Chess Olympiad in Tromsø in full swing

Magnus Carlsen, Norway and Levon Aronian, Armenia before their game, which ended in remis.

Tromsø in northern Norway these days is host for the world’s fourth largest sports event – the Chess Olympiad. More than 3000 people from nearly 180 nations have come to Tromsø for the competition.


Half-way through the Olympiad Azerbaijan, Serbia and Kazakhstan are the top three teams with 9 points each when five of eleven rounds have been played. Both Russia and Norway have 8 points so far.

In the fifth round, played on Wednesday the Norwegian team lost against Armenia. Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, ranked as the best player in the world, faced the world’s number-2 Levon Aronian and the match ended in remis (a tie), while two of Norway’s other four players also tied but Simen Agdestein lost against Armenia’s Gabriel Sargissian after five hours and 20 minutes of play.

That left Norway with a loss of 1.5 points against Armenia’s 2.5, which also knocked Norway down from the top of the competitive ranking after five days of play. Armenia, known as a chess powerhouse, won the last Chess Olympiad in Istanbul in 2012, News in English writes.

The 11. and last round will be played on August 14. For more information about the standings, check the Chess Olympiad’s web site.

Controversy around Russian team – organizers sued
The Chess Olympiad has had its share of conflicts. Ten teams, including the Russian women’s team, failed to register before the deadline and were first denied participation by the Norwegian organizers, in accordance with the rules. All ten teams were later given access to the competition after complaints from the president of the International Chess Dederation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is Russian himself and up for re-election during the Olympiad in Tromsø. He even threatened to cancel the entire Olympiad if the Russian team wasn’t allowed to play.

The Russian Chess Federation has now filed a legal claim against the organizers for the equivalent of NOK 1.2 million (€143,370) to cover the team’s cost of hiring lawyers to protest their initial exclusion. Trond Skogly, attorney for the Chess Olympiad organizers, disagrees that the Norwegians have any obligation to compensate the Russians but noted that the Russians have the right to get their complaint handled in court. “We have responded that we reject their claim as groundless,” Skogly told TV2, adding that he expected the court to process the case quickly.

According to specialized media, Russia could have deliberately let the June 1 deadline pass for its women’s team to buy time to add Kateryna Lagno to the line-up. Ukrainian-born Lagno has just been granted transfer to the Russian Chess Federation – a move she has reportedly said is not linked to the political crisis in Ukraine, Times of India reports. Ilyumzhinov in his letter to the organizers confirms the late applications from the Russian team is a result of Lagno’s transfer.