Looking back: Tromso

by Alejandro Ramirez
8/17/2014 – The Tromso Olympiad has come and gone, and we are left with beautiful memories of the most important chess gathering that happens every two years. Of course, not everything was positive. We bring you a review of the tournament, some of the highlights and lowlights, the ups and the downs, the final quickchats and a pictorial overview of what happened at the closing ceremony.

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Final Quickchats

Review

The Tromso Olympiad has come and gone, and we are left with beautiful memories of the most important chess gathering that happens every two years. Of course, not everything was positive. We bring you a review of the tournament, some of the highlights and lowlights, as well as pictures from the closing ceremony.

The chess itself was quite good. There were many memorable encounters, great performances as well as big disappointments.

Vladimir Kramnik was the only Russian player not to lose rating

Although Kramnik smashed Topalov after the Bulgarian team was on a roll. Russia's performance in the Olympiad was certainly below par, and although they did finish fourth they could easily have finished far behind that.

Iotov had a fantastic start; despite his finish not being as strong he can certainly be very proud of his event

Back to Bulgaria it is interesting to note that some teams had absolutely wonderful performances despite their final position on the table. Thanks to excellent results by Iotov and Topalov, Bulgaria was always near the top; unfortunately for them they collapsed in the final rounds and finished a mediocre 25th, mainly due to a tough loss in the last round against Belarus - a team that was never near the top boards but finished top 10.

Topalov got a gold medal and a nice boost of rating

Several teams simply did not live up to expectations. America never found its pace, and the only reason the tournament was not a disaster for them was because of the clutch tournament that Sam Shankland had.

Shankland was the hero America needed, but not the one they deserved

Some people expected France to grab a medal this year. Their awesome rating average combined with the youth of their boards seemed to give them a good chance, but they couldn't wrap the tournament up well enough to finish in the podium.

Edouard had a good tournament with a fabulous start, but a last round loss to Nepomniachtchi (Russia) gave his team a defeat and put it far down in the rankings

Norway, Italy and England certainly performed way below par. It just wasn't the Olympiad for any of these European teams who never found a good rhythm.

Carlsen lost two games this tournament, the first was against Naitisch (Germany)

Another example that final position on the rankings doesn't necessarily judge how good a team's performance is was the case of Singapore. Between the five team members Singapore gained a whopping 100 rating points! Not an easy feat at all!

But of course at the end of the day there were two huge surprises in the podium. It is true that Hungary wasn't necessarily the favorite to take the tournament, but no one is shocked when this traditionally strong team ends up medalling. No, the two surprises were certainly India, who came from behind to take bronze at the last minute, and China - a team so implacable that they lost only one game in the entire tournament. Not one match - one game! A more worthy team for the gold could not be found, the Chinese performance was by far the best in the tournament.

That being said, one of the beauties of the tournament is that there were so many successes that it is difficult to list them all... or even find them! Many small countries are celebrating some of their first titled players because of their performance at this Olympiad, and more than one of these federations is absolutely thrilled to have a new IM or FM in their ranks!

Sasikirian was vital to the Indian performance

In the women's section the tournament was truly not as exciting or as difficult to predict. True, the top seeded Chinese team did not win the tournament, but if it wasn't them it would certainly be Russia. The top four teams finished in the top four positions, although their order shuffled a little. It is strange that a tournament comes down to only one match, but it truly was all about the Russia vs. China duel. Hou Yifan had a good tournament (not spectacular as the last few), but unfortunately for China she did not shine in the one match that mattered.

Lagno came in big when it mattered most: she defeated Hou Yifan to help Russia in their 3-1 against China

When the Chinese team had a chance to catch Russia, they failed by drawing Spain

Two underdogs came strong near the beginning. Iran led the tournament at some point while Indonesia kept giving top teams surprise after surprise. However both teams went on heartbreaking losing streaks near the end and didn't finish as high as they could have.

The Indonesian team ready to hike a mountain on the free day

Two other teams that finished considerably down on the table despite having the toughest pairings were Hungary and Colombia. It isn't easy playing at the top, and one bad last round can ruin many things. Chess is simply unforgiving like that!

Colombia had a good event, but a bad finish. Their first board is Rodriguez Rueda.

India did not manage to live up to expectations, despite their reserve boards fantastic tournament. USA might have had a good chance at podium in this Olympiad if their first board had played at her usual level, but with Krush having such a hard time this simply was not going to happen.

This simply wasn't Krush's tournament

Organization

Overall the organization of Tromso was lackluster. Compared to previous Olympiads there was certainly some level of glamour missing from the tournament. Tromso was not a terrible location for the event, but it was far, it was very expensive, but more importantly it was a little small. The fact that some teams had to stay in houses or far away from the playing hall always causes some problems. That being said, Tromso is very beautiful, most everyone spoke English, and getting from one place to the other was usually not a problem if you were willing to put in the effort.

The hotels were nice, but almost everyone complained that the rooms were too small

The playing hall was not the best. The top players were consistently complaining of the lack of air circulation... but they were oblivious that the bottom boards were too close to the exit, had too much wind coming in and were therefore too cold to play in! The room was noisy because every so often a ship would blow its horn which could be loudly heard through the playing hall. An unusual problem.

The biggest problem and the most common complain though were the toilets; the portable potties that they brought in were simply not adequate for a tournament of this caliber.

The food had mixed reviews. Although the buffets provided to the players were quite good, the main problem with them was that it was the same buffet (with one or two changes a day) day after day after day.

Closing Ceremony

The moment when it is all official: China 3-1 Poland

The Chinese players were very emotional as soon as it is over

The Chinese women did not have a bad event, though they did not obtain gold.

Hungary obtained a deserved silver medal, especially due to Balogh Csaba's (right) efforts on board two

Always a good time for a selfie: the Russian team

A packed hall to finish off the event

Russia won their category prize (best team that did not finish in the top three); but some of the team members were missing

Bronze to Gold: Dauletova, Guo Qi, Padmini Rout

Nepomniachtchi, Moiseenko and Shankland on reserve.

A proud Indian team finished bronze

The Chinese team was absolutely ecstatic through the event

Deserved winners!

Only one game lost in the entire tournament (1/44): China

The Ukrainian ladies finished third

While Russia led the entire way and finished with gold

The Gaprindashvili cup went to China who barely edged out Russia on tiebreaks (this is the best overall country in the Olympiad, including both Open and Women's sections).

Congratulations to the winners... but isn't everyone a winner in this tournament?

The Jamaican team seems to think so.

The torch has been passed to Baku as they will be the host of the 2016 World Chess Olympiad!

The best open players sorted according rating performance

No. Ti. Name Rtg Team Rp Pts.
Gms
%
Bo.
1 GM Yu Yangyi 2668 China 2912 9.5
11
86.4
3
2 GM Topalov Veselin 2772 Bulgaria 2872 6.5
9
72.2
1
3 GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son 2634 Vietnam 2843 8.5
10
85.0
2
4 GM Balogh Csaba 2637 Hungary 2839 7.0
9
77.8
2
5 GM Adams Michael 2740 England 2839 6.5
9
72.2
1
6 GM Giri Anish 2745 Netherlands 2836 8.0
11
72.7
1
7 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2743 Azerbaijan 2833 7.0
10
70.0
1
8 GM Shankland Samuel L 2624 USA 2831 9.0
10
90.0
5
9 GM Ding Liren 2742 China 2831 7.5
10
75.0
2
10 GM Svetushkin Dmitry 2547 Moldova 2809 8.0
9
88.9
2
11 GM Shirov Alexei 2709 Latvia 2800 7.0
10
70.0
1
12 GM Carlsen Magnus 2877 Norway 2799 6.0
9
66.7
1
13 GM Aronian Levon 2805 Armenia 2789 6.5
10
65.0
1
14 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2698 Spain 2784 8.0
11
72.7
1
15 GM Bacrot Etienne 2720 France 2781 7.0
10
70.0
2
16 GM Caruana Fabiano 2801 Italy 2776 6.5
9
72.2
1
17 GM Sedlak Nikola 2554 Serbia 2773 6.5
8
81.3
4
18 GM Ortiz Suarez Isan R. 2603 Cuba 2766 6.0
8
75.0
4
19 GM Bruzon Batista Lazaro 2664 Cuba 2762 8.0
11
72.7
2
20 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2768 France 2760 6.0
10
60.0
1

The best women players sorted according rating performance

No. Title Name Rtg Team Rp Pts.
Gms
%
Bo.
1 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2550 Georgia 2719 8.0
9
88.9
1
2 GM Hou Yifan 2661 China 2671 7.0
9
77.8
1
3 GM Cramling Pia 2500 Sweden 2659 10.0
11
90.9
1
4 GM Gunina Valentina 2524 Russia 2651 8.0
10
80.0
2
5 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2531 Russia 2639 7.5
9
83.3
3
6 IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag 2410 Mongolia 2638 9.0
10
90.0
1
7 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2505 Bulgaria 2599 8.5
10
85.0
1
8 GM Khotenashvili Bela 2494 Georgia 2589 8.0
10
80.0
2
9 WGM Padmini Rout 2318 India 2584 7.5
8
93.8
5
10 IM Ziaziulkina Nastassia 2407 Belarus 2580 9.0
11
81.8
1
11 WGM Ju Wenjun 2559 China 2564 8.0
11
72.7
2
12 GM Harika Dronavalli 2521 India 2528 7.5
10
75.0
1
13 GM Lagno Kateryna 2540 Russia 2524 6.0
10
60.0
1
14 WGM Guo Qi 2453 China 2520 6.5
8
81.3
5
15 GM Muzychuk Anna 2555 Ukraine 2513 6.0
10
60.0
1
16 GM Zhukova Natalia 2468 Ukraine 2512 7.5
10
75.0
4
17 WGM Khademalsharieh S. 2324 Iran 2509 7.0
9
77.8
2
18 GM Danielian Elina 2490 Armenia 2509 6.0
9
66.7
1
19 GM Sebag Marie 2480 France 2502 5.0
9
55.6
1
20 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2479 Russia 2496 5.5
7
78.6
5

Photos of the closing ceremony by Paul Truong, taken from the official website

Other Photos by Andre Schulz, Alejandro Ramirez and Pascal Simon


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All you need to know about the Olympiad

  • Full information on the games, the venue, the atmosphere and what's happening on and off the chessboard – 68 pages in PDF, 45 MB in size.
  • All practical details you need to know before and after your arrival, including information about money, the climate, arriving at Oslo and Tromsø Airports, lost or delayed luggage, check-in at the hotels, the accreditation desk, information offices and the opening ceremony.

All ChessBase reports on the 2014 Olympiad in Tromsø




Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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bobby1 bobby1 8/19/2014 10:57
speaking of disappointments - disappointing to see Chessbase not mentioning here the 3 times (in last 4 games) Olympic champion Armenia's mediocre performance (finished 8th).
Joseph Goldstein Joseph Goldstein 8/17/2014 08:32
There is hard to imagine a male team with lesser developed biceps than the winners of Tromsö 2014.
Freakingly thin, the whole team.
vdpandit vdpandit 8/17/2014 09:30
Thank you, ChessBase! Because of you, we had a nice coverage of the whole event round-by-round (along with nice photographs and games). Every chess lover in the world waits for this important event to occur and I am sure you quenched his/her thirst for information of the event.
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