Just after I booked my ticket for this event, the organisers threatened to cancel it; later FIDE officials were menacing the same. Although this was obviously ridiculous behaviour by both parties so close to the Olympiad, it did a good job of expectation management for the event. The proximity of the airport, and most accommodation was a big plus for the players although it was hard not to feel sympathy for some of the arbiters who spent a large amount of their visit busing to and from their hotels. The food in the Rica Ishavshotel where we stayed was very good by Olympiad standards, and there was complimentary tea, coffee and water throughout the event. The rooms were fine although not too large.
I wasn’t feeling well before the event and on arrival began coughing up blood which was a bit disconcerting. I skipped the first game and also pulled out of the second round when we got a fairly comfortable pairing, instead I headed off to the tournament doctor, and after he gave me some antibiotics my health steadily improved.
Despite this, chess-wise the tournament went surprisingly well as I rode my luck to maximise my return in nearly all of my games. Just as in Dortmund, I began with Black against Naiditsch; this time he had planned a better scheme against the Berlin, but at some stage I was close to equality before inexplicably failing to insert a pawn swap. I then ended up a pawn down with a bad position – eventually the low quality game staggered towards a draw. This lucky break proved very positive for my event, as I then won a decent game against Shirov and a spectacular tactic magically appeared against Le Quang Liem resulting in an enjoyable win.
After a theoretical draw against Aronian things continued to go my way, as a lucky escape against the talented Canadian Anton Kovalyov was followed by another game where I got more than I deserved:
I rounded things off with 2 draws with Black where I pressed a bit and a game against Grandelius where I was close to winning right out of the opening and managed to convert without serious mishaps. My rating performance worked out a few points ahead of Giri and Mamedyarov so I picked up the silver for performance on board 1.The team had a less successful time and a last round lost to Cuba gave an unflattering final standing.
The last day was marred by more serious events with the tragic death of two participants. I had finished and was watching the last game in our match and some of the others, when there was some shouting followed by a mass stampede for the exits. It seems the calls for a doctor for Kurt Meier when he collapsed during his game had been misinterpreted either as warnings of a gun or bomb. There was a genuine sense of panic several players who evacuated the hall were still playing at the time and others tripped over the steps in their haste to get out. After I had got back from the closing I saw some grim faced medics rushing into another nearby hotel, and it later emerged that Alisher Anarkulov had died the same day. A very sad and unusual happening and an awful loss for the families and friends of the two players.