World Cup Part I
September 1, 2011 2 Comments
I qualified for the World Cup with my result in Mexico, back in April. I was looking forward to playing in the tournament but was certainly not looking forward to the process getting there. The travel is horrible. Khanty-Mansiysk (KM) is in the middle of nowhere. I left home at about noon on the 24th. Flew into Moscow on the morning of the 25th. Waited there for 14 hours and then flew to KM to arrive at my hotel at, 5am KM time, on the 26th. 31 hours total after leaving my house. What a trip. Something tells me that the Moscow players who arrived at their KM hotel 7 hours after leaving home were not as grumpy;).
I didn’t sleep much on the way there. Some choppy sleep on planes and in the Moscow airport. Passed out at 6am at the hotel. Next thing I know, it’s 7pm. I vaguely recall turning off my alarm clock at 2pm. The bad stuff was over.
The above wasn’t even such a bad journey. Hal Bond had a similar travel time. Eric Hansen traveled for about as many hours from Calgary. His luggage was lost on the way. He got his luggage right before his second game. Zong-Yuan Zhao is Australia’s best chess player. His flight was much worse. I actually ran into him at the Moscow airport. He was originally supposed to make it to KM on the 25th, but only got there on the 27th (a day after me)! Yuan agreed to be a guest-writer on this blog and he will give you some more details on that. The good thing is that after trips like these, a short travel to Europe is a joke;). Chess players build resilience.
Eric got to KM on the morning of the 27th. We went to buy him a shirt. Delayed luggage takes time to get to KM. Then we went to see the city. My experience is not that of most Canadians. I speak Russian and feel very comfortable with the people. People in KM are very nice, especially by comparison to those in Moscow. This might sound strange to you if you have never been to Russia. Hotel staff generally has poor English, but you can’t find any English off the hotel grounds. This was my second time in KM, both as a player and a translator. I already knew the city well. We were staying beside a grocery store which I visited last year and very close to the bank.
The formalities started with the Player’s Meeting. The meeting stated the obvious: the tournament is not organized for the players. No tolerance on lateness. You must sit at the board when the game starts. No excuses. No electronic communication devices allowed. To a question on whether players were allowed to take photos, the chief arbiter replied by going around in many circles to finally let us know that we are not allowed to have cameras in the playing hall. There is professional media for that. Something that should also be clarified is the living arrangements. There were four hotels for the event. As usual, the FIDE officials and arbiters were placed in the best one, while the players were spread among the other ones.
Then came the opening ceremony, which was beautiful. It also included the drawing of lots – the only thing the players cared about. A lot of the players left right upon hearing their colour for the first game to go on and prepare. This was followed by a small reception.
The first round was to take place the next day. Below are some photos. Game one to come in the next post.
Watch your step as you enter the washroom
Entrance to Victory Park
Ummm… this looks familiar from 2010
What used to be Olympic Hotel. No longer operating
Theater where Opening Ceremony took place
A local park
Memories of childhood?
KM is quite modern but still has places like this
World Chess Cup sign
IM Eric Hansen in front of the tournament hall
The Players Meeting
French GMs Fressinet and Vachier-Lagrave at the Opening Ceremony
FIDE President Ilyumzhinov and Mayor of KM
One of the beautiful performances at the Opening Ceremony