Posts Tagged FIDE

From the Arctic Circle

The World Cup was held in a small hotel near Tromso airport: given the eye watering prices in Norway it was suggested to me by a FIDE official that the room rates would have been excessive in the better hotels in the centre where the Olympiad will be sited, although this seemed to be contradicted by the amounts journalists were paying to stay there. The local organisers and staff were helpful, but the big problem was the food which was not good at all in the hotel, and with only a few shopping centre eating spots as other options nearby, the culinary situation was undesirable. I was one of the players who suffered with an unpleasant stomach bug which meant I was often forced to skip meals before the games. Of course playing whilst sick is an inevitable occurrence for any professional player but it was annoying at such a big event.

The chess organisation could have been better, the only announcement of note at the player’s meeting was that each individual tiebreak match would begin their second game 10 minutes after the finish of the first as at the previous Cup. This was then abruptly reversed in an announcement just before the clocks were started for the first tiebreak. The airport style security checks before entering the playing hall were also unwelcome, especially in combination with the absurd zero tolerance. The checks were in any case of dubious efficiency as journalists were often not checked and could mix freely with the players inside. If FIDE want to genuinely combat computer cheating, the key first move is to introduce some serious penalties rather than the pathetic ‘punishments’ that have been handed down to those that have been caught so far. A minimum ban of 5 years with the possibility of fines in addition to the loss of prize money and the stripping of all FIDE titles would be a good start.

I wasn’t thrilled to be paired with an underrated Chinese player Wan Yunguo in the first round, and disappointingly missed a chance to press in the first game. After playing well for a while I made an odd oversight:

The second game was also drawn and we headed to tiebreaks. I was initially doing well, then in trouble in the first game before it finished in a draw, but I won the second straight out of the opening, my preparation being one positive in the event.

In round 2 I had a pleasant edge in the first game against Yuriy Kryvoruchko but missed endgame chances although given the short time control it was an easy error to make.

In the second game I had good prep again and we agreed an early draw. I was also pressing in the third game but my opponent resisted typically robustly and I couldn’t convert. Several commentaries suggested I was outplayed in the next game (Chess Today was an honourable exception). I can only imagine they didn’t actually look at the game as in fact I just self destructed in a comfortable position due to a very bad error which is still rather painful.

There has been a lot of talk about how much luck is required in this event,it seems to be popular to consider the KO format particularly random, but I’ve never really found this to be the case in any of the matches I played. You decide your own destiny by how you react in the critical moments for better or worse. It is true that some matches are extremely close and the loser can reasonably feel unfortunate but this applies to very few games.

It was rather depressing for me to have to head back so early, but I have been impressed by the inspired pairing of Susan Polgar and Lawrence Trent in the commentary room whilst watching at home. However there frequently seems to be a problem with the clock times which don’t display accurately.

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Last Minute in London

Around lunchtime the day before the opening ceremony, I got a late call up to the London leg of the FIDE Grand Prix substituting for Peter Svidler for that one event only. Despite the lateness of the invite, openings-wise I fared quite well, but was tired towards the end of the event and felt I should have picked up a few more half points from the positions I had.
The rules were the usual FIDE mishmash: it’s not clear why Sofia rules are used during this event when they aren’t during the World Championship match when they would actually be useful. The event was also unusual for unintentionally employing two different time controls; we started with 40/2 followed by 20/1 but now things got confusing as in the first couple of games you were only credited with your additional 15 mins plus 30 seconds once your regular time had elapsed rather than on move 60. The additional increment would have been welcome in my first game with Wang Hao. To remedy this flaw from round 3 onwards, we received the increment on move 60 as is the norm.
This event was the first to be organised by Agon although it is clear that they won’t have time to implement their main ideas until at least the London Candidates. Obviously they are serious about chess and I was impressed with their concepts concerning branding and presentation of the game several of which were new to me. I hope they can be successful with the big problems of finding sponsors, and creating a proper World Championship cycle.

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Istanbul Olympiad

I was back in Turkey in time to re-use my visa from the team competition, this time for the Olympiad, held not far from the airport. The hotel and meals were quite good compared to recent editions, although the state of the hotel internet was a problem that was never fully resolved. The teams in the WOW hotels were lucky to be able to walk to the venue although there were limited facilities around and those who had to bus it to the chess might have had a more interesting location.
The playing hall was quite decent from a player’s point of view although the temporary toilets which were brought in for the event were at first insufficient in number and none too pleasant. I was shocked to see only 3 VIP rooms and would hope that a minimum of 1 room per esteemed guest would be the bare minimum in the future.
Spectators had it rougher; there were very limited possibilities to view the games outside the hall. If you stashed your phone and ventured into the playing area it was only possible to see the first 10 boards in each section. Even making out the scores in other matches was impossible as the boards showing results were not large. Spectators have had a raw deal at Olympiads for too many years now and for such a showpiece event it needs to improve.
Plenty has been written about arbiters at this event but it seems to me that fewer are required as with the incremental time control there is little for them to do, and many of them seemed incapable of resolving simple problems like three fold repetition or dealing with a faulty clock. The ludicrous Zero Tolerance was made even more ridiculous by the rounds routinely starting over 5 minutes late.
Another area of concern is the excessive charging for hotels; and other dubious money making measures such as charging for press passes which were also in evidence. Of course the ever increasing size of the event, whilst great for the game, doesn’t make it easy for organizers to balance the budget, but making it too expensive to attend is counterproductive from everyone’s point of view as people simply choose not to come.
Moving onto the chess, the team lost a good opportunity to build on a good start with slip ups in rounds 8 and 9, this missed opportunity against the Philippines was irksome:

This game was followed by an abysmal loss to Le Quang regrettably the 2 key matches which cost the team,. Several of my team-mates were also having a frustrating time, although Nigel Short carried the team with an excellent performance.
I am very grateful to a number of individuals who generously donated money to help fund the team, and I was happy to demonstrate the game below at a small gathering with them after the Olympiad. There are a lot of computer lines but the power of the machine in these types of position is rather humbling.

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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!

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