In beautiful Batumi!

by Sagar Shah
9/23/2018 – Batumi is a resort and port city on the Black Sea. It is the capital of the Georgian republic of Adjara and it is also the host city for the 43rd World Chess Olympiad 2018. The organizers have predicted that 4,000 people from 189 countries will be present in Batumi over the next fortnight making it the central hub of the chess world for the next few days. ChessBase reporters Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal went through the city a couple of days before the beginning of the Olympiad and bring to you some of the best sights of Batumi.

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A day in the city of Batumi

The 43rd World Chess Olympiad begins in Batumi on September 24th. The opening ceremony will take place on the evening of the 23rd and the first round will be on the 24th at 15:00 local time (13:00 CEST / 11:00 UT / 7:00 AM EDT). Amruta and I have been to various events of great importance including the Candidates, World Cup, World Juniors, World Youth Olympiad and many more. However, this is the first time that we are at the Olympiad. And reporting from an event like the Olympiad will be a completely different ball game. At least the sheer number of people makes it extremely difficult to just go to the event without a plan. And hence, we decided to arrive in Batumi, the city where the 43rd Olympiad 2018 will be hosted, a couple of days in advance. On the evening of September 22nd, we decided to go to visit the city and see what was so special about it. 

I was expecting to see the city painted by chess players everywhere, but it was not the case! The chess players seem to be either arriving on the 23rd of September or just are too busy preparing in their hotel rooms!

The first thing we did was the Argo Cable Car ride from the city to the Anuria Mountains. 

The mountains are 250 metres above the sea level and the cable car ride is about 15 minutes one way. It will cost you 15 GEL (1 USD = 2.62 GEL) for the round trip. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

You get some very nice views of the city | Photo: Amruta Mokal

And slowly it dawns on you that Batumi is not a small city! The population of Batumi as of 2014 was 152,839 | Photo: Amruta Mokal

A nice mixture of buildings, greenery and the sea in the distance!

We were happy to see a couple of players wearing a chess-themed t-shirt. We went up to them and got to know they are from Guyana! Know more about these wonderful people!

The Guyana team at the Anuria mountain!

Batumi is beautiful! View from the cable car | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Batumi is beautiful II. View from the Anuria Mountains with three towers adorning the skyline! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Greenery all around! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The Astronomical Clock | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Made in Germany, the Astronomical Clock in Europe Square in the city of Batumi adorns the restored facade of the former National Bank building. A chime indicates the full hour, a single ring, the half-hour.

Apart from the time of day, the clock also shows astronomical information — the placement of the sun and the moon, the moon phase, the meridian and the horizon | Photo: Amruta Mokal

McDonald's is everywhere | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Earlier I used to get irritated seeing a McDonald's outlet. It would be there in every city that I visited and from many of the newspaper/online reports I had read I wasn't too happy about the quality of food that they serve. Apart from that, I felt that chains like McDonald's kill the business of local restaurants. But what I have begun to understand after extensive travelling is that sometimes more than better food, you just want something familiar. While I am all for local cuisine, there are days when you just want to lean on to something that you know. At McDonald's, the taste will be just what you expect! And slowly I have begun to appreciate the presence of McDonald's!

The Alphabet Tower! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Georgian alphabet, one of the 14 existing alphabets in the world, is unique with its ancient history and the past. Georgian people have always expressed their love towards this beautiful symbol of Georgian identity in different pieces of arts and compositions. The Alphabet tower in Batumi is 130-meter high iron construction embossed with 33 Georgian letters and represents the sample of architecture similar to the DNA double-helix structure.

Radisson Blu is one of the main hotels where many of the teams would be hosted! You can see the stark difference between structures in the above picture — the Radisson Blu and the tower beyond it and the humble four-storey houses in the foreground. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

One of the architectural marvels in the city is the statue of Ali and Nino | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Ali and Nino is a novel about a romance between a Muslim Azerbaijani boy and Christian Georgian girl in Baku in the years 1918-1920. It explores the dilemmas created by "European" rule over an "Oriental" society and presents a tableau portrait of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic period that preceded the long era of Soviet rule. It was published under the pseudonym Kurban Said.

The two statues start off far from each other. At a very slow pace they start moving in the direction of each other and at some point, it seems as if they are kissing each other! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The statue gives a very romantic feel to the city of Batumi and a lot of tourists just stand nearby the statue for many minutes waiting for the two structures to merge into one! Highly recommended!

Once they merge into one, they immediately separate from each other and start moving in opposite directions, only to meet once again after several minutes! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Batumi lies on the coast of the Black Sea and the blue waters give a nice feel to the city | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Walking through the cobbled streets of the city is great fun!| Photo: Amruta Mokal

It can be a great relaxation idea for the players to walk on seven-kilometre promenade of Batumi after a hard-fought game. You not only get to see the Ali Nino statue, but also the Alphabet tower and the black sea! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

A well-designed hotel | Photo: Amruta Mokal

One thing I did feel moving across the city was that there wasn't much history attached to this place. And hence instead of historical buildings, you had more artistic structures. History cannot be created, but art can always be! 

You definitely must not miss eating water chestnuts! We were in Istanbul, Turkey a few days ago and one could find "Kestanes" in just about every corner of the city. They are sold in Batumi as well! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Here's a three-minute video created by me and Amruta that gives you the feel of the city!

The above video was made using Samsung Note 8, Go Pro and Amruta's DSLR camera. Please do give us your feedback in the comments section below! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Amruta and I will be present for the coverage of the Batumi Chess Olympiad throughout the duration of the event. There will photographs, video interviews, game analysis and much more! We hope you enjoy our coverage.

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest news outlet in the country related to chess.
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jsaldea12 jsaldea12 9/27/2018 12:47
Chess at its peak and best is happening at Batumi
nramesh100 nramesh100 9/25/2018 08:05
Wonderful Coverage! Doing a great job! Feast for all the Chess Lovers. Pic quality is fantastic! Pls come back with Gold for India!
melante melante 9/24/2018 12:17
"the word surely came from the Portuguese «castanhas»"

I admire your confidence. Too bad you are forgetting the Roman empire came before the Portuguese and those words are just derived from the Latin "castanea".

BTW, great coverage: looking forward to two weeks of exciting chess!
Wunderopa Wunderopa 9/24/2018 12:23
Nice coverage introduction and pics! Wish you success during the event! Namaste!
Álvaro Pereira Álvaro Pereira 9/23/2018 11:10
I was in Batumi about 20 years ago. I see that the town is now much more modern. Interesting to know that in Turkey chestnuts are called «kestanes». The word surely came from the Portuguese «castanhas» (which also means brown, on the feminine plural). Perhaps it was introduced by Portuguese Jews who went to there during XV and XVI centuries.
Uommibatto Uommibatto 9/23/2018 08:44
Beautiful pictures and a great intro to the upcoming event!
prof44 prof44 9/23/2018 08:27
Marvellous coverage so far ! Please keep up the good work ..........
Setne007 Setne007 9/23/2018 07:33
Such wonderful pictures!
Patp Patp 9/23/2018 07:05
Hello, dears reporters.
Thank you very much for this city coverage ; it helps us to "travel" and improve our knowledge of foreign countries and cities welcoming great chess évents !
Best regards ; Patrice
Talhaunted Talhaunted 9/23/2018 06:48
Beautiful, you were good at conveying that.
When will be the choice of the new head of FIDE (every minute counts)?
A technicality, there is no such a thing as DNA cell, but DNA double helix or DNA molecule would have been a better choice of words...
elmerdsangalang elmerdsangalang 9/23/2018 06:16
Thanks for your beautiful introduction to Batumi and the Olympiad. When you get to meet WGM Nana Alexandria, kindly request her for an interview and convey to her my best regards.
anifa anifa 9/23/2018 06:15
what links to watch chess Olympiad on the internet and also the opening ceremony
fons4 fons4 9/23/2018 06:06
The Ali and Nino statue looks great, except for the chopped off arms, that's just creepy.
wedrey wedrey 9/23/2018 05:52
A chess Olympiad has not been organized in the American continent since 1978. Why?
Poisondart Poisondart 9/23/2018 05:50
very nice. looking forward to your always great reports!
geraldsky geraldsky 9/23/2018 03:27
The most exciting chess event in the world --World Chess Olympiad
hairulov hairulov 9/23/2018 01:46
Nice article and photos Sagar and Amruta , keep it coming !
Kenster Kenster 9/23/2018 01:15
Looking forward to the olympiad!