Final preparations for the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku

by Manuel Weeks
8/31/2016 – Tomorrow is the opening ceremony, on Friday the captains' and arbiters' meetings, and at 3 p.m. local time Round 1 of the Olympiad. A team of 400 artists, choreographers, composers and support staff is conducting the final dry runs for the Opening. The chess competitions will see a record-breaking 181 teams from 176 countries in the Open section, and 142 women’s teams. ChessBase will cover the event extensively, here is part two of our preview.

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2016 Baku Olympiad Baku preview

By Manuel Weeks

Read part one of our Olympiad Preview

Before we start here is our poll, which is different to the Olympia Quiz we published yesterday. There you make a prediction by email, and three readers, selected at random from all correct answers, will win one Master Class with Garry Kasparov (in addition all readers who send in answers take part in a lottery, in which you can win a one-year Premimum Membership for the ChessBase Account). Here in our poll you simply vote for a team, and then check what other readers think. You need to have a ChessBase Account to vote in the poll. The top seeds at the Olympiad are:

  • Russia: Vladimir Kramnik, Sergey Karjakin, Alexander Grischuk, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Ian Nepomniachtchi
  • USA: Players: Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Ray Robson, Sam Shankland
  • China: Wang Yue, Li Chao, Ding Liren, Yu Yangyi, Wei Yi
  • Azerbaijan: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Teimour Radjabov, Eltaj Safarli, Rauf Mamedov, Arkadij Naiditsch.
  • Ukraine: Pavel Eljanov, Ruslan Ponomariov, Yury Kryvoruchko, Anton Korobov, Andrei Volokitin

Who do you think will win?




Now to our Olympiad preview. Apart from the battle of the heavyweights there are always interesting subplots at the Olympiad. The official website Baku Olympiad has a wealth of information as well as the official twitter feed, Baku twitter, which pointed to some of the nicest stories of the upcoming Olympiad.

Which GM is still an active 2600 grandmaster in his sixties, has been World Junior Champion, Soviet Champion four times, been a candidate, played for the Soviet team at Olympiads four times, played for the Ukrainian team and now represents his adopted country of Slovenia with aplomb? I was his arbiter in Manila 1992, where he played a game against a young Ivan Sokolov. Both players turned up early to the game, sat down around ten minutes before the starting time and began to concentrate on the starting position. I still wish to this day I had had a camera with me, both players expanding energy across the board getting the “engine” working as it were. There was even an adjournment, which must be a foreign word to some of the young players now. No computers to analyse with, just try to find as many willing strong teammates to help you analyse before the next morning when you had to actually get up early to finish your game!

I give to you the uncompromising Alexander Beliavsky! We wish him many more Olympiads!

There is still a man who has appeared in more Olympiads then anyone for his country, one of the original legends of Asian chess, Asia's first grandmaster Eugenio Torre, who at 62 will appear in his 23rd Olympiad in Baku!

The other sure to be popular story will be GM Pia Cramling playing alongside her daughter Anna for the Swedish women’s team, captained by husband and father GM Juan Bellon Lopez! Not sure how many team can claim such a family connection at such a high level.

Please visit the official website for more information and it is good to see they seem to have employed chess photographer David Llada who can bring the images to life of all the chess players who we enjoy playing through their games. Or simply check out the teams of your countries.

Big portrait report on the Indian teams on ChessBase India

When looking through the team lists it is always interesting to see who is captain or coach for various teams. Some of the most famous grandmasters from years gone by have often been able to share their wealth of knowledge as trainers or captains.

  • Alexey Dreev – captain of Azerbaijan
  • Judit Polgar - captain of Hungary
  • Serge Rublevsky – captain of the Russian women’s team
  • Jon Speelman – captain of the England women’s team
  • Yasser Seirawan – captain of the USA women’s team
  • Ulf Andersson – captain of the Brazil women’s team
  • Ian Rogers – captain of Australian Women’s team

The Olympiad will be held in the opulent surroundings of the Crystal Hall in Baku starting from the 1st of September, surely every chess fan will be watching not only their own team but the crucial matches at the top which will decide the medals!

A close up look at the Crystal hall

Not quite 64 squares but it will hold most of the world’s best chess players for two weeks in September

The organisers have even made many videos welcoming the various visitors to Baku. It promises to be the true chess festival of the chess calendar year of 2016!


A team of 400 artists, choreographers, composers and support staff is conducting the final dry runs of the opening ceremony of the 42nd World Chess Olympiad. A number of Azerbaijan’s renowned art figures are involved in the organization of the ceremony to be held at the National Gymnastics Arena. Costumes and music have already been approved. The ceremony is expected to last for one hour and feature some aspects of the chess tradition in Azerbaijan, including elements of national culture.

A “Art and Chess Festival” was held on the 27th and 28th of August. 23 talented professional artists created spirit of chess, vibrance and creativity by coloring chess pieces and painting unique patterns on them. As a result, every chess piece constitutes a distinct work of art. The creative work process and colored chess pieces can be seen on the photos below.

Promotional and informative videos

Olympiad schedule

Date Time Event, function
1 September 18:30/20:30 Arrival, Opening, Captains meeting
2 September 10:00/15:00 Arbiters meeting/Round 1
3 September 15:00 Round 2
4 September 15:00 Round 3
5 September 15:00 Round 4
6 September 15:00/22:00 Round 5/Bermuda Party
7 September   Day Off
8 September 15:00 Round 6
9 September 15:00 Round 7
10 September 15:00 Round 8
11 September 15:00 Round 9
12 September 15:00 Round 10
13 September 11:00/19:30 Round 11/Closing Ceremony
14 September All day Departure day

The pairings and results will be available on the official website, at the venues of the Olympiad and the Congress, as well as in all the hotels accommodating the players, at the Information desk. The teams captains are asked to announce to the Organizers their team composition for the next round after the end of the previous one, or on the morning of the round to begin. The deadline for submitting the teams composition is 11 a.m. of the day of the round.

The captain will be given green cards for the players who will play in the next round. The cards are personal, so no switch between the players will be possible. The players are asked to carry their green player cards with their accreditation badges. Players who don’t participate in the round are asked to enter the venue from the visitors’ entrance if they wish to follow the game.

Anti-cheating procedures

Before the start of each round: the players and the Captains will walk through X-ray frames (as in airports) at the entrance to the playing hall, while security staff will check their bags. They will have to leave their mobiles, smart watches and pens in the storage area and get them back when they leave the playing venue.

During the round: there will be random checks for approximately 30 to 40 players. The checks will be done by anti-cheating arbiters with the use of the non-linear scanners and detectors, and will take five to ten seconds per check. In the case where there is any indication, a thorough check will follow in a private room, in the presence of Sector Arbiter and/or Chief Arbiter. If a player refuses to cooperate with these obligations, the arbiter will forfeit the player. Special attention will be given to the first four matches, where during every round about 20 players from both sections will be checked randomly.

Immediately after the end of the games of every round: there will be random checks for approximately five to ten players. The arbiter may require the player to allow his clothes, bags or other items to be inspected, in private. The arbiter or a person authorized by the arbiter shall inspect the player and shall be of the same gender as the player.

All games of all rounds will be checked by Prof. Ken Regan’s program, and the Chief Arbiter and the responsible for the Anti cheating Sector Arbiter will receive daily relevant reports. Suspicious cases according to the report will have always priority for checking during and after the rounds.

The Anti-cheating arbiters, besides checking of the players with the non linear scanners and detectors, will have the responsibility to control the contact of the players while they are walking in the playing area or they are in the bar area or in the smoking area, so on and avoid any discussions between the players during the games. Players and captains may speak between each other only according to the Laws of Chess and always in the presence of the Match Arbiter.

The players of every Match must inform their Match Arbiter when they leave the playing area in order to go to the toilet, to the bar or to the smoking area. They are not allowed to leave the playing venue, while their game is still in progress. The Captains also are not allowed to leave the playing venue, while their Match is still in progress. If they want to be replaced by another person, they have to inform the Match Arbiter in writing. The replacement will be allowed only once per round.

The players will only use pens provided by the Organizers. The pens will be collected by the Match Arbiter after the end of every game and will be used for the next round.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Manuel has been an international arbiter, a national coach at various world Juniors, a press officer, the Director of various tournaments and has been to eleven Olympiads as captain of the Australian Open team. Straight after the last Olympiad a small group went immediately from Tromso to Mainz to see Manuel get married to his lovely wife Brigitta. They live in London.


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