by WIM Carolina Blanco
The Chess Olympiad, the major festivity of the chess world, is celebrated every two years. This year the event was held August 3-15th in Tromso, Norway, a country well known for their endless summer days and for being the native country of the Number 1 chess player in the world and World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, who was also the host for the venue that gathered more than 140 countries of the world with men and women’s teams. Surprisingly, China won the men’s section while Russia defended their title in the women’s section.
During the Chess Olympiad, a FIDE delegate from each country attends and has the opportunity to hear about the World Chess Federation projects, tournament venues, and upcoming tournaments. Additionally, elections are held for the President of the World Chess Federation. Kirzan Ilumzhinov was re-elected as FIDE President, collecting more than 110 votes against his fearless challenger, ex-World Champion, Gary Kasparov, who had the support of 61 chess federations around the world, but losing his bid for the FIDE throne. Kasparov’s candidacy was also supported by his former student and rival, reigning World Chess Champion and FIDE #1 ranked player, Magnus Carlsen.
During the tournament, players and visitors had the opportunity to visit the city during the two rest days. Many of the local inhabitants expressed their welcoming feelings to the athletes perusing their shops. Additionally, there were two parties that gathered mainly chess players who also like to dance and hang out with colleagues around the world. Besides the traditional Bermuda party, this year there was a Caribbean party!
On August 13th, a couple of days before the Olympiad was over, the most successful and without question the strongest female chess player in the history of chess, announced her retirement in the London Times newspaper: Judith Polger, aged 38, who once was #8 among all chess players in the world. Although she will no longer compete professionally, she will continue her work with chess for children. Judith, who represented Team Hungary at the Olympiads, received the team Silver Medal in the absolute section.
Sadly, one player died in the middle of a game and another was found dead in a hotel room. A 67-year-old member of the Seychelles team collapsed and died during the final round Thursday, tournament spokesman Jarle Heitmann said. Another player, from Uzbekistan, was found dead in a hotel room later Thursday, Heitmann said. He said both died of natural causes. Tromso police said on Twitter there was “no crime” suspected in either case. Heitmann said there was a brief moment of panic as emergency workers rushed to attend to the Seychelles player, as some participants apparently mistook their defibrillator for a gun and fled toward the exits.
As usual, there was a bit of drama in some of the matches, especially as players approached the latter decisive rounds, but fortunately the arbiters did a good job in judging the situations.
I selected the games from the final round. From these games, we can learn not only the strategy of the players, but also how players attempt to win a point or force a draw in tense situations when mistakes can cost the team or individual from receiving medals.
One of the more interesting games (Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2576–Yu, Yangyi 2668), with comments by GM A. Ramirez, can be found at http://en.chessbase.com/post/tromso-final.
And from the women’s section: