The 40th World Chess Olympiad began today at the Istanbul Expo Center with the inaugural move by the Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports Suat Kilic.
158 teams participate in the Open Section, which is a new record number after Dresden 2008, while the Women Section has 124 teams competing.The top seeded teams in the Open Section had their biggest stars resting in the matches against the lower rated opposition. However, Armenia might be regretting this decision as Bolivia's GM Oswaldo Zambrana defeated GM Sergei Movsesian on the board one. Armenia still won the match by 3-1 score. Kyrgyzstan snatched two draws with black pieces of from the 4th-seeded Hungary, while FM William Puntier held GM Evgeny Tomashevsky, a late replacement for the ill Alexander Morozevich, to a draw in the match Dominican Republic - Russia 0,5-3,5.
Ukraine, USA, Azerbaijan, France and India signed perfect victories without conceding a single draw to their opponents.
Malaysia resisted strongly to the Netherlands with IM Mok Tze-Meng beating GM Loek Van Wely and Lim Zhuo Ren earning a draw from GM Daniel Stellwagen. Netherlands is seen as one of the possible medal winners by the young Dutch star Robin Van Kampen. Van Kampen did warn, however, that Stellwagen might need a couple of rounds of "warming up" as he is not a chess professional. Bulgaria signed a minimal 2,5-1,5 against the IBCA team (three draws, K.Georgiev won), while Israel managed the same result against IPCA after compensating for GM Sutovsky's loss against IM Obodchuk.
Top round two pairings are Qatar - Ukraine, USA - Lithuania, Azerbaijan - Ireland, Peru - France, India - Turkey 2016, Cuba - ICSC, Costa Rica - Poland, Greece - Russia and China - Italy.
In the Women Section the top seeded teams were much more convincing then their male counterparts, leaving space for only a couple of individual upsets.
China, Russia, Georgia, USA, India and Poland scored the perfect 4-0 against Bandgladesh, Bolivia, Guatemala, New Zealand, FYROM and Dominican Republic, respectively. WIM Lougain Dahdal of Jordan defeated IM Lilit Galojan of Armenia, and WFM Gabriela Maria Avelar Bonilla from El Salvador drew the much higher rated IM Anna Ushenina from Ukraine. WGM Ana Matnadze made her debut for the Spanish national team after the transfer from the Georgian Chess federation but despite the 300-elo points advantage she couldn't make more than a draw against WGM Mona Khaled from Egypt. The 2nd board was also drawn but Spain won by 3-1.
We hope that the star players, World Champion Hou Yifan (CHN 2599) and Anna Muzychuk (SLO 2606), will play for their respective countries in the 2nd round. Anna's sister Mariya Muzychuk was on the top board for Ukraine today.
Judit Polgar is competing in the Open Section, while Humpy Koneru is once again missing the Olympiad due to the long dispute with the national federation.
Top round two pairings are Sweden - China, Russia - Brazil, Belgium - Georgia, Estonia - USA, India - Australia, Venezuela - Poland, Indonesia - Bulgaria, France - Chile, ICSC - Cuba.
Istanbul is a truly beautiful city, the world's 2nd largest metropolis and former imperial capitol. The cool breeze from the sea is making for a pleasant weather, while the trees, gardens and flowers are very pleasant to the eye. There are not many English speakers, but the folks are kind and friendly. In the lack of other conversation, the taxi drivers and waiters are not shy to at least exclaim which football team they support. Football is passion here in Turkey. Hopefully chess can find its place too - at least everyone gives thumbs up for Satranç Olympiad!
Photos by http://photo.chessolympiadistanbul.com/Round1/