Daily report by GM Alexander Baburin from Turkey
Olympiad page done by Michael Dooley.
Istanbul GM Baburin began publishing Chess
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Day One, 28th October 2000.
Today the 34th Chess Olympiad
started. So far the event is very well run. I would compare it very favourably
with Moscow-94 and Yerevan-96 in terms of organisation, judging by the first two
days. When I arrived to Istanbul airport around midnight last night, I quickly
saw people meeting chess players. The transfer to my hotel was swift and the
hotel itself made a good impression on me. It's called 'Green Park' (where else
would you expect the Irish teams to stay? It must be something green!) and it
seems like a genuine 3-star hotel. OK, they claim 4 stars, but... Our team stays
in the same hotel with the Dutch, Armenian and some other delegations. There are
a few other hotels nearby, where other teams stay. This is great as you can
easily meet with your friends. After all, Chess Olympiads are great festivals
and the social element plays a great role at them, particularly for those teams,
which are not fighting for medals. OK, after the first round, when we beat
Panama 4-0, the Irish men's team is still fighting for medals though! :-) In
round Two (on Sunday) we play against Cuba. The Irish men's team consists
of: GM Alexander Baburin, IM Mark Quinn,
Heidenfeld, FM Colm Daly, IM Mark Orr and Sam Collins. Our women's team is: 1.
Susan Connolly 2 Mairead O'Siochru 3 Deborah Quinn 4 Elizabeth Shaughnessy.
The playing venue is just 15 minutes walk from
our hotel. Itās a big exhibition centre and seems to suit the Olympiad just
fine. All teams (men and women) play in the same hall, which makes it easy to
follow the matches. I am just afraid the hall will quickly get stuffy, but this
is hard to avoid with a few thousand people gathering together. By the way, this
Olympiad has a record number of entries - 129 countries are playing in men's
competition. This is really great!
The opening ceremony was good and not too long.
The first round started about 40 mites late, but this is understandable for such
a huge event. The rate of play is 1 hour 40 minutes for 40 moves, with a
30-seconds increment per move. Then it's 50 minutes per 20 moves with increment,
etc. All games are played on special electronic boards, so all of them are shown
live on the Net! Alas, these sensitive electronic boards are still easy to
confuse and they often show impossible move.
I did not play in round one, so after hanging
around for a while and saying 'Hello!' to lots of people, I went to the city
with my old friend Lev Psakhis. Istanbul looks like a very dynamic city, with a
typical eastern charm. I hope to see more of it during 2 free days, which we
will have here. They certainly have some impressive mosques here! People here
look very friendly.
At left: GM Psakhis and GM Baburin
(Photo by GM Baburin)
Russia is the top seed in men's event. Even
without Kasparov, Kramnik (or should we put their names in a different order
now?!), Bareev and Karpov, it is still a great team: Khalifman, Morozevich,
Svidler, Rublevsky, Sakaev and Grischuk. Watch out for Grischuk - this 17-year
old player is capable of delivering great results! England looks very good too -
with Adams, Short, Hodgson, Speelman, Miles and Emms. Then we have Israel (Gelfand,
Smirin et al), Ukraine (Ivanchuk, Ponomariov et al) and Hungary (Leko, Judith
Polgar, Almasi et al). The US team is seeded 7th, but Americans are
always very good at team events, so no doubt they will be fighting for medals.
There were already a few surprises today. The
biggest is that USA dropped 1.5 points to Turkey (Nick de Firmian lost). England
and Netherlands dropped half of point each and there are probably some other top
teams, which did not manage to score 100% in the first round. I would expect
more surprises today, so stay tuned!
(Photo courtesy Mark Orr.)