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39th Chess Olympiad Khanty-Mansiysk 2010 (Preparations)

So how ready is Khanty-Mansijsk for the Olympiad?

Work going on during the visit of Gelfer in July.

Work going on during the visit of Gelfer in July. |

The organisers say they are ready, but others are concerned. It seems that FIDE's official in charge of the Olympiad, FIDE Vice-President Israel Gelfer, is under great strain right now. He sent an abusive E-Mail to one of the representatives of the nations that support the current FIDE regime, something regarded as quite out of character for him. It is however the changes to the times of flights to the venue that is causing most concern.

Chess Today Issue 3584 ( has a very interesting article about the 2010 Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansijsk. First of all the author Alex Baburin says he will be missing only his 2nd Olympiad since 1994. He highlighted fears the smaller teams, mostly amateurs, that it will be an expensive trip with poor accommodation. There were supposed to be three big hotels, instead they have completed just one, the "Olympic". The fear of the smaller nations (who will also be voting in the FIDE elections) is that they will be pushed into student accomodation for high prices. Money is required up front without any real assurances of quality. However the major concern has been about the connecting charter flights from Moscow, Prague, Munich, and Milan the times of which have changed up to 5 times, often these changes have been announced on the website only to be discovered days later by people trying to organise the trip ( The latest version of the flight details on the FIDE Website). It is these changes and the cost of rebooking flights that is causing the most criticism.

Baburin says:

"Single rooms for captains were offered and then withdrawn. Those wishing to have a single room were asked to pay 1120 euro per room - and to pay in advance!

I reported in July FIDE Vice-President Israel Gelfer seems to be responsible for the co-ordination between local officials and FIDE and he was concerned when he visited. There were supposed to be three new hotels, but just the one has been built and that has only just been finished in time. Well it seems the pressure is really getting to him.

Bermuda are supporters of FIDE and yet when they tried to organise their trip they were met with an extraordinary response from Gelfer, which couldn't have been any worse if he had just used a bunch of expletives deleted.

Chess Today quote E-mails sent to them by Nick Faulks, who plays for Bermuda.

Cc: Mr. Israel Gelfer, FIDE Secretariat
Sent: Thu, 26 Aug 2010
Subject: Re: Bermuda team - accommodation

"Dear Mr. Bondarev, I have received no reply to my email of 20th August, attached. I repeat that my federation will not authorise the release of funds for accommodation about which you cannot provide any details, and know that other federations feel the same way. Bermuda has taken part in Olympiads since 1976, and has never before been forced to pay in advance for undescribed services. In the case of a room for the team captain, this has not even been an issue, since you are the first organisers, and I hope the last, who are failing to provide this as a matter of courtesy.

It is extremely disappointing that FIDE allows you to treat your guests in this way. But for the fact that several team members have already bought nonrefundable tickets I would be withdrawing our entry.

Yours sincerely, Nick Faulks"

The reply he got from Israel Gelfer, member of the FIDE Presidential Board, tasked with making sure that the Olympiad organisers perform to their bid, was simply astonishing:

From: Mr. Israel Gelfer
To: Nick Faulks;
Cc: Nigel Freeman, FIDE Secretariat
Sent: Thu, 26 Aug 2010
Subject: Re: Bermuda team - accommodation

"Dear Mr. Faulks

Without going into the details of invoice you got let me just respond to your style of your mail: I find your last message to the organizers and to Fide as disgraceful and unbearable and if I were the organizer I would simply disregard any mail from you from now on. Personally, I would not care if people like you would withdraw from the olympiad. Israel Gelfer"

It would not be surprising if Gelfer had subsequently apologised but it certainly seems he is under a lot of stress. The venue is a long way from Moscow and it seems the local organisers are not at all worried about potential problems.

In a report on ChessVibes FIDE: ‘Players need not worry about the Olympiad’ Gelfer was unapologetic limiting his comments to say that he thought "Mr Faulks is an ‘uneducated person’." The ChessVibes article highlights the real financial cost that changing the schedule of the flights to Khanty-Mansijsk (5 times so far) is causing however the main tenet is that things will be ready. Zurab Azmaiparashvili represented FIDE in a very recent inspection and they reported that the hotel Olympic is open (1200 of the 1600 participants can be housed there) and 10 other hotels are ready for the participants.

It sounds like most probably there will be problems but not ones that are insurmountable.

The organisers instead are trumpeting what a great welcome everyone will get. There will be Paris syle chess cafes, full internet coverage, a super-computer analysing 20 of the 600 games (called BlueGene according to this article) . The Governor of the region Natalia Komarova has talked about the high state of readiness they have. Hand crafted chairs instead of a podium, thousands of souvenirs for the players.

There is emphasis on this being the biggest Olympiad ever with 1,376 players from 158 countries with 67 foreign and 66 of the Russian referees, as well as the 1000 official individuals and representatives of Russian and foreign media.

Another article on the preparations for the Olympiad states:

In place of the builders will soon come, administrators, housekeepers and chefs. By the way, for catering services will meet 60 chefs from St. Petersburg. The menu still kept secret, known only that the dessert will be served a chocolate bar with symbols of the Olympics. The competitions will take place in a large sports complex, which accommodates three and a half thousand spectators. However, the organizers made sure even those who do not want to leave the house. All games will be broadcast on the official site of the World Chess Olympiad. During battles, you can monitor on-line.

There also may be less medals to go round for others as the Russians have three men's teams and two women's. ChessDom report these are:

Russia 1 - Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler and Vladimir Malakhov.

Russia 2 - Alexander Morozevich, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Nikita Vitiugov, Evgeny Alekseev and Ian Nepomniatchi

Russia "local" - Dmitry Jakovenko, Sergei Rublevsky, Ernesto Inarkiev, Alexei Pridorozhni and Nikolai Kabanov

It will be recalled a young Morozevich played in the 2nd team in Moscow 1994 that took the bronze medals, here he is the senior guy in a new Russian Youth team.

If FIDE are to believed the elections are all but over with them having 90 nations (out of about 160) already pledging support. However the Karpov campaign put this down to nations wanting to be on the winning side. They feel that Federations think that they are better not upsetting Ilyumzhinov right now, but, if that is the way the wind is blowing, they will wait until the point of the vote to declare their real intentions. That remains to be seen. Of course the Karpov campaign hope that Kirsan's candidacy will be thrown out (due to an invalid ticket) by the Court for Arbitration in Sport in Lausanne in hearings on September 15th-16th. One Presidency Kirsan is about to lose is that of Kalmykia when his term runs out in October. The Russian press has been cautious about being definitive but one article states that a successor has been chosen but hints that the economically failing region may struggle to remain stable due to frictions between different religions and races. Much is yet to unfold.

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