As you know, I am a big fan of Chess Today, a daily chess newspaper, one of the best chess sources. In today’s issue, GM Baburin offers his personal view about the Dresden Olympiad. You can subscribe to Chess Today at www.ChessToday.net.
by GM Alex Baburin
The recent event in Dresden was my seventh Chess Olympiad since 1994 (I missed the 1998 Olympiad in Elista),
so I can make some comparisons.
It was easy enough to get to Dresden. Most members of the Irish delegation flew to Berlin and took a train to Dresden (about 2½ hours). Dresden has its own airport, so flying there was another option. The accreditation was really smooth – the office was set up at the Dresden main train station and teams got their badges, etc very quickly and were directed to their hotels. I recall that it 2002 in Bled and in 2006 in Turin that procedure took 2-3 hours.
Accommodation & food
Teams stayed in different hotels around the city. Usually they had to pay extra to get upgraded to 4- and 5- star hotels. The Irish stayed in the 4-start Elbflorence hotel, which was 15-minute walk away from the playing venue and 10-minute walk away from the city centre.
Some teams stayed in the luxurious Maritime hotel, located just 50 metres away from the playing venue. Breakfast and brunch was served at the hotels. Food was very good – in sharp contrast with the Turin Olympiad, where all players had to make do with a couple of overcrowded canteens serving not so-great food. Evening meals were served in the City Hall. Food was OK and players appreciated the efforts of the many volunteers who served them there and at the playing venue. It was also a chance for players from different teams to get together and meet others.
In Dresden it was not bad, but a bit overcrowded – navigating between matches (tables) was not always easy. In particular Magnus Carlsen drew a lot of media attention – his table was to be avoided on the way to the canteen! After a couple of hours of playing the venue got a bit stuffy too. I think Turin had the best playing conditions.
The Olympiad obviously drew a lot of attention in Germany – I saw it mentioned in newspapers and on TV. The opening ceremony was the best I have seen – a real spectacle. Many shops in Dresden had chess pieces and boards on display. The online coverage was fantastic – you could watch all games in real time. I recall that in 2000 in Istanbul the online transmission was clumsy (players were told not to adjust pieces before the game and one occasion were asked to re-play the opening moves!). But the DGT boards have improved a lot and now they are nearly perfect. Most mistakes were caused by arbiters putting kings in wrong positions (thus 1-0 could become 0-1, etc).
When I was free in round 2, I went to the playing hall to see the matches – but could not get in (fair enough). So, when I was rested the following day as well, I stayed in the hotel and watched games online, which was great! I should mention that our hotel had a room with free Net connection – about 6 cables. That was a very popular room!
At the venue GM Klaus Bischoff offered daily commentary in German. There were 150 seats – and they were filled very quickly. A lot of people were standing around – the total number of listeners was about 250. GM Susan Polgar did occasional commentary in English too – usually to give Klaus a break.
The press-centre seemed to be busy too – with press-conferences, interviews, workshops, etc. Alas, I could not attend that much as I was playing on most days.
Overall it was the best-organised Chess Olympiad I have attended. The city of Dresden is certainly worth a visit too – with many grand buildings, excellent art galleries and numerous cafes and restaurants. The chess content of the Olympiad was fantastic – I am sure we will be covering it in Chess Today for quite some time yet!