!)

Meppie's picture

If the site is right, Smeets must be crying now. Adams offered a draw (just?!) in time.

Bud's picture

Maybe not the Informant but the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings vol. A.

Frits Fritschy's picture

And South Africa, get your vuvuzela's: Kenny Solomon draws Mamedyarov!

Voor's picture

Go Netherlands!

Daaim Shabazz's picture


I'm definitely covering the Olympiad. Just can't be there this year.

Daaim Shabazz's picture

The multiple teams for Russia could end up hurting them.

LMedemblik's picture

@Marcel: Its not the Chessworld who is responsable for the transmission.
I think the local IT people are and they suffer probably of (inter)national dataspeed via cabel or air and bottlenecks when thousends of people login at the same time on the same server.

LMedemblik's picture

En oh ja...Smeets moet eens wat beter zijn tijd leren indelen :-)

Castro's picture

Once again Fide breaking their own rules, right?
Maybe one should figure, in the future, that some countries (besides GB!) sould have more than 1 (or 2, being organizing) playing. But doing soarbitrarely is unacceptable.

As for draws, glad to see no rule restritions on that, other than those fairly, honest and sportly demanded (no anoying your opponent, preferently not on his time, note it on your sheet...).
So, the editors words

"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."

are (sign of the times?) absolutely midplaced!

"Surprising"? Why? Because not following the Sofia/London modern "classic" stupid fashion?
"At any time"? Doesnt this candidate to mislead people?
"However"? Of course -- as always -- the arbiter not only "keeps the right", but also MUST punish any confirmed unsporting behaviour!
Soooooooo unnecessary distortion!

Castro's picture


ebutaljib's picture

So the stars aligned and Israel was paired with an Arab country. I was already beginning to doubt the legitimacy of the pairing through the years, since there was no occassion where Israel would be paired with Arabs. But now they finally were, so maybe it was just a coincidence through all these years.

As expected, Yemen refused to show up for the game against israel.

I know that there will be absolutely no consiquences (other than a 0-4 loss), but in my view ANY team that refuses to play another team should be immediatelly expelled from the competition, and probably from the next one or two Olympiad's also!

Shame on Yemen, and shame on FIDE!!!

ebutaljib's picture

P.S.: "If you don't want to play, then you don't get to play."

Septimus's picture

Why are Topalov, Kramnik and Carlsen not playing?

Lee's picture

@ebutaljib: Expel Yemen and Russia must add another team (9 total) to make it even :) !!

ChessGirl's picture

I agree that Yemen should have played.

Septimus, not all players play all rounds. Probably team captains considered that Bulgaria and Russia could win without Topalov and Kramnik, about Norway with Carlsen I don't know, probably the same, though it was a closer win.

Castro's picture

I'm sorry, I dont have an anti-jew view or anything, but why "shame on Yemen"??
Any country not recognizing another MUST act acordingly! Expeled (or other measure) they should be, but ONLY IF nobody was precedentely aware of the arab-israeli problem, and if NO special measures was taken regarding Israel in sport events (and others). And those measures (some more ridiculous than others) are, in fact, being taken. FOR DECADES!

So, "Shame on Yemen" is at least as easy and as vane as saying "Shame on Israel"! As for FIDE, the same: They use to do what everybody else use. Here, for some reason, they didn't. If the reason is simply FIDE fault, maybe then "Shame on FIDE", but for that alone!

If stritly de jure and world wide recognized nations were allowed, maybe Israel would have much more problems...

Castro's picture

Against most opinions, I say Yemen should be given 4 points at this moment.
Everybody knew in advance they wouldn't play, as everybody knows in every sport!
It was a failure in the pairings, whomever is the responsible (FIDE? Or some irresponsible orders from above? :-) )

Castro's picture

Ah! And if anybody wants the ideal situation of harmony, and no country allowed to refuse playing, etc., like I do, please accept that FIRST we must have the Israel problem solved, or else it would never have been put participating in international events in the first place, lots of years ago (that is, before recognition from it's neighbours was reached).

Alisher's picture

Where is Morozevich?

Vesco's picture

Leave politics out of sports. All teams should play, no questions asked.

ChessGirl's picture

I am totally against Israel´s attitude towards Palestina, etc., but the whole point is that this is chess, not politics. Sports Olympiads are supposed to be the grounds in which political differences can be overcome se people see each other as sportsmen and humans, and Yemen´s attitude goes against that spirit. Okay, Israel is doing something wrong? Prove yourself better than them! It´s always the same, I´m a Basque so I know what I´m talking about.

Nima's picture

If a team does not want to play against another, that is their right. The consequence is that they get 0-4. Don't get too excited with shame on this and expel that.

ebutaljib's picture

It's a chess competition. It has nothing to do with politics or other mumbo jumbo. Yemen and all other Arab countries knew that team Israel is also participating, so if they don't want to play against them, then mybe they shouldn't take part. Politics has nothing to do in sport competitions. If I understood Castro right, then he is in favour of tempering with the pairing procedure so that Israel doesn't get paired with Arabs. Are you nuts?!

I repeat: ANY team that doesn't want to play with opponent it has been paired up should be expelled and banned from future competitions to prevent these cases and to give them a sign that this is unnaceptable. But I know this is too much to ask for from FIDE.

I hope Israel gets paired up with Arabs in round 2 and 3 also, so that everyone will see how stupid and unworthy of a competition this behaviour is.

Castro's picture


That is a most respectable opinion, in what you would do in their shoes is concerned.
But no more than that! Of course Yemen's attitude is against the ideal sporting spirit, but the whole anti-everything problem doen't start here, nor now, nor in chess, nor even in sport.
As I said, the world knows that Israel was put playing without major inconveniences because the arabs were persuated to also play in the same events, as long as not in direct confrontation, in which case they'd simply refuse.
I can see that, from the arab point of view, that THAT is already a big ceding, and a big rendering of their overall coherence.
So, "the whole point" is that, chess not being politics, people first expect Israel problem solved, or be prepared to organize events without it, or without the arab countries.
That's simple reality. I'd love something different, but it's not for the moment.

ebutaljib's picture

To continue my rambling...

What is next? Armenia and Azerbaijan refusing to play against each other. Greece refusing to play Turkey, Turkey refusing to play Cyprus, Greece refusing to play Macedonia, Serbia refusing to play Albania, Georgia refusing to play Russia, Ukraine refusing to play Russia, Cuba refusing to play USA, Iran refusing to play USA, etc. etc.

All acceptable according to some people here.

Felix's picture

I think it looks very well so far, so I think you have to admit that the organizers didn't deserve that much criticism :)
After all it's not clear who caused the problems with the flights - maybe that was something one shouldn't blame the organizers for.

Btw., you can also watch the games with automated game analysis with Rybka 4 on the website of the olympiad (!!!) on .

Castro's picture


You surely didn't read me atentively.

"If I understood Castro right, then he is in favour of tempering with the pairing procedure so that Israel doesn’t get paired with Arabs. Are you nuts?!"

(Firstly, nuts are things I hope you enjoy at home.)

If you had read me, you'd see it's not a question of me being "in favour". The pairings ARE always "tempered" to NEVER pair Israel with arab countries. ALWAYS!
I'm in favour of 4 points for Yemen now! Just (or almost just) that.

Castro's picture

Please do READ.

jo snow's picture


Love it - that sport and games can upset nationalistic political coherence.

Imagine there were no countries it isn't hard to do

Castro's picture

@jo snow

:-) Yes, imagine that and also imagine that one thing is what is, and another what we desire. Or imagine.

ebutaljib's picture

"The pairings ARE always “tempered” to NEVER pair Israel with arab countries. ALWAYS!"

Oh I see, that's why Israel got paired with Yemen.....

Nima's picture


Yes, that is exactly right - you are on the right track! ;-)

If any of the teams you mentioned does not want to play against the other, then they get zero points. The other team gets 4 and the opportunity to go for a nice lunch and sight-seeing.

ebutaljib's picture

Well then I hope every country that don't have best relations refuse to play against each other (a 0-0 score). And to fill their places Russians can nominate an extra dozen or two of their teams.

Is pointless to discuss this with someone who doesn't know the concept of a COMPETITION. What you are describing can no longer be called a competition.

V's picture

Castro, what about expelling Gashimov from the Olympic team? Just because he played in Spain for a team, carrying the Armenian last name "Kasparov". Is it right? Shall we give'em a point for hating and killing Armenians?

I do know that Azerbaijan is a country, where armenophobia is being an official ideology (imitating Turkey). When Radjabov was givin' a crap like "we all hated armenians" it was okay for Azerbaijan, they all were simply addicted to all this sh*t... But now this morbid addiction inevitably turns to be harmful for Azeris themselves - the case of Gashimov is a very good example. So i think Yemen is doin' harm only to itself, while Israel and Armenia just don't care... it is simply funny.

ebutaljib's picture

It's pointless...

Rini Luyks's picture

for the moment it seems the distracted Dutchman is Smeets, not van Wely.

Castro's picture


Who doesn't want to see is worse that a blind.
And you insist in NOT READING.
It was an error! Israel would NEVER be paired with Yemen.


You're making the same mistake as ebutaljib: Not even reading! It's not that I like the situation, but UNLIKE most international conflicts, arab-israeli problem has it that way. Israel entered international events, for some of them arab countries did accept to participate but the world acepts not to pair them. Because otherwise (the world knows) they wouldn't play. And this for decades now!
Those are facts.

In these conditions, I just say:

1. It's nothing but natural that a country doesn't play with another one they refuse to recognise.
2. It's far from desirable, but arab countries refuse to play Israel. They enter in the known condition that they'd refuse, if paired with Israel.
3. The world has been not only accepting this state of things, but always (and obviously) organizing things with special care, in order to have Israel and arabs playing.
4. The things being that way, Yemen, entering the competition, is entitled not to be paired against Israel.
5. FIDE owes 4 points to Yemen, and certainly excuses to many people.

aun1's picture

for anyone who says that the yemen team was rightly forfeited for a 0-4 loss, and that they should not let politics interfere with chess, you are showing either how very little you know about geopolitical and middle-eastern relations, or you are being asinine. do you have any inclinations as to what the consequences would be for any individual of an arab nation participating in a sporting event against an israeli team? at the very least they would be shunned and ostracized, at worst...i would not even speculate. israel has a long standing history of exploiting its citizens, and oppressing neighboring arab states, so you must understand that those sorts of things take precedence over a game of chess.

Castro's picture

:-) Ok, "funny" and "pointless" it will stay. Nice new dreams!

Castro's picture

I love contacting with alternate realities! Enjoy the ride, indeed!

Nima's picture


You assume that both teams refuse to play against each other. That is not the case. Whichever team refuses to play first gets zero.


You are right - I have not been reading any of your comments except one.

aun1, if you are correct, then before we play a single game of chess, we would have to sit down and solve all the world's political problems (or do you proposing solving them at the Olympiad?). Good luck!


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