Chess Olympiad: Chess and Culture

by ChessBase
5/16/2006 – The 37th Chess Olympiad will be an event full of chess, and full of cultural activities related to the game. Chess and Music, Chess and Theatre, Chess and Cinema – these are some of the themes of the Olympiad. The games themselves will be broadcast on the Internet, with GM Yasser Seirawan doing highlight commentary and interviews.

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Turin 2006: A Chess Culture Olympiad

By Roberto Rivello

The most important aspect in a Chess Olympiad is, of course, the competition: games, teams, emotions day after day, and, in the end, the determination of the winners.

In Turin there will be a really great fight: with a record of participants: 140 nations will be represented and, among them, some new entries in the Olympiad, such as Taipei, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Sudan and Syria. Also the best players in the world will be represented (Topalov, Anand, Kramnik, Morozevich, …), as well as all the strongest young grandmasters (Radjabov, Karjakin, Carlsen, Vachier Lagrave and many others). Every single game played by every team will be transmitted online: so you will be able to enjoy this spectacle even if you are not in Turin.

Coverage on Playchess

The games of the 37th Chess Olympiad will be broadcast on the official web site. But a large number of selected games will also be shown on, in a special Chess Olympiad broadcast zone:

Apart from the games transmissions, which are free, there will be special live commentary and interviews with GM Yasser Seirawan, who will be present in Turin for the entire duration of the Olympiade.

GM Yasser Seirawan in his "Playchess Studio"

In order to watch the live commentary and interviews broadcast by Yasser Seirawan you will need to have "ducats", the currency that is used on the Playchess server.

You may already have ducats on your account, e.g. if you have purchased them or won some in games and tournaments. Check your account using "Edit – Payments – View Account".

The price for viewing all the Seirawan broadcasts for a full round is ten ducats, which translates to €1 or $1.30. If you have 192 ducats on your account, as displayed in the picture above, you are fine and set to go. If not you should order some quickly. It usually takes a day or two for the transaction to be completed.

You can buy ducats in the ChessBase Shop

Note that ducats can be used to purchase all kinds of services on the Playchess server, and also to buy products in the ChessBase Shop. So stock up on them now, they will not go to waste...

Cultural programme

But from the 20th of May till the 4th of June there will be much more to see in the hosting city: for 15 days Turin will become the capital of chess culture, from every point of view. In a programme which we have named “Smart Moves”, we will try to explore the very different aspects of genius and discipline in the art of chess, presenting a great deal of entertainments, exhibitions and conferences.

Chess and Music

The Olympic anthem was composed by Ennio Morricone, a very famous Italian musician (I suppose you remember the musical themes of films such as Mission, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and many others).

Ennio Morricone is even a keen chess player and has taken part in some regular tournaments organised in Italy. It is thanks to his great passion that he agreed to grant the request of the Organising Committee to compose the anthem. This composition, called “Torino-Scacchi 2006”, has been conceived for orchestra and chorus and will be played in the opening ceremony at the Lingotto Auditorium on the 20th of May.

The Chess Olympiad anthem was performed for the first time the 17th of April, during the Suzuki Talent Centres World Convention (thousands of young music students converged on Turin for this Convention dedicated to the learning method introduced by the Japanese violinist Suzuki).

Besides, the Suzuki Talent Centre orchestra of Turin, made up of about 35 very young musicians, will take part to the opening ceremony, proposing a programme in which music weds Olympiad and chess, including, for instance, the performance of pieces by Vivaldi from his opera “the Olympiad” as well as the anthem of the International Chess Federation composed by Count Giancarlo Dal Verme.

The some day the musician Magic Malik, born in Guadalupe and now living in Paris, will be proposing a different and very original theme about the relationship between jazz and chess.

Chess and Theatre

The 19th of May, in the “Teatro Carignano”, one of the historical theatres of Turin, built in the 1711, the company “Teatro della Tosse”, well known in Italy, will present the play “Alice nella casa dello specchio”, from the book Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.

It is the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, although it makes no reference to its events. While the first book has the deck of cards as a theme, this book is loosely based on a game of chess, for which the author provides a list of moves (although the game cannot be carried out legally due to a move where White doesn't move out of check, much as it might happen if a young child were playing).

Even the sequence of moves (white and red) is not always followed, which goes along with the book's mirror image reversal theme as noted by the mathematician Martin Gardner. In any case the Lewis Carroll’s intention was to conceive a problem with the Excelsior theme, a poetic form for a walk in the footsteps of Sam Loyd.

Chess and Cinema

In Turin there is a very important Cinema Museum, where cinema is narrated in 9,000 documents, paintings and prints, 130,000 photos, 200,000 posters, 7,000 films and 20,000 volumes, with an annual 500,000 visitors. There are interesting collections of posters dedicated to silent film, especially milestones like "Il Fuoco", "Il Guanto”, and "Cabiria", Italy’s first silent film, made in Turin in 1914 by Giovanni Pastrone, based on a story by Gabriele D’Annunzio. Italian Neorealism is dealt with in detail – from “Bicycle Thieves” to “Rome – Open City” – and there are films from Hollywood’s golden era: "Sunset Boulevard", "Citizen Cane", "The Lady from Shanghai", "Stagecoach", "Gilda" and "Singing in the Rain". The Museum’s layout is also extremely striking, thanks to François Confino’s architecture.

During the Chess Olympiad in the Cinema Museum halls a selection of the most important movies in which chess plays an important role will be projected: works by film directors such as Chaplin, Bergman, Varda, Gorris, Jayanti and many others.

Chess and Technology

From the 25th of May till the 1st of June the 14th World Computer Chess Championship will be held in Turin. The World Computer Chess Championship (WCCC), organised by the International Computer Games Association (ICGA), had its first edition in 1974 and has since then it has much contributed to the improvement of computers and of software playing chess. The best chess software in the world will participate to this competition.

In the same days there will be a Computer Olympiad, again organised by the ICGA. Every year games subjected to testing change in relation to the current interest of the scientific community. In Turin, programs can be submitted for 28 different games, including Chinese Chess, Go, Shogi, Clobber, Dots and Boxes, Computational Pool, and, for the first time, Kriegsspiel! It has a strongly scientific imprint and attracts leading researchers in the field of software for games of strategy other than chess. The development of programs for such games is recognised as an extremely fertile field for Artificial Intelligence research.

The technology lovers will also appreciate the biannual Computer and Games Conference: it is the leading international forum for research and development on all aspects of artificial intelligence as it relates to computer games software. After previous conferences in Japan, North America and Israel, the sixth edition will be hosted in Turin, during the Chess Olympiad. On the occasion the local academic world in the form of the Department of Information Technology of Turin University will be hosting the Conference.

Finally, a series of conferences will be held during the Olympiad, regarding the most sensitive and recent themes; questions such as the state of the art of games software, theoretical developments and relations with advances in research; in addition to new techniques of Artificial Intelligence as applied to games and social and cognitive aspects of computer chess. Leading national and international experts will participate to the congresses: among them

  • Paolo Ciancarini, Professor of Information Technology at the University of Bologna, expert in chess playing machines;
  • David Levy, President of the International Computer Game Association and International chess Master;
  • Giuseppe Longo, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Trieste, author of texts on cybernetics and artificial intelligence;
  • Jonathan Schaeffer, Professor of Information Technology at the University of Alberta and author of the Chinook program, world checkers champion;
  • Piergiorgio Odifreddi, Professor of Logic at the University of Turin and author of various books and TV programmes on the history of science and mathematics.

The proceedings of the conference-symposium will be published by Springer, while a second volume will be issued as a part of the collection “Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence”.

Chess and Photography

The photography competition "ScattoMatto" aimed at experienced photographers as well as amateurs who will be invited to celebrate key moments of the Olympiad and whatever related to chess.

What else? Chess and education: with a conference in the Aula Magna of the University of Turin, about the importance of chess as an education tool; Chess and books, Chess and ethic and many other topics. It is enough for coming to Turin? We do hope you can really enjoy all this.


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