Yet Another World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk
The rating lists used for the World Cup qualification were July 2010 and January 2011, so establishing whether or not one was qualified should be simple. However despite several requests for information FIDE treated this data as if it were nuclear arms codes and the players by rating and reserves were only confirmed on June 21st. Given that in the meantime I had committed to the more competently organised event in LA I was unsure whether to play in Khanty-Mansiysk as it meant crossing 13 time-zones in five days with a huge amount of travel and two night-flights thrown in. In the end I decided to give it a try.
I briefly touched down at home to pick up some clean clothes before continuing onwards to Siberia. My flight was due to land at around 1.15am but was a bit late; baggage reclaim took forever and after being taken via the scenic route around the other hotels it was gone 3.00 before i made it to my room. My confused body was further disorientated and I never really got properly adjusted, always waking up way too early to get properly rested.
The players’ meeting is rarely exciting but this time proceedings were briefly enlivened when somebody enquired why he was listed as playing the incorrect opponent in the official bulletin. Unfortunately from a comedy stand point, at this stage the English translation seemed to drop off a bit, but he was eventually told that to go check the official pairings on the website. This farce was a knock-on effect of the careless mistake that had been made with the pairings initially which had necessitated them being redone. Clearly nobody remembered to tell the bulletin publishers.
It was interesting to note the differences as to how the players were treated in comparison to the Olympiad. For that event the organisers refunded visa charges but no such luck this time and instead of the free charter flights, players got to make their own way with pretty harsh prices: 400 Euros was the going rate for Moscow – Khanty-Mansiysk on UT Air on 26th August. Instead of food specially flown in, the players got the expensive unpromising local chow in hotels; could there have been some event taking place alongside the Olympiad that would explain the difference in hospitality?
Russian service is different and arriving at breakfast one day the restaurant were out of cups: a problem that the staff were unwilling to solve despite several requests. No coffee or tea for most although one quick thinking GM grabbed the last remaining bowl to ensure delivery of his morning caffeine fix.
When I checked out of the hotel I made sure to have a close perusal of proceedings as on my previous visit to that hotel a number of ‘accidental’ erroneous charges had crept onto the bill. This time I seemed to have been charged an additional half day on the day of departure which seemed a bit odd. As I was leaving at 4.30am it was hardly a late checkout! The hotel got FIDE on the phone and they helpfully explained “It’s nothing to do with us, the hotel can do anything they want” which when they have your passport and travel documents, is pretty much correct. They further claimed that all players would be charged this fee; if correct that would have certainly have been a nice little earner.
The chess got off to a highly misleading start as I won my first game quite efficiently. Struggling to close out the match the next day was rather more typical.
The first three games of my match with Peter Heine Nielsen followed the same pattern as I struggled in the opening phase whilst he built a big clock lead but they ended in draws without major incident. In the second tie-break game I managed to reverse the pattern and got a decent position with a time edge but I missed some things and the momentum totally reversed. Oversights were something of a speciality of mine in this event but in this game I was surprised by Rxc3. I thought he would make this capture on several occasions when his rook was on c8 but once it had arrived on c4 for some reason became less concerned about it. My general impression in these events are that they are much less random and more just than is commonly thought and my opponent was a deserving winner.
The high point of my event came on the way back (not an unhappy event in its own right), I was on the same Moscow flight as Viktor Bologan as well as some other players. We went off to check in for our flights, this didn’t take Viktor long and he kindly looked back to see if I was progressing. I was marooned at the back of the queue, taking the initiative, he wandered over to the vacant business check in and shortly returned to tell me I could check in there. I asked him about his secret technique, he replied he had just asked them if GM Adams could check in. I don’t think I’ll try it on my next visit to Heathrow but was a nice surprise!