Tromso 2014: Preview and preparations

by Albert Silver
7/27/2014 – The much awaited Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway is just around the corner, with the gong for round one sounding on August 2. After much controversy and nailbiting, the greatest hurdles seem to have been passed, and we can get ready for two weeks of fantastic chess. The teams have been officially published, and the organizers have shared pictures of the preparations and a music video.

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The 2014 Chess Olympiad will be held in Tromso, Norway from August 2-14. There are two parallel competitions with identical conditions, for both the Open tournament and the Women tournament. Each event is an eleven round Swiss in which the participating competitors are teams comprised of four players each and one reserve. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves for plus 30 minutes until the end of the game, with 30 seconds additional time per move, starting from move one. There will be rest days on August 6 and August 13. Rankings will be determined by match points, and then be determined according to the tie-breaking system (see Paragraph G in the Handbook). It is worth noting that norms achieved in the Olympiad are worth double.

Schedule

Round
Date
Time
1
August 2
15:00
2
August 3
14:00
3
August 4
14:00
4
August 5
14:00
5
August 6
14:00
Rest day
August 7
 
6
August 8
14:00
7
August 9
14:00
8
August 10
14:00
9
August 11
14:00
10
August 12
14:00
Rest day
August 13
 
11
August 14
14:00

Men's teams

A few things stand out upon a quick perusal of the lineups. Not all the teams are bringing their strongest players, no doubt for a variety of reasons, whether political, financial, or other. In the Open section, China was expected to have one of the very strongest lineups possible, considering they have five players rated over 2700, but only two are listed. Russia is the strongest in average rating, with a massive 2777 average, which is 55 Elo higher than the no.2 Ukraine. France comes in at third with a 2718 average rating, in no small part due to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave's stupendous rise to 2766, as well as Romain Edouard who is hovering around 2700 now. In fourth is Armenia led by Levon Aronian, then the US with Nakamura and Kamsky, and the last team with an average over 2700 is Hungary, including Leko, Almasi, Rapport and Judit Polgar. With Hou Yifan only 15 Elo away from her rating on the next list, this event may easily be the make or break for the highest rated female on the planet, a title that Judit has owned for over 25 straight years.

Rk Team Rtg Avg Captain
1 Russia 2777 DOKHOIAN Yury
2 Ukraine 2722 SULYPA Oleksandr
3 France 2718 MAZE Sebastien
4 Armenia 2705 PETROSIAN Arshak B
5 USA 2704 DONALDSON John W
6 Hungary 2702 HORVATH Tamas
7 China 2696 XU Jun
8 Azerbaijan 2694 KHALIFMAN Alexander
9 England 2682 WELLS Peter K
10 Netherlands 2678 TUKMAKOV Vladimir B
11 Israel 2677 KASPI Alexander
12 Cuba 2676  
13 Norway 2668 MOEN Ole Christian
14 Germany 2666 ROGOZENCO Dorian
15 Poland 2663 SOCKO Bartosz
16 Czech Republic 2645 JANSA Vlastimil
17 Bulgaria 2643  
18 Spain 2639 MAGEM BADALS Jordi
19 India 2629  
20 Georgia 2624 SHANAVA Konstantine

Click for complete list of 177 nations

Click for a detailed list of the team compositions

*Please note that the board numbers are incorrect

Women's teams

In the Women's teams, China is the big no.1 especially with Hou Yifan playing on top board, but China brought in all their heaviest hitters, with Zhao Xue and Ju Wenjun. The big question on everyone's mind, especially after the giant controversy around the Russian Women's team is... who is playing. If you had any doubts, shed them now. Russia's highest rated player on the women's team is Kateryna Lagno (2540), followed by Alexandra Kosteniuk, Nataliya Pogonina, and Valentina Gunina, though bear in mind their ratings are subject to some changes afer the recent European Championships. Ukraine brings in their own reinforcements with both Muzychuk sisters playing now, followed by former world champion Anna Ushenina.

Rk Team Rtg Avg Captain
1 China 2544 YU Shaoteng
2 Russia 2521 RUBLEVSKY Sergei
3 Ukraine 2505 BRODSKY Michail
4 Georgia 2498 GURIELI Nino
5 India 2420  
6 Romania 2410 NANU Costica-Ciprian
7 USA 2408 KHACHIYAN Melikset
8 Poland 2392 MATLAK Marek
9 France 2391 CORNETTE Matthieu
10 Germany 2387 SCHLOSSER Philipp
11 Armenia 2378 CHIBUKHCHIAN Artur
12 Spain 2377 MARTINEZ MARTIN David
13 Hungary 2371 HAZAI Laszlo
14 Bulgaria 2352  
15 Serbia 2334 DAMLJANOVIC Branko
16 Netherlands 2329 NIKOLIC Predrag
17 Cuba 2326  
18 Slovakia 2320  
19 Kazakhstan 2313 YAKOVICH Yuri
20 Vietnam 2309 LE Hong Duc

Click for complete list of 139 nations

Click for a detailed list of the team compositions

*Please note that the board numbers are incorrect

Opening preparations

The preparations have been non-stop in Tromso, and the organizers have been posting non-stop material on their Twitter channels and social networks, showing a very modern outlook on these essential tools. Here is a video they will be sharing in the Opening Ceremony:

 

This video will feature in the opening ceremony, and includes the participation of many top players with
a very upbeat tone. The music is by "Violet Road" - a popular local band.

The massive playing hall where the thousands of competitors will play

The organizers were not content to simply make sure it was all working,
they hired local artist Chris Reddy as the official 2014 Chess Olympiad
artist. In the picture above, he explains, "Chess World. Oil on canvas.
Getting ready to stretch the beast..." (@Reddymades)

The artwork is placed around the hall. If you look at the chairs lined up against the wall
in the rear, you get a better idea as to how big the space is. (@Reddymades)

The playing hall is finally taking shape

Merchandising such as coffee mugs decorated with Chris Reddy's artwork (@Reddymades)

Banner with COT14-ambassador Sigurd Rushfeldt, a famous Norwegian footballer, who was
a big star for local team Tromso IL and the Norway national team. He is also a solid chessplayer.

A chessboard of flowers ready to bloom in black and white for the opening

The Church City Mission in Tromsø (Kirkens Bymisjon) has made this cool chess-themed wall


Photos and video from official Tromso Olympiad Facebook and Instagram pages




Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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kiszol kiszol 7/30/2014 06:02
Yes, the names are not necessarily in alphabetical order: they are in the same order as the team captains submitted them to FIDE. However some captains chose to submit the names in alphabetical order, others by Elo, etc.

@ff2017: Hungary's board order is finalized and it is the following:

1. Leko P. 2737
2. Balogh Cs. 2637
3. Almasi Z. 2693
4. Rapport R. 2701
5. Polgar J. 2676

Tactical lineup for sure. I guess they will play with Leko, Almasi, Rapport, Polgar against the biggest rivals.
SvenM SvenM 7/30/2014 12:38
The average ratings seem to have been computed for the top four players, instead of all five.
billybudd billybudd 7/29/2014 12:20
You may be right that the board numbers are not fixed yet, but it doesn't look like the teams are in alphabetical order.
ff2017 ff2017 7/28/2014 05:29
Time for the Chinese Women to show their class and wow, how powerful would the Ukrainian Women's team be if Kagno was over there. Would give the Chinese a run for their money.... I mean if China could actually go out and finally win the damn thing. They are like the Russian Men's team, highest overall rating, but perennial second over the past few Olympiads.

I wonder who will play board 1 for the Russian Men and where does Judit slot for Hungary?
kiszol kiszol 7/28/2014 02:45
The board numbers aren't fixed yet! The names are in alphabetical order. Cuba won't put Dominguez on board five, neither will Hungary put Rapport there... :)
billybudd billybudd 7/28/2014 10:51
Some tactical lineups there...Cuba have put Lenier Dominquez - 2760 - on board 5.

China's team is still pretty strong, despite the semi-boycott.
Josue Josue 7/28/2014 12:55
Very interesting, I hope Russia will win the gold again.
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