Candidates Matches – the adventure of arriving in Elista

by ChessBase
5/27/2007 – The participants of the qualifying event for the World Championship arrived in Elista on Friday, to take part in an openings ceremony, where white and black sheep determined the colours of the first game. It was a fairly adventurous trip involving a mad rush between airports in Moscow, and a minor bus accident in Elista which left the players shaken but not stirred. Big picture report.

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The Candidates Matches for the 2007 World Chess Championship Tournament will be held in Elista, Russia, from May 26 to June 14, 2007. A total of 16 candidates play two rounds of six-game matches to fill four places in the 2007 World Championship in Mexico City. The prize fund is US $40,000 per match, most of the money ($320,000) coming from a personal fund of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, FIDE ($160,000) and the general sponsor, Rosenergomash.

Arrival in Elista

The participants of the Candidates Matches gathered in Moscow, arriving from their various places of residence, to board a charter machine for Elista at 13:40 p.m. on May 25. This was a somewhat breath-taking affair, as we shall see in the report filed by Henrik Carlsen below. But in the end everybody finally touched ground at Elista airport. All were given the traditional white Kalmyk shawl on their arrival.

Michael Adams, followed by Carsten Hensel, the manager of Peter Leko

Look who's in Elista: former world champion Boris Spassky, member of the Appeals Committee

Evgeny Bareev, who in the first round faces...

... this awesome lady, in the process of receiving her shawl: Judit Polgar

Former FIDE world champion and all-round cool dude: Rustam Kasimdzhanov

No, it's not going to hurt, it's just a shawl: Peter Leko arrives in Elista

Peter's opponent is the wily, experienced Mikhail Gurevich

At the opening ceremony in the Kalmyk steppes: Organizing Committee chairman Valery Bovaev reporting to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov that everything has been done to ensure a successful Candidates Matches. In the background the players lined up for the drawing of colours.

The players drew their colors by selecting from two chests concealing white and black sheep. Judit Polgar draws a white sheep for round one of her match against Bareev

Etienne Bacrot has to start with a black sheep. Yes, those are real camels in the background

This is how they play in round one on Sunday, May 27:

White in round one Black in round one
Magnus Carlsen (NOR) Levon Aronian (ARM)
Peter Leko (HUN) Mikhail Gurevich (TUR)
Ruslan Ponomariov (UKR) Sergei Rublevsky (RUS)
Boris Gelfand (ISR) Rustam Kasimjanov (UZB)
Gata Kamsky (USA) Etienne Bacrot (FRA)
Alexander Grischuk (RUS) Vladimir Malakhov (RUS)
Michael Adams (ENG) Alexei Shirov (ESP)
Judith Polgar (HUN) Evgeny Bareev (RUS)

Reunion: US Candidate Gata Kamsky (in the white cap) gets to meet the camel, now full grown, that Ilyumzhinov presented him as a gift during the Karpov-Kamsky match eleven years ago

This is what you get for winning this time, Gata! Actually it is a "Breeders Day" in Kalmykia, and ranchers show off their prize cows, horses and sheep. Some of the bulls, we are told, weighed in at over one ton.

And camels! Did we forget the camels? They took part in a race, and the winner received a cup during the opening ceremony.

A traditional Kalmyk dinner, served in tents set up at the steppes. From left are FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Chief Arbiter Andrzej Filipowicz of Poland, FIDE Treasurer Nigel Freeman and FIDE Vice President Lewis Ncube of Zambia.

Earlier Organizing Committee chairman Valery Bovaev (right) addresses the players at the Technical Meeting, conducted together with Chief Arbiter Andrzej Filipowicz.

Players applauded when Andrzej Filipowicz announced that video tapes of the rest areas are for officials only and shall not be made available for viewing by others. After the meeting, GM Bacrot asked where the smoking room was, adding that GMs Gurevich and Grischuk would be interested to know as well.

Alexei Shirov with his seconds, GMs Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu

Filipowicz introduced members of the Appeals Committee headed by FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos. Members are GM Bozidar Ivanovic of Montenegro, GM Bolat Asanov of Kazakhstan and former world champion Boris Spassky.

The Appeals Committee: Spassky, Ivanovic and Asanov

Photos and information provided by Casto Abundo

Elista – the harrowing experience of getting there

After the arrival of the players in Elista FIDE Press Officer Dr. Peter Rajcsanyi issued the following statement: " During the transportation of the players and journalists of the Candidates Matches from the airport, a local child unexpectedly runs to the road. In order to avoid a serious accident the drivers of the buses had to apply a forced breaking which however pushed some of the passengers forward and they got some injuries. After careful medical examinations they were released from the medical control as their injuries were not serious and did not require further treatment."

Shaken: Magnus and Henrik Carlsen in Elista

A rather more vivid description of these occurrences, and of the adventure of getting to Elista, can be found on the Magnus Carlsen blog, which is painstakingly maintained by his father Henrik. We quote:

We (Magnus, his second Kjetil A.Lie and I) left Lommedalen, Norway 04:25 and arrived in Chess City, Elista 12 hours later. Not bad taking into account some hick-ups on our way and a solid combination of poor planning, helpfulness and risky car driving.

About a month ago we were told that the organiser would charter a plane to bring candidates and others from Moscow to Elista, leaving at 17 hours on the 25th. Having guessed that this might leave from the airfield for domestic flights (Vnukovo), some 70 kms from the international hub Sheremetyevo, we booked an early morning flight via Helsinki to arrive in Moscow at 12:05, and were happy about this choice when Vnukovo was confirmed as the airport for the chartered flight. That is, until.... yesterday (Thursday 24th) when we were informed that the departure time for the charter plane had been brought forward to 13:40.

The plan would be to still try to reach this plane, and the backup would be a flight to Volgograd and a four-hour (hazardous) drive to Elista today or tomorrow.

The plane from Helsinki landed on time and after running to the passport control and luggage pickup we were met and led to the waiting car. 12 minutes later a FIDE Vice President arriving from Frankfurt joined us and the driver took off (like a bat out of h....).

Unfortunately the traffic was heavy and by 13:30 we were still far from Vnukovo. We were passed by a police car with a blinking blue light, acting as an involuntary "escort" until traffic got lighter about 15 kilometer from Vnokovo. The remaining distance was covered in about 170 km/hour zig-zagging along the highway. A team of about six persons helped us through two security checks, a passport control, with the receipt of tickets, and a bus drive out to the plane where we arrived about ten minutes after leaving the car and, we had made it. Puh!

In Elista we were greeted in the most friendly way, beautiful sunshine and about 35 degrees C. After a while the busses headed for Elista and Chess City with police escort.

In the middle of Elista the police had to make an emergency break ahead of a careless pedestrian, the first bus stopped but the second (our) didn't in time and crashed in the bus in front, severely damaging our front and diesel started leaking from the bus in front. Some bruises were treated and some possibly hurt necks investigated by medical personnel and a new bus arrived to take us to Chess City.

One thing that troubled me was that the bus seemed to continue at an unexpected high speed in spite of the driver pulling the breaks. We seemed to float like on a wet road. When inspecting the break marks on the road, I found a ten meter break mark behind the right hand front wheel, but only a five meter mark behind the front left wheelm, and none behind the back wheels (which I thought normally takes most of the break power). The tires also seemed quite worn out. Old tires combined with uneven or missing break power obviously did not contribute positively in a dangerous situation.

Well, after an eventful (and dangerous) journey, it is finally time to concentrate on the task at hand; beating Aronian!


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