Posts Tagged Nigel Short

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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Winning Ugly

In contrast with the British Championships last year, this time I found the chess hard work. My first game was a gruelling 94 move struggle and I didn’t have many smooth wins. I was also certainly in bad shape at various stages of my games against the other three highest rated players and 2 points was a very flattering return from these encounters.

Some of the problems I mentioned last year persisted; it still seems odd to me that all participants in the British do not have to be members of a qualifying Federation, particularly as membership fees remain such a bone of contention in the ECF.

I can’t compete with the fulsome denigration that Nigel dished out to the accelerated pairing system in the commentary room after round three, however it seemed to me that with a small field and 11 rounds it proved particularly pointless this time, the mini-matches between the 4 highest rated players had been completed by round 8 leaving the tournament to conclude in a flurry of downfloats.

I think one detail of the rules for the playoff could well be in improved for the future. Starting with two games of 20 minutes + 10 seconds seems reasonable, but if this is tied going directly to an armageddon game is ridiculous. In general these contrived affairs which create more than their fair share of disputes are resorted to far too often. There are occasions where a genuine shortage of time makes it necessary, such as at the World Open where the tiebreak game began after 11 pm, but at the British there seems to be no reason not to play normal blitz games. If time is considered so short, at least sudden death blitz has the advantage that a draw would not decide the Championship. If the playoff is considered a serious affair this would be a better option; as well as being fairer to the players, the spectators (many stayed to watch after the prize-giving) rarely complain if there are more games in this kind of situation.

I have never been too interested in trophies, but it seemed odd that there was nothing presented for the British Championship. I was told the British trophy was in for repairs last year, and I guess these were not an unqualified success as apparently it is now too fragile to be moved. In addition, for reasons that I’m sure make perfect sense but to me seem a little obscure, the playoff does not also decide the English Championship.

I was a bit distracted by the playoff to witness all the drama associated with stonewallgate (see Tara’s comments below) but it was a great shame that given the huge efforts CJ de Mooi had made with the event that he ended up not distributing the prizes.

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