Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Visitors to the Olympiad

The past couple of days some notable chess celebrities have attended the Olympiad in Istanbul. Former World Champion Garry Kasparov turned up in Istanbul to cheer on the Russian team. In fact, I guess having Kasparov in the building probably turned up the pressure on the Russians to actually win the event this time. Kasparov's presence has certainly done the trick, as the Russian number 1 Kramnik, beat his arch rival Armenian Aronian on top board with a nice piece sacrifice.

Here, Kramnik as white played 23.Nxb7 sacrificing his knight for both black's queen side pawns. After 23..Rxb7 24.Qxa6 Rbc7 25.b4 Qd7 26.Qb6 black's pieces are in a terrible tangle and white went on to win.

Unfortunately for Kasparov, Kramnik's victory was not enough for a match win. The Armenians managed to draw with the Russians, but since then Armenia lost to China while Russia beat Hungary and stand in first place a match point ahead of China and Ukraine. Tonight sees the big match up of Russia against defending champions Ukraine!

While Kasparov witnessed Russian victories, former women's World Champion Susan Polgar was in town, while her sister Judit is playing for the Hungarian team. Judit did her part in the match against the Russians drawing with World number 7, Karjakin, though the Hungarians narrowly lost. Good news for Judit was not just that Susan was in town, but her other sister Sofia also showed up.

Judit, Sofia and Susan Polgar (courtesy of @Arman Karakhanyan on the Olympiad site)

Of course, there could be other reasons for the appearance of people at the Olympiad. Those with political ambitions (such as Kasparov) will not have a better chance of meeting such an amount of national chess dignitaries, and FIDE itself has its congress at the Olympiad. I'm sure that Kasparov, among others, will be checking out some of these activities, as well as spectating the Olympiad. Susan Polgar will no doubt be supporting her sister, but may also be in Istanbul as a coach and a journalist. One person who is not there as a journalist is Evgeny Surov, the editor in chief of the Russian chess news website. He has been denied accreditation as a journalist by the organisers (actually it seems Turkish chess President Ali Nihat Yazici is behind the action) which has caused quite a storm. A number of grandmasters and officials have signed an open letter protesting the treatment of Mr Surov. With only a few rounds to go this won't help Mr Surov at this Olympiad, but if it does anything to stop the political ambitions of Yazici, then it will be a good thing.

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