3 October 2018

Micro-passions in Expocentre

Vladimir Barsky and Eteri Kublashvili reporting about round six of the Batumi Olympiad and the pre-election contest

The Olympiad is past a halfway mark with key matchups underway, such as: Azerbaijan - Czech Republic, Poland - Ukraine, Israel - Germany, Russia - India among men, and India - USA, Ukraine - China, Russia - Armenia among women. 

For some reason the matchup Russia - India has turned into such a hotspot that you literally needed to elbow your way to have a look at what was going on.

The round has started with a minute of silence in memory of earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia.

Picture by Eteri Kublashvili

Famous Russian football players Dmitri Bulykin and Dmitri Sychev have attended round six, visiting Arkady Dvorkovich’s team stand and heading for the playhall together with the FIDE presidential candidate afterwards. Having enjoyed watching the players’ games, they decided to try their hand in chess themselves. The choice of a friendly duel venue fell to a Khanty raw-hide tent, also known as chum!


Picture by Eteri Kublashvili

The Palace of Sports was soon visited by a delegation from Khanty-Mansiysk headed by the Ugra governor Natalya Komarova. Together with Arkady Dvorkovich she was answering mass media questions. It is not hard to guess that the mass media attention was focused on the upcoming 2020 chess Olympiad.

Natalya Komarova:

– We are ready for the Olympiad from the psychological point of view. We are here in Batumi to adopt and use experience of local organizers in Khanty-Mansiysk. This is a very beneficial meeting because you have to rely on past experience and achievements if you decide to organize some competitions yourself. We understand what needs to be done in Khanty-Mansiysk, so that it is a sort of taking over from Batumi.

Arkady Dvorkovich highlighted successful management of the 2010 Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk and expressed confidence in that the 2020 Olympiad would be organized at the highest level as well.


Picture by Vladimir Barsky

Literally at this very moment the FIDE Ethics Commission ruling was announced about Georgios Makropoulos’s complaint vs Arkady Dvorkovich, his main competitor in the FIDE presidential race. Mr. Dvorkovich was found not guilty for “absence of proof.”

Arkady Dvorkovich: 

- I was confident in a fair outcome from the very beginning.  The FIDE Ethics Commission has had everything weighted carefully and, of course, I am satisfied with the ruling bearing on me as a person and a FIDE presidential candidate. My reputation as an absolutely honest candidate has been fully confirmed and we go on campaigning. 

Of course, it was a complex hearing that lasted many hours.  The Commission carefully listened to testimonials from all sides.  This is an important experience, which goes to show the necessity to change certain rules of conducting election campaigns, as well as those guiding FIDE and national federations' functioning.  

I know about the negative ruling against the Serbian Chess Federation and its president Mr. Cogoljevic. I have questions regarding the fairness of this decision, and I’m pretty sure that our colleague will appeal against it. 

In general, I was focused on my election campaign, but I had a team of lawyers and assistants who were fully prepared for the Ethics Commission's hearings. 

Picture by Boris Dolmatovsky

Emotions run high as the election day approaches. On Sunday, the exhibition center witnessed a clash between a son of the Greek presidential candidate Makropoulos (let me call him Makropoulos Jr.) and a lawyer of the Russian FIDE presidential candidate Alexander Martynov (it was a war of words, fortunately). A stumbling block was about some leaflets that defame - as the Georgian court has ruled it - honor and dignity of the Republic of Kazakhstan’s delegate Berik Balgabayev. Despite this, Makropoulos Jr. made up his mind to ignore the ruling, placing a whole stack of leaflets back on his exhibition stand yet again. Martynov’s appeals to abide by the ruling did not resonate with Makropoulos Jr., upon which the former picked up the leaflets to dispose of in the nearest litter basket. The Jr. started crying out loud about having been robbed, labelling Martynov a thief. The picture below captures the moment of sorting things out on a one-on-one basis. However, the conflict, recorded on so many iPhones, was settled soon and did not grow into new complaints filed to the court, ethical commission or the League of Nations... Good riddance!   


A hot-tempered Makropoulos Jr. has a lot of journalists gathered around him. Picture by Boris Dolmatovsky 

In round six the Russian men’s team drew India with all four games ending in draws. The coaching staff has come up with an unexpected decision by giving the team captain Sergey Karjakin a break, pitting Ian Nepomniachtchi against Vichy Anand. Initially, it was going on as planned: Ian’s aggressive treatment of the opening put Black up against unpleasant problems: However, Ian committed an error at a critical moment. 

Nepomniachtchi – Anand


White to move


Giving a huge edge is 27.Qc7! Re4 (also grim-looking is 27...Qe4 28.f3 Ne2+ 29.Bxe2 Qxe2 30.Re1 Qxd2 31.Qxe5) 28.Bd3 Rg4 29.Rb7 Qd8 30.Qxc5 – while there is a material balance on the board, Black is drastically behind in development and having his pieces scattered around the board  - this is unlikely a tenable position.

27...Re4 28.Bg5 Nf5

The knight is very timely back to take up defensive duties.

29.Bf1 Rb4!

It is this move that is likely to have escaped Ian’s attention in his advanced calculations. Black’s position remains extremely unpleasant after 29...Re8 30.Qxa8 Rxa8 31.Rd7 Rd4 32.Rc7 Rf8 33.Bxe7 Nxe7 34.Rbb7 Re8 35.g3. Now simplifications lead to equal position.

30.Rxb4 cxb4 31.Rd7 Qxb7 32.Rxb7 a5 33.Ra7 Rd8 34.Bxe7 Nxe7 35.Rxa5 Rb8 36.Bb5 Nf5 37.h4 Nxh4 38.Bc4 Ng6 39.Ra7+ Kf6 40.Ra6 Nf4 41.g3 Rc8 42.Bb3 Ne2+ 43.Kg2 Nd4 Draw.

This is how an opportunity to leap ahead in this matchup was missed. The remaining games gave neither side real chances for a success, all of them finishing in expected draws.  

It was another unfortunate case of the Russian women’s team suffering a defeat. Their opponents from Armenia solved the problem of the black color, successfully quenching Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina's attacking potential. On the other hand, White players managed to rule and ended up chalking up two victories; the victims being Alexandra Goryachkina and Natalia Pogonina. 

Going into round seven, 12 match points are with teams Azerbaijan and Poland. The Russian Men's team has scored 9 match points.

Having scored 11 points each in the women’s section are teams USA, Georgia-1 and Armenia.  The Russians are trailing 3 points behind. 

Natalya Komarova, Vasily Filipenko (in the center), Nona Gaprindashvili, and Georgy Giorgadze (photo credit: V. Barsky)

The same evening Arkady Dvorkovich’s Chess Lounge held a reception in honor of Khanty-Mansiysk. The official part of the evening heard a speech given by the governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Yugra Natalya Komarova, who cited Vsevolod Rozhdestvensky’s poems about Batumi, as well as speeches by the President of the Georgian Chess Federation Georgy Giorgadze, President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov, FIDE presidential candidate Arkady Dvorkovich and the fifth world champion Nona Gaprindashvili. 

The speakers thanked organizers for the warm welcome in Batumi and wished Khanty-Mansiysk success in hosting the 2020 chess Olympiad. In his emotional speech Andrey Filatov voiced his best wishes to Khanty-Mansiysk, as well as calling on all delegates to support Arkady Dvorkovich’s candidacy at the upcoming FIDE presidential elections.  

The creative part of the evening saw a classical guitarist Dmitri Illarionov and a bayan-player Nikolay Sivchuk perform several pieces. Organizers did not stop there: the program also featured a quiz, during which the guests were up to guessing names of famous people playing chess from the pictures shown them. Grandmasters Ilya Smirin and Maria Manakova were among the most active participants. Performing for the guests was also a Georgian musical band. In between the guests could enjoy as much communication as possible while listening to the DJ music. A season of receptions in the Chess Lounge has been officially opened, and successfully so!