Mark is reporting that 10th World Champion Boris Spassky is gravely ill after a stroke in Moscow. According to this Russian report, the 73-year-old French citizen is in intensive care in a Moscow hospital. All the Russian news reports I see online at the moment are at least seven hours old. Fingers crossed. Losing Smyslov, Larsen, and Spassky in the same year would be rough.
September 2010 Archives
I'm not sayin' Vugar Gashimov was rooting for Vietnam in their match with Azerbaijan today, but there must have been some feelings of whatever the Azerbaijani expression for schadenfreude is. (Probably "schadenfraude." It would seem right somehow if only the Germans had a word for feeling good when something bad happens to someone else.) After various political kerfuffles with his federation, Gashimov, who cracked the top ten recently, was left off the Azerbaijani squad for Khanty-Mansiysk. Gashimov scored +4 and won silver on board two when the team won the Euro Team Ch last year in Novi Sad.
I'm sure they would have liked to have had him today against Vietnam, which beat Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5. I smelled upset chances but I didn't imagine it would come away from the top boards, where Vietnam's two young stars Le Quang Liem and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son have had great years. Instead it was Mamedov on board three stepping into a pile of trouble against Anh Dung Nguyen. It was done in style as well, with a great piece sac in the center.
I'm not going to pretend I had time to do more than take a cursory glance at the other results and games, just too busy and with too little sleep these days. Please post your best coverage links below so others may find them, too. Official site. Board pairings and results for round three also here.
Board pairings posted with nearly two hours to spare, all right! Any early word on the live coverage, or lack thereof? We're still on upset alert as round two gets underway. The top board isn't between all-GM teams, although Scotland is just one away against Ukraine on board one, no insult to the estimable Mr. IM Stephen Burns-Mannion, who is giving up nearly 300 points to Moiseenko on board four. There is plenty of hot GM-on-GM action further down the table, however, where many of the strong teams nicked for draws in the first round are facing off. Russia 1 gets the tough Serbs and China won't have a cakewalk against Brazil. Azerbaijan, one of the top favorites, will get an early test from Vietnam, at least on the first two boards. Defending champ Armenia got nicked for two draws and will face Australia. We should definitely have a match upset or two. Official site.
Brazil would have been even tougher if they hadn't kicked their best player and reigning national champion, Giovanni Vescovi, off the team a few days ago for daring to work for the Karpov2010 campaign. A great opportunity to work on your Latin and Portuguese language skills and find out how to say "Take your Gens Una Sumus and shove it!" in Brazil. Stay classy, Kirsan and Darcy Lima, stay classy.
I should have mentioned last night that the board points have one other useful function, at least early on, that of the pairings. For a top team, going 4-0 got you a considerably weaker opponent in just about every case compared to scoring 3.5. Naturally, this is reversed for teams like Scotland on the other side of the coin, but who aren't going to complain about a shot at Russia. These earliest rounds are the usually the only chance the teams ranked below 40 or so have to make news at the Olympiad. Full board pairings for round 2 here.
Magnus Carlsen heads to the board for the first time, against Portugal. There's a steep drop after Hammer on board two for Norway, so Carlsen will be lucky to get an all-GM diet in Khanty-Mansiysk. Only Anand, many years ago, comes to mind as an example of such a strong player on such a relatively weak team. He was the only GM on the India squad in 1990. But with the rise of Sasikiran and then Ganguly, Harikirshna and Negi, he doesn't have that as an excuse anymore, and it's sad to seem him sit out for the second time in a row. Topalov will also be in action, for the first time since his match loss to Anand, I believe.
USA isn't resting its stars Nakamura and Kamsky. Perhaps they felt they needed to get into form? But with only one reserve these days -- a sad change but one more understandable than the silly decision to actually expand the women's teams -- it's not as if anyone gets much rest. I just noticed Zhang Zhong is now playing for Singapore. Good for him. I brought him up a few times as an example of the strong veteran players frozen out by China's constant quest to send out only the most promising young ones.
[Damn, saved this as draft last night instead of publishing it! It was written as round 1 was about to begin. Changing the date to now so people can find it. Didn't notice it wasn't on the air until someone complained there wasn't an Olympiad thread. Don't miss the Kirsan Rebus Slogan contest below.]
Woo! Love me some Olympiad. Official site here, but it looks remarkably useless so far, although it does have a schedule. To the rescue, as so often, comes the Chess Results site. They must be scrambling to keep up because the information flow from Khanty-Mansiysk has been atrocious so far. With just 30 minutes before the start of the first round, there still aren't board pairings posted anywhere and the live games page only talks about how they are going to have Rybka "comment" on the top games. The horror.
Okay, enough whining. They should have it going all right by, oh, round five. By then we'll be well into the meetings between heavyweight teams. The first round is appetizers, and they aren't nearly as tasty since they changed the Olympiad scoring system from board points to match points. Yes, they still use board points as first tiebreak, but the incentive to take risks to put up a big score is much diminished, and match-clinching short draws are more likely. Match scoring also reduces the dynamism in the rankings, so big 4-0 scores don't jump you up the table, making the final rounds much more predictable.
So I guess what I'm saying is that there's never enough whining. Russia has exploited its advantage as host to field three teams, a tradition that was not really intended to have duplicate teams with real chances to medal. Russia B took bronze in Moscow 1994 and Russia B was actually ahead of Russia A for a while in Elista, 1998, but faltered in the final rounds. Until Thessaloniki, 1984, the B teams played hors concours. The C teams started popping up at least as far back as Novi Sad, 1990. Russia has really pushed the envelope this time, with local-ish teams representing the region signing on as Russia D and E, basically. Crazy.
Ah well, more teams, more players, more chess, and with Russia that means good chess. (And they need to compensate for the missing teams, such as Nicaragua, which decided late not to go in light of the widely-discussed organizational difficulties in Khanty-Mansiysk. They were actually warned not to go by Continental President of the Americas, Jorge Vega, which is another story.) Russia take on Ireland in the first round, which may have started a few minutes ago. The official site should be crashing in three, two, one...
I'll be swamped with campaign stuff in the run up to the election on the 29th, but I'll do my best to toss up some thread here for anyone who is still around. I'll try to work in all the election dirt I can; I'm sure there will be more than enough to go around.
We know the favorites. Who are your dark horses? Any team medals from outside the top dozen teams this year? Can Armenia three-peat? Can team USA pull off another shocker and medal? (Actually it wouldn't really be a shocker this time.) Will Russia improve on their embarrassing 5th place in Dresden? On the other end of the scale, which will be the last team to score a point? Never need a reason to tout the amazing Olimpbase website.
The fine folks (for all I know) at chessanytime.com have put up some photos from around the Olympiad. They include one of Ilyumzhinov's reelection pavilion (of course, access to the area to build such a thing was limited, but hey, what's one more abuse at this point?) What really stands out is Kirsan's new logo. It's the modest and nonsensical "KIRSAN + ♥ = FIDE". I love a rebus, but really, this is it? It wasn't enough to rip off a Queen song for his slogan, and a mediocre Queen song at that? Did they not even consider "We Are the Champions" or "Fat-Bottomed Girls" for a slogan? "Kalmykian Rhapsody"?
I'm sure we can do much, much better here. But we are lazy, and have not (yet) been offered an envelope full of cash for our services to FIDE. So allow me to incentivize you. The best new Kirsan slogan rebus to come in in the next 48 hours will win immortality, wide distribution in Khanty-Mansiysk, and your choice of a couple of signed books I have lying around here. Post a link to your submission. If your Photoshop skills aren't up for it, just write it out in the comments and I'll put it together if it's genius.
Allow me to kick things off with a few obvious ones.
Magnus Carlsen is back in New York, and Garry Kasparov and Hikaru Nakamura are also going to be on the scene. The fashion scene, that is. There's also some chess, one of those "against the world" things we all love to hate -- and love despite all the hoopla. This one is all about Carlsen sponsor G-Star Raw, a line from the Dutch clothing company ("clothing, denim couture, shoes and luxury accessories for men and women." The Twitter is all twitterpated with the possibility that Justin Bieber might wear G-Star to the Video Music Awards. Don't know about that, but I must say "Denim Couture" would be a great name for a French movie detective). Liv Tyler is also going to be there.
It really does sound like an amazing event, and I would pay good money to hear Maurice Ashley do live coverage of an old person eating breakfast. This makes it even more annoying that it's also on the last night of Rosh Hashanah, and I'll be with family in Scardale all day. Thus continues the long tradition of launching major chess events on Jewish holidays, though I'll cut them some slack since Fashion Week has its own scheduling and because the New Year is one of those tricky ones that covers multiple days. And because they have reduced my Liv Tyler Bacon Number to two, surely as low as it will ever go.
Anyway, bummer for me. It's live online here starting at noon NY time. I hope someone else is there for some behind-the-scenes coverage. Jen Shahade will be there for CLO, so there's some hope there. I had heard there was going to be some face-to-face blitz action between Nakamura and Carlsen, along with the "Carlsen against the World" consultation game, but don't see mention of it anywhere. Nakamura, Judit Polgar, and last year's world junior champion Vachier-Lagrave are the World's coaches.
Has anyone gotten a pic of the NYC bus ads with Magnus? Send it on if you got one. ChessBase has a coverage summary with a video of Magnus on Dutch TV I haven't had time to watch.
No, that's not the name of a new chess star from the Far East. It was my reaction when I stumbled into this new music video from Manic Street Preachers. The jackals from Sony will probably hunt it down and make sure nobody see it, so be quick.
[Some people can't view it, probably region-based IP blocking. Try their official site. I assume it will eventually make it to YouTube or their MySpace page, etc. It's worth the wait.]
You might recognize the actor from The Damned United. You'll recognize who he is playing in around 10 seconds, even if they didn't mention him specifically in interviews about the making of the video. (Do watch first.) I'm willing to go out on a limb and call this the best ever chess-themed music video for a song that vaguely sounds like a Steps ripoff. Probably.
Meanwhile, I'm hoping to rally here this week for Shanghai, although I'll probably be on the road soon to beat some votes out of anyone Garry leaves alive on his Latin American tour. I'm usually more of a misericorde, but the gloves are off in the final month.
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