Olympiad in Khanty. Chess and Politics



Olympiad in Khanty. Chess and Politics

by Sergey Shipov

Raging, seething, familiar, it brings us new experiences and food for thought. Like a huge vat in which thousands of games make up a chess broth. And it’s seasoned with the pepper of scandals and political squabbles, becoming a dish for all. Those who want to can concentrate on the games. Those for whom chess isn’t particularly interesting (if they take an honest look into their soul) can find dozens of interesting chess-related, or even non-chess, stories. I’m interested in it all.

Of course, I’m following the sporting struggle. Each round I watch dozens of games, some of which I stitch together for my videos at Crestbook.com.

Our men have been truly stalled – it’s simply karma. Bled 2002 seems to have been the cut-off point. Since then, with Kasparov’s departure, the team has always lacked something. It always finds a reason to lose to someone, somehow. Of course, all’s not yet lost, and the Hungarians don’t look like an invincible team at all, but… unpleasant as it is to admit it, our efforts alone won’t be enough. We need international aid.

Our women, on the other hand, have the wind in their sails. Never in my life have I seen the Chinese women drop a queen in one move in a crucial match. While here they’ve done it, and against us! However, you know who fortune favours. Let’s just hope we make it past Ukraine today (even draws would suit us), and then they can beat up the weaker teams.

There are an awful lot of interesting games. Battles in current opening lines provoke analytical interest. There’s a mass of beautiful combinations – Vasya Lebedev on our site is selecting vivid fragments. I took an interest in the possible attack with the black king on h5 in the Short-Fressinet game. I love overactive kings…

By the way, on the kings. They’re there, in Khanty. They’re walking around the tournament hall, collecting crowds of admirers and making the arbiters and FIDE officials nervous. They’re using their personal grandeur to save a pile of money in the election campaign.

After all, the FIDE Congress has begun and the warring sides are fighting over the votes of the delegates. FIDE, i.e. Ilyumzhinov’s team, are giving out presents, as usual. In their hands they’ve got the administrative resources, and money. While the KarKas team has new hopes, the grandeur of champions, the negative impression years of Ilyumzhinov rule have left and… I hope, also money. Yes, actually, I’m sure of that. Without the damned stuff you can’t get anywhere.

One of the greats is confident of victory. Saying they’ll do it even without the Court in Lausanne. An optimist, both in chess and in life! The other, as I understand it, is more cautious in his evaluations. He’s more cautious in general… However, he’s very active. It’s clear that there are serious positional justifications for an attack. And if Karpov attacks it means that it’s been calculated.

Yesterday evening I watched the latest television programme involving Anatoly. I think the most important thing is the fact that people see him on television. They know what he wants. While what the presenters came up with, the nonsense they put on the air, and the direction they tried to turn the conversation, is neither here nor there. The sensationalism and vulgarity of our television no longer amazes anyone. It’s another topic…

The delegates from the countries – it’s their votes that will decide the election result. They’re now at the centre of a behind-the-scenes battle. They’re haggling… When there are two serious buyers for one good the price inevitably rises. It’s a law. And therefore it’s important not to sell too cheaply. On the other hand, they can’t press too hard and be too brash – as after all the buyers can get by without them – if other... “goods”…turn out to be more amenable. And the buyer gathers up enough of them in his basket for victory. It’s important that the delegates end up in the basket of the victor, and not the vanquished. A lot depends on it for their future.

So then, we await the denouement – both in the chess team and the political team battle. May the best team win.

Original post in Sergey Shipov's blog (in Russian):
Олимпиада в Хантах. Шахматы и политика

English translation by Colin McGourty