Miskolc 2008: the games start today

by ChessBase
5/28/2008 – The two world-class players, former chess prodigies, Peter Leko and Magnus Carlsen, begin their eight-game rapid chess match today in Miskolc, Hungary. Yesterday was the traditionally spectacular opening ceremony, with a very impressive drama and dance presentation in Hungarian and Norwegian, including battles of the Vikings and the Huns. As usual we are present in Miskolc.

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Peter Leko vs Magnus Carlsen
in Miskolc, Hungary

The year’s most prestigious clash in Hungary is taking place in Miskolc, Hungary. Top Hungarian GM, Péter Lékó is playing eight rapid chess games against challenger, Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

The event takes place from May 28th to June 1st, with the games starting at 16:30h and 18:00h CEST (4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. local time, which is Central European Summer Time = GMT +2). The arbiter is WGM Zsuzsa Veröci, Head of Communication of the Hungarian Chess Federation. The games can be watched live on the official site and on Playchess.com. At the end of each day of play there is a short press conference of 10-15 minutes with both players. On the final day the press conference will last about 30 minutes.


27 May (Tuesday) 18.00h Opening ceremony and hosting of the draw
28 May (Wednesday)   16.30h First game of the match
  18.00h Second game of the match.
29 May (Thursday) 16.30h Third game of the match
  18.00h Fourth game of the match
30 May (Friday) 16.00h Public event, ITC International Trade Center  
31 May (Saturday) 16.30h Fifth game of the match
  18.00h Sixth game of the match
1 June (Sunday) 16.30h Seventh game of the match
  18.00h Eighth game of the match
  19.30h Closing ceremony of the match

Location of the event: National Theatre (1 Déryné str) in Miskolc.

Miskolc lies in the north-east of Hungary

Miskolc, pronounced "Meesh-kolts", with a moderate stress on the first syllable, is an industrial city in the north-eastern part of Hungary. The population is around 200,000, making it the third-largest city of the country (after Budapest and Debrecen to the south of Miskolc).

While we are on the subject: Budapest is the capital of the country, which is called Hungary, Kelly.

The above link was sent to us by GM Ian Rogers, who likes to disturb our equanimity and get us all worked up and depressed. Watch it at your own peril.

Opening ceremony

Wait a minute, haven't we been here before? Yes, it's deja vu all over again, as a great American philosopher once put it. You will see what we mean if you check out the reports on the previous years in Miskolc – the links are given at the end of this report.

"You are going to Miskolc?" someone in the ChessBase office asked. "Again? Why?" Well, (a) because it is easy to get there – just a one-and-a-half hour hop from Hamburg. (b) They send someone to pick you up at Budapest airport, where there was no passport or baggage checks – we are all one big family in the European Union. (c) It is a pleasant two-hour drive in the latest BMW with enough technical gimmicks to keep you busy throughout the journey. (d) You are taken directly to the hotel where the players are staying, one of our favourites of all tournaments – see below for a more detailed explanation. (e) Everyone is extremely friendly and relaxed, including Polgarmester (Lord Mayor) of Miskolc Sándor Káli. (f) The weather is great, summer is here, everything is in full bloom. (g) The event is usually a lot of fun.

It must be stressed, again, that the City Hotel is a fine place to stay. When we arrived here the first time, two years ago, we asked the receptionist anxiously whether they had Internet in the hotel. He looked puzzled and said, "Yes, of course. Wireless and LAN. Here's a cable of you need one." "What is the charge?" we asked. An even more puzzled look. "It is free." It felt as if we had asked whether the rooms had running water and then how much that cost extra. All this in stark contrast to hotels in other, more primitive countries, like Germany, Holland and Spain, where we have struggled to get a proper DSL line or were charged 1500 times more than the actual cost for its use.

We arrived just in time for the press conference, which took place in the Town Hall

Peter Leko (whose name in Hungarian sports a lot of accents) and Magnus Carlsen pose with their Polgarmester Sándor Káli, who is a great patron of chess.

The professionally warm smiles of Peter Leko and Sandor Kali

"Smile, Magus," we said. Yes, that's it, we are getting there...

And later on: exactly what we wanted.

Magnus being interviewed by the Hungarian press (with the help of a translator)

At the National Theatre a music and dance spectacle, especially prepared for the players

The performance was an artistic fusion of national and cultural characteristics of both countries, Norway and Hungary.

The music of the performance came from the Norwegian composer Edward Grieg and his famous Solveig's Song from Peer Gynt, and Hungarian folk tunes with accompanying dance choreography. The theatrical presentations covered battles of the Vikings and the Huns, interspaced with video battles on the chess board.

It is not an easy job, even for a modern digital camera, to capture the atmosphere in the darkened theatre

A kind of Chess Queen (Caissa?) in the background presides over the stage

The whole show was very clever and impressive.We have filmed all 25 minutes of it and will probably present our video on a future edition of ChessBase Magazine.

Afterwards match arbiter WGM Zsuzsa Veröci is interviewed about the rules of the match

After that the drawing of colours – Peter Leko got white in game one

Then, at last, the sumptuous buffet, with Magnus and his father Henrik Carlsen trying the rich Hungarian cuisine

What? This is just fish. The erstwhile radical vegan Peter Leko has now loosened his principles, somewhat

The best place to enjoy the meal is a window sill of the Town Hall reception room

Just ask GM Arshak Petrosian, trainer and mentor to Peter Leko, his son-in-law

Paparazzi? No, official photographer Szilvia, wife of the main organiser Attila Barva

Report and pictures by Frederic Friedel in Miskolc


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